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Despite the Gator Bowl disappointment, NC State football is in a great place

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl - North Carolina State v Texas A&M Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Last night we endured probably the most disappointing half of the season—NC State got whipped, 31-0, by Texas A&M over the final two quarters. That turned what had been a pretty good game into a laugher. It sucked. I was not a fan of it, to be honest. Didn’t love the whole gettin’ blown out thing. Not my favorite.

But there’s no dark cloud that comes with that sort of loss in an exhibition game, especially not this time. It’s disappointing when your team can’t come up with answers and gets blown out. It’s frustrating. But it’s not a defining moment for the program, not even close.

Remember where we started? Dave Doeren took over a program that had very little proven FBS talent and no FBS-caliber quarterbacks, and State went winless in league play his first year. Now we’re bummed about falling short of 10 wins overall.

I’m not bothered by last night because the football program is in the best shape I can remember it. We’ve had coaches who have delivered flash with no substance and vice versa in this century, but none good enough to offer a little of both. Doeren’s staff is doing a great job not only building but sustaining a program, and the proof of that is in this season: the Vegas over/under on State prior to the year was 7.5 wins.

Clemson is always going to be an impossible target as long as Dabo is there. Florida State is a mess right now, though, and there’s no reason why NC State can’t use the next couple of years to assert itself into that second spot behind the Tigers. That’s doable! Heh, remember when we were 0-8 in the ACC in 2013?

So things are fine. We went 9-4 in back-to-back years, which is no small accomplishment at State. And it’s been a lot of fun. Annoying at times, sure, but overall, fun. It’s not difficult to be optimistic about NC State football. That’s a weirdly new feeling, but that’s where we are. Cheers.