Written by Brian Pohl
Charlotte, NC- After a very successful 2017 that saw the NC State Wolfpack reach nine wins for the first time since 2010, the Dave Doeren led Wolfpack will look to sustain this success with an almost brand new defensive squad and talked to the media at the 2018 ACC Kickoff about the upcoming season.
Head coach Doeren is confident that his squad will continue to improve saying that “If you were buying stock, you might want to buy a bunch of it,” he continued, “because it’s going up.”
A big reason for his confidence is the fact that redshirt senior quarterback Ryan Finley, who broke out last year with over 3,500 passing yards. The “special opportunity” as Finley called it, was a big reason for him to come back and talked about some advice he received that helped his decision, “I had somebody close to me tell me that they’d give their right arm to play another college football game, so I took that to heart,” he continued, “there’s really nothing else like it in life, and I just wanted one more chance.”
Another big reason for Finley’s return is to have the chance to play again with what he believes is the best “trio” wide receiver corps in the country with Stephen Louis, Kelvin Harmon, and Jakobi Meyers.
The toughest hurdle for NC State will be the replacement of eight starters on defense after all four starters on the defensive line were drafted for only the third time in the history of the NFL Draft, including their ACC defensive player of the year Bradley Chubb.
In a tough ACC Atlantic division, replacing that many starters on defense will be difficult against so many strong offenses, but according to linebacker Germaine Pratt, going up against these offenses provides his team a great opportunity. “I mean, I don’t think it’s a challenge, I don’t think they would find it as a challenge,” Pratt said, “I think it’s an opportunity for them to showcase their talent since they’ve not been on the radar.”
Pratt believes he and his teammates are ready to take on increased roles to sustain last season’s nine-win accomplishment.
Along with the nine-win season in 2017, the Wolfpack have four-straight winning seasons. Coach Doeren talked about how they will be able to continue to build upon the success and his ultimate goal saying, “I think it’s just continuing to build things the right way, play hard, compete, recruit local guys, and help them reach their goals and dreams, be physical, win as many games as we can and do it the right way. I want to win a championship.”
In day one of the 2018 ACC Kickoff, rival head coach of North Carolina Larry Fedora talked about his feeling of the game of football being under attack with talk about CTE and concussions. Coach Doeren was asked about the comments and responded, “Player safety is a big deal. In the last seven years through the NCAA and NFL, you’ve seen a ton of research being done, Brian Hainline heads that up for the NCAA. And we’re just trying to learn about it, to be honest.”
As NC State heads into the 2018 season and beyond, coach Doeren hopes continued development of player safety, and continuing to do things the right way, will allow the program to continue to improve as they hope to repeat last year’s success.