Whenever there is a turnover in the coaching staff, positive results can be expected to take some time. This is no different with North Carolina State as they are transitioning from the Tom O’Brian era to the Dave Doeren era in Raleigh, N.C. The Wolfpack are off to an unimpressive 3-3 start, but perhaps more alarming is the fact that they are 0-3 in the ACC.
Doeren brought his spread offense to NC State, the same offense that was so successful at Northern Illinois the past couple of seasons. At NIU, he had Jordan Lynch running the show at quarterback who made everyone around him better. At NC State, Doeren is struggling to find a perfect match for the quarterback position. As of right now, it looks as if he just simply does not have the players that he needs in order to run his offense efficiently.
Quarterback Pete Thomas has only thrown three touchdowns compared to eight interceptions, while only completing 60 percent of his passes. He is a decent runner, but he has the most carries of anyone on his team, which allows defenses to key in on his running ability. He has two rushing touchdowns, but is only averaging 3.1 YPC. It starts with the quarterback, and this offense is just not moving the ball and scoring enough points to win games. The Wolfpack rank 56th in total offense, which isn’t horrible, but they rank 91st in scoring offense averaging just 24.7 points per contest.
NC State’s defense is very good, especially their front four, but their offense is holding this team back right now. Even though they lost 26-14 to Clemson last month, there was still a lot of positives to take away from that game for NC State fans. I expected them to be a contender for one of the top-four bowl bids in the ACC after that performance, but since then, the wheels have fallen off. After the Wolfpack beat Central Michigan, they lost back-to-back games against Wake Forest and Syracuse. The top of the ACC looks good, but the bottom of the ACC is just beating up on each other with NC State playing the all-time punching bag.
Now, it wouldn’t be fair to put all of the blame on the quarterback, because he is not getting much help. His offensive line has a tough time protecting him, and they can’t seem to generate enough push up front to establish the running game. After six games, NC State’s leading rusher has just 188 yards (Matt Dayes). Doeren puts an emphasis on establishing the run game, but he has been unable to accomplish that goal so far this season. If you can’t run and you can’t throw, then you are not going to be able to score points. Against Wake Forest, this team could only muster up 13 points, and the following week was even worse when they only produced 10.
I knew that it was going to take some time for Doeren to get things rolling at NC State, but it has been a disaster start for his new school. Doeren is still searching for his first ACC win and we are already midway through October. The good news for NC State is that they have a bye week this week. The bad news is that they have to travel to Tallahassee to take on a top-10 Florida State team coming off of that bye week.
The Wolfpack were able to pull off the upset last season against the Seminoles, but I don’t see it happening this year. Since NC State is 3-3, soon to be 3-4, it is time for them to reassess their goals. Doeren needs to make his goal to improve the offense and to try to become bowl eligible, because if NC State misses out on a bowl game, then there will be a lot of unhappy alumni.
Travis Patterson, Writer For ACC Rantsports.com. Follow on Twitter @tpat20.