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Here's where the optimism comes in

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

We already know where the strings come in***--that's the basketball team's jurisdiction. And sure--let me just dust off this watch here--yeah maybe I'm a little early on this. It's not August, I've reminded myself, but is it really too soon to feel too good about you football team?

(***There's an underrated NC State sports anthem for you; see, for example: "but here's where everything comes together / either that or it all falls apart")

No of course it isn't. In fact now is just the time; besides what else are you gonna do, print out the two-deep and punch yourself in the neck as you consider every possible outcome for the offensive and defensive lines? Heavens no! (Not that there is anything wrong with that. That's a perfectly healthy thing to do.)

We might as well get this much out of the way right now, in June, when we have a lot of time left to calibrate whatever the hell is going to happen in 2015: NC State had a weird 2014 football season. Look at Bill Connelly's average percentile performance graph for that team. State was pretty good early, poor opponents aside, then it went all to hell, then it recovered by playing like a top-15 team? This we all saw but it nonetheless seems impossible and needs question marks??? See:

  • Average Percentile Performance (first 4 games): 83% (~top 25 | record: 4-0)
  • Average Percentile Performance (next 6 games): 27% (~top 95 | record: 1-5)
  • Average Percentile Performance (last 3 games): 88% (~top 15 | record: 3-0)

During the 1-5 stretch, the NC State team that kept it close with FSU for 3+ quarters played like roadkill the following two weeks. The Pack would then push Louisville to a close finish on the road, beat Syracuse on the road despite playing like crap (thanks, Pharoah McKever!), and get kablammo'd by Georgia Tech at home after one of the strangest sequences you'll ever see.

And there were the last three games, spanning nearly a month-and-a-half, where the Pack rebounded to play like a team that knew exactly what it was doing. That's strange. Strange team, because you can't chalk the ups-and-downs entirely to strength of opponent. UNC was a bowl team, despite its sorry defense. UCF won a piece of the AAC (heh heh). Georgia Southern finished above both of them in the F/+ ratings; Syracuse finished below all three of them, and that was a knockdown, drag-out crudfest, but then again that's what they call every football game played indoors on artificial turf.

There's a temptation to look at the last few weeks of 2014 and say, "This is starting to work," with This being the Dave Doeren system, the Dave Doeren regime, however you want to define it. That's fine, I think, and totally justified in light of what happened last year: they got weird, so what the hell, right?