OOC & Central Florida Preview (Updated 8/1)

Updated on August 1st
The N&O ran quick blog entry on the importance of the Wolfpack’s first game of the season with some focus on UCF Head Coach, George O’Leary. Link to comments.

O’Leary doesn’t have to embellish his resume when it comes to N.C. State. He went 6-1 against the Wolfpack as Georgia Tech’s head coach (1995-2001). The only loss came in 2000, to Philip Rivers, Koren Robinson and Levar Fisher.

UCF is not Georgia Tech but it won’t be a pushover on Sept. 1. The Knights went 4-8 in 2006 but have 17 starters returning, many of whom contributed to UCF’s 8-5 record in 2005.

July 8th Comments
Only EIGHT WEEKS before the 2007 football season kicks off for the Wolfpack who will take the field at Carter-Finley on September 1st at 6pm against George O’Leary’s University of Central Florida Golden Knights.

We’ve got a nice little entry on pre-season conversations about the 2007 football schedules of ACC teams that can be seen by clicking here.

This week, Andrew Jones of the Wilmington newspaper spent some time discussing NC State’s out of conference schedule. Jones projected that the Pack would go 3-1 against Central Florida, Wofford, Louisville and East Carolina. I’ll take that.

The Wolfpack has five games against teams that represent recent tremendous success or big-name programs with national championships in the past eight years. One of those contests is a trip to Boston College, where new N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien held the same post for the past decade.

With expected improved discipline that should reduce the silly mistakes that plagued this program the past few seasons, State should be in position to come out ahead of games it previously lost.

Since the Wolfpack opens with Central Florida – and Wofford doesn’t really count; and Louisville and East Carolina are later on the schedule – then why not spend a couple of minutes highlighting UCF?

Jones penned the following blurb:

Central Florida – Seventeen starters return to a team that went 4-8 a year ago, 3-5 in Conference USA. Senior quarterback Kyle Israel closed last season playing well, and coach George O’Leary expects him to pick up where he left off. Junior tailback Kevin Smith has run for more than 2,000 yards in his career. UCF gave up 40 or more points four times last season. State should win comfortably.

For a real in-depth preview on the Golden Knights you can click here to Fox Sports. The opening of the article reads as follows:

If you had UCF pegged the last three years, nice work, Nostradamus. Under George O’Leary, the Knights have been maddeningly unpredictable, going winless in 2004, recovering with eight wins and a school-first bowl game in 2005, and slumping to 4-8 last year as a preseason favorite to win Conference USA.

How the program responds to last season’s flop depends on the development of the heavy-legged defense, which ranked among the nation’s worst a year ago and might have been far worse had it not closed against four of the league’s most inept offenses in November. O’Leary believes he addressed the speed issue with February’s recruiting class, but most of those kids won’t begin contributing until 2008. That puts the pressure on a reshuffled coaching staff, namely new coordinator John Skladany, to turn dust into gold this fall.

The good news in Orlando is that 16 players who started last November’s finale will be back in 2007, although the pessimist will recall that about the same number returned to start last year’s disappointing season. The better news is the construction of Bright House Networks Stadium, a state-of-the-art, 45,000-seat facility that’ll replace the cavernous Citrus Bowl and be christened on national television when Texas visits Sept. 15. The on-campus stadium represents a great hook for future recruits and a far better college football feel for fans who used to travel downtown to see UCF games.

Recent history says it’s a waste of time trying to predict where the Knights will wind up this season, but what fun would that be? In a watered-down Eastern Division that houses just one above-average team, don’t be shocked if UCF defies the odds again and flirts with bowl eligibility. O’Leary is too good to let things slide for long.

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'07 Football General

37 Responses to OOC & Central Florida Preview (Updated 8/1)

  1. choppack1 07/08/2007 at 2:39 PM #

    Hard to believe it’s less than 8 weeks until the most important regular season in sports begins.

    I think UCF may be tougher than the pundits are giving them credit. It will be a good test for our squad and TOB. I’ll be paying particular to attention to our OL, QB and play-calling.

