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NC State Preview 2006
NC State C Leroy Harris
Posted Jul 31, 2006

One of two things will happen with the NC State program over the next year. 1) Beleaguered head coach Chuck Amato and his staff will prove they can coach a little and get this team full of great athletes and prospects to finally pull it all together, or 2) there will be a regime change.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

Spoiled by fantastic success thanks over his first four years thanks to quarterback Phil Rivers, Amato brought in a slew of fantastic talent, especially on defense, and went 12-11 post-Phil. The Wolfpack had the number one defense in America in 2004 and didn't go to a bowl, and it had the eighth best D last year thanks to Mario Williams, Manny Lawson, and a total of five players drafted last year. So where were all the wins?

It's possible that no one did less with more than Amato and his staff over the last two seasons, but he has the type of team that can quickly make amends. First things first; this team has to beat the teams it's supposed to.

Head coach: Chuck Amato
7th year: 46-28
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 13, Def. 14, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 24
Ten Best State Players
1. C Leroy Harris, Sr.
2. RB Andre Brown, Soph.
3. CB A.J. Davis, Sr.
4. S Garland Heath, Sr.
5. DT DeMario Pressley, Jr.
6. DT Tank Tyler, Sr.
7. TE Anthony Hill, Jr.
8. LB Pat Lowery, Sr.
9. FS Miguel Scott, Jr.
10. WR/KR Darrell Blackman, Jr.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-6

9/2 Appalachian State
9/9 Akron
9/16 at Southern Miss
9/23 Boston College
10/5 Florida State
10/14 Wake Forest
10/21 at Maryland
10/28 at Virginia
11/4 Georgia Tech
11/11 at Clemson
11/18 at North Carolina
11/25 East Carolina

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-5
2005 Record: 7-5

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 Virginia Tech  L 20-16
9/17 East. Kentucky W 54-10
9/24 North Carolina L 31-24
10/6 at Ga Tech W 17-14
10/13 Clemson L 31-10
10/22 at Wake Forest L 27-16
10/29 Southern Miss W 21-17
11/5 at Florida State W 20-15
11/12 at Boston Coll L 30-10
11/19 MTSU W 24-3
11/26 Maryland W 20-14
12/31 Champs Sports Bowl
South Florida W 14-0

Fine, so the ACC is bigger and badder than ever, but there's no reason a team good enough to beat Florida State in Tallahassee and Georgia Tech in Atlanta should lose to North Carolina and Wake Forest. There's enough speed, athleticism, and size to hang punch for punch with anyone in the conference meaning games against the lesser teams have to be walk-throughs.

To get that game-in-game-out consistency, it has to come from the offense. Quarterback Marcus Stone went 5-1 over the back half of last year, but that was all thanks to a defense that allowed an average of 9.8 points per game over the five wins. To win on the road on a regular basis, NC State must have some semblance of an offense it can count on. The running back tandem Andre Brown and Toney Baker is good, but it's not good enough to lead the way to an ACC title. Stone has to use his good receiving corps and better offensive coordinator, Marc Trestman, to become a star. This team will go as he goes.

On defense, replacing the three first round draft picks (Williams, Lawson and John McCargo) will get all the attention, but don't be stunned if there's not a huge drop-off with fantastic end prospects Willie Young and Little Wright wrapping around one of the league's best tackle combinations in Tank Tyler and DeMario Pressley. There's warp speed to burn in the experienced secondary, and Pat Lowery, LeRue Rumph, James Martin, and former running back Reggie Davis should form an excellent linebacking corps.

There might be several key personnel losses and a subconscious attitude that last year should've been the turn-the-corner season, but don't fall asleep on this team. Once again, it has the talent to jump up and bit someone big, and things should be helped immensely by ...

The Schedule: There's only one absolute killer on the slate, Florida State, and NC State gets the game at home. No Virginia Tech. No Miami. The program has been flaky enough to lose to just about anyone, and the road slate has its share of landmines playing at Southern Miss, Maryland, Virginia, Clemson and North Carolina. Even so, if the Wolfpack can hold serve at home, or go 6-1 with a loss to the Seminoles and big wins over Boston College and Georgia Tech, a bowl season will be a must.

Best Offensive Player: Senior C Leroy Harris. Had he chosen to leave school early he would've made it seven Wolfpack players drafted and would've been a first day selection. Able to play center or guard, the pros will quickly find a spot for the talented 6-3, 300-pound run blocker.

Best Defensive Player: Senior CB A.J. Davis. With his sub-4.4 speed, he has the potential to grow into a special college cover-corner. With his toughness against the run, he'll attract plenty of interest from the big league scouts if he can have a steady season as the team's number one defensive back.

Key player to a successful season: Redshirt freshman DE Willie Young, junior DE Littleton Wright, and senior DE John Amanchukwu. Of course, Marcus Stone is the key player to the season, but if he has an up and down year, then it'll be up to the defense to try to carry the day again against a light slate. Young, Wright and Amanchukwu have a ton of talent and upside. Not first round talent and upside, but they might combine to come close the 25 sacks cranked out by Williams and Lawson.

The season will be a success if ... State wins eight games. Nine would be a good goal to shoot for, but let's allow for a Wolfpack brain-cramp against someone like East Carolina. With the exception of missing Duke, the Wolfpack has as favorable an ACC schedule, and a light enough non-conference slate, to make anything less than an eight-win year cause for screaming.

Key game: Sept. 23 vs. Boston College. Assuming the Pack can get by a road trip to Southern Miss, it'll be 3-0 going into the start of the ACC season facing an Eagle team that won in a 30-10 pasting last season. With Florida State ahead, along with a back half of the season with four road trips in five weeks, beating BC at home will be a must.

2005 Fun Stats: 
Third down conversions: Opponents 56 of 191 (29%) - NC State 42 of 165 (25%)
- Sacks: NC State 41 for 292 yards - Opponents 28 for 183 yards
- Fourth quarter scoring: NC State 40 (3.3 per game) - Opponents 38 (3.2 per game)

The Last Time NC State…
…played in a bowl game…2005 (Meineke Car Care Bowl vs. South Florida)
…missed a bowl game…2004
…pitched a shutout…2005 (South Florida)
…was shutout…1995 (Baylor)
…scored 50 points…2005 (Eastern Kentucky)    
…went undefeated…1910
…won a conference title…1979 (ACC)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…2003 (Philip Rivers)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2002 (T.A. McLendon)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2003 (Jerricho Cotchery)
…had a first-round draft choice…2006 (DE Mario Williams, LB Manny Lawson and DT John McCargo)

Related Stories
NC State Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by  Jul 31, 2006
NC State Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by  Jul 31, 2006
NC State Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by  Jul 31, 2006

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