2011 NC State Wolfpack Football Predictions and BCS Futures Odds
by Dave Schwab - 6/29/2011
North Carolina State had a breakthrough season in 2010 with a 9-4 record overall and a 5-3 record in the ACC. The Wolfpack ended the season on a high note with a 23-7 victory over West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl as a three-point underdog. This followed a 6-7 campaign in 2008 and an even more disappointing 5-7 record in 2009.
Unfortunately for NC State fans, a dispute this spring between quarterback Russell Wilson and the coaching staff over his desire to pursue his baseball career as well could not be resolved. So instead of him finishing his stellar college career as a member of the Wolfpack, Wilson decided to transfer to Wisconsin for his final year of eligibility.
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This is a tremendous blow to a program that appeared to have turned the corner and was ready to make a legitimate run at an ACC Title this year. Wilson not only threw for 3,563 yards last year, but he tossed 28 touchdown passes and added another 435 yards and nine TD’s on the ground. That kind of production will be next to impossible to replace on such short notice.
The task of moving forward without your star quarterback will fall squarely on the shoulders of Head Coach Tom O’Brien, who was already on shaky ground before buying some time with last year’s success. This will be his fifth season at the helm for NC State, and after going 16-21 in his first three seasons, he raised his overall record to 25-25 after 2010.
Not only did NC State lose Wilson as its QB, it also lost three of its four leading receivers from last year. The only player back from that group is tight end George Bryan, who caught 35 passes for 369 yards and three TDs last year. O’Brian is counting on WR T.J Graham to step up and fill some of the void after catching 25 passes for 316 yards as a junior. Look for the running game to become a more prominent part of the offensive scheme behind Mustafa Greene. He led the team in rushing in 2010 with 597 yards on 134 carries, but has the ability to handle a much larger work load at 6-foot-0 and 190 pounds.
The big question on offense will be the play NC State’s new starting QB Mike Glennon, who will be a junior this season. He threw a total of 13 passes last season backing up Wilson, so his experience level is almost non-existent. He does have decent size at 6-foot-6 and 217 pounds, but lacks any real mobility out of the pocket.
The one thing this team does have going for it is a defense that returns eight starters from last season’s unit that was ranked 29th in the nation in points allowed, giving up an average of 21.3 a game. The defensive line will be anchored by DT J.R. Sweezy and DE Jeff Rieskamp. Outside LB’s Audie Cole and Terrell Manning will help to round out the front seven, while the defensive secondary remains basically intact from last year. Led by ball-hawking FS Brandon Bishop, this could be the most talented set of defensive backs in the ACC; clearly making the defense the strong suit of this team.
2011 NC State Football Schedule
O’Brien should be able to iron out some wrinkles before things start to heat up, with a home opener against Liberty on Saturday, Sept. 3. The Wolfpack then have a road game against Wake Forest and a home game against Division II South Alabama before facing Cincinnati on the road in Week 4. The real test will come on Oct.29 when they travel to Florida State to play a Seminole team that is getting quite a bit of preseason Top 10 consideration. All told, if NC State wins the games it is supposed to, it could have enough wins to qualify for a minor bowl. However, it’s highly doubtful that the Wolfpack will remain in the Atlantic Division title picture past mid-season.
2011 NC State Futures Odds
The loss of Wilson took the Wolfpack out of any serious contention for a BCS Title, so Bodog has lumped them in the ‘Field Bet’ category at 20/1. JustBet has opened NC State as the fifth favorite at +1000 to win the ACC Atlantic Division, with only the Demon Deacons having longer odds at +2500. The Wolfpack are +3000 to win the conference with just Wake Forest and Duke having longer odds at +7000.
2011 NC State Football Predictions
It would be easy to completely write the Wolfpack off this season given that Wilson will not be behind center, but O’Brien did make some strides last season with this team on both sides of the ball. NC State will be hard-pressed to compete with Boston College and Clemson in the Atlantic Division, let alone Florida State, and could easily end up last, but there are enough wins on the schedule to squeeze out a 6-6 record and possible minor bowl bid.
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