    I picked up the sporting news national preview. According to them, our D was basically the 10th or 11th best unit in the conference. If our D is going to stink, it will be a long year. And anyone who went to the spring game would have been terrified by the yards and space to run our RBs had.

  2. vtpackfan 07/08/2007 at 3:25 PM #


    I was there, and it wasn’t pretty. To their credit they were w/o Pressley, and if he is healthy and active than that completely changes our run defense, IMO. I still think Willis will be on the active roster this fall and watch out for JC transfer Holmes to possibly give us some depth at either DT or end.

    I thought that the “back seven” looked really good during the spring game. Our DB’s are clearly the strength of the defense, and while the LB corps is virtully unknown and untested, they looked good in Archers zone coverage scheme (against our QB’s, yeah allright).

    I won’t be too concerned if our overall defensive rankings slip this season. It’s a brand new staff that ultimately wants to go with a 3-4 that is having to work with personel picked for the 4-3. Not a big deal, programs switch it around all the time, more a recruiting philosophy that has already began to take shape.

    What I’m looking for on defense is the ability to be more optimistic (force TO’s), and if we can do better in goal line and short yardage situations. Those type aspects don’t usually show up in basic statistic categories (i.e. rushing defense, passing defense, overall, scoring defense).

    We will see eight weeks from now. Obviously UCF will be a true test for TOB and the Wolfpack. They have a great running back and four returning OL. It’s an intriguing matchup for Bible, and whoever the starting QB is. From the looks of it, we should be able go downfield to Blackmon and Dunlap early on.

  3. StateFans 07/08/2007 at 4:40 PM #

    If our LBs hold up, then we should be fine. DL has too many bodies who have played decently well in the past when given the chance to be horrible.

  4. choppack1 07/08/2007 at 4:57 PM #

    I’m probably reading too much into the spring game. I do think we have talent on the DL.

    Should be an interesting game – kickoff time is an hour earlier than I like for an early September…That field is going to be hot! Of course, you’ll be hard pressed to match that misery for the noon kickoff vs. Akron the 2nd week of the year. (To say nothing of the result.)

  5. VaWolf82 07/08/2007 at 7:34 PM #

    It’s a brand new staff that ultimately wants to go with a 3-4

    On a side note, the only college team that I have paid watched play a 3-4 is UVA. Over the last several years, they have had some outstanding linebackers, but never an outstanding defense.

    I’m not sold on the 3-4 for the college level….and certainly not for several years considering the current lack of quality depth in Raleigh.

  6. Mr O 07/08/2007 at 9:07 PM #

    UVa was 4th in the conference last year in total defense.

  7. RabidWolf 07/08/2007 at 9:47 PM #

    Our DL and LB’s will be fine, and the secondary will indeed be our strength (for a change). What will be interesting to watch will be the offense, especially the OL. Will the QB have enough time to check down? Will the RB’s (it’s sure nice to use the plural form of that) have holes and downfield blocking needed to use their speed and cutback abilities? I can’t wait to see everything unfold firsthand this season. Go Wolfpack!!

  8. bTHEredterror 07/08/2007 at 11:23 PM #

    O is the key I agree, I feel there is enough talent on D to compete. The key is OL and QB like every year since PR. Willie Young would be a good 3-4 rush LB, he moves well in space against the run chasing guys down, so I think he could switch to stand up on run downs and contain, and still be able to put a hand down and apply pressure on pass downs. I think we may a see 3-4 more and more as the year progresses. I can’t wait to see Bible’s offense, I think a large part of our personnel, at least the weapons, are tailor-made for what they ran at BC. Whether or not there is a field general to engage them properly, is what intrigues me.

  9. BJD95 07/09/2007 at 10:09 AM #

    I will believe that we won’t suck at LB when I see us not suck at LB. That has been a significant problem of late. Without a dominant (notice that I didn’t say it wouldn’t be GOOD) DL, that problem could really mushroom.

  10. primacyone 07/09/2007 at 12:00 PM #

    So in summary:

    This year our offense will be bad. This year our defense will be bad. And speacial teams isn’t looking that great either. But we should have less penalties.

    So in reality, are we going to be better or worse than last year.

    TOB says he doesn’t plan on his bowl streak ending this year.

