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Dave Doeren can reset his own narrative in 2021

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North Carolina State v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Dave Doeren’s been delivering good-but-not-great results long enough now to develop his fair share of detractors within the NC State fan base, and while I’d say his program’s stability and culture are underappreciated, there’s no question he’s had his share of problems.

Foremost among them is the sense that his best teams have been underachievers, which also goes hand in hand with NC State’s lack of top-end wins over the last eight years.

Over at The Athletic, Matt Fortuna penned an extensive overview of the Wolfpack program heading into the fall that’s well worth a read, and it includes this assessment of Doeren by an opposing ACC coach (not necessarily a head coach, mind):

“I think he gets outcoached,” the coach said of Doeren. “Now, they do a good job of recruiting in the state. They beat North Carolina for Wilson, who was a really good student but kind of a country kid, and they can get those kinds of kids. They get the rough-around-the edges, eastern Carolina, down-home type of kids. They don’t do as well maybe in Charlotte or some big areas, but they do a really good job of identifying kids. And they can say, ‘Hey, you come to NC State, you’re gonna play in the NFL.’

“When we beat them, they had better players than we did.”

Dave has a big opportunity to beat the rap this fall, but there are potential traps all over the schedule, too. He’d go a long way toward cementing his status in Raleigh by breaking through with 10 wins, as that would require at least one victory over Clemson, Miami, or UNC. That this seems even remotely plausible two years after a disastrous season is mildly incredible. Then again, Dave’s always been good at taking the intermediate steps, it’s the finishing touch that’s been lacking.