As ACC teams start practicing again, Andrea Adelson and I will have a quick preview of each team to get you caught up on the basics. NC State is the first school in the ACC to hit the field again. Here’s a quick look at the Wolfpack:
School: NC State
Start date: Today
Projected finish at media days: Third in the Atlantic Division
Biggest storyline: Chasing Florida State and Clemson. The Wolfpack have beaten Florida State. They have beaten Clemson. They just haven’t been able to do it in the same season under coach Tom O’Brien. Could this year be different? Those in Raleigh are confident this could be a special season. O’Brien has said that this is the deepest, most experienced team he has had since he was hired in Raleigh. He has a veteran starting quarterback in Mike Glennon, four starters returning on the offensive line, an experienced group of running backs, and what should be one of the best secondaries in the country.
Biggest position battle: The wide receivers. O’Brien has said this is a position of concern heading into fall camp. The Pack must replace T.J. Graham (46 catches) and Jay Smith (40 catches), not to mention tight end George Bryan (33 catches). Tobais Palmer (37 catches) returns, along with Quinton Payton, Bryan Underwood and Rashard Smith. O’Brien said he is looking for more consistency from Palmer and Underwood, and Smith moved from cornerback. Two redshirt freshmen, Maurice Morgan and Hakeem Flowers, will also compete for playing time.
Who needs to step up: Linebackers. NC State must replace all three starters, including Terrell Manning, who led the ACC with 14.5 tackles for loss, and team-leading tackler Audie Cole. Senior middle linebacker Sterling Lucas is the lone veteran at the position, but he missed all of 2011 with an injury. Strongside linebacker Rodman Noel earned a starting job this spring with Ricky Dowdy at weakside linebacker. Brandon Pittman, Michael Peek and Ryan Cheek could also see playing time.