N.C. State is scheduled to play No. 14 West Virginia on Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium (3:30 p.m.). Hurricane Florence might change those plans, but here’s 10 things to know about the Mountaineers anyway:
1. 2018/17 recap
The Mountaineers opened up the 2018 season with a 40-14 pasting of Tennessee in the Belk Kickoff in Charlotte.
Senior quarterback Will Grier, who is from Charlotte, threw for 429 yards and five touchdowns in the rout of the Vols on Sept. 1.
Coach Dana Holgorsen’s eighth team started 2-0 after a 52-17 win over Division I-AA foe Youngstown State last week.
The Mountaineers finished the 2017 season with a 7-6 record overall and a 5-4 mark in the Big 12. They opened the season with a 31-24 neutral-site loss to Virginia Tech and closed it with a 30-14 loss to Utah in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Grier, who ranked No. 8 in the country in passing yards (317.3) per game last season, missed the final two games with a broken finger on his right (throwing) hand. The Mountaineers went 7-4 with Grier with their two best wins against Iowa State (8-5) and Kansas State (8-5).
2. 2018 leaders
Passing: QB Will Grier 46-60, 761 yards, 9 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing: RB Leddie Brown 23 carries, 148 yards
Receiving: WR Gary Jennings 12 catches, 210 yards
Tackles: LB David Long 23
3. Returning all-conference players
WR David Sills (first team)
WR Gary Jennings (second team)
LT Yodny Cajuste (second team)
KR/PR Marcus Simms (second team)
4. Key losses
RB Justin Crawford (1,061 rushing yards)
LB Al-Rasheed Benton (110 tackles)
S Kyzir White (3 interceptions)
As good as Grier is, has been and previously was at Florida, the Mountaineers have a pair of excellent receivers. David Sills is a giant on the outside (6-4, 210 pounds). He caught an FBS-best 18 touchdowns last season and averaged 16.3 yards per catch.
Slot receiver Gary Jennings led the team with 97 catches for 1,096 yards. He only had one TD catch last year but already has four this year.
Like other Big 12 teams, the Mountaineers were excellent on offense but struggled on defense. They ranked No. 90 in the country scoring defense last season. Like other Big 12 teams, it’s tough to solve that chicken/egg dilemma. Are they all bad on defense or are they all really good on offense?
7. Random stat
Robert Griffin III is to blame for the proliferation of suffixes in college sports. The 2011 Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor would love the WVU roster. There are 10 players with a “Jr.”, one “III” and one “V” on the official roster.
8. Holgorsen vs. Power 5
Holgorsen, who took over for Bill Stewart before the 2011 season, has an 8-8 mark against Power 5 opponents outside the Big 12. Holgorsen probably deserves partial credit for Clemson’s rise. It was WVU’s 70-33 smashing of the Tigers in the Orange Bowl after the 2011 season which led Dabo Swinney to hire Brent Venables as his defensive coordinator. Half of Holgorsen’s nonconference Power 5 wins are against Maryland (4-1).
9. The Mountaineers vs. the Wolfpack
Great trivia question: Who’s the last team Russell Wilson beat as N.C. State’s quarterback? West Virginia, 23-7 in the Champs Sports Bowl in 2010.
The Wolfpack and Mountaineers have split their 10 all-time meetings. WVU won three straight in the 1950s, while N.C. State won three of four in the 1970s.
Sept. 1 vs. Tennessee* (W, 40-14)
Sept. 8 Youngstown State (W, 52-17)
Sept. 15 at N.C. State
Sept. 22 Kansas State
Sept. 29 at Texas Tech
Oct. 6 Kansas
Oct. 13 at Iowa State
Oct. 25 Baylor
Nov. 3 at Texas
Nov. 10 TCU
Nov. 17 at Oklahoma State
Nov. 23 Oklahoma
* at Charlotte