After posting a 9-4 record in 2018, the NC State Wolfpack took a significant step back last season, finishing 4-8. Head coach Dave Doeren decided to retool his coaching staff on both sides after the Wolfpack's disappointing finish. Spring practice begins this week, and NC State has a lot of issues to address.
As the Wolfpack will look to improve in 2020, here are the top five storylines to watch during their 15 practices, which will conclude on April 4.
5 Storylines to Watch During NC State's Spring Practice
1. New coordinators and position coaches
Dave Doeren added five new coaches to his staff after the end of the 2019 season. Tim Beck (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks), Joe DeForest (safeties), Brian Mitchell (cornerbacks), Charley Wiles (defensive line), and Freddie Aughtry-Lindsay (nickels) all hope to be part of the turnaround in Raleigh. Also, Tony Gibson, who was the defensive co-coordinator last season, will have the job all to himself following Dave Huxtable's dismissal.
Beck, who was Texas' offensive coordinator last year, will try to improve a Wolfpack offense that finished 88th in yards per game (380.3). On the flip side, Gibson, who was a former defensive coordinator at West Virginia, will hope to improve from 72nd in total defense (398.9 ypg).
2. Will Devin Leary retain the quarterback job?
Before the start of spring practice, Doeren named Leary as the Wolfpack's starting quarterback. Over eight games last year, Leary threw for 1,219 yards, eight touchdowns, and five interceptions.
Although Leary is the starter as of now, Doeren hasn't ruled out adding a quarterback via the transfer portal. Also, Leary will have to hold off Bailey Hockman and Ty Evans and the addition of freshman Ben Finley during the spring.
3. Wolfpack running back situation
NC State's biggest strength entering the spring could be their backfield. The Wolfpack will return all three leading rushers, including Zonovan Knight, who pace the group with 745 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
They also will get back Ricky Person Jr., who is the most experienced back of the group. During last season, Person suffered an ankle injury, which caused him to miss some time. But he was able to return late in the year and still rushed for 229 yards and three touchdowns.
4. Wolfpack defense
NC State's defense is talented yet inexperienced. The hope is that new defensive line coach Charley Wiles will get the most out of the top returnees up front, including Ibrahim Kante, Val Martin, and Alim McNeill.
In the secondary, the Wolfpack lost three players (Chris Ingram, Teshaun Smith, and Taiyon Palmer) to season-ending injuries last year. Because they won't be ready for spring practice, this will give an opportunity for some of the young players such as former four-star prospect Khalid Martin, who started at free safety in the finale against North Carolina.
5. Doeren on the hot seat?
During his time at NC State, there have been plenty of rumors about Doeren's job status and him considering leaving for other jobs. But after his first losing season since his first in Raleigh back in 2013, Doeren could potentially be on the hot seat heading into the 2020 season.
After back-to-back 9-4 seasons, the Wolfpack won only four games a season ago. Add that with what Mack Brown is building down I-40 at North Carolina, and the pressure to win this upcoming season could be at an all-time high for Doeren. Playing in a division with the Clemson Tigers, who have won five straight ACC titles, certainly won't help things.
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.