Preview 2016

Preview 2016: NC State And Dave Doeren Need To Get A Big Win

NC State Preview 2016: It’s time for Dave Doeren and the Wolfpack to come up with a few big wins.

2016 NC State Preview
2016 NC State Preview: 10 Wolfpack Players To Know

At what point do Wolfpack fans begin demanding an occasional quality win?

NC State has become one of the poster children of the program whose results are inflated by cautious scheduling and a bowl season rewarding virtually anyone with a pulse. In three seasons in Raleigh, head coach Dave Doeren is 2-19 against FBS opponents with a winning record. 2 and 19. True, he’s guided the Pack to back-to-back postseason games, but what does that really mean? And is it any indication of bona fide progress?

The Pack is angling this offseason to become a more competitive program by occupying the space behind Clemson and Florida State in the ACC Atlantic Division. It’s not exactly swinging for the fences, but it’s a starting point.

Doeren’s frustration with remaining stuck in neutral was evident at the beginning of the year, when he surprisingly pulled the plug on offensive coordinator Matt Canada. Canada was seemingly doing a decent job, but he wound up being a symbol of a squad that needed a new direction and a fresh set of ideas.

Welcome to a great career opportunity, Eli Drinkwitz.

Drinkwitz is one of the fresh faces among offensive coordinators, cutting his teeth as an innovative assistant at Arkansas State and Boise State. Now, he has a shot to become a national entity if he can spice up a somewhat stale NC State attack. Drinkwitz likes to keep his foot on the pedal at all times, but he’ll have to be careful not to speed too fast as the Pack auditions replacements for QB Jacoby Brissett.

While a youth movement has hit the offense, the defense is more of a known commodity. And as such, the D will be expected to carry more of the weight in the first half of the season. The Wolfpack really likes its defensive front, in particular, which houses multiple linemen who’ll have a shot to play on Sundays in the next couple of years.

NC State last won an ACC championship in 1979. Wake Forest and Duke have a shorter span between league titles. Carolina won the Coastal Division a year ago. Even East Carolina has had the Pack’s number in the last two meetings. State has struggled to gain traction in the Tar Heel State. And after hiring Doeren to flee the mediocrity of the Tom O’Brien era, fans are still waiting for genuine dividends that transcend the hollow rewards that come from soft non-conference scheduling.