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2013 ACC Previews: N.C. State

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Running back Shadrach Thornton (10) is a key piece to the N.C. State offense this year. Photo by Peyton Williams/Getty Images.
Running back Shadrach Thornton (10) is a key piece to the N.C. State offense this year. Photo by Peyton Williams/Getty Images.

As the college football season draws closer it is time to take a look at each team in the ACC and their outlook for 2013. We will look at what to expect from your favorite team and what it will take for 2013 to be a success. We will follow the predicted finishing order released during ACC media day, alternating between the Coastal and Atlantic Division. Next up is NC State.

Head Coach: Dave Doeren (first season)

Last Season: N.C. State jumped out of the gate to 5-2, but the tides turned and they dropped four of their last six, including a loss to Vanderbilt in the Music City Bowl. Despite the 7-6 mark, the Wolfpack sent head coach Tom O'Brien packing and brought in Dave Doeren from Northern Illinois. 

Key Losses: Mike Glennon is the obvious big loss for the Wolfpack. The team will certainly miss his arm. Glennon threw for more than 4,000 yards last season and 31 touchdowns. Not only will Glennon be missing from the offensive attack, but Tobais Palmer is also gone. Palmer was part of what made the offense such a threat. The Wolfpack ranked 18th in the nation in passing last season. The team also lost safety Earl Wolff and cornerback David Amerson. 

What To Expect On Offense: Doeren won't let the public know whether Brandon Mitchell or Pete Thomas will lead the team at quarterback until opening day. Mitchell, a transfer from Arkansas, is athletic and seems to be a good fit for the style of offense Doeren wants to run. On the other hand, Thomas has some experience at the position after starting two seasons at Colorado State before transferring. If the quarterback battle is any sign of what's to come, Wolfpack fans can expect the unexpected this year. One thing that's certain: The offense will move at a faster pace. 

What To Expect On Defense: There has been some change for the Wolfpack defense. Doeren, a defensive guy himself, brought on new coordinator Dave Huxtable. However, the team will keep running the 4-3 scheme that last year's defense employed. The hope for N.C. State is that they can run it more consistently.

Breakout Stars: Shadrach Thornton is headed into his sophomore year looking to eclipse the 694 yards and three touchdowns he had while splitting time as a freshman back. At times during the 2012 year, N.C. State abandoned the run game for stretches. Thornton likely won't face that problem this year with a new quarterback running the show.

Big Games: Opening the conference schedule with ACC favorite Clemson will be no easy task. In addition, N.C. State's schedule features back-to-back tough games to close out October and open November. Doeren's squad will get Florida State on the road on Oct. 26 followed by North Carolina the next week for homecoming.

Outlook: It could be another bowl year for the Wolfpack. The changes on the offensive side of the ball can be successful in the ACC, and Doeren could give them the fresh start N.C. State fans have craved.

Predicted Record: 6-6 (3-5 ACC)