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Preview: N.C. State Wolfpack Offense and Coaching

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Wake Forest had a rough season last year, but one of the brighter spots was beating N.C. State 28-13. It was the Deac's 6th straight win in Winston-Salem over N.C. State, as the Wolfpack sputtered to an 0-8 conference record in the ACC.

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Opponent: N.C. State Wolfpack

Time: November 15th , TBA

TV: TBD

Location: Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC

Head Coach: Dave Doeren (3-9)

Series History: N.C. State leads the overall series 63-38-6, including a 19-5 record at Carter-Finley Stadium

2013 Record: 3-9

N.C. State started off hot at 3-1 in its first year under Dave Doeren, but finished the season on an 8 game losing steak, that included going winless in the ACC. What will the Pack look like this year? Check out below for an offensive and coaching look at N.C. State.

Offense

The Wolfpack struggled a bit offensively last year at 22.8 points per game, but a lot of that could be contributed to injury, as well as lack of consistency from the quarterback position. Transfers Pete Thomas (Colorado State), and Brandon Mitchell (Arkansas) are both gone from Raleigh after one season, and now it is Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett to step into the spotlight.

Brissett left Florida after Jeff Driskel won the starting job in the fall of 2012. Backing him up will be Sophomore Bryant Shirreffs, who played limited minutes last year for the Pack. Brissett will be a very good option for N.C. State moving forward, especially with the duo of receivers in Bryan Underwood and Marquez Valdez-Scantling.

Rashard Smith, the leading receiver for the Wolpack last year with 49 catches has  graduated, so now it is up to Underwood and Valdez-Scantling to pick up where he left off. Underwood caught 32 balls for 382 yards, while Valdez-Scantling caught 22 for 281 yards. Underwood will replace Smith at the Z-WR positon and Valdez-Scantling will be the primary target at the X-WR position.

There is also reason for optimism in Jumichael Ramos, who had a couple of good games against Boston College and North Carolina.

If the corps can stay injury free, I like a reasonable sized jump in passing ratings for Brissett and Co. this year.

If the passing game is going to be successful at all, the running game will have to be better than it has recently for N.C. State. The good news is that there are several options to make that dream a reality this year. The Pack return all three of its top running backs in Shadrach Thornton, Matt Dayes, and Tony Creecy. The three combined for 1145 yards on 270 carries last year (9 TD's).

The three definitely need to work on getting better yards per carry, and they will be pushed by two redshirt freshmen (Quinton Patterson and Dakwa Nichols), and a true freshman in Jaylen Samuels, to make sure they are putting up a strong running game.

That running game will certainly be bolstered by a massive offensive line and a fair amount of experience returning. The line returns 71 starts (23 coming from senior RT Tyson Chandler), and not a single lineman is under 6-foot-4, with only Joe Thuney (at a measly 286) being under 300 pounds.

With the misdirection offense that Coach Doeren likes to run, the second season could be a nice move up the statistical rankings offensively for the Wolfpack. It will be interesting to see how the jet sweeps, zone reads and motions by the wide receivers will translate with a higher comfort level in the offense. Last year it was a smoke and mirrors show that simply did not produce many good fireworks.

Coaching

Dave Doeren probably knew it wouldn't be easy to win in Raleigh during his first season, but I can't imagine in his worst nightmares he saw N.C. State going 3-9 (0-8 in the ACC). There isn't much place to go except up for the Wolfpack, and the schedule starts out extremely manageable with Georgia Southern, Old Dominion, @South Florida, and Presbyterian comprising the first four games of  the season.

Doeren didn't face much adversity at Northern Illinois, as he compiled a 23-4 overall record, inlcuding an Orange Bowl appearance in his second season. It will be very interesting to see how he bounces back from it in his second season in the ACC.

Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada will be relied on heavily to bring some stability to that side of the ball. He excelled in the run game coaching while at Northern Illinois and Wisconsin, and that is something that must improve with the three-headed monster at running back this season. Once again, adaptation is something that will need to be handy for the entire staff if they wish to keep moving up in the ACC.

Defensive Coordinator Dave Huxtable has bounced around pretty much everywhere the past 20 years, as he coached at 9 different schools from 1990-2013, including a two year stint at North Carolina. He has a lot to work with, including possibly one of the better secondaries in the ACC. The 30 points allowed per game last year won't cut it though, and improvement is important on the defensive side of the ball as well.

One more year like the year that N.C. State had in 2013, and it is safe to say that Pack fans will be chomping at the bit for improvement.

Stay tuned as we preview the N.C. State defense and special teams later this week.