College Football News Preview 2020: NC State Wolfpack Keys To The Season
Biggest Key To The NC State Wolfpack Offense
The turnovers have to stop. The downfield passing game has to be stronger and more efficient, coming up with more third down conversions is a must, and three more things are vital – more points, more points, more points. But there’s one part of this puzzle that has to be done if this is going to be a decent season.
Stop turning over the freaking ball.
Everything was fine for a while. The Wolfpack didn’t give the ball away in any of the first three games, and then came two picks in the win over Ball State, and there were two lost fumbles in the loss to Florida State – but things were still fine.
The Pack had just six turnovers in the first eight games, and then the wheels came off. They lost their last six games with 15 turnovers in the last five. Offenses in previous seasons could overcome the mistakes, but last year’s attack couldn’t.
This year’s O should be better, but it can’t start screwing up again.
And on the other side …
Biggest Key To The NC State Wolfpack Defense
Start forcing takeaways. The secondary needs to do far more against the decent-to-great passing teams, and even more of pass rush from the front 3-or-4 would be nice, but it’s time to start generating a few big plays.
Only two teams failed to come up with at least ten takeaways. Kansas came up with eight, and so did NC State.
The D took the ball away twice in the opener against East Carolina, generated one takeaway in each of the next three games, and then … crickets.
Six games, no takeaways.
There were three in the final two games, but they didn’t matter in the two losses to Georgia Tech and North Carolina. There was just one interception over the final eight games, and there weren’t any fumble recoveries in nine of the 12 games.
The team was used to getting the ball back from the D at least 20 times – 19 in 2018 – in every year after forcing 39 takeaways in 2011. Attacking the ball will be a must right away.
Key NC State Wolfpack Player To A Successful Season
QB Devin Leary, Soph.
Boston College just got Phil Jurkovec from Notre Dame. Florida State will be fine with James Blackman. Louisville’s Micale Cunningham is a rising star, Syracuse’s Tommy Devito is talented enough to do more if he gets time to work, and that Trevor Lawrence guy at Clemson is pretty good.
NC State needs more out of its quarterback.
The 6-2, 212-pound Leary wasn’t a huge recruit, but he got a year in the system, and he was thrown into the mix as the season was spiraling out of control and got enough experience to be ready to roll in 2020 – hopefully.
He struggles with his accuracy, and he didn’t press the ball deep enough, but he threw for 1,219 yards and eight scores with five picks in the last eight games. If he’s not it, and if he’s not a whole lot better, it’ll be another year of trying to fine the right passer going forward.
Key Game To The NC State Wolfpack Season
at Louisville, Sept. 3
The faster the program can get the taste of the back half of last season out of its mouth, the better. To do it on the road against an ACC Atlantic foe is a must with Mississippi State up next.
The Pack got whacked by Louisville last year, won the previous two meetings, and lost the three before that.
Win, and with the schedule ahead there shouldn’t be too much of a problem going bowling. But more than that, win, and the ugly six game losing streak from the end of 2019 stops.
– NC State Wolfpack Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2019 NC State Fun Stats
– Sacks: NC State 35 for 230 yards – Opponents 18 for 118 yards
– Turnovers: NC State 23 – Opponents 8
– 4th Down Conversions: Opponents 9-of-12 (75%) – NC State 14-of-29 (48%)