As the Wolfpack Caravan winds its way around the state, one thing that is clear is that fans are excited about the upcoming football season and that a large number of them are predicting big things for the 2009 edition of NC State football.Â You can see that in the poll here at SFN, where currently 23% — nearly one in four respondents — think State will win 10 or more games in the upcoming year.
But don’t tell that to Tom O’Brien.Â He knows full well the value of summer prognostications, and at many Caravan stops, he’s quick to point out the folly of them.Â In Whiteville recently, O’Brien said that “not many people picked Boston College to win its division the last two years,” but according to the Wilmington Star-News he at least acknowledges that he and his staff have enough horses to be a legitimate contender.
Indeed — State is one of several contenders in its division, and the entire road for the season, with its ups-and-downs, has yet to begin.Â In the meantime, O’Brien has several problems he’ll need to solve before the South Carolina game in the season opener — the offensive line being the most obvious — for State to live up to some of the lofty predictions being placed on it at this point of the offseason.Â O’Brien will also need for most if not all key players to remain healthy and ready to go through pre-season practices, where the Pack experiencing personnel losses have seemingly grow into an annual tradition that predates the O’Brien era.
At the same time, in the Star-News online article, O’Brien added that “there’s nothing wrong with high expectations. We want to win every game. We want to win our division, and I don’t know if you can tamp the expectations down around here.
“But the reality is that you have to play the season. We have to take care of our business. If we do what we’re supposed to do, maybe we can match those expectations.”
One thing is certain: having high hopes is a welcome change for State fans, who have been waiting for one of their major sports teams to be a solid contender for several years now.Â The football team’s rebuilding process has been proceeding nicely, and this upcoming season is the first one in a long time where Pack fans can spend the summer rubbing their hands together and looking towards fall with some excitement.Â The trick is to keep hope and common sense wired together and the expecatations realistic: State is by no means a BCS caliber team yet, but it may well grow into one as the season progresses, especially if it comes out of the gate playing as well as it played last November.