RALEIGH, N.C. – Jacoby Brissett hopes he plays better against Georgia Southern than his former Florida teammates did.
Brissett's debut at North Carolina State on Saturday comes against the same school that memorably knocked off the Gators late last season.
Brissett says he knows Georgia Southern is "coming in on a high horse and ready to play us a good game."
"We know going on the road is not going to be something that startles them," second-year N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said.
"I think you'll see two teams that both are going to have a chip on their shoulder."
The Wolfpack hope their new quarterback can lead them to their first victory in nearly 11 long months.
N.C. State stumbled late during Doeren's first year, losing the final eight games of its 3-9 finish and winding up 0-8 in Atlantic Coast Conference play — the Wolfpack's first winless league season since 1959.
A lack of leadership, and a lack of healthy playmakers, was largely to blame for those struggles, and Brissett could only watch helplessly as the losses mounted.
Doeren hopes those problems have been taken care of heading into Year 2.
"I've seen a lot of these guys on game day and I have a better feel for what they can and can't do, and what all of our coaches do," Doeren said. "And it's just the little things that you do in the offseason to better yourself."
The good news for N.C. State is, plenty has changed for Georgia Southern since that victory in the Swamp last November.
This game marks the Eagles' debut as an FCS school and Sun Belt member after winning six national titles at the FBS level.
Jeff Monken, the triple-option-minded coach who engineered the Florida upset, left to take the Army job and Georgia Southern hired Willie Fritz from Sam Houston State to replace him.
"We have gone through a lot of firsts here," Fritz said.
Some things to know about N.C. State's opener:
— GROUND GAME: Georgia Southern didn't attempt a pass in beating Florida and though the Eagles have a new coaching staff, it would make sense for them to stick to what works for them. What's more, N.C. State finished last season next-to-last in the ACC in rushing defense, allowing 180 yards per game, and gave up a league-worst 5 yards per carry while allowing a 100-yard rusher in each of its last three games of 2013.
— WOLFPACK ON THE RUN: Maybe N.C. State can turn the tables on Georgia Southern and rely on its ground game to take some pressure off Brissett in his first start with the Wolfpack. N.C. State averaged 162.7 yards rushing last year — its highest average since 1997 — and will once again rely on graduate senior Tony Creecy, junior Shadrach Thornton and sophomore Matt Dayes to carry the load.
— ART FORM: N.C. State defensive end Art Norman enters his final season with 17 sacks, ranking seventh on the school's career list. He's just 8.5 shy of Mario Williams' record of 25.5.
— EASY PATH: Georgia Southern might be the toughest nonconference test the rebuilding Wolfpack face. After playing the Eagles, N.C. State plays host to another school in its first year in the FBS (Old Dominion), visits rebuilding South Florida and welcomes in Presbyterian of the FCS. Then comes a significant step up in competition: A visit from reigning national champion Florida State.
— SCHOOL TIES: Georgia Southern athletic director Charlie Cobb ought to know his way around Carter-Finley Stadium. The new AD played offensive line for the Wolfpack in the 1980s and spent the last nine years as Appalachian State's athletic director before he was hired by Georgia Southern earlier this month.
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