1. Future So Bright On Offense, But Defense Another Story
We’ve seen the last of Bradley Chubb (more on him later) and Jaylen Samuels in NC State uniforms, but the stage is set for a very, very intriguing 2018 for Dave Doeren’s crew … and that was on display in this one.
Ryan Finley threw for 318 yards and a touchdown on 24 of 29 passing, running backs Reggie Gallaspy — 78 yards and two scores — and Nyheim Hines — 73 yards and three TDs — loomed large and receiver Stephen Louis had three catches for 115 yards.
And all of them should be back, along with four starters along the offensive line. In all, the Wolfpack offense, which entered in the top 30 in total offense at nearly 450 yards per game, can return nine starters.
The defense is a very different story, losing nine starters including its NFL-bound bookends in Chubb and Kentavius Street, tackle Justin Jones and nose tackle B.J. Hill, and the entire linebacker corps.
The return of end Darian Roseboro, who has 35 games under his belt, including every one in 2017, is going to be huge. But it’s undeniable that the strength of the Wolfpack this season — that defense — is going to enter next year as a perceived liability.
Nonetheless, the Wolfpack will have the kind of offense that can keep it in the ACC Atlantic Division hunt. Clemson, working on a second straight national title, and Florida State — which figures to see a quick turnaround under Willie Taggart — will be factors yet again, but Doeren will have an explosive offense that could be the key to a breakthrough.
But it’s all about getting over that Clemson hurdle. Doeren is seemingly getting closer, taking the Tigers to overtime in 2016 and this season, fell by seven in Death Valley. In ’18, he may have an offense to finally deliver that win, and their matchup might just be an early contender for ACC Game of the Year.
Ivan Pierre Aguirre Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sp