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“Usually I’m able to draw plays up in a notebook, give it a once over and I learn the plays that quick,” Irving said. “But with Coach Tenuta, we have an abundance of plays out of different formations, so I’ve got to sit down and really look at that and study that real good.”

As for the rest of the defense, the entire starting line is gone and projected starter at cornerback Rashard Smith is already out for the season following recent knee surgery. N.C. State hopes that’s not an early indication that the secondary will remain the revolving door it was last season, when the Wolfpack started eight different combinations in 12 games.

“You feel pressure every year,” O'Brien said. “It’s not any different this season than it was last season or the season before. If you don’t feel pressure as a coach to have a winning football team and get to bowl games, you’re not bleeding or breathing.”