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Miami Hurricanes 2020 Game Preview: NC State

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After going 4-8 a year ago, NC State will look to regain its previous five year form.

North Carolina State v Georgia Tech Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren was on a roll. Five season, five winning records. Then 2019 happened. A 4-8 derailment season initiated wholesale changes among his coaching staff and now 2020 will debut five new coaches including two new coordinators.

Offensively when you finish 2019 11th in the ACC in total offense (380.3 yards per game) and 12th in scoring offense (22.1 points per game) that necessitates change. Offense is king and the ones who score are dominating college football.

When 40 points a game is the prize, coming in just above half that metric is why Tim Beck from Texas was brought in to be the new shot caller. Although Beck was demoted from the OC position at Texas last season, Beck has big time program play calling experience with stops at OSU and Nebraska.

Beck also will spend time coaching quarterbacks. In the spring a competition at the gunslinger position showed red-shirt sophomore Devin Leary, red-shirt freshman Ty Evans and true freshman Ben Finley vying for the top spot.

The Raleigh news and observer announced that Leary will lead the Pack this year. However Leary will need to improve on a season in which last year he completed less than half of his passes and had 8 touchdowns vs. 5 picks.

Talented Sophomore running back Bam Knight will look to improve upon his 745 rushing yards and penchant for making big plays. NC state was a respectable 5th in conference in yards per rush average last year with 4.34 per.

The offensive line gets good news when you consider both Justin Witt and Tyrone Riley are returning from injuries and they lost only one 2019 starter among that group. Despite many deficiencies on the offensive side of the ball, protecting the quarterback wasn’t one of them.

The Wolfpack offensive line allowed only 18 sacks from a year ago which was tied for second in conference with Clemson. (Boston College was 1st allowing only 13 per contest) For the those playing along, Miami gave up 51 sacks per contest in 2019. And I digress.

Senior wide receiver Emeka Emezie was the 16th best ACC pass catcher averaging 48 yards a game including 56 catches. Sophomore receiver Devin Carter should be considered the long ball threat when you consider his 14.25 yards per catch average was 14th in conference.

The defensive side of the ball will see Tony Gibson promoted from on staff to the defensive coordinator role. Gibson is expected to employ a 3-3-5 base defense this season. (Check out a schematically well done piece from Justin Dottavio below)

The defense will be relatively inexperienced considering they are only going to return four starters from a year ago. If anchors can be found on defense they will definitely be dredged up at the linebacker position. The trifecta of Payton Wilson, Louis Acceus and Drake Thomas will be the predatory patrols directly behind the defensive line.

Wilson was the Wolfpack leading tackler a year ago with 69 and will be counted on to stern the defensive ship that was sixth in conference in rush defense. Also the addition of linebacker USC transfer Vi Jones cannot be undersold. The Wolfpack line-backing core should be its deepest position group.

Up front, graduating senior Laurell Murchison’s team leading 7 sacks will need to be replaced. Coach Doeren will count on Alim McNeill, Savion Jackson and Joshua Harris to do the job.

Junior DB Chris Ingram led the team with just two interceptions. Those two by the way were half of the teams total interception tally. That is correct. The NC state secondary were ball chicks not ball hawks.

That number dubiously granted the Pack as the league’s worst team in turnover margin in 2019. With a whopping four interceptions and only four fumbles gained, that -1.08 margin ensures you will not win many games. They didn’t.

Miami should win this game and a good Miami team should win this game resoundingly. Just too many questions for the Wolfpack to overcome. Four returning starters on defense, a QB who completed less than 12 of his passes, a recently demoted offensive coordinator etc. etc.

Plus when you part ways with former Miami Hurricane All-American legend Kevin Patrick as your defensive line coach, you deserve your ass kicked on the field. That’s my take on the matter anyways.

Conference games are always a dog fight and there is no such thing as an easy win. But all the pundits have NC State as bottom dwellers in the Atlantic division. No excuses. Other than the 1000 you can find if your team isn’t healthy enough to play. But if they are? Miami by 17.