The North Carolina State Wolfpack endured a disastrous season last year, during which they won only three games and lost every ACC contest. The only teams they beat were the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, the Richmond Spiders and the Central Michigan Chippewas.
There is reason to suspect that the Wolfpack won’t have to endure that kind of season again in 2014. The Wolfpack should be an improved team, thanks largely to QB Jacoby Brissett becoming eligible, after transferring from the Florida Gators. However, it could be unwise to expect too much of one quarterback. Without the rest of the team improving around Brissett, the Wolfpack could still end up in the Atlantic division basement.
A stronger passing offense should be good for at least a couple of wins in conference play though. The Atlantic will continue to be tough, but there are at least two winnable games within the division, and the Wolfpack could also get a win at home against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
The biggest thing going for NC State this season is their out-of-conference schedule. The Wolfpack kicks off the season with four extremely winnable games against the Georgia Southern Eagles, the Old Dominion Monarchs, the South Florida Bulls and the Presbyterian Blue Hose. There is absolutely no reason for the Wolfpack to enter ACC play with anything worse than a 4-0 record. Even the Bulls, who were a decent team a half-decade or so ago, should not challenge NC State. As difficult as last season was for the Wolfpack, the Bulls were simply awful, going 2-10 on the year including a loss to the McNeese State Cowboys.
With that schedule spotting them four wins, North Carolina State only needs to find two more to get back to a bowl game. The Wolfpack may have the potential to take a big leap forward this season but, if getting back to the postseason is the goal, then a small step may suffice.