After the 48-34 victory out west on Saturday, Boston College finds itself one win away from earning a ticket to bowl eligibility. Three ACC games remain; BC must win at least one for a trip to the postseason. This Saturday is Senior Day on the Heights, and BC welcomes the 3-6 NC State Wolfpack, who are riding a five-game losing streak after a 3-1 start.
I had the chance to interview Andrew Schuett, the Deputy Sports Editor of NC State’s student newspaper, the Technician. Schuett provides some key insights into the Wolfpack football program, their struggles so far and an outlook for the match-up.
(Note: Bold letters represent The Gavel; regular font indicates the Technician.)
What were the expectations for the team coming into the season?
Expectations for NC State coming into this season were not very high. Former State quarterback Mike Glennon, its offensive centerpiece, graduated after last season, and State brought in head coach Dave Doeren after parting ways with former head coach Tom O'Brien last season. Some Wolfpack fans thought that Doeren would come in, wave his wand, State would go to a bowl and everything would be fixed. But many fans knew it would take time for Doeren to settle in and bring in players to fit his offensive and defensive systems. This year is a rebuilding year for the Pack as it transitions from the O'Brien era into the Doeren era.
What was the school’s perception of former coach Tom O’Brien? (He was a coach at BC before his NCSU tenure, too).
I can only speak for myself, but I am very appreciative of what former head coach Tom O'Brien did for NC State University's football program. I did not know him personally, but by all accounts he stands for the right things and is a man of unquestionable character. He is a good coach and a great man, and I wish him all the best at UVA. Unfortunately for O'Brien, his Wolfpack teams simply were not consistent enough. The Pack would win big games against Florida State and Clemson, but would always lose a head-scratcher following a big win. State's humiliating 33-6 loss against an underperforming Virginia team at homecoming was the final nail in O'Brien's coffin.
Still with a slim chance at bowl eligibility, what does Coach Doeren need to fix before the final three must-win games?
There appears to be little anyone can do to fix the sinking ship that is the Wolfpack offense. Sophomore running back Shadrach Thornton is doing everything he can to carry the Pack, but he can't do it without help from the quarterback position. Doeren's offensive system works best with a dual-threat quarterback, like Doeren had in Jordan Lynch at Northern Illinois. Graduate student Brandon Mitchell is a good runner, but an inconsistent thrower. Doeren's other option, junior quarterback Pete Thomas, is a slightly better passer than Mitchell, but severely limits the Pack's run-first offense in Doeren's system. One of those two has to step up for State's results to improve.
The NCSU quarterbacks collectively have a 5-15 TD-INT ratio. Who is the answer at quarterback (this season and/or long-term)?
In the long term, Florida transfer and dual-threat quarterback Jacoby Brissett appears to be the long-term answer at quarterback for NC State. Brissett is sitting out this season due to NCAA rules regarding transferring student-athletes. The short-term answer is much more complicated. Neither Mitchell nor Thomas have consistently performed well enough for State's offense to succeed. Mitchell appears to have a slight edge over Thomas, but the situation is very fluid. Doeren said after last week's loss against Duke that he's playing the best two guys that he has at quarterback, so State's quarterback on Saturday will be one of Mitchell or Thomas.
And finally, your game prediction:
Boston College's team has gone under the radar this season, but has proven to be a difficult team to beat. They picked up a great win against Virginia Tech two weeks ago and got another quality win on the road at New Mexico State. The Eagles also played close games against Florida State, something State failed to do. Eagles' senior running back Andre Williams is one of the best in the country at his position, averaging over 160 rushing yards per game. I'm predicting a close game, but I can't go against the Wolfpack. NC State wins 13-10 in a defensive slugfest.
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