North Carolina State is flirting with history, and not the good kind. This weekend, the Wolfpack will take a break from ACC play to host East Carolina in a game that means nothing, win or lose for NC State. Following their dual with the Pirates, the Pack will then turn their attention to Maryland in hopes of avoiding a 0-8 ACC season. The Wolfpack have not had a winless ACC season since 1959 when Earle Edwards was running the show in Raleigh.
The quality of football on display in Carter-Finley Stadium this season has been dreadful. Everything from quarterback play to coaching is difficult to watch. Dave Doeren is in his initial year as the head coach at NC State following his successful stint at Northern Illinois, a stint that included a trip to the Orange Bowl.
After Tom O’Brien was shown the door at the end of the 2012 season, the administration was looking for a leader who could win consistently against inferior opponents, something that O’Brien could never do. His teams always would manage an upset here or there, but would also find ways to lose to teams who did not even receive a bowl bid. This program has been in a rebuilding phase for the better part of 30 years now and now it looks like that dreaded phase will last much longer than anticipated.
Doeren’s team is 3-7 to go with their 0-7 record in ACC play, raising the question “did the university make a mistake by hiring Doeren?” Rebuilding and recruiting one’s own players for a certain system takes time, but a winless ACC season should not be acceptable with the amount of fan support that the NC State football program usually has. I don’t know if getting rid of O’Brien was the correct move for the university, especially since no NC State coach has finished his career in Raleigh with a winning record since Dick Sheridan posted a 31-18-1 mark from 1986-92.
They have also not won an ACC championship since 1979 under Bo Rein, reassuring that NC State has made numerous bad hires throughout the years. Usually if there is one thing wrong with a team, then you can fix it. But what happens when every single thing is wrong with a team? This is the dilemma that Doeren is facing this season as his team ranks 98th in scoring offense and 73rd in scoring defense. Their three wins have come against Louisiana Tech, Richmond, and Central Michigan.
Doeren’s team is not even competitive in ACC games, losing each conference game by double-digits, which allows fans wearing red to head to the exits early and beat the traffic. Five players have attempted at least one pass for NC State, with the five of them combining for eight touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Doeren is in the process of instilling his spread/run heavy offense, but clearly he does not have the athletes nor the head coaching experience in the ACC to pull it off.
Maryland became bowl eligible this past weekend when they defeated Virginia Tech in overtime, so the chances of NC State picking up their first conference victory against the Terrapins are not very good. Maryland is a far superior team, and by far superior I mean actually has talent. I fully expect East Carolina to defeat NC State this weekend assuring that the Wolfpack will limp into their final, so-called football game of the season.
Travis Patterson, Writer for ACC Rantsports.com. Football Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @tpat20. https://twitter.com/tpat20