#44 North Carolina State Football 2016 Preview

North Carolina State Wolfpack
Overall Rank: #44
#8 ACC
North Carolina State ended the season with a very difficult blowout loss against Mississippi State in the Belk Bowl. The Bulldogs torched the Wolfpack for 51 points in Dak Prescott’s final game. Coach Dave Doeren has gone 6-18 in ACC play during his first three seasons. Thus, the pressure is building on Coach Doeren and North Carolina State to step up and beat teams in conference play let alone ranked teams. With a more difficult schedule in 2016, it is going to be fascinating to see how the Wolfpack respond this fall.
2015 Record: 7-6, 3-5
2015 Bowl: Belk Bowl vs. Mississippi State (L 28-51)
Coach: Dave Doeren (18-20 at North Carolina State, 41-24 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Eli Drinkwitz
Defensive Coordinator: Dave Huxtable
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Matthew Dayes, RB, 865 yards
Passing: Jalan McClendon, QB, 69 yards
Receiving: Jaylen Samuels, FB, 597 yards
Tackles: Airius Moore, LB, 77
Sacks: Bradley Chubb, DE, 5.5
Interceptions: Jerod Fernandez, LB, 2; Niles Clark, DB, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB Reggie Gallaspy, WR Jumichael Ramos, WR Nyheim Hines, S Josh Jones, DT B.J. Hill, DE Darian Roseboro
Key Losses: QB Jacoby Brissett, TE David Grinnage, OL Joe Thuney, DE Mike Rose, S Hakim Jones, CB Justin Burris
The running game and the defense are going to have to carry the day for North Carolina State in order for them to make it to another bowl. Matthew Dayes was well on his way to a 1,000 yard rushing season prior to getting his foot injured which caused him to miss the last five games of the season. Jaylen Samuels is another key playmaker that is back offensively in 2016 as a fullback/tight end hybrid. Samuels accumulated 597 yards receiving and will be counted on heavily right from the get go under the direction of new offensive coordinator Eli Drinkwitz. Stopping the run is going to be very important defensively as the defensive line, led by Bradley Chubb along with B.J. Hill and Darian Roseboro, are going to need to be even better in 2016 in order for the defense to keep playing at a high level.
Quarterback is a concern with the loss of Jacoby Brissett to the NFL. Jalan McClendon is the leading contender to take over as the starting quarterback. McClendon does not have a ton of experience, but he does have plenty of arm strength that could potentially open up the passing game. The offensive line is going to be a work in progress as it is very inexperienced with junior Tony Adams being one of two returning starters in that unit. So patience will be a virtue this season as it will take time for the offensive line to become a truly cohesive unit. Wide receiver could use some improved production in 2016 as senior Jumichael Ramos is the most productive returning wide receiver, catching 34 passes for 457 yards. Keep an eye on Thaddeus Moss, the son of former NFL great Randy Moss, as he will need to come in and contribute early as a pass catching tight end.
The Bottom Line:
With Notre Dame and East Carolina on the schedule, it is going to put pressure on North Carolina State to make sure they best William and Mary and Old Dominion to cut down on the amount of conference wins they will need to go to a bowl. The three game stretch starting On October 8th at home with the Fighting Irish and road trips to Clemson and Louisville are going to swing the direction of the season. It will be very important for North Carolina State to find a way to go 1-2 in those three games. As a win against one of those three teams will prove that Coach Doeren and his staff can compete with the best of the best in the ACC. Look for a 6-6 type of season and the Wolfpack to sneak its way into a bowl game in 2016.
Projected Bowl: Independence Bowl
2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 202.1 (30th in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 210.8 (78, 10)
Total Offense: 412.8 (57, 6)
Scoring Offense: 33.2 (42, 3)
Rushing Defense: 147.5 (39, 5)
Pass Defense: 203.2 (36, 8)
Total Defense: 350.7 (29, 5)
Scoring Defense: 25.8 (52, 9)
Turnover Margin: 0.69 (15, 2)
Sacks: 2.46 (35, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 3.00 (111, 12)

Madness 2016 Recruit Rankings:
#178 Thaddeus Moss