  11. McPete 07/09/2007 at 12:39 PM #

    last year’s team was -11 in turnover margin, while the defense was at the bottom of the league in turnovers forced. the offense could be bad and still score more points if the D shortens the field with turnovers. and that is what the zone defense is designed to do. get the LB’s and DB’s turned toward the QB to read where passes are going. next year’s team will force more turnovers and, by limiting their own TO’s, score more and win more. there is plenty of experience returning on offense to move the ball, and i don’t think there will be any dominant defenses on the schedule next year (maybe Virginia).

  12. PamlicoPack 07/09/2007 at 2:41 PM #

    Amidst all the doom and gloom, let me hearken back to the summer of 1986, before Dick Sheridan’s first season. We were coming off three straight 3-8 seasons. Though I can’t remember specifics, I hardly think our talent level back then was significantly better than what we have coming back this year. Sheridan took that team to 8-2-1 in the regular season, and it would have been 9-1-1 if not for the inexplicable loss at a bad Virginia team.

    Two caveats: 1) that team lucked into a schedule that wasn’t as hard as it looked preseason. Pitt was top 20, but finished 5-5-1 that year. Maryland was also top 20 preseason, and ended up 5-5-1. UNC and Clemson were the only teams we beat who ended up with winning records for the season.

    2) that team was set with Erik Kramer as QB…but didn’t have nearly the strength and depth at running back that this team has. I don’t remember a thing about the 1986 team’s defense…it wasn’t that good either though, giving up 59 points to Georgia Tech, 38 to Wake, and 34 to UNC (but managing to go 2-1 in those games).

  13. noah 07/10/2007 at 1:44 PM #

    ” Though I can’t remember specifics, I hardly think our talent level back then was significantly better than what we have coming back this year.”

    That team had future NFL players in Erik Kramer, Naz Worthen, Haywood Jeffires, Mike Cofer and Ray Agnew starting for it. Jeffires and Agnew were both first round draft picks.

  14. TopTenPack 08/01/2007 at 11:01 AM #

    When NC State was looking for a basketball coach, there was an article here on SFN about the “new couch effect.” Put simply, a new coach usually does better in his for season than the team did in its last-no matter the circumstances. Could this be true for football too?

    I personally expect the pack to go to a bowl this year. TOB can do it!

  15. RochesterRedWolf 08/01/2007 at 11:04 AM #

    Agnew was one of the strongest guys that ever played at State, back then he had like the bench press record of something like over 500lbs

    Incidentally, both Toney Baker and Andre Brown at the beginning of last year, both had bench press bests of well over 400lbs. For their size that is amazing but you can tell the way they absolutely punish DB’s and Safeties, even linebackers

  16. RedTerror29 08/01/2007 at 11:08 AM #

    ^^I have a two year theory for football coaches. It takes two years for the system, terminology changes, etc. to sink in and the coach to get what he’s gonna get out of the talent he inherited. So we may suck this year, and BC may do very well, but I don’t expect that to continue.

  17. noah 08/01/2007 at 11:13 AM #

    Rochester, I don’t know if Agnew topped 500 or not. I know that Ricky Logo and Elijah Austin both did. Both set records for their max-press.

  18. primacyone 08/01/2007 at 11:50 AM #


    Agreed. We could easily suck this year. I really don’t see any reason why we should have any expectation to be better than last year, other than better discipline. I’m hoping for the best, but in all reality it is certainly a possbility we could be worse than last year.

  19. packbackr04 08/01/2007 at 12:23 PM #

    imagine if we still had Chuck!

  20. BJD95 08/01/2007 at 12:44 PM #

    We were 3-9 last year. I repeat, 3-and-f’ing-9. It’s hard to do worse than that, especially with UCF, Wofford, and UNC on the schedule. Most likely, we win 4 or 5 games, but there’s an outside chance of 6 or 7 wins. I don’t see us getting swept by all the non-awful opponents on our schedule.

  21. primacyone 08/01/2007 at 1:29 PM #

    It’s hard to do worse, but not out of the question. Most likely, we win 4 or 5 games, but there’s an easy outside chance of 2 or 3 wins. How are we better than last year? If we win 6 or 7 games, Dana Bible is remarkable. We won’t win games on defense or special teams.

