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Preseason predictions: NC State

7/22/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

1. Nate Irving will return before the season's end. Irving was in a terrible one-car crash last month in which he suffered a broken leg and a collapsed lung, but neither of those things diminished his desire to play football -- especially when he's got aspirations to play in the NFL. Considering the severity of his injuries, it's obviously going to take a while before he's 100 percent, but odds are he'll put an extra effort in during his rehab to be cleared as soon as he can. NC State hasn't given any updates yet, so this is only a guess, but don't be surprised if he's back just in time for a road trip to Blacksburg.

2. The Wolfpack will end the season with Mike Glennon at quarterback. No, not necessarily because Glennon will be the better of the two -- they both bring different strengths -- but because Russell Wilson can't seem to keep himself out of harm's way. One of the things coach Tom O'Brien is looking for Wilson to do this year is throw the ball for 20 yards instead of zigzagging around for 50 to get the same 20. Wilson's ability to run is a definite strength, and O'Brien doesn't want to take that away, but he does want Wilson to stay healthy, and he could do that by making better decisions. For Wilson's sake, I hope I'm wrong on this one.

3. Overall, the number of injuries to key players will decrease. For the past two seasons, NC State has had the most misfortune when it comes to losing players to injury, and it's made a difference in how its season has unfolded. This year should be different. Behind the scenes, strength and conditioning coach Todd Rice has been quietly improving the flexibility of this team, which should help decrease the chances of things like season-ending knee injuries.