The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday October 4th

ACC preview: N.C. State's Dayes and defensive line hope to help Wolfpack improve

In preparation for the North Carolina football team's season opener on Sept. 3, we've broken down everything you need to know about each team in the ACC. Check out the rest of our previews here.

Coach: 

Dave Doeren (fourth year at N.C. State)

Record Last Year: 

7-6 (3-5 ACC) 

When do they play UNC?

Nov. 25 in Chapel Hill

Where are they projected? 

Fourth in Atlantic Division 

How do they play?

N.C. State is dependent on the run game. Senior running back Matt Dayes rushed for 865 yards in 2015, until his season was cut short by a foot injury he suffered against Clemson. Returning tight end Jaylen Samuels rushed for 368 yards in 2015, so both players will likely see plenty of handoffs.

The Wolfpack has a strong defensive line with a decent secondary and linebacking corps. The team will likely rely on the pass-rush as the defensive backfield develops.

Who stands out?

Dayes was 135 yards away from a 1,000-yard rushing season in 2015 before the foot injury, which kept him from playing in the last four games of the season. If he can stay healthy, Dayes has a good shot at reaching that milestone, and may even be a sought-after draft pick in 2017.

Darian Roseboro will team up with juniors B.J. Hill and Bradley Chubb to construct a solid Wolfpack defensive line. The trio combined for 13 sacks in 2015.

What is their biggest weakness?

N.C. State has struggled with its receiving corps in recent years. While senior Jumichael Ramos and junior Jaylen Samuels combined for 1,054 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in 2015, no other pass-catcher passed 300 receiving yards on the season. This group will have to mature quickly in order for the Wolfpack to have a chance at the ACC Championship.

The quarterback position for N.C. State is still a wide-open competition, as redshirt sophomore Jalan McClendon and Boise State transfer Ryan Finley are battling for the No. 1 spot. The competitiveness for claiming the starting spot should push the quarterbacks to excel. But if Doeren waits too long to choose a starter, the offense will have a hard time finding a groove. 

Why could they win the ACC?

N.C. State’s schedule features five opponents ranked in the AP preseason Top 25, including Clemson, Florida State, and UNC. The Wolfpack has kept up with ranked opponents in the past, but ultimately struggles putting an entire game together. 

Doeren and the coaching staff need to choose their starting quarterback, and the defense needs to improve on the previous season's accomplishments. If both sides of the field can stay healthy and work together, N.C. State could emerge as a dark horse candidate for the ACC Championship.

@BrandonWhite95

sports@dailytarheel.com

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