It’s Friday and you know what that means! Well… yes, technically it means that “the UNC scandal should be over“, but it also means that it’s time for the next preview for the 2012 NC State football season! If you haven’t already, make sure to check out our previous 5 previews leading up to our home match-up with FSU on October 6th!
Last season, by the time NC State met FSU in Tallahassee, the Wolfpack were four wins into their impressive 8-win season with impressive wins over Liberty, South Alabama, Central Michigan, and Virginia. Sarcasm aside, NC State was at a critical point in their season where after 7 games, the Pack had no hallmark wins. An away win against #23 FSU could set O’Brien up for a comeback to salvage the 2011 season.
The result was a 0-34 shut-out and a long, long ride back to Raleigh.
At the end of the season, FSU finished with a strong 9-win season earning marquee wins over Notre Dame and a 21-7 drubbing of Florida.
Last season, FSU’s offensive line was more suspect than some of NC State’s modern teams. Much derided for FSU’s 104th in the nation rushing ranking, their offensive line was studded with young, inexperienced players. The offensive line was blamed last year for everything from failing to set-up the run to making first-year quarterback EJ Manuel vulnerable, resulting in injury against Oklahoma that would take him out of the game and would keep him from starting the next two. FSU lost all three contests, contributing to their disappointing 9-win season.
This season, FSU returns several players on the line including a starting guard and center. Their line coach is arguably the best line coach in the country, so with one year under the young line’s belt, this unit may have plugged up their holes from last season.
Last season, Florida State was a solid program, but not meeting the standards that they have learned to set for themselves. They ranked in the 30′s for total offense. Again, solid for an ACC team, but not the top-10 rankings they were earning just a few short years ago.
On offense, they were completing almost 65% of their passes averaging 8.72 yards per completion. Compare that to Glennon’s 62.4% completion rate at 6.7 yards each and you can start to see what is meant saying FSU was “solid for an ACC team”. On the ground, FSU attempted slightly fewer rushes than NC State while tacking on slightly more yardage. Overall, they averaged a mere 3.34 yards per carry on 437 carries and scored 20 touchdowns on the season to our 10 in the rushing game.
Aside from their front line, FSU is stacked on offense. Their running back unit has seen several career-ending injuries from last season and one felony charge, but FSU has one thing NC State lacks… depth. Early enrollee Mario Pender and junior Devonta Freeman are studs that could give the Wolfpack problems, especially if our linebacking unit isn’t solid.
The story is much the same in the receiving corp. Depth, depth, depth. With EJ Manuel healthy and returning for the 2012 season, our secondary is going to have Hell to deal with, even in the safe confines of Carter-Finley.
Brandon Jenkins and Bjoern are two ends that combined for a total of 15 sacks last season. Needless to say, FSU has a “pretty good” defense, even in a 9-win season. This year, FSU will have an amazing defense that is capable of stopping even the most prolific offenses. Last season, the ‘Noles only allowed 6.23 yards per completion, 2.35 yards per carry, and will be returning 9 of their defensive starters. This won’t be an easy defense to crack. FSU lost some key defensive backs last year, but their talent in depth will keep them out of trouble.
I would add something negative or some key to victory here, but there’s not much to add. FSU has a solid defense. Be afraid.
IF our offensive line can hold solid against a superior defensive squad, IF our defensive frontline can keep pressure on EJ Manual, and IF our talent gaps at linebacker can be filled, NC State may be able to come away with an upset. Either way, it’s either going to be an expected loss or an impressive upset. If O’Brien can beat FSU, regardless of whether the game is at home or away, he should feel comfortable about his ability to beat anyone else on the schedule, bowl included. FSU is going to be a difficult opponent that is beatable, but only if NC State out-performs the Seminoles. No “exploiting mistakes” in this game…