Alright, let's be honest - this is a full on June post, and I'm going to scrape every ounce of optimism and hope I can gather for the potential 2020 season. Sadly, the optimistic forecast is like 8 regular season wins. So that's fun. But regardless, let's keep this happy and excited and positive!
Injuries - First thing is obviously the injury riddled team will be back to full health. Most notably, this includes Chris Ingram, Ricky Person, Bam Knight (he battled injuries too), Dylan Autenrieth, Dylan Parham, CJ Riley, Tyrone Riley, Taiyon Palmer, Teshaun Smith, and probably others too. That's a lot of guys on the 2 deep that were injured last year. But they're back! Especially players like Autenrieth, CJ Riley, and Chris Ingram - they're experience and abilities will be extremely helpful for a 2020 rebound. CJ Riley is our best, proven deep threat. Rewatching the spring game from 2019, you realize that he was targeted significantly more than Emezie or other guys, at least until he was pulled in favor of new players. He made some great catches, and honestly, he may have figured to become WR no. 1 in our scheme last year. Alas it was not to be. Ingram was a lockdown corner, the first of his kind in a long long time, and with him healthy, we have a shot at having a defensive backfield. Autenrieth was, obviously, our best blocking TE, and if that ends up meaning something in this game, we're totally set (cue the Andy Dwyer/lions reference - I know PirateWolf will get it).
Stability Under Center - Presumably, we're sticking with Leary. If that's the case, the stability should do him good. Don't get me wrong, he struggled mightily last year, but he has the physical skills to be a great player. If he can get comfortable and get to the right spot mentally, he has every shot at being a phenomenal QB.
Tim Beck - Tim Beck is a proven OC, with a powerful offensive style of playcalling. We had
zero two Offensive Coordinators last year, so having one that is both proven and completely in charge should create an improvement. We struggled big time in the redzone last year, but we were actually decent throughout the rest of the field, when we weren't turning it over. If we can capitalize on redzone trips next year, guess what? We have a shot at winning some games.
Running Backs - We have lots of them. Person, Houston, and Knight are killer running backs, but guess what? They're not the only ones on the roster. Trent Pennix has steadily improved each year he's played, and this year, he may carve out a role similar to JaySam. And don't forget Mr. Goal Line himself, Delbert Mimms, who was recruited for his size and Gallaspy-ness. He could add a wrinkle we didn't quite have last year - or at least the threat of a wrinkle.
More Experience - We return 10 of 11 starters on offense. The one exception was the transfer of JFJ, and the guys behind him have all played in real games. Last year sucked, but it did at least give us game time experience. On defense, we lose a couple more players, but we have returning depth at every position. We lose 1 starter at LB, and he is being replaced by more skilled players who were already usurping his role. The secondary is worrisome due to the loss of both Nick McLoud and De'von Graves, but everyone else has seen real game action, and there is the potential for some young stars to emerge. The DL loses a couple of players, but with Alim McNeil back, as well as Val Martin and the quartet of young 4 stars, we have some great power up front, if we can get them ready.
Good Transfers - Daniel Joseph was a former 4* DE who went to Penn State. Vi Jones was a former 4* LB who went to USC. They will be starters this coming year - I'd be willing to put money on it if I had any. They're going to make an impact, and they came to NCSU because they want to play.
Some Good Younguns Too - Porter Rooks, Davin Vann, Nekhi Meredith, Devan Boykin, Aydan White, and Anthony Smith could all make an impact. I'd bet we see Vann, Rooks, and maybe even a couple of the DBs from the 2020 class suit up on the field this year.
All that said - please please be good in 2020. I don't need you to get 10 wins (though it'd be great, if you're feeling up to it). I would greatly appreciate, I dunno, 7 or 8 regular season wins and then a sporting chance at a decent bowl game? Please. Don't let me down. Get a bowl game, do decently well, and get some momentum into 2021.