#37 North Carolina State Football 2017 Preview


North Carolina State Wolfpack


Overall Rank: #37

#7 ACC

North Carolina State was so close to pulling off a couple huge upsets last year. They nearly beat both Clemson and Florida State. Instead they ended up with a 7-6 record and just three wins in ACC action. Coach Dave Doeren hopes to turn those morale victories into actual victories during his fifth season with the program. And with an experienced, senior heavy team, he just might be able to do it.
2016 Record: 7-6, 3-5
2016 Bowl: Independence Bowl vs. Vanderbilt (W 41-17)
Coach: Dave Doeren (25-26 at North Carolina State, 48-30 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Eli Drinkwitz
Defensive Coordinator: Dave Huxtable
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Reggie Gallaspy, RB, 234 yards
Passing: Ryan Finley, QB, 3,059 yards
Receiving: Stephen Louis, WR, 678 yards
Tackles: Jerod Fernandez, LB, 88
Sacks: Bradley Chubb, DE, 10.5
Interceptions: 3 tied with 1
Other Key Returnees: HB Jaylen Samuels, RB Nyheim Hines, WR Kelvin Harmon, OL Tony Adams, LB Airius Moore, S Shawn Boone, DT Justin Jones, DE Kentavius Street, DE Darian Roseboro
Key Losses: RB Matthew Dayes, DB Josh Jones, LB Dravious Wright, DB Jack Tocho
Ryan Finley emerged as a steady quarterback last season. He completed 60.4 percent of his passes after transferring in from Boise State. His 3,059 yards and 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions are good numbers to work from, but he will need to take advantage of opportunities down the field more often if the offense is really going to open up. And there are experienced options to get the ball down field. Stephen Louis is the deep threat after catching 35 passes for 678 yards. Kelvin Harmon is a promising sophomore and North Carolina State welcomes back JuMichael Ramos who missed last season with an injury. Jaylen Samuels, who is basically a versatile slot receiver, led the team with 55 receptions. And Nyheim Hines is back as well after catching 43 passes for 525 yards. Hines though is expected to spend more time in the backfield to help replace 1,000 yard rusher Matthew Dayes. Dakwa Nichols and Reggie Gallaspy will get opportunities to run behind a very experienced offensive line as well.
The Wolfpack boast one of the best defensive lines in the country. Bradley Chubb leads the way after tallying 10.5 sacks last season. Fellow returning starters Kentavius Street, B.J. Hill and Justin Jones are also seniors. Throw in depth from players like Darian Roseboro, who was second on the team with 7.0 sacks, and this is a front four that has the potential to dominate. Linebackers Jerod Fernandez and Airius Moore are experienced seniors too and both played very well down the stretch last season. If they can pick up where they left off, an already good run defense could be great. The pass defense is where there are big questions. The ACC has a lot of good passing teams and North Carolina State usually did not find a way to stop them. And now they have to replace three starters in the five man secondary. Cornerback Mike Stevens and safety Shawn Boone are proven starters, but the other spots will have to be filled by far less experienced players.
The Bottom Line:
With so many seniors on the roster and so many close calls last season, this is a North Carolina State team that can take a big step forward in 2017. However, with Florida State, Clemson and Louisville also in the ACC Atlantic Division, the lofty expectations will likely lessen relatively quickly. If there is a year where the Wolfpack can win the division though, this is probably it. A trip to FSU on September 23rd will be the early indicator. A win there, and with Louisville and Clemson both coming to Raleigh, North Carolina State can start to dream.
Projected Bowl: Military Bowl
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 156.2 (86th in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 260.2 (38, 8)
Total Offense: 416.4 (63, 9)
Scoring Offense: 27.0 (75, 9)
Rushing Defense: 108.6 (8, 2)
Pass Defense: 244.2 (82, 11)
Total Defense: 352.8 (24, 7)
Scoring Defense: 22.8 (27, 4)
Turnover Margin: 0.15 (49, 6)
Sacks: 2.85 (22, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 1.31 (19, 3)
Madness 2018 NFL Draft Rankings:
#18 Bradley Chubb