    Central Florida (Could Lose)
     Boston College (Could Lose)
     Wofford (Win)
     Clemson (Could Lose)
     Louisville (Could Lose)
     Florida State (Could Lose)
     East Carolina (Could Lose)
     Virginia (Could Lose)
     University of Miami (Fla) (Could Lose)
     North Carolina (Win)
     Wake Forest (Could Lose)
     Maryland (Could Lose)

  22. ncsslim 08/01/2007 at 1:55 PM #

    My prognostication skills are legendarily bad. The mere attempt to as much as publically guessing scores has been known to change the outcomes of games…..

    But……., what an unusual 3-9 year. No doubt, by the last two games, the reality of the disaster had sunk in and we played like a 3-9 team, but prior to that (although the script pretty well remained the same: play tit-for-tat through the first half, making damn sure we don’t score, give up a couple painful easy ones, make a last gasp effort that ultimately would come up short…), we were in every game. We were a headcase team, and certainly have the nucleus to make TOB into a magician. Obviously, the most magic needs to come from the QB and OL positions, but although shallow in some positions (LB as much as any), we have some horses Amato would have killed for in 2000 (however, no Rivers/Robinson duo which, basically, got us through that first year). I know who we are, but damn, something good is bound to happen someday.

  23. noah 08/01/2007 at 2:06 PM #

    BTW, the guard from Wilson who failed to qualify will not be coming to NC State. I got an email this morning and apparently he’s going to Livingstone. I’m assuming that’s Div. II?

    During the O’Cain years, we’d occassionally lose a recruit or a player and he’d drift off to some smaller school. Aside from Chris McNeil (who was an excellent football player) lighting up inferior competition at NC A&T, where he had something like 25 sacks in a season and won the Buck Buchanon award, none of those losses/transfers ever really amounted to much.

    Tim Ramseur went off to App. State and I don’t even remember him being on their depth chart. There was that 6-5, 210 pound wide receiver who cheated on his SATs and was banned from NCAA comp. He went to Guilford and did okay (until they switched to I-AA and he had to quit football). O’Cain’s last class included some guys like Stevie Williams who ended up at Catawba (I think). Toki McCray was the third string QB at E. Kentucky. Jatavis Sanders was splitting time at QB for E. Tenn. State.

    There were literally dozens more. I don’t remember ANY of them doing anything.

    So, while I wish the kid from Wilson all the luck in the world and hope he gets a good education and sets the world on fire, I would be willing to bet that the only thing NC State lost was it’s future third-string guard. I think we can replace that.

  24. primacyone 08/01/2007 at 2:06 PM #

    I don’t think the defense and special teams will lose us games, they just won’t win any.

    My main concern is I’m not sure the QB and OL can score more than 23 points. Isn’t/Wasn’t 23 the magic number. I think it’s going to take that many again this year and I see us coming up a little short, just like last year.

  25. RochesterRedWolf 08/01/2007 at 2:08 PM #

    Last year

    9/2 Appalachian St W 23-10
    9/9 Akron L 20-17
    9/16 at Southern Miss L 37-17
    9/23 Boston College W 17-15
    10/5 Florida State W 24-20
    10/14 Wake Forest L 25-23
    10/21 at Maryland L 26-20
    10/28 at Virginia L 14-7
    11/4 Georgia Tech L 31-23
    11/11 at Clemson L 20-14
    11/18 at North Carolina L 23-9
    11/25 East Carolina L 21-16

    The Southern Miss game was just weird, and the Last UNC touchdown was a gift. Toss out the Southern Miss game and we lost by no more than a touchdown to every team plus we probably actually one the Akron game (toney baker’s dive that was ruled he was down at the 1in line). This just got me thinking about how horribly Amato coached the teams. I put it all on him, because he’s the glue. Alot of what the State kids did last year was on sheer talent alone. If you listen to the comments of Pressley and Blackman the team was really torn apart. But going back and looking at the scores from last year, and knowing we have alot of those guys back, and we have some good guys coming in, i think every week is going to be pretty interesting.

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