We’ve had some nice entries and conversations on the blog and the message boards with this week-long stretch between Wolfpack Basketball games. So, why not spend a few minutes on some football items?
Looking Back, Looking Ahead
We are heading into ‘spring practice time’ and ‘The Wolfpacker’ released a lot of good information on the spring in their digital newspaper yesterday. Reading the first couple of pages will serve to elevate the names of some potential key contributors onto your radar.
CFN has put together “Look Back, Look Ahead” for every team in the ACC.
NC State: Assuming QB Russell Wilson is back in the saddle and not playing baseball full-time, the Pack could have the ACCâ€™s most prolific passing game. Not only is Wilson a two-time all-star, but heâ€™s loaded with accomplished receivers. Receivers Owen Spencer and Jarvis Williams combined for 17 touchdown catches, and George Bryan was the leagueâ€™s first team tight end. If LB Nate Irving can return to his old form after suffering injuries from last summerâ€™s car accident, itâ€™ll give a big boost to the defense.
You can click here for the full write-up on NC State.
Recap: North Carolina State is regressing, an anomaly in the head coaching career of Tom Oâ€™Brien. The Pack finished with seven losses for a third consecutive year and below .500 for a fourth season in-a-row, failing to build on last yearâ€™s 6-6 mark. Although QB Russell Wilson did all he could to keep the team competitive, even his 31 touchdown passes werenâ€™t enough to overcome one of the ACCâ€™s worst defenses. After peaking with a 38-31 win over Pitt on Sept. 26, State dropped six of the next seven games to sink completely out of bowl contention
Looking Ahead: Naturally, the Pack wants to reverse the recent trend by getting back over .500 and contending in a wide-open Atlantic Division. First, itâ€™ll need to determine if Wilson will be under center or signing a contract to play Major League Baseball. If he bolts, the Mike Glennon era in Raleigh begins sooner than expected. The defense will get a lift from the return of LB Nate Irving, who missed the season following a car accident.
Spring Power Rankings
Heading into spring practice, ESPN’s Heather Dinich rated NC State 8th in the conference in her power ratings:
“The young secondary will still be an issue, and the Pack will be without their starting quarterback, Russell Wilson, all spring because of his baseball obligations. The defense should improve with the return of Nate Irving, but itâ€™s still unclear how much heâ€™ll be able to do this spring.”
The following was how she views the conference heading into the spring:
1. Virginia Tech
5. Boston College
6. Georgia Tech
8. NC State
10. Wake Forest
Out of Conference Strength of Schedule Ratings
Yesterday, Dinich released her rankings of the out of conference schedules of ACC Football teams. One can always argue things in the margin, but I can generally understand her thoughts with these rankings. If I had to choose one item to challenge – I think I would have ranked Clemson’s schedule a little higher.
The three Triangle schools stack up as follows:
4. Duke: Elon (9-3), Alabama (14-0), Army (5-7), at Navy (10-4): The Blue Devils will face the defending national champs. It doesnâ€™t get much tougher than that, and Army and Navy are hardly pushovers these days.
5. North Carolina: LSU (9-4), at Rutgers (9-4), East Carolina (9-5), William & Mary 11-3: The Tar Heels kick off the season in the national spotlight, but donâ€™t dismiss a road trip to Rutgers, and the battle for the unofficial state championship.
6. NC State: Western Carolina (2-9), at UCF (8-5), Cincinnati (12-1), at East Carolina (9-5): Two road trips to respectable bowl programs, plus the matchup against Cincinnati, which was one of the nationâ€™s top teams a year ago.
As always, our Football Forum will provide you an efficient place to pick and choose other recent conversations and relevant topics of interest. Go State!