The Wolfpacker

September 2015

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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34 ■ THE WOLFPACKER Jacoby Brissett, the defense to pick up where it left off and the new players on spe- cial teams to be able to step in and handle the game pressure." Latimer: "The Wolfpack has to be better on defense. Finishing in the bottom third of the ACC in total defense isn't going to cut it, and NC State was particularly bad at getting opposing teams off the field — 11th in the ACC in total defensive snaps played. That has to improve if State is going to take a place as a contender in the Atlantic." Along those lines, what areas concern you most about the Wolfpack? Batten: "The offensive tackle spots are critical to the success of the offense and keeping Brissett healthy. But there's a glar- ing lack of experienced depth at those posi- tions, and one injury could change the en- tire dynamic of NC State's offensive front." Giglio: "Fewer drops by the receivers would help Brissett on the consistency front. Kicker Nik Sade wasn't as good his first two seasons as he was his last two seasons. It isn't unreasonable to think that freshman Kyle Bambard or redshirt fresh- man Jackson Maples could struggle like Sade did as a first-time starter. "Both tackles on the offensive line were very steady last season. Alex Barr, a red- shirt senior, should be able to hold down the fort at right tackle, but a redshirt fresh- man (Tyler Jones) at left tackle will prob- ably involve a learning curve." Latimer: "Is the Wolfpack secondary go- ing to progress? There are oodles of weap- ons on offense and a pretty solid bit of experience on the offensive line, but NC State's pass defense has to build on the progress it made on the back end of 2014. Otherwise, State is just another intriguing team with a spotty and inconsistent de- fense. The ACC has plenty of those." What game (or games) on the schedule is a good barometer test for State? Batten: "Old Dominion, in the third game, will be a good test. The Monarchs really gave the Wolfpack all they could handle and more in the first half last year, so coming out strong and taking them out early this time around would be a sign of NC State's progress. Two weeks later, the Wolfpack gets Louisville at home to kick off its ACC schedule. We'll find out in that game if State is ready to compete for a spot in the upper echelon of the ACC Atlantic Division." Giglio: "Louisville at home. NC State should be 4-0 going into that game. Louis- ville is also in a rebuilding year. At home, that's a game NC State should probably win, especially after how it played last year at Louisville. The road games with Wake Forest and Boston College will be impor- tant hurdles as well." Latimer: "Beat Louisville. That's it. State has to take its place as the 'other' power in the Atlantic Division behind Clemson and Florida State, and that's the goal — knock off Louisville this year and do it con- sistently. Without that, sneaking in a win against Clemson or Florida State (which, based on history, will happen occasionally) can only do so much to propel the Wolfpack. With superiority over Louisville, State has a path to legitimate national relevance." Which NCSU players do you feel are good enough to be all-conference contenders? Batten: "Jacoby Brissett is an obvi- ous contender at quarterback. I also think Shadrach Thornton is in for a big season at running back, despite all the young guns waiting in line behind him. It'll be a battle between redshirt junior David J. Grinnage and Cam Serigne at Wake for the All-ACC tight end spot. On defense, I really like sophomore defensive tackle B.J. Hill, ju- nior cornerback Jack Tocho and redshirt sophomore linebacker Jerod Fernandez." Giglio: "Usage and piling up big stats might be an obstacle for the running backs, but either Shadrach Thornton or Matt Dayes is certainly an All-ACC caliber talent. I put together the All-ACC list for Lindy's preview magazine, and I had senior guard Joe Thuney on there. If NC State hits some of the rushing marks — 200 yards All three beat writers specifically mentioned senior running back Shadrach Thornton as an all-conference caliber talent. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN

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