Dave Doeren and his NC State team is one tough program to figure out. Doeren has 9 ACC wins in 4 years, but in his last 3 years he has never won fewer than 7 games. Monday the Wolfpack played inspired, tough, and physical football against a decent Vanderbilt team.
The Wolfpack were the better team from start to finish in a strong effort 35-17 Independence Bowl win. NC State football screams potential. This was a team that was 14 points and a missed FG from having an 11-2 regular season. NC State had Florida State and Clemson beat. There was a 3 point loss to East Carolina, and 7 point home loss to Boston College. They couldn’t close those games, but the Wolfpack played well beating North Carolina on the road, and beating Vanderbilt to end the season.
Ryan Finley looks like a future star at QB. At 6 foot 3, he’s got the height you want at that position, and he improved as the season progressed. I think he has a chance to be a solid player.
Dave Doeren like Steve Addaizo at Boston College coached themselves off the hotseat with good finishes to the year and bowl wins. The ACC Atlantic still has Florida State, Clemson, and Louisville but they aren’t unbeatable. Georgia Tech UNC and Louisville have knocked off FSU in the last 2 years. Pittsburgh beat Clemson this year, and NC State knows they had their chance to beat them and FSU as well this year. Louisville got beat by Pittsburgh 2 years ago too.
The Big 3 in the ACC Atlantic are tough, but NC State has shown at times they can compete with them. It’s a matter for NC State of believing they finish off decent teams in close games. The end of 2016 showed that Wolfpack are capable of doing just that. When Vanderbilt got the score to 28-17 in the 4th quarter, the Wolfpack responded with a Kickoff return TD. That’s what good teams too.
The Wolfpack were very close to being to that in 2016. There were notable wins over Notre Dame, UNC, and the Bowl win over Vanderbilt to finished 7-6. They are young and enter 2017 with real optimism. They have a chance to be an 8 to 9 win team next year. The pieces are in place. NC State fans have had a lot of heart break, but they should really enjoy the off-season.