The Wolfpacker

July 2012

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 99 of 155

2012 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ||||||| WHAT THEY ARE SAYING ABOUT THE PACK • "This year, they have 13 starters back, tied for the most in O'Brien's six years, and they had 31 starts lost last year Guide Five-Minute to injury. Last year's team benefitted from a +14 turnover [ratio] and a very beneficial offensive yards per point (12.2). One of my nine sets of power ratings calls for the Wolfpack to have 10 wins (the other eight do not), but this could be O'Brien's best team yet and I'll call for them to make it to their fourth bowl in five years." — Phil Steele, who projects NC State to play Oregon State in the 2012 Sun Bowl. • "Any progress from the eight- or nine-win range will have to come on the road, where the Pack hasn't won an Atlantic Division game since 2005, a streak of 16 games. Clemson, where it hasn't won since 2002, might not offer relief on that front, but a trip to Maryland on Oct. 20 could." — Joe Giglio in Lindy's ACC Football Preview. "NC State has a drop-back passer who is ready to show the rest of college football that he can hit his receivers just about anywhere on the field, and he's got an experienced offensive line to work with. This program seems ready to turn the corner under coach Tom O'Brien, and if there is a fourth ACC team worthy of a preseason top 25 nod, NC State would get my vote." ■ ESPN's ACC blogger Heather Dinich. best 27 interceptions and forced 39 turnovers in 2011, which ranked second in the country. The Pack was 8-0 when forcing three or more turnovers last fall, and 0-5 when causing two or less, so this is one of the most important statistics to watch in 2012. 2. Early-season record: The Pack has historically been a slow-starting team under head coach Tom O'Brien, but has often caught fire late in the season to salvage the campaign. Under the sixth-year mentor, the team has gone 13-7 (.650) in November but 18-22 (.450) during the first two months of the season, including August games. Getting off to a good start could set State up for a ||||||| STATS TO WATCH 1. Turnovers forced: The Wolfpack recorded an NCAA- The Names, Games and Numbers To Know Heading Into The 2012 Campaign BY RYAN TICE the unit must put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Last year, the Pack tied for eighth nationally with 3.08 sacks per game, and the defensive line is deep despite the losses of defensive tackles J.R. Sweezy and Markus Kuhn to the NFL. All of the defensive ends who logged significant playing time in 2011 are special season, but it won't be easy — the Pack opens with a neutral-site game against Tennessee and then travels to Connecticut. 3. Sacks: In order for the NC State defense to be effective, back, and more than half of the team's sacks (21 out of 40) and quarterback pres- sures (55 out of 99) were made by players who return this fall. O'BRIEN PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN 98 ■ THE WOLFPACKER

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