The Wolfpacker

September 2015

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 35 of 95

36 ■ THE WOLFPACKER per game, 5.0 per carry — from last season again, it deserves an offensive lineman on the first team." Latimer: "Shadrach Thornton, assuming he can avoid the random benching that kept him out of six quarters in 2014. I'd also look at redshirt senior Mike Rose as a potentially top-level defensive lineman as well." In year three for Dave Doeren, where do you feel he is headed with the program? Batten: "The program certainly took a major step forward in year two. But I think this year will reveal more and help us an- swer that question more accurately. Dave is starting to get players he recruited into prominent roles now, and he has certainly recruited very effectively. I think once we see how those players produce then we'll have a better vision of where the program is headed." Giglio: "The right direction, but like he said in Pinehurst, it's going to depend on how these last two recruiting classes de- velop. Just by the limited amount we see in practice, you can tell the team is more athletic and in better shape than when Do- eren took over. Doeren was smart to bring in strength coach Jason Veltkamp." Latimer: "I like what he's done on the recruiting trail, especially last year in North Carolina. Flipping Johnny Frasier and get- ting Nyheim Hines were big steps for that program. Doeren has also steered into the sassy parts of the State-UNC rivalry, and that makes it all more fun, so I enjoy that. "I think he's finding where he fits in with the State fan base and how to use that, which are all positive signs. But it will be interesting to see if he can prevent the men- tal stumbles that have plagued NC State in recent years — one loss becomes three or four losses quickly in Raleigh." The offense shifted towards the end of last season to primary a run attack. Do you think State continues to roll with that or return to more balance with the pass? Batten: "I'm predicting with all the run- ning backs in the Wolfpack's arsenal that Doeren will transition to the wishbone at- tack … kidding. I think what you'll see game to game will depend on the opponent. Fortunately NC State has the flexibility to pass and run effectively, which makes it tougher to defend. So against the better opponents, I think you'll see that balance implemented." Giglio: "State started to run more when Brissett started to run more. I think like last year, they'll keep Brissett on ice for most of the nonconference schedule and then let him do more in ACC play. With the bulk of talent being in the backfield and in slot (Nyheim Hines), fullback (Jaylen Samuels) types, it would make sense to keep running the ball." Latimer: "There are so many running backs, but State also uses its running backs in a lot of creative ways. I'd still think they'll be central to the game, but expect a lot of swing/screen/play-action passes." What would be your prediction (general or specific) for NC State this season? Batten: "I predicted a third-place finish in the ACC Atlantic for the Wolfpack. It's hard to imagine State passing Clemson or Florida State at this point, but every other game on the schedule looks win- nable. Eight or nine victories are a real possibility for this team. That would earn the Wolfpack some top-25 recognition and a fairly prominent bowl matchup." Giglio: "NC State should make progress in the ACC (5-3) and again win all four of its games out of the league. That puts the Wolfpack in a bowl game with a chance at 10 wins." Latimer: "I think the Wolfpack are bet- ter than Louisville and maybe even good enough to beat Clemson at home. Whether that potential is actually realized, however, is always the question with NC State, and they haven't proven under Doeren that they can live up to potential. If I told you State would beat Clemson but lose to Louisville and/or Wake Forest, you'd totally buy it, right? Either way, they should win nine games. How many of them are in the ACC is a great question that I can't answer." ■ NC State's progress from when Dave Doeren took over in December 2012 until the preseason of 2015, especially with in-state recruiting, has impressed local sportswriters. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN's Fall Camp Power Rankings The team of ESPN ACC blog writers released their preseason, fall camp power rankings Aug. 10, and they too were optimistic about the Wolfpack. They noted that State has "emerged as everyone's favorite dark horse, and for good reason." Here are their full rankings: 1. Clemson 2. Georgia Tech 3. Florida State 4. Virginia Tech 5. Louisville 6. NC State 7. Duke 8. Miami 9. Pittsburgh 10. North Carolina 11. Boston College 12. Virginia 13 (tie). Syracuse 13 (tie). Wake Forest

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