Louisiana Tech (0-0) at NC State (0-0) Aug. 31, 12:30, ACC Network
Why You Should Give A Hoot: New coaching staffs in both locker rooms will be looking for the kind of fast start in Raleigh that builds player confidence and a head of steam.
NC State canned underachieving Tom O'Brien last year, replacing him with upwardly-mobile Dave Doeren, who earned his promotion while at Northern Illinois. Mired in mediocrity for far too long, the Pack last won at least 10 games more than a decade ago, and last wore an ACC crown in 1979. While there are no quick-fixes here, Doeren was rather hasty in his two seasons in DeKalb.
When Sonny Dykes got promoted to Cal, Louisiana Tech looked to a familiar face in college football circles, filling its opening with deposed South Florida coach Skip Holtz. Holtz takes over a Bulldogs' team that peaked with nine wins in 2012, but begins its first year in Conference USA with just a handful of returning starters on both sides of the ball.
Why Louisiana Tech Might Win: The offense may be undergoing an overhaul, both staff and personnel, but it still has a chance to be rather potent in 2013. Texas Tech transfer Scotty Young is a former four-star recruit, and RB Kenneth Dixon is coming off a Freshman All-American season in 2012. If WR Paul Turner, an import from LSU, is given the green light to join South Florida transfer Sterling Griffin right away, they'll face an overhauled Pack secondary breaking in three new starters.
Why NC State Might Win: The Louisiana Tech D was arguably the flimsiest in America last year. It won't be much improved this year. The Wolfpack has yet to announce who'll be the starting quarterback, but that guy is going to enjoy throwing on an FCS-caliber defensive backfield. Even as Quintin Payton nurses a protracted injury, State's receivers remain deep with the return of Bryan Underwood. RB Tony Creecy is capable of carrying the load on the ground now that Shadrach Thornton has been suspended for the opener.
Who To Watch Out For: Compelling game for those who like to watch quality D-linemen in action. Both teams are stacked up front; State will get after Young with ends Art Norman and Darryl Cato-Bishop and underrated tackles T.Y. McGill and Thomas Teal. Tech's best defenders are DE IK Enemkpali and DT Justin Ellis.
- Doeren will keep everyone in the dark until game day on his choice for quarterback. It's narrowed to two transfers, Colorado State's Pete Thomas or Arkansas' Brandon Mitchell. The smart money is on Thomas.
- Young has a very live, but will Holtz unleash it? The coach has had a penchant for running offenses that are—too—conservative.
- NC State is looking for breakout stars on defense. Senior CB Dontae Johnson, for one, is ready to answer the call, beginning with this Saturday's opener.
What Will Happen: Someone is going to capture his first win on a new campus. And that someone is Doeren. Yeah, his team is a work-in-progress, but this week's opponent is starting at an even more rudimentary stage. The Pack will have its way with the Bulldogs' defense, racing out to a lead that it never surrenders.
Prediction: NC State 38 … Louisiana Tech 20
Line: NC State -13.5 O/U: 62.5
Must See Rating: (5 Hard Knocks – 1 N'Sync at the VMAs) … 2
CFN'S Take: NC State vs. Louisiana Tech
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