It was a rough season for the Wolfpack under first-year HC Dave Doeren, finishing with a final record of 3-9 (0-8 ACC). Simply put, this was not a good team last season. They only had 2 wins against FBS teams and barely got the win against FCS Richmond, winning 23-21.
QBs Pete Thomas and Brandon Mitchell - The two main QBs that the Wolfpack had last season, I think they are better off now with Jacoby Brissett, whom I'll talk about later. Combined, the two QBs completed 235 of 398 passes (59%) for 11 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. They were not very impressive (clearly), but again, they're better off with Brissett.
MLB David Caldwell - One of the two best players on the Wolfpack defense last season, David Caldwell will be missed dearly. He accounted for 11.7% of the tackles for the entire defense (1st on the team). His 14.5 TFL were also very impressive. The Wolfpack have three linebackers with playing time returning in Brandon Pittman, Rodman Noel, and MJ Salahudin.
FS Dontae Johnson - The other leading tackler on the Wolfpack defense, Dontae Johnson won't be missed as much in my opinion. This is because of Jarvis Byrd. The former four-star recruit will make a return to the gridiron for his senior season after missing most of last season and will be looking to make a huge impact on defense.
QB Jacoby Brissett - After transferring in from the University of Florida, Jacoby Brissett was pretty much named the starting QB for the upcoming season. After being overshadowed by Jeff Driskel at Florida, Brissett will finally get his opportunity to win.
4-star DE Kentavius Street - Kentavius was one member of a 32-man recruiting class. He will look to improve a nearly non-existent pass rush.
3-star ATH Troy Vincent, Jr. - The son of 5x Pro Bowl and Eagles Hall of Famer DB Troy Vincent (obviously his name), Troy Vincent, Jr. will look to add some more life to a secondary that, if healthy, could be one of the best in the ACC.
Player to Watch For: Offense
QB Jacoby Brissett - If you haven't noticed by now, I really like Jacoby Brissett's ability to fit into Dave Doeren's offense. The 6-4, 236 lbs QB will get to work with a very young receiving corps that includes former GT commit Jumichael Ramos.
Players to Watch For: Defense
The Secondary - Like I said earlier, if healthy, NC State's secondary could be one of the best in the ACC. Here is what Bill Connelly said in his NC State Preview about the secondary:
The run defense was an albatross, and the pass rush was only helpful on second- or third-and-long. Plus, star safety Jarvis Byrd played only six games, and with him out, four of the top five DBs were freshmen or sophomores. But NC State still ranked 35th in Passing S&P+, combining decent aggressiveness with top-notch big-play prevention.
Free safety Dontae Johnson is gone, but Byrd and the aforementioned youngsters return. They'll be joined by, among others, redshirt freshman Josh Jones and true freshmen Germaine Pratt and Troy Vincent, Jr., all of whom were either four- or high-three-star recruits. There are a lot of really good defensive backfields in the ACC this year; NC State's could be among the best, especially if it gets a little more help from the front seven this time around.
It'll be interesting to see how Dave Doeren's team improves in the second year in this offense. I fully expect Jacoby Brissett to settle in as the starting QB there and have a pretty good season. If the rest of the team can stay healthy, a bowl game appearance would be seen as a successful season.