If you visit SFN with regularity, you have noticed that we have been running a poll for a couple of weeks now that asks if the Wolfpack will finish the season with a winning record? (at least 7-6 with a bowl appearance). With more than 1,400 votes cast, the results are currently running 58% to 42% predicting a better than .500 record for the Wolfpack in 2010. It has been particularly interesting to watch the poll evolve as voters have gotten more and more optimistic as we have gotten closer to the season.
To be fair, I understand that approach. If for no other reason than we are now at the start of the season without having lost any more key players for the season to injury. I think you can count just that achievement as our first â€˜winâ€™ of the year. The Wolfpackâ€™s injury list for Western Carolina isnâ€™t ideal, but it is an improvement from past seasons.
James Washington, who began the preseason as the No. 2 running back, leads the N.C. State injury report, which was released this morning. Washington has a hamstring injury and is out for Saturday’s 6 p.m. game with Western Carolina. During the preseason, redshirt freshman Dean Haynes and freshman Mustafa Greene moved ahead of Washington and Curtis Underwood (who’s now the No. 3 running back) on N.C. State’s depth chart.
Here is N.C. State’s complete injury list. The players with asterisks next to their names are out for the season:
Brandon Barnes, RB – ankle
Jarvis Byrd, CB – knee
Sylvester Crawford, DE – hip
R.J. Mattes, OG – knee
Quinton Payton, WR – finger
Jay Smith, WR – groin
James Washington, HB – hamstring
*Jesse Riley, DB – knee
*Rashard Smith, DB – knee
It appears that our fans arenâ€™t the only people whose outlooks for the season have improved throughout August camp. Almost every season preview that we saw leading up to the last week predicted the almost identical results for the 2010 Wolfpack:
- Generally a 6-6 record
- 4th place finish in the ACC Atlantic. For example, you can by click here here for a representative from the Wilmington-Star.
- Somewhere between #50 and #65 nationally – as exhibited by The Sporting News projection of #54 and Pre-Snap Read’s projection of #62 despite the following generally positive comments:
In a nutshell While not as talented as the Coastal division, the ACC Atlantic remains as unsettled as the Coastal â€” which features four top 30 teams â€” as the conference prepares for fall practice. Without question, N.C. State is capable of taking its division; as is Boston College, Clemson and Florida State, of course. If the Wolfpack are to be taking seriously as an ACC contender, however, they must improve on the defensive side of the ball, particularly in conference play. This defense was absolutely inept against ACC competition last fall, allowing at least 30 points in seven of eight conference affairs en route to a very poor finish. Is there any reason to expect an improvement? Yes, there is. If heâ€™s fully recovered â€” and he may not be â€” Irving will provide this group with a significant boost. He was a star prior to his injury; even if Irving is only at, say, 75 percent, heâ€™s still a premier college defender. Heâ€™ll highlight an improved back seven, though the Wolfpack will rely upon production from some relatively unproven contributors. If â€” and itâ€™s a large if â€” N.C. State can return to even its 2007 form on defense, the offense is good enough to lead this team to eight wins. Itâ€™s just a matter of time, in my opinion, before Tom Oâ€™Brien wins in Raleigh; heâ€™s too good a coach to expect otherwise. I think weâ€™ll see a better Wolfpack team in 2010, a team that will return to bowl play for the first time since 2005, but I have N.C. State finishing fourth in the Atlantic division. For a program fallen on hard times, a bowl trip would be just fine.
Dream season N.C. State goes 9-3, 6-2 in conference play, and take the Atlantic division. A win in the conference championship game sends the Wolfpack to the BCS.
Butâ€¦over the last few days the predictions of a definitively mediocre season have morphed into â€˜mediocre with some optimism!â€™. Iâ€™ll take it! Just today, the Winston-Salem Journal predicted the Wolfpack would win a solid eight games this season while the Boston Globe gave us some credit with a 3rd place prediction.
W-S Journal: They’ll beat â€¦ Western Carolina, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Boston College, East Carolina, Wake Forest, North Carolina, Maryland.
BG: 3. North Carolina State â€” The Wolfpack have been ripped apart by injuries the past few years, and that has given Tom Oâ€™Brien all sorts of problems putting together a cohesive unit. But quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Sean Glennon are back, and middle linebacker Nate Irving has recovered from a near-fatal car crash. If the Wolfpack stay healthy, they could be contenders.
Lastly, we wanted to draw special attention to this Wolfpack preview from one of the ACCâ€™s best bloggers. It gives you a nice view into the outside perception and view of the program.
Soâ€¦on the eve of the 2010 NC State football season, what is your prediction for the Wolfpackâ€™s season? Go â€œon the record’â€ with us in this entry so that you can stake claim to being the most accurate when the season ends. I am going to allow my newfound optimism raise my predictions from 6-6 to a revised 8-4. That is right â€“ and 8-4 record for the Wolfpack and trip to the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte!