With the exception of Florida State and Clemson, nobody in the ACC’s Atlantic Division was able to finish with a winning record against league opponents last fall. Wake Forest and NC State combined for a 2-14 ACC record, with the Demon Deacons accountable for both wins. Overall, the Coastal Division was much stronger, but there’s plenty of room for improvement in Charlottesville.
Which ACC team, though, will make the greatest turnaround in 2014?
Last year, Boston College held that distinction, improving from a two-win season in 2012 to a seven-win season in 2013.
Next on the rise: NC State.
Here are three reasons to believe NC State will be significantly better in Year 2 under Dave Doeren:
1. An improved quarterback: Doeren has already declared that former Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett is his starting quarterback this fall, despite the return of Pete Thomas. Doeren seems very confident in Brissett’s abilities, and recently praised his leadership skills. Brissett has spent a year studying the system and is ready to take over a position that could use an upgrade. Thomas and Brandon Mitchell combined for 11 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
2. A favorable schedule: The Wolfpack should start out 4-0, sweeping its nonconference schedule with wins over Georgia Southern, Old Dominion, at South Florida and Presbyterian. If they deliver, they will already have surpassed their 2013 win total and started the season better than they did last fall. The bigger difference, though, should come in games against Wake Forest and Boston College. They've got bye weeks to prepare for road trips to Syracuse and rival North Carolina, and they get Georgia Tech at home. It’s a schedule that sets up for success.
3. A talented incoming recruiting class: Doeren and his staff have been working hard, and it’s paid off, as their class is currently ranked No. 37 in the country and includes five four-star players, including two players from the ESPN 300. The highlight of the class is Kentavius Street, one the nation's premier defensive linemen and No. 68 in the ESPN 300. Street committed in December, and flips from ESPN 300 guard William Richardson and four-star cornerback Troy Vincent Jr. followed in January.