CHARLOTTE Slowly but surely, Dave Doeren could see his plans taking shape. They might not have been clear to everyone involved, but Doeren knew what he was constructing could form a winning program.Maybe not right away, but eventually. Heading into this season, Doeren is ready to finally see the fruits of his labor. Much of that shaping actually took place in the last year with the additions of quarterback Ryan Finley and Kelvin Harmon among others.”Last Spring was a lot different,” Doeren said. “We didn’t have Ryan Finley. Steph Louis was still coming off an injury. Kelvin Harmon wasn’t even on our campus yet.”I mean, offensively we had a lot of question marks. This Spring, it’s just the opposite. … For me, it’s a little easier to know the answers to questions. We have a better idea of what we are going into this season than we did a year ago.”Since this time last year, Finley has taken over the starting quarterback spot, Louis has emerged as a home-run threat for Finley and Harmon made every freakish catch possible as a freshman. Finley was steady for the Pack with 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions, Louis had three 100-plus yardage games and Harmon posted 427 receiving yards and five touchdowns.The offense may be looking much more in focus heading into this Summer, but the defense was already a well-oiled machine thanks to the front four. Last year, the Wolfpack’s defensive line wreaked havoc on quarterbacks with 27 of the team’s 36 sacks. On the ground, NC State ranked second overall in rushing defense just one total yard behind Boston College thanks, in large part, to 64.5 tackles for loss from the defensive line.On Monday afternoon at Quail Hollow Country Club in Charlotte, South Carolina Will Muschamp gave his breakdown of what he sees in the Pack’s front four.”They’ve got four defensive linemen that are all going to hear their names called in next year’s draft,” Muschamp said. “I can assure you of that. It’s as good of a front four that we’re gonna face this year. … It’s good to lead the season off with a really good football team because it’s extra motivation for your players during the summer.”Muschamp isn’t the only person taking notice. The entire NC State defensive line has garnered attention from national media, with Bradley Chubb tabbed in the first round of several 2018 NFL mock drafts.Last year, the d-line wreaked havoc on quarterbacks with 27 of the team’s 36 sacks. On the ground, NC State ranked second overall in rushing defense just one total yard behind Boston College thanks, in large part, to 64.5 tackles for loss from the defensive line.But, as Doeren pointed out Monday morning, that means nothing if the front four doesn’t perform with the same tenacity this season.”Just because you’re supposed to be good doesn’t mean you will be,” Doeren said. “You have to work for it. And they know they’ll have a bullseye on their chests because of the notoriety they’ve earned. But it’s more important to them to play well than hear about it.”When his Wolfpack squad faces off with Muschamp’s South Carolina team, which finished 6-7 last year, Doeren and his veteran team will finally get a chance to prove where it stands. With a group of 11 senior starters and experience at nearly every position, it’s clear Doeren expects greatness from this year’s squad.
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