HEAD COACH: Tom O'Brien 74-45 overall in 10 seasons; first season at N.C. State.
RETURNING STARTERS: Offense: 8; Defense: 5.
KEY SIGNEES: WR Jay Smith, OL George Bryan, DB Dominique Ellis, DE Markus Kuhn, WR Steven Howard, DE Antoine Holmes.
KEY LOSSES: G LeRoy Harris, OT James Newby, DT Tank Tyler, S Garland Heath, LB Patrick Lowery, P/K John Deraney.
OFFENSE: N.C. State fans finally have a coach that won't tolerate stupid penalties or make careless decisions on the sidelines. He is man with a military background and he demands mental toughness. However, O'Brien, like so many other coaches in this league, has to find a quarterback capable of handling the duties. Daniel Evans may be the guy, but surely there's someone out there who can push him for playing time and possibly win the job. There's a reason why the Wolfpack were the only ones to offer him a scholarship out of high school, and they did so as a last resort. The junior's numbers were horrible last year and something has to improve here. Harrison Beck, a transfer from Nebraska, has a strong arm, but struggled to show consistency during the spring. The tailback situation is fine with juniors Toney Baker, Andre Brown and sophomore Jamelle Eugene. Receiver is also a solid unit with Darrell Blackman and John Dunlap returning. Tight end just became a question mark this past week when Anthony Hill, a potential first-team All-ACC performer was lost for the season after tearing his ACL. The very average line from a year ago has to replace its two best starters.
DEFENSE: There's a new defensive coordinator with the Wolfpack, but over the last few years, defense hasn't been a major issue with the team. His name is Mike Archer, who came from Kentucky, and he is more prone to running a 4-3 scheme as opposed to the 3-4 used under the previous staff. Also, N.C. State's secondary will employ more of a man-to-man coverage system as opposed to the zone, which had been in place. Archer hopes that the new system will help produce more turnovers, particularly interceptions. The Wolfpack had only seven picks last season, which tied for last in the conference with North Carolina. The team's top tackler in Pat Lowery is gone from his linebacking position, however there are three seniors that will start at linebacker. Special teams could be a problem as John Deraney, who handled all aspects of the kicking game last year, is gone.
BY THE NUMBERS: 6 – Exceedingly low number of touchdowns thrown by quarterback Daniel Evans last season.
RB Andre Brown