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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

Likes and Dislikes

Five and Five: N.C. State

What are five things I like about N.C. State in 2010? What about five things I don’t like? This list has all the answers.


1. The return of Nate Irving. You cannot overestimate what the senior means to this defense; his experience — not to mention his all-conference production — was sorely missed last fall.

2. Yes, the Wolfpack secondary was inept in 2009. I think this young group will take a large step forward in 2010, as all of last season’s first-year players, now full-time starters, are ready to take the next step.

3. The quarterback duo of Russell Wilson and Mike Glennon. Wilson does most of the work, of course, but Glennon is talented enough to start for many, many teams across the country.

4. Talk about options: deep at quarterback, deep at wide receiver. N.C. State looks to spread the ball around, so don’t look for one player to post a marquee, 80-reception season. Nevertheless, the senior duo of Jarvis Williams and Owen Spencer can get it done.

5. I still have faith in Tom O’Brien, even if his first three seasons have been far from satisfactory.


1. The defensive line is a concern, particularly at end. While all four starters must be replaced, I like N.C. State’s depth along the interior of the line. Not so at end: Audi Augustin has earned the starting nod, having served in a reserve role for the last three years, but question marks abound.

2. The offensive line is also a concern: three starters must be replaced, while one returning starter — sophomore right guard R.J. Mattes — missed the spring while recovering from a late-season knee injury.

3. Issues at running back. The job will likely fall to junior Curtis Underwood, though N.C. State could turn to a younger pair of backs coming off little action as freshmen.

4. Look at how N.C. State opens A.C.C. play: at Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Florida State and at Clemson. Ouch.

5. Irving’s return will help, but it’s hard to ignore the struggles the Wolfpack have had on the defensive side of the ball. N.C. State has been progressively worse on this side of the ball over each of O’Brien’s three seasons.

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  1. James C. says:

    Tough to argue with much, if any, of that.

    I, too, think the defensive secondary will improve because of the year of experience. I think folks will be impressed with their growth.

    The one thing I would’ve added under the “Likes” category is the addition of Jon Tenuta to the coaching staff as the linebackers coach. I think his energy and attitude will do wonders for the center of our defense.

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