Virginia Tech (2nd)
Georgia Tech (3rd)
2006 Preview & Prediction: N.C. State:
2005 RECORD: 7-5 overall, 3-5 ACC (T-4th in Atlantic).
HEAD COACH: Chuck Amato, 46-28 overall in six seasons at N.C. State.
KEY ADDITIONS: QB Justin Burke, WR LaMarcus Bond, CB DeAndre Morgan, DE Audi Augustin, TE Rashad Phillips, RB Cedric Hickman.
KEY LOSSES: DE Mario Williams, DE Manny Lawson, DT John McCargo, MLB Oliver Hoyte, CB Marcus Hudson, WLB Stephen Tulloch, OG John McKeon, TE T.J. Williams, OT Derek Morris, WR Brian Clark, WR Tramain Hall.
OFFENSE: The offensive play, particularly at quarterback, has been so horrid the last two years that it's almost inconceivable to imagine it being any worse. Junior Marcus Stone is the guy at quarterback and the entire success of the Wolfpack's season lies squarely on his shoulders. He was mediocre at best last year, throwing for eight touchdowns along with six interceptions.
Stone has to get a lot of help from the rest of the offense in order to be successful. Some of the help should come from the running backs, which are led by Andre Brown, who rushed for 667 yards and six touchdowns last year, and Tony Baker, who ran for 546 yards and five touchdowns in 2005. However, there are some holes on the offensive line and N.C. State lost two of its top three receivers. Improving on its brutal 25.5 percent third down conversion rate is also a must.
DEFENSE: How is it that a team can have so many players taken in the first round of the NFL Draft and still finish below .500 in the conference? Well, if they were that bad with so many studs, imagine what life will be like for the Wolfpack with a defense that is far worse.
LB James Martin had better step up and do a solid job or it will be a long season for Amato and N.C. State. The good news is there's plenty of experience in the secondary, but it won't matter if the inexperienced defensive line can't put pressure on the opposing quarterback. Another area the defense and offense has to improve in is penalties. The Wolfpack were 75th in the country last year in penalty yardage.
BY THE NUMBERS: 29.1 – Number of yards Darrell Blackman averaged per kickoff return last year, which led the ACC and ranked sixth nationally.
WHAT TO WATCH: With a very bad year expected and never having finished better than fourth, will this be the final year of red shoes, wild sunglasses and Amato in Raleigh?
PREDICTION: 4-8 overall, 1-7 ACC (6th in Atlantic).
RB Andre Brown
Head coach Chuck Amato