Attack of the Future

National Signing Day for college football came and went this week and along with it came clear indicators of Dave Doeren’s plans for the Wolfpack’s future offensive attack. Highlighted by a pair of in-state, four star running backs, Doeren planted his flag firmly in staking his claim on in-state recruiting and a run-heavy offensive attack. Garner High School’s Nyheim Hines and Princeton High School’s Johnny Frasier highlight an incoming class that also features several solid offensive lineman. Obviously, the recruiting trail was blazed long before the Wolfpack’s late 2014 success; but that success, propelled by a run-first, throw-when-you-must attack, validates the recruiting strategy and should offer Wolfpack fans a mild dose of cautious optimism.

I’ve never been one to get sucked into recruiting season, favoring the dose of reality that comes in the fall over the pie-in-the-sky hope of less-than-perfect recruiting ratings systems. You can throw all the stars that you want at a player, but the player still has to play and the coach still has to coach. That said, I was drawn into this year’s hoopla by the mild national attention that a running back from my former high school received, even going so far as to watch the press conference announcing his commitment.

Taking the long view, I’m excited about the direction of NC State football. We have a young, enthusiastic coach who has tasted success and seems hungry for more. I just hope the university gives him time to grow and develop, just as many patient coaches work so hard to do with their young players.

Photo Credit: “Carter-Finley Stadium 1” by SMaloneyOwn work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.


This year’s NC State football team feels miles away from the 2002 team that went 9–3 and defeated Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl. And yet, if the 2014 Wolfpack defeat the UCF Knights in the Bitcoin Bowl in St. Petersburg, FL on December 26th, they will finish the season 8–5, just two losses behind that highly touted Wolfpack squad. Further muddying the perspective, State fans were dismayed by the bowl selection process1, feeling like our 3–5 conference record earned us a spot in what? The Belk Bowl? Come on, State fan. Think about that.

We had a very nice season this year, but let’s not remove ourselves too far from reality. We looked good against our arch rival for 60 minutes and for 15 minutes against Florida State, a team that hasn’t shown up for a first quarter all season and a program that, somehow, we perennially match up well against for some reason or another. The rest of the season, we looked pedestrian and that probably serves as a clearer indication of where we actually stand as a football program – improving, but not quite good. Remember, our four non-conference wins did the most to make us bowl eligible and no one in their right minds is going to trot out that resumé as a justification for a better bowl game.

That said, we did what we needed to do. We won those early games, we competed in a few others, and we came away with victories in enough conference games to show some visible improvement over last year and we were rewarded with a trip to a bowl game. I personally would have loved a trip to the Belk Bowl, primarily because it’s closer and I might have considered attending, but the reality is we didn’t earn it and it’s time for State fans to take a step back and face reality2.

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  1. State fans weren’t alone among ACC faithful in decrying the committee’s selection process and motives.
  2. I have no idea how we’ll do against UCF, but I think reality would have settled in real quick against the Bulldogs.