Bill Connelly’s 2019 NC State preview is up at the mothership, so go check that out if you haven’t already. The basic gist is that the advanced numbers expect the Wolfpack offense to tumble toward average while the defense improves a good bit with the returning experience on hand.
Years where the quarterback is an unknown quantity are incredibly difficult to ballpark because the performance there can swing results dramatically one way or the other. If the new guy is average, then maybe seven wins is about the best we could expect in the fall; if he’s closer to Ryan Finley or Jacoby Brissett in his ability to impact games, then that opens the door for greater success.
The good news is the program’s strong foundation everywhere else—the recruiting done by Dave Doeren’s staff means that while this might be a transition year, it’s most likely not a fall-off-a-cliff year.
S&P+ pins NC State as the favorite in nine games this fall, though it is important to be clear that this does not equate to a nine-win projection. Many of the margins are tight—three points at Boston College, one point at Wake—and essentially amount to coin flips.
No doubt the swing portion of the season and therefore the most pivotal stretch is the three games between Oct. 10 and Nov. 2. Over that span, NC State hosts Syracuse and plays on the road at Boston College and Wake Forest. The back end of the schedule sets up nicely, with home games against Louisville and UNC sandwiched around a trip to Georgia Tech, so if the Pack can get through Cuse/BC/Wake at 2-1, another winning ACC season is absolutely doable.