- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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NC State may very well have been a close call away from possibly upsetting Clemson in its ACC opener. It came back and routed Central Michigan to get to 3-1, and things looked bright for first-year coach Dave Doeren and his squad with a favorable schedule awaiting it. Instead, the Wolfpack dropped games at Wake Forest and against Syracuse. They enter a bye, and the midway point of their season, at 3-3 overall but 0-3 in ACC play, and Florida State is awaiting them Oct. 26 in Tallahassee.
Many winnable games are left on the schedule, so the postseason does not appear to be in jeopardy. But the Wolfpack could certainly use a boost offensively, one they are likely to receive next time out from quarterback Brandon Mitchell, who was on the brink of a return from a broken bone in his left foot this past Saturday but ultimately sat out against the Orange.
Pete Thomas, who replaced Mitchell in Week 1 and has started since, has completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 1,314 yards with three touchdowns and eight picks. NC State has averaged just 12.3 points in its three conference games, and its 24.7 points per game on the season has the Pack ranked 91st nationally in that department.
The Wolfpack have gotten help from the run game, which has been solid but not great, and the defense has allowed just 21.2 points per contest, 28th nationally.
The opportunities are there for Doeren and the Pack to have a successful Year 1 together, and perhaps a bye week is coming at the perfect time. But they need to get better and take care of business down the stretch against a lineup that features the likes of struggling North Carolina and nonconference foe East Carolina.
Offensive MVP: Joe Thuney, OG/OT. Talk about versatility: The right guard filled in at right tackle in the opener in place of Tyson Chandler, replaced an injured Rob Crisp at left tackle in the Clemson game and, last year, was the No. 2 center. He has played every offensive line position but left guard so far for the Wolfpack, proving to be an invaluable piece to the unit.
Defensive MVP: Art Norman, DE. The redshirt junior has been a force, tallying a team-best three sacks and six tackles for loss while generating three quarterback hurries. He also has a forced fumble and has a fumble recovery.
1055dDavid M. Hale