Aug 13, 2012

2012 ACC Previews: NC State with Backing The Pack

Image courtesy NC State Athletics

As the college football season draws closer, we’re taking a look at all of our partner schools with some of the bloggers who know them best. Akula Wolf from Backing The Pack joins us to talk NC State.

The Wolfpack kick off the season in Atlanta against Tennessee and also take road trips to Miami and Clemson later in the year. They will host ACC Atlantic preseason favorite Florida State in Raleigh but will need more than that game to win their first division title.

2011 Record: 8-5

2011 Bowl: Belk Bowl vs. Louisville, 31-24

2012 Bowl Projections:

Orlando Bowl History

1978 Tangerine Bowl* vs. Pittsburgh, 30-17
2001 Visit Florida Tangerine Bowl vs. Pittsburgh, 19-34
2003 Mazda Tangerine Bowl vs. Kansas, 56-26
2010 Champs Sports Bowl vs. West Virginia, 23-7

The original Tangerine Bowl (from 1947-1982) was a precursor to today’s Capital One Bowl. When the Russell Athletic Bowl was moved to Orlando in 2001, it adopted the old Tangerine Bowl name.

Q&A with Akula Wolf from Backing The Pack

Describe the 2011 season in two words.

Mostly palatable.

In his last three games of 2011 (including the Belk Bowl), Mike Glennon threw for 11 touchdowns against two interceptions with 65% completion rate. Was that a sign of things to come?

I like to think so, but there are certain factors outside of Glennon’s control–the development or lacktherof of the WR corps, for one–that could hinder his growth in 2012. There’s no question that he improved as 2011 went along–it was his first year as the starter, so every game had its share of teachable moments, and he processed things quickly. With his raw skills, he could really take off in 2012.

On paper, what looks like the toughest game this season?

While Florida State hasn’t been able to re-claim a dominant position in the ACC over the last few years, the Pack’s 34-0 loss in Tallahassee last season was a strong statement about the pecking order in the Atlantic Division. I expect the Noles to be the biggest obstacle in the way of a division title for NC State, though Clemson isn’t far behind.

Tom O’Brien started slow in Raleigh but pushed his record above .500 last season. With what looks like his strongest team in 2012, are stakes higher among fans? Will eight wins be encouraging or disappointing?

Yeah, I think he’s established a different set of expectations over the last couple of years. This team was a win in College Park away from an ACC title game appearance in 2010, and the Pack finished strong to win eight games in 2011. We hope the team can build on last year’s finish, but at the same time I don’t think there are too many fans that feel eight wins would be an underachievement.

Best case/worst case scenario for the postseason.

Best case, NC State gets through a tough October 3-1 in the ACC, including a win over Florida State. The Pack then takes advantage of a more favorable November slate to reach the ACC championship game. I could see NC State landing in the Russell Athletic Bowl after a title game loss, as the Chick-fil-A folks might not be keen on inviting the Pack to what would be the team’s second game in Atlanta in 2012.

Worst case, the offense stagnates and the defense regresses thanks to inexperience at linebacker. The team endures a course correction, so to speak, in the turnover margin department. NC State finishes 6-6, or maybe even 5-7.

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