NC State went 24-15 over the last three years, but that wasn’t enough for coach Tom O’Brien to keep his job. O’Brien was canned after the regular season finale, and athletic director Debbie Yow turned to Dave Doeren to take the program to the next level.
Doeren comes to NC State after a successful two-year run at Northern Illinois. The Huskies were 23-4 under his watch and played in the 2013 Orange Bowl after running through the MAC with an unbeaten conference record last year.
Not only is NC State going through a coaching transition this year, but the Wolfpack only have eight returning starters. The offense has a new scheme and starting quarterback, while the defense suffered significant losses in the back seven.
Pete Thomas and Manny Stocker competed to win the starting quarterback job in the spring, and Arkansas transfer Brandon Mitchell joined the battle this summer. Mitchell is the best fit for the new offense, but he has very little game experience from the past three years at Arkansas.
Although dealing with transition and personnel losses won’t be easy, NC State has one of the ACC’s most favorable schedules this year. The Wolfpack won’t have to play Virginia Tech, Miami or Georgia Tech in crossover play. And rival North Carolina must come to Raleigh on Nov. 2.
What will NC State's record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates:
NC State's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions
8/31 Louisiana Tech
9/28 Central Michigan
10/5 at Wake Forest
10/26 at Florida State
11/2 North Carolina
11/9 at Duke
11/16 at Boston College
11/23 East Carolina
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Clemson and Florida State are clearly the top-two teams in the ACC Atlantic. But it’s anybody’s guess after that. The Wolfpack are one of the ACC’s most intriguing teams to watch in 2013. If the pieces fall into place, this team could make a run at eight victories. Arkansas transfer Brandon Mitchell should be this team’s quarterback, as he is a good fit to run coach Dave Doeren’s spread offense. Mitchell is surrounded by a good receiving corps, and running backs Shadrach Thornton and Tony Creecy are a solid one-two punch. The defense was hit hard by departures in the back seven, but the line should be one of the best in the ACC. One of the biggest reasons to buy into NC State this year is the schedule. The Wolfpack only have to leave the state of North Carolina two times and swing games against Syracuse and Maryland are in Raleigh. Doeren was an excellent hire for this program, and his debut should result in another bowl appearance for NC State.
John Cassillo, (@JohnCassillo), Atlantic Coast Convos
I know, I know... this is well under where most predict State. But honestly, what do people see in this team? They lost their entire secondary, more or less. Mike Glennon is gone. Nearly all of the receivers are new, and same goes for the offensive line. We still don't know who the quarterback is. There are only four starters coming back on the defense overall. Need I go on? They also have a brand new head coach in Dave Doeren, who's going to want to transition to his pistol offense eventually. Maybe they snag another win or two and get to 7-5 (not impossible given how closely matched teams three through seven in the Atlantic are), but that seems just as likely as 5-7 from my vantage point.
Anson Whaley, Founder and Editor of Cardiac Hill, @AnsonWhaley
The thing that stands out about North Carolina State is the significant imbalance in home/road games on their schedule. With only four road games, NC State is set up for success. Despite a win over Florida State last season, I'm not convinced they'll be able to compete with the heavyweights in the conference this year. But with a favorable schedule and very winnable non-conference games, eight wins seems manageable.
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
It’s tough to figure out what to expect from NC State in Dave Doeren’s first season. The Wolfpack lack frontline players right now — NC State had no players on Athlon’s All-ACC first- or second-teams. The defensive line will be OK with two returning tackles. That’s not a bad foundation, but I don’t know how NC State will move the ball. The Wolfpack have a good receiving corps, but it put up mediocre results in the passing game with a third-round draft pick at quarterback.
Dave Doeren was a great hire by NC State, but he doesn't have Mike Glennon, or Jordan Lynch for that matter, at quarterback this fall and he will quickly find out the MAC and the ACC are two entirely different animals. I think Doeren will do a solid job in Raleigh over time, but with a lack of proven playmakers on offense and a defense that's basically starting over, Wolfpack fans should be very happy if their first-year coach finds a way to scratch and claw his way to six wins.
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