NC State football 2021 preview

Drone shot of Carter-Finley Stadium | Photo via Visit Raleigh

NC State students return to class on Mon., Aug. 16, bringing us 1 week closer to tailgate season. The school’s football team is gearing up for the fall + Wolfpack nation has high hopes for a winning season

2020 season recap

Despite facing a pandemic-disrupted season, the Pack ended 2020 with an overall record of 8-4 + 7-3 in the ACC. The winning record was also on the heels of a 4-8 season in 2019. 

In terms of the SP+ rankings — created by an ESPN writer and dubbed “a tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency” — NC State is positioned better this season than last. In 2020, the Wolfpack was ranked 54th overall. This season, the team has secured the 45th spot in projection rankings.

Head coach Dave Doeren — who has been with NC State since 2012 — also signed a 2-year contract extension in April, keeping him with the team through the 2025 season.

Players to watch

Keep your eyes on quarterback Devin Leary, now sophomore, who is returning after having his 2020 season end early due to a broken leg. Devin is expected to be fully back + ready to lead the Pack’s offense, connecting with other key players like wide receiver Emeka Emezie. Last season, Emeka — a senior — had 47 catches for 738 yards + 5 touchdowns

NC State’s defense has 10 starters returning, but linebacker Payton Wilson is a standout + not just for his own team. Payton led the ACC in 2020 in tackles with 108 for the season, along with snagging 2 interceptions

2021 schedule

Tickets are on sale now for this season’s games, starting with the University of South Florida at Carter-Finley Stadium on Thurs., Sept. 2. Closing out the season will be a home game against UNC for Senior Day on Fri., Nov. 26.

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