The NC State Wolfpack football team prepares to run out of the tunnel before playing the Troy Trojans on Saturday, September 5th, 2015. Photo by Ben Salama.
ALFRED ANDERSON | Staff Writer
After an offseason full of excitement and high expectations, the NC State Wolfpack finally took the field against the Troy Trojans in their first game of the college football season. Since ending last season with three consecutive wins and making their first bowl game appearance under head coach Dave Doeren, projections for this season’s team have been sky high. In Coach Doeren’s first two seasons with the Wolfpack, the team improved from 3-9 to 8-5 from year one to year two.
In addition, after the Wolfpack failed to win a single ACC Conference game two years ago, they are now being picked by some analysts as a dark horse candidate to win the ACC, potentially dethroning the Florida State Seminoles, who have held the crown the past few years. Jacoby Brissett, David Grinnage, Mike Rose, Jerod Fernandez are among the 14 starters returning to lead the team this season. Six on offense and eight on
defense. Although NC State lost one of their most productive players, in receiver, Bo Hines, to Yale University, the Wolfpack will still wield a plethora of talent in running backs Shadrach Thornton and Matt Dayes as well as in receivers Jumichael Ramos, Johnathan Alston and freshman Nyheim Hines.
On defense, Mike Rose returns to anchor the defensive line along with B.J. Hill, Bradley Chubb and Kentavius Street. Jerod Fernandez leads the linebacking corps and the Wolfpack return with the most experienced secondary in the ACC that includes safeties Hakim and Josh Jones along with cornerbacks Juston Burris and Jack Tocho. On Saturday, September 5, the Wolfpack kicked off their season with a 49-21 win against the Troy Trojans in a game that fully displayed their high-powered offense.
NC State’s ground game lead the way, highlighted by Matt Dayes, Jaylen Samuels and freshman Reggie Gallaspy II, the Wolfpack finished with an impressive 251 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. According to ESPN, quarterback Jacoby Brissett also looked spectacular in his season debut, completing 21 out of 23 pass attempts for 196 yards and two touchdowns to give the Wolfpack and impressive first victory. Defensively, the Wolfpack gave up a few big plays to the Troy Offense, including a 37-yard touchdown pass from Troy quarterback Brandon Silvers to receiver Bryan Holmes in the closing seconds of the first half.
Still, the defense looks to be an improvement over last season’s, building on the success it had against opponents towards the end of the year. Furthermore, the Wolfpack faithful showed up in droves, as usual despite pregame showers and were delighted with the team’s first win of the season. NC State Sophomore Ashleigh Fells called the win “impressive” and declared the offense “exciting to watch.” Senior Marcus Zeigler also added “my last, first home game of the season was great and we got the win. Go Wolfpack! A great start to what should be a great season.” In all, the Wolfpack proved to be too much for the Trojans to handle this past weekend, but still need to improve in some key areas, specifically on defense.
However, the Wolfpack have plenty of time to work out the kinks before conference play begins. With upcoming games against Eastern Kentucky, Old Dominion and South Alabama, the Wolfpack hopes to be undefeated and healthy going into their first ACC game against the Louisville Cardinals on October 3rd. The sky is the limit for the Wolfpack this season as they look to continue their success under third year coach Dave Doeren, hopefully improving last season’s record and competing for an ACC Championship.