The 2018 spring college football rankings, taking the first look at the NC State Wolfpack.
No. 27: NC State Wolfpack
Spring Practice Starts: February 25
Spring Game: April 7
NC State Wolfpack Spring Status
It wasn’t quite the dream season NC State might have hoped for, but going 9-4 with a Sun Bowl win was hardly bad. Three of the four losses were by a touchdown or less, but there were wins over Florida State, Louisville, and North Carolina along the way.
But the sights are set a bit higher, even though the Pack is stuck in the brutal, ACC Atlantic.
Getting back QB Ryan Finley for another year is a great start, but he’s missing a slew of weapons. Three starters are back up front, and he gets back a few good receivers, but not having RB Nyheim Hines and TE/FB Jalen Samuels hurts.
The defense, though, is the big concern.
There’s no replacing Bradley Chubb, but losing seven other starters stinks, too. The secondary gets back three starters, but almost everyone else is done. Fortunately, Darian Roseboro returns to the line, and there are just enough parts returning to be okay after a lot of work this offseason.
NC State Biggest Depth Chart Battle
Linebacker. Jerod Fernandez and Airius Moore were mainstays over the last few years, combining for 165 tackles last year. They’re gone from the normal 4-2-5 alignment, and now the hope is for Germaine Pratt to do even more after coming up with 69 stops. He needs to be the new star, because …
NC State Biggest Issue
Defensive production. The Wolfpack not only lose Chubb, but seven of the top nine tacklers are gone along with five of the top six sackers. The goal now is to simply reload under head coach Dave Doeren, but there’s a whole lot of talent gone from a D that was good, but was a bit underwhelming finishing ninth in the ACC.
NC State Biggest Positive
Ryan Finley. He could’ve turned pro early, but he would’ve been lost a bit in the glut of good quarterbacks going in the first two rounds. The 6-4, 210-pounder can rise up and improve his draft stock with another big year, throwing for 3,518 yards and 17 scores with six picks. He’s the star and he’s the leader – he has to be the difference-maker.
Really, Why Are The NC State Wolfpack Ranked Here?
The hope has to be for the coaching staff to take the depth from last year and make it all work on the defensive side. The O will be terrific as long as Finley is upright – backup Jalan McClendon transferred to Baylor – as the Pack have to be ready to win in shootouts.