#29 North Carolina State 2018 Football Preview

North Carolina State Wolfpack
Overall Rank: #29
#5 ACC
 North Carolina State Logo
North Carolina State won six games in a row after an opening game loss against South Carolina. At that point the Wolfpack were looking like a clear ACC title contender. However, the team lost to Notre Dame, Clemson and Wake Forest in the second half of the campaign and finished with a decent, but not spectacular, 9-4 record. In 2018, with some big holes to fill, another season like that would be considered a success.
2017 Record: 9-4, 6-2
2017 Bowl: Sun Bowl vs. Arizona State (W 52-31)
Coach: Dave Doeren (34-30 at NC State, 57-34 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Elijah Drinkwitz
Defensive Coordinator: Dave Huxtable, Ted Roof
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Reggie Gallaspy, RB, 505 yards
Passing: Ryan Finley, QB, 3,518 yards
Receiving: Kelvin Harmon, WR, 1,017 yards
Tackles: Jarius Morehead, S, 80
Sacks: Darian Roseboro, DE, 2.5
Interceptions: Germaine Pratt, LB, 2
Other Key Returnees: WR Jakobi Meyers, WR Stephen Louis
Key Losses: RB Nyheim Hines, RB Jaylen Samuels, OL Will Richardson, OL Tony Adams, DE Nick Chubb, DT BJ Hill, LB Jerod Fernandez, DB Johnathan Alston
The offense is in good shape in the passing game with the return of Ryan Finley and Kelvin Harmon. Finley, a senior quarterback, threw for 3,518 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2017. He was very efficient too, completing 65.1 percent of his passes with just six interceptions. Many of Finley’s passes went to Harmon and fellow wideout Jakobi Meyers. Harmon caught 69 passes for 1,017 yards, while Meyers caught 63 for 727 yards. That potent passing game could carry this team to plenty of victories. And with power back Reggie Gallaspy and an experienced offensive line, the ground game will do plenty of damage too.
And with just a few starters back on defense, NC State may need their offense to win shootouts for them. The Wolfpack had a decent run defense in 2017, but the entire front six is gone. Most of the defensive line is now in the NFL, most notably Bradley Chubb, who was selected fifth overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. The pass rush will now fall to Darian Roseboro. He is an experienced senior who has 13.5 sacks during his career, but was not particularly effective last season. Linebacker Germaine Pratt can make some big plays, but he needs to develop into a senior leader now. The secondary was the weak spot of the defense last year, but if this group can stay healthy and learn from their mistakes, there is a lot of potential. Nick McCloud, Jarius Morehead, Dexter Wright and Tim Kid-Glass all have starting experience and Tennessee transfer Stephen Griffin adds a much needed option at nickel back.
The Bottom Line:
NC State has an offense that can outscore just about anybody. But to compete in the ACC, the defense must be better than they were last year and that seems extremely unlikely considering the talent lost. Coach Dave Doeren does have talent in this program though and do not expect the Wolfpack to take much of a step back. The schedule does not get too tough until late October either so North Carolina State will have some time to attempt to find quality replacements on the defensive side of the ball.
Projected Bowl: Belk Bowl
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 176.4 (50th in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 275.4 (29, 4)
Total Offense: 451.8 (25, 4)
Scoring Offense: 32.2 (40, 4)
Rushing Defense: 131.0 (26, 3)
Pass Defense: 253.2 (103, 12)
Total Defense: 384.2 (58, 9)
Scoring Defense: 25.2 (51, 7)
Turnover Margin: 0.62 (22, 2)
Sacks: 2.31 (44, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 1.00 (5, 1)
Madness 2019 NFL Draft Rankings:
#17 Ryan Finley
Madness 2018 Recruit Rankings:
#110 Payton Wilson
#113 Ricky Person
#233 Alim McNeill