2022 NC State Wolfpack Preview

by Matt Fargo

NC State Wolfpack

2021-22 Season Record 9-3 (6-2 ACC Atlantic) - 7-5-0 ATS - 7-5-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 7
Defense - 10

Overview

Head coach Dave Doeren took over the reigns at NC State in 2013 and stumbled to a 3-9 record but over the last eight seasons, there has been just one losing record which came in 2019 when the Wolfpack bottomed out late in the season by losing their last six games. They have been to 15 bowl games since 2000 and were eligible last season for the Holiday Bowl but it was cancelled by UCLA because of COVID. However, there have been no major bowls and since 2003, they have never finished a season ranked inside the top 20 and in the history of the program, they have never finished ranked in the top 10. While it has been a steady run, there has been only one double-digit winning season and with what Doeren has put together, this could be the year they clear those hurdles as the schedule sets up well and the Wolfpack are ranked No. 12 in returning production.

Offense

The offense improved slightly from 2020 as they averaged 26 more ypg and finished No. 58 in the country in total offense but did finish No. 32 in scoring offense with 33.1 ppg. The passing game was sensational behind quarterback Devin Leary as the Wolfpack finished No. 19 in passing offense and No. 22 in passing efficiency offense, second best in the ACC. Leary threw for 3,433 yards with 35 touchdowns and just five interceptions and should be just as solid this season. Gone is his leading receiver Emeka Emezie who had 802 yards but Thayer Thomas and Devin Carter combined for 1,152 yards and both are back along with many others. Now, NC State has to get a running game going that was nonexistent and lost its top two backs so someone has to step. Whoever that is will run behind a very solid offensive line that brings back four starters and has a lot of depth.

Defense

The defense was rock solid as it allowed 331.7 ypg which was No. 23 in the nation and improved by over 84 ypg from 2020. The Wolfpack cut down their points allowed by nine ppg and finished No. 19 with 19.7 ppg. They allowed 33.3 ppg in their three losses and two of those were four points combined and now they have 10 starters back led by a linebacking corps that is the best in the conference. Leading tackler with 99 stops Drake Thomas is back, as well as Payton Wilson and Isaiah Moore who were the two top tacklers from 2020 and both missed all or most of last season so this unit is loaded. The defensive line is deep and disruptive that was stout against the run and the front seven finished tied for No. 34 in tackles for loss with 6.5 per game. The secondary was excellent and could be even better with four starters back that finished No. 9 in passing efficiency defense.

2022 Season Outlook

NC State will come into the season most likely ranked inside the top 20 and after a likely 4-0 start depending how other top teams do, it could vault into the top 10. Should it start 5-0, the Wolfpack definitely will be in the top 10 as that fifth game comes against Clemson on the road. While it is not a make-or-break year for Doeren, his team is loaded and could be one of the best he has had here and expectations will be high. Overall, the schedule is not horrible as NC State has seven home games that includes two different three-game homestands and while Florida St. and Wake Forest will be difficult games, they should go 7-0 at Carter-Finley Stadium. Besides Clemson, they have Louisville and North Carolina on the road to close out the season. The O/U win total is 8.5 and the over is very attainable as long as upsets are avoided to go along with a big win or two on the road. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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