Last season's NC State squad came with a totally new look and feel from what we were used to seeing from the Wolfpack. Gone were the dynamic quarterbacks in Mike Glennon and Russell Wilson and gone was longtime head coach Tom O'Brien, relieved of his coaching duties after a another sub-par season. The beginning of a new era in NC State football came when the Pack hired former NIU head honcho Dave Doeren, who had compiled a 23-4 career record with the Huskies. His dynamic offensive scheme and solid defense at NIU made him somewhat of a steal for the Wolfpack, which needed a fresh start. And then 2013 happened.
The Pack went winless in ACC play on their way to a 3-9 record in the first season under rookie coach Doeren. The season culminated with an eight game losing streak that included an embarrassing loss to ECU along the way; a fitting end to a disappointing season. The outlook in 2014 for the Pack is not a whole lot brighter than it was in 2013, and that could mean good things for the Jackets when they meet up in Raleigh this season.
NC State finished 52nd in the nation in rushing defense last season. When you couple that with the sheer amount of talent they lost off of their defensive line from last season and potential injuries, we could be looking at a very weak NCSU run defense for the Jackets to rip this season. The Pack will be minus a whopping seven (!) defensive starters from last season when they ranked towards the bottom of the ACC in the category even with their veterans. Their secondary should be just as vulnerable, which should help the triple option function really well, especially on pitches to the perimeter, and maybe even supplement the Tech passing game which was pretty atrocious last season.
While NC State will almost certainly struggle to contain the Yellow Jackets when the two teams meet, Tech's defense should have no problem handling the NCSU offense which was bad last season and promises to be equally stagnant this season. Their offense from last season was ranked 99th in the nation in terms of points scored at just short of 23 per game, leaving much to be desired for their 2014 team. The problem for the Puppies offensively, however, is the same problem that the defense will face in 2014: lack of experience and lots of departed talent. The Pack will start week one without their starting quarterback, two top receivers, top tight end, and the better half of their offensive line from 2014, which could make their offense... questionable. The only problem I foresee for the Jackets offensively will be applying pressure to the QB, whoever it may be late this season. Tech's pass-rushing unit is hardly as strong as it has been in the past and will need to bring its A-game each week in order to make a real impact.
All things considered, the Jackets really shouldn't have a big problem handling the Wolfpack in 2014. Tech's veterans on both sides of the ball (and NC State's lack thereof) should propel the Jackets to an easy victory in come November. My prediction for a final score is somewhere in the neighborhood of 45-17, but proceed with caution! A few experts are picking Georgia Tech to be upset by the Pack in Raleigh, and that certainly wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility if everything falls into place. If the Jackets overlook NCSU in preparation for facing Clemson the week after, things could go downhill really quickly. I can't speak for everyone, but I'm perfectly content with not getting upset again any time soon. Not after MTSU. Oh the terrible memories...
How do you think the Jackets will fare against the Wolfpack this season? Will they dominate the doggies or struggle and end up taking the L?