About the Wolfpack
NCSU head coach Tom O'Brien is in his fourth year at the helm of the Wolfpack(16-21), he previously had been at Boston College and holds a career coaching record of 91-66. This is expected to be O'Brien's best team at NCSU as he has completely revamped the roster during his tenure.
There were times in the last decade where this game had an in-state feel to it. Former Nole assistent Chuck Amato captained the Pack and he hit the state of Florida hard for recruiting. That is no longer the case as O'Brien has focused on different areas for recruiting.
If the Pack are going to surprise in 2010 they will need junior quarterback Russell Wilson to continue to develop. Wilson completed 59% of his passes last year for 3,027 yards and 31 touchdowns. He added over 480 yards on the ground. Wilson is clearly one of the top athletes at the QB position in college football, but he needs to be more consistent, particularly at crunch time.
There is solid depth at QB with highly touted Mike Glennon(sophomore) waiting in the wings.
All of Amato's talented RBs have graduated and the running back spot is very much up for grabs. Curtis Underwood(jr) and Brandon Barnes(rfr) are expected to get the lions share of carries, but keep an eye on Boone running back James Washington; he is in position to see plenty of action.
The wide receiver core is loaded with experience. Senior Owen Spencer averaged 25.5 yards per catch(30-765) and he scored six touchdowns; he will team with Jarvis Williams(45-547, 11 TDs) to form a potent duo. There are several younger players who are looking to step up. Junior George Bryan(40-422, 6) is the starter at Tight End.
The biggest question mark on the offensive side of the ball is the line. It is expected to be a young unit with three sophomores, one junior, and one senior starting. Despite some great runners, NCSU has not averaged four yards per carry in 11 years, it is hard to see this young unit getting it done.
The defense has been atrocious in O'Brien's tenure; the Pack have yielded 31.2, 26.3, and 28.3 points per game the last three years. Clearly this unit is going to need to be much better in 2010 if they are to make a move in the ACC.
The defensive line might be the most inexperienced group in the country with a combined eight starts returning. They are really going to need some young players to step up. The linebacker group is improving and they are hoping for a big year from Nate Irving at middle linebacker. Irving is returning from an injuries he sustained in a car accident that forced him to miss last season.
Mental errors from the defensive backfield killed the Pack in 2009. They tried a number of different starting units, but never found one that worked. The upside is that six different players return that started a game last year and several talented freshmen will also join the mix. This unit should be better.
FSU should be heavily favored in this one; with a dynamic offense playing at home vs. a suspect defense, the Noles should put up some big numbers in this one.
NCSU's hope is the Nole defense is just as porous as it was last year, however that is unlikely with the improved talent and a new defensive coordinator.
Christian Ponder and Wilson are two of the top QBs in the ACC(in Ponder's case, the country) and this game should see it's share of scoring. NCSU's defensive backfield will need to play their best game vs. the talented size and speed that we have on the outside.
In the end, the Noles are better on both sides of the ball and the game is at home. Anything less than a comfortable win will be a disappointment.