Bradley Chubb, Jaylen Samuels, Nyheim Hines, B.J. Hill, Kentavius Street, Justin Jones, Will Richardson, Tony Adams, Airius Moore, Shawn Boone, Cole Cook, Jerod Fernandez, Johnathan Alston
Garrett Bradbury, Germaine Pratt, Ryan Finley, Kelvin Harmon, Jakobi Meyers, Stephen Louis, Tyler Jones, A.J. Cole, Darian Roseboro, Dexter Wright, Terrone Prescod, Eurndraus Bryant
The above names are the men taken in the 2018 and 2019 NFL drafts, respectively, or signed as undrafted free agents. Throwing in Reggie Gallaspy, Jr. for good measure. That is a LOT of names. In addition, there have been close to 20 seniors graduated the last two seasons.
NC State opens the 2019 season with 51 freshmen or redshirt freshmen (including walk-ons) on its roster. I wasn’t a math major, but that’s a much higher number than seniors and graduates (13). Only 8 seniors have been at State their whole career. Dave Doeren has been making steady progress at NC State the last several years. But 2019 might be his greatest test yet. As PirateWolf pointed out back in June in a very non-Juneish statement: “The 2019 team will return the least amount of offensive production of any team since the turn of the century”.
The pessimistic fan would say that this might be too much roster turnover to overcome. Add to all the bodies lost are all the staff changes:
Co-Offensive Coordinators: Des Kitchings (keeps Running backs coach) and George McDonald (keeps Wide receivers coach), replacing Eliah Drinkwitz
Co-Defensive Coordinator: Tony Gibson (and Safeties coach) joins forces with Dave Huxtable after Ted Roof left
Quarterbacks coach: Kurt Roper, also replacing Eliah Drinkwitz
Offensive Line Coach: John Garrison, replacing Dwayne Ledford
If Doeren hadn’t been replacing all the veterans with highly ranked recruiting classes, we might be shaking in our boots as this season gets underway; but Doeren has earned some breathing room. He won 9 games in back to back seasons for the first time in a generation (1991-92), and last season one 9 regular season games for only the fifth time in school history.
That being said, even the most optimistic fan would have to admit this is a tall hill to climb. I have been trying to use my osmosis skills that didn’t work in my ECE classes to take the temperature of the fanbase across the interwebs. It seems most (most) people understand that 2019 is likely to be a transition year in the Doeren tenure. The question will be, what is the floor for a transition year?
There is now enough talent on this roster to compete for a top 2 finish in the ACC Atlantic. There is also enough turnover on the field and off to cause a bottom 2 finish in the ACC Atlantic. Realistically, I think it will be somewhere in the middle. The over-under of 7.5 seemed to be a great line. If I could pick 7.5 wins exactly, I would, because that’s about where it seems the team will fall. It also wouldn’t surprise me if the team finished with +/- 2 wins from that line.
You can almost see the potential headlines both ways: “Doeren overcoming young roster to shake up the ACC”, or, “Young roster still finding their way at the ACC level”. If it veers towards the latter, I really hope the chirping birds don’t come out of the woodwork. Yes, it’s hard not to see the talent now playing at the next level and think what extra might have been achieved. And though not having Debbie Yow is a huge loss as a bulletproof vest to impatient dummies, a new AD might actually be a benefit. Boo Corrigan won’t (and shouldn’t) make a major shakeup so soon on the job.
The Atlantic continues to be at a competitive imbalance within the ACC. Louisville and FSU look to have improved teams, and BC, Syracuse and even Wake Forest are never gimmies (especially @Wake). All the Coach Thunder strength and conditioning in the world can only take them so far. The new players (and staff members) need to learn on the job, and execute quickly. With even more talent coming in next year, it’s possible 2020 might be the better year. But as for 2019, I have faith Dave can bring the pieces together, though there may be some bumps on the road, hopefully you’re okay with that.