Can you believe that football practice starts in just a month and a half?
To get yourself off on the right foot you can click here to see all of the pre-season entries for the 2008 season that we have logged thus far.
====> Phil Steele likes Heels, Deacs, Tigers
As we have said multiple times before – when Phil Steele speaks, we listen. And, we suggest that you listen, too. The N&O’s ACCNow Blog spoke with Steele last week and had a nice piece on their blog that can be read by clicking here.
Steele was high on the Wolfpack last year but isn’t as high on the Pack’s chances this year. His rationale last season was consistent with one of the metrics that he uses in his analysis – turnover margin (and even some penalties) generally even out over the long term. So, if a team (NC State) has a horrible turnover margin and loses a lot of close games (2006) then they have a higher likelihood of turning that around the next season (2007). Unfortunately for Steele and the Wolfpack, State’s turnover margin in 2007 ranked at the bottom of NCAA teams just as it did in 2006.
It is hard to complain with Steele this pre-season as well. He echoes the position that SFN has taken that – NC State could be a much better team on the field in 2007 but not see a corresponding improvement in our record due to the difficulty of our schedule.
ACC Now: You were higher on N.C. State last year. What do you think of the Wolfpack in Tom O’Brien’s second season?
Steele: “With a new head coach, you usually see their best team in the third year because they’re playing their own recruits and all the players are familiar with systems.
N.C. State had some growing pains last year. The negatives this year are the amount of people that they lose. They only have 10 starters back and just 25 lettermen.
Plus, they (NC State) play what I rank as the 10th-toughest schedule in the country. South Carolina, East Carolina and South Florida are all tough games. It will be difficult for them to improve last season’s record against that schedule.”
1. Miami: Charleston Southern, at Florida, at Texas A&M, UCF
2. Virginia: USC, Richmond, at Connecticut, East Carolina
3. North Carolina: McNeese State, at Rutgers, Connecticut, Notre Dame
4. North Carolina State: at South Carolina, William & Mary, East Carolina, South Florida
5. Boston College: at Kent State, UCF, Rhode Island, Notre Dame
6. Wake Forest: at Baylor, Mississippi, Navy, Vanderbilt
7. Virginia Tech: at East Carolina, Furman, at Nebraska, Western Kentucky
8. Duke: James Madison, Northwestern, Navy, at Vanderbilt
9. Maryland: Delaware, at Middle Tennessee, California, Eastern Michigan
10. Clemson: Alabama, Citadel, South Carolina State, South Carolina
11. Georgia Tech: Jacksonville State, Mississippi State, Gardner-Webb, at Georgia
12. Florida State: Western Carolina, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Colorado, Florida
Let’s take a quick look at the head to head comparison from easiest to toughest.
Home cupcake – McNeese State vs William and Mary – Edge: Push. Who cares?
Road challenge – at Rutgers vs at South Carolina – I know Rutgers has been good recently, but they’ve lost Ray Rice and they are still…Rutgers. Playing on the road in the SEC at a school coached by Steve Spurrier who has now been around long enough to cobble together multiple Top 25 recruiting classes. – Edge: NC State.
Home: regional game of interest – UConn vs USF – two good Big East teams. I have a lot of respect for Coach Edsall and UConn, so I will not therefore automatically choose USF based on their ability to earn a #2 national ranking and play in a better bowl game last year than UConn. – Edge: I’ll call it a push for fairness.
Home: emotional ‘Big Game’ – Notre Dame vs ECU. At first glance this is an easy answer. That is the problem. Hayes went with it at first glance. Notre Dame was one of the worst team’s in the country last year. East Carolina was in contention for a conference championship and played in their second consecutive bowl game. ECU finished ahead of the Irish in every conceivable ranking system in the country. We’re talking about ‘difficulty’ here. ECU cares about beating NC State a helluva lot more than Notre Dame cares about beating UNC-CH. Edge: If you don’t call it a push, then you have to give the edge for difficulty to ECU until Notre Dame becomes relevant again.
====> Rivals Ranks Pack #68
Rivals.com is counting down every Football Bowl Subdivision team in the country. NC State ended last season ranked 76th and starts this season 68th. The don’t have anything earth shattering in their commentary but they lay out reasonable expectations for us this season.
THE BUZZ: O’Brien already proved he could win in the ACC during his Boston College tenure. By winning five of their final six games last season, the Wolfpack showed that O’Brien already had corrected the discipline problems that had developed during predecessor Chuck Amato’s ill-fated final season. That season-ending 37-0 humiliation against Maryland that cost NCSU a bowl bid also should give the Wolfpack plenty of motivation as they head into 2008. North Carolina State won’t contend for a division title until it gets improved play at quarterback, but a bowl is a legit goal.
====>NYT Blog Ranks Pack #80
We always like to tip our hat to our NC State blogging bretheren, so this link will take you to RAWFS’ entry on the NYT’s less optimistic view of NC State’s 2008 football season.
====>BJD’s Early Look at the Schedule
Since this entry has taken a turn towards pre-season commentary on the Wolfpack’s season, it is only natural to link our own BJD’s quick comments about each game on the 2008 schedule.
The only evidence Tuesday that Rivers is recovering from an injury is the brace he was sporting on his right knee at the Chargers training facility. Rivers wore a brace on both knees in college, but got away from it in the NFL. He’ll continue to wear a brace this season.
Rivers said that he has passed the “danger zone,” of his rehabilitation. The knee is strong and outside of a fluke incident, he only needs to strengthen the muscles around it.
Rivers admitted that he did get a little impatient with the injury at first. Antsy is a more accurate description. And who can blame him? The four-year starter at North Carolina State waited behind incumbent Drew Brees for two seasons before getting his chance to start for the Chargers in 2006. All he’s done since then is pass for 6,540 yards and 43 TDs in the last two seasons.