As we march closer to opening kickoff BCI is talking to opposing writers about their team and the upcoming season. Today, for NC State week we are going to talk to writer Will Thompson of SBNation blog Backing the Pack. Make sure to follow Will and Backing the Pack on Twitter.
BCI: Talk a little about 2017 for NC State. How do fans feel the season went, what were the high and low points?
Backing the Pack: I think in large part fans were pretty happy with how last season went. There were a couple of disappointing moments, like an annoying season opening loss to South Carolina and losing to Wake Forest, but on the whole last year was by all means a success. One of the main highlights, at least for me, was beating Louisville at home on the Thursday night game in front of an absolutely bonkers crowd at Carter-Finley, where the Pack wore their best football uniforms I think they’ve ever had. Definitely great getting a bowl victory and getting to nine wins, especially at the expense of Arizona State, who now might be heading for the most hilarious football season ever under now new coach Herm Edwards.
BCI: What are NC State’s strengths and weaknesses going into 2018?
Backing The Pack: Certainly having Ryan Finley back for another year is a major plus. He’s going to continue to be the steady hand that keeps NC State’s offense humming. I also think NC State’s receivers are going be a major problem for the rest of the ACC, especially Kelvin Harmon. Weakness, I think the defense is probably going to take a step back, mainly due to the entire defensive line from last year’s team getting drafted in the NFL. It’d be hard to maintain that level with four different starters, but that feat has certainly attracted a lot of top talent in NC to come play for NC State in 2019, so I don’t think it’s something that’s going to be weak for long.
BCI: You do realize that if Anthony Brown doesn’t go down with a leg injury we would have beaten you last year right?
Backing the Pack: Whew, trust me I realize that. State was pretty fortunate to get out of Chestnut Hill with a win. A loss there could’ve really derailed the Pack’s season, as they were coming off of two straight losses to ND and Clemson. Brown is a special player, and I feel pretty strongly he’s going to have a monster year in 2018.
BCI: Make your case for Ryan Finley as the best QB in the ACC.
Backing the Pack: Simply put, Finley hardly ever makes mistakes. He’s not going to take many risks on offense, but when he does they usually pay off for State. His accuracy throwing the ball is lethal, and he’s more than capable of picking up a short first down himself if needed to keep the chains moving. What makes him so valuable to the Pack is his ability to keep the offense moving
BCI: You lost a boat load of talent on both sides of the ball. Other than Finley and Kelvin Harmon, who are some of the names BC fans should be aware of this season?
Backing the Pack: Definitely Steph Louis. He’ll be wearing the #1 jersey this upcoming season since Jaylen Samuels, the former bearer of that number has moved on to the NFL, and it’s a big deal to step in to his shoes. Louis is primed to have a major season, and if you want to get a sense of what it means to him, he wrote a column on GoPack.com that is absolutely worth a read. Also keep an eye on freshman running back Ricky Person, Jr. He was a highly touted recruit, and I expect him to make a pretty immediate impact.
BCI: Hollywood producers are going to make a movie on NC State football, who would play Ryan Finley and who would play Dave Doeren?
Backing the Pack: Ryan Finley sort of looks like Jon Heder, so I’m going to go with him there. Clearly, for Doeren you gotta go with the actor that played Toby Flenderson on the Office. Easily would be the best slapstick buddy comedy of all time.
BCI: How do you feel about BC taking the title of “Dark Horse of the ACC” from NC State?
Backing the Pack: Hey, if it means we’re moving up to the level where we can compete for the division title, I’m perfectly ok with that! In all seriousness, I definitely think BC is going to be a tough out for teams yet again this coming season.
BCI: What is the craziest or most unique NC State tradition (football or non-football)?
Backing the Pack: It’s not football related, but it’s definitely the craziest. Without a doubt, the Krispy Kreme Challenge is the wildest and most unique tradition at NC State. It started off as an idea from one of the walk ons on the basketball team, Chris McCoy. What started off as a small group of individuals running from the NC State Bell tower to the nearby Krispy Kreme, eating a dozen donuts and running back has now turned into a massive charity event, where thousands of people run in this race every year. Lot of people get dressed up in wild outfits to run too, and it’s garnered a lot of attention nationally now. An ESPN columnist wrote about his experience in the event about ten years ago here. There are tons of videos on YouTube too, definitely check it out.
BCI:. It’s summertime. What is your beer and song choice for this summer?
Backing the Pack: Right now for me it’s Dogfishhead’s Seaquench Ale. If you like sours, it’s easily the best beer to drink on a hot day (and especially at tailgates!). Song choice, give me any Allman Brothers or Widespread Panic while I’m sitting on the beach, and I’m set.
BCI: Final question: Pick a GIF that best describes how you envision NC State’s season going this year
Backing the Pack: