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The Confidential

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Archive for the category “NC State Correspondent”

Tough Road Ahead for NC State after 1-1 Start

Of course it’s still early, but it already feels like NC State is behind the eight ball. Everyone knew that it would be a tough road for the Wolfpack. When they drew games against Notre Dame and Miami outside of the division play, those six wins were definitely going to be tough to obtain. Now, without one of those non-conference wins, State will probably need an upset or two to go bowling this winter.

What’s done is done, so we have to put aside the questionable coaching in a largely disappointing game with ECU. Not to take anything away from the Pirates, they certainly showed up on Saturday. However, it’s hard not to see that game as a missed opportunity. Moving on, NC State now must find five more wins in one of their toughest schedules. If we were to break this up into tiers, it would look like this: games they have to win, games they could win, and games they probably won’t win.

Games NC State has to Win

9/17 vs Old Dominion

10/1 vs Wake Forest

10/29 vs Boston College

11/12 @ Syracuse

There were six relatively easy wins on this schedule, these four plus William & Mary and ECU. My thought at the beginning of the year was that, being NC State, this team would inexplicably lose one of these, but replace it with an improbable win (which we’ll get to later). If ECU is going to be the loss in this scenario, that’s fine, but there’s no margin for error anymore. These four games have to be wins, there’s no way around it. I know the three ACC schools are better this year, and Wake could even be looking at nine wins. The fact is, Wake hasn’t won in Raleigh since 2006. BC is a little scarier, especially since they lead the all time series 8-5, but that’s still one to feel confident about. Finally, Syracuse has only beat State once in nine total meetings. With these four wins, the Wolfpack’s win total will be at five, with just one more win needed to get to the postseason.

Games NC State Could Win

11/5 vs Florida State

11/19 vs Miami

The aforementioned “improbable” win in my mind has to be Florida State. Every other year, the Seminoles make the trek to Raleigh, and as is tradition, NC State gets a win that makes everyone scratch their heads. Ok, maybe it’s not as common as I’m making it out to be, but the Wolfpack have won five of the last nine meetings in Raleigh. This is the most likely win, even if FSU is currently second in the AP poll. The other option is Miami, another home game. It’s hard to know what kind of team the Hurricanes will be this year, but it’s very possible that under their new coach, they might not live up to the preseason hype. They could function as win number six, which would be preferable to playing for bowl eligibility against UNC a week later. Speaking of the Tar Heels…

Games NC State Probably Won’t Win

10/8 vs Notre Dame

10/15 @ Clemson (LOL)

10/22 @ Louisville

11/25 @ UNC

Don’t get me wrong, I’d be overjoyed if the Wolfpack could pull the upset in any of these games (especially that last one). Unfortunately, these four look like they’re on another level right now. Sure, Notre Dame is at home and it was a fun game last time, but they looked like a solid team in their overtime loss at Texas. The only hope State has in these games is the change of a trap game. Notre Dame follows their trip to Raleigh with Stanford and Clemson with Florida State (after a bye week). Finally, all bets are off in a rivalry game. UNC looked like a far superior team in 2014, when NC State left Chapel Hill with a 35-7 win. Overall, wins in these games are possible, but shouldn’t be counted on in the quest for six wins.

Final Thoughts

After two vastly different non-conference games, it’s hard to say anything definite about this team. If they follow the regular pattern, I’d still predict a 6-6 record and a lower bowl game (probably Shreveport or DC). Perhaps that improbable win will be enough to make fans forget about last week’s loss. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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The Confidential’s ACC Football Roundtable: Week 1

Every week, some or all of the Confidential’s correspondents will “roundtable” issues regarding the ACC, as well as recapping the week that was and previewing the week to come.  As we are just hours away from the season starting, we are looking forward exclusively this week.

Q1: Which ACC team is the biggest risk for being an upset victim in Week 1?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame):  Pittsburgh Panthers.  Many ACC teams play weak competition in week 1, with teams like Charlotte, Liberty, William & Mary, and Florida A&M lined up to face ACC teams. I’ll go with the Pittsburgh Panthers to possibly falling victim an upset to the Villanova Wildcats. Even though they are a FCS team, the Wildcats have talent on the offensive side of the ball and will looking to upset their in-state opponent to send a message in week one.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): Hard to say what is and isn’t an upset this early in the season, but we do know that Clemson is in a lot of playoff projections, and this isn’t a gimme with Auburn. This is an SEC team that runs the kind of offense that is tough to prepare for. Sure they had the whole offseason, but the Tigers probably have other things to worry about.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Syracuse better be very, very ready for Colgate, an experienced team.  Not a gimme.  I disagree with Villanova only because I think Pitt under Narduzzi is the real deal.  They may not win the Coastal, but this is not the typical mediocre Pitt coaching hire.  So I will go with Tulane over Wake Forest.  Assuming the former Georgia Southern coaches can implement some semblance of what they did before at Tulane, Wake Forest may get itself into a shootout.  If so, could be trouble.

Q2: What are the three things your school’s team must do to win in Week 1?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): With Notre Dame kicking the season off at Texas, the Fighting Irish must take the excitement out of the crowd and score first. If they can build an early lead and have the Longhorns play catch up, they will be in better position to win. The second key to victory is to put pressure on true freshman quarterback Shane Buechele early and often. The third key is to get the ball in the hands of captain Torii Hunter Jr.’s hands, as he will set the stone for the otherwise young receiving corps the Irish have.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): 3 things? I hope it doesn’t take 3 things to beat William and Mary. They beat State in basketball, so I guess it isn’t out of the question, but there’s no reason this shouldn’t be a win. I’m a big FCS guy, and W&M isn’t North Dakota State. More than 3 things would have to go horribly wrong for this to be a loss.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Syracuse is many years past where it could look past an FCS school.  This is just reality.  Villanova should have beaten Syracuse and Colgate may be more primed to pull an upset.  Syracuse will need to avoid turnovers–which give instant life to an opponent.  While most will be concerned about Syracuse looking past Colgate, what is even more important is that Syracuse use its superior athletes–bigger players should push around smaller players, faster players should play faster than slower players–and so on.  Up to the coaches to use the size and speed advantages.  And then, of course, fundamentals…block, tackle, hang on to the ball, avoid penalties…. amazing how often that matters.

Q3: What would have to happen for your school to lose in Week 1?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): The Fighting Irish would have to come out unfocused and nervous to lose in week one, as a defense with six starters should feast against a true freshman quarterback in his first start.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): There’s no QB1 or QB2 on the depth chart, so both would have to play terrible. Add on some injuries to the running game, and the defense would just have to implode.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): It would not take much, sadly.  If Syracuse is turnover prone or allows a special teams touchdown, it could be game on.  If Syracuse starts slow, Colgate will stay in the game that much longer.  In the end, if you give an FCS team reason for hope, expect them to run with it.  We have seen it far too many times at Syracuse–from Coach P losing to Rutgers/Temple when they were miserably awful… to Doug Marrone allowing Maine to hang in there… to Scott Shafer nearly losing to Villanova.  And, of course, we see it every year during the Big Dance (looking at you, Middle Tennessee State).

Well, that is what these correspondents think.  What do you think?  Please feel free to share below.  And if you are interested in being a correspondent, see here.

The Confidential’s ACC Football Roundtable: Preseason 2016

Every week, some or all of the Confidential’s correspondents will “roundtable” issues regarding the ACC, as well as recapping the week that was and previewing the week to come.  As we are still in the preseason, we are looking forward exclusively this week.

Q1: OK, with the football season right around the corner, who are the 5 best teams in the ACC (including Notre Dame) in order?  Which two are playing in the ACC Championship Game?  And who, if anyone, from the ACC will make the playoffs?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame):  The Clemson Tigers are the best team in the ACC. Following them, is Florida State, Notre Dame, North Carolina, and the Miami Hurricanes.  ACC Title Game: FSU vs UNC. Playoffs: FSU

Harrison Huntley (NC State): Clemson, FSU, Miami, UNC, Louisville. Clemson and Miami playing in Charlotte.  I think any ACC champ would make the playoff assuming they only have a loss or two

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): 1, Clemson; 2, FSU; 3. Notre Dame; 4. Miami; 5. Louisville.  Clemson vs Miami, with Clemson in the playoffs.

Q2: Looking objectively at your team, which team is your team most likely to upset?  And which team is most likely to upset your team?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): With an early home game and the Spartans having holes to fill in their starting offensive line, the Irish have a very good chance of beating Michigan State at home in the third week of the season. Since the Fighting Irish’s schedule doesn’t give them many opportunities to pull off an upset, Michigan State would be my choice, even if they are close in the rankings.  With only three away games this season, Notre Dame will avoid hostile environments and be less likely to get upset. I will pick the Miami Hurricanes as one team who can upset the Irish this season. Quarterback Brad Kaaya is special and will be looking to increase his draft stock with a big win in South Bend.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): That’s easy: FSU. It’s in Raleigh, and for whatever reason, NC State always does well against the Noles at home. I think Syracuse has the best chance to pull an upset, just because it’s on the road. Normally I’d say BC or Wake, but both are at home this year so State SHOULD be ok against these guys.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Most Syracuse fans will say Virginia Tech because it is a home game.  But in Week 2, Louisville will have very little film to scout (and Colgate may not provide a preview of the entire offense), a Syracuse team without depth may be as healthy as it will be for any game all year, Louisville will still be “green” on its own, Syracuse is at home, etc.  I would not bet your kids’ lunch money on an upset, but it is my pick.  As for upsetting Syracuse, it is difficult with so few games to choose from. UConn is likely to be an underdog if Syracuse starts strong, so look for that as a potential loss in the same spirit as the USF win over Syracuse last year.  Sadly.  Frankly, it would be better for the ACC if B.C. or Wake Forest is the answer to this question–but both may be favored.

Q3: Who is one offensive player from your school for fans of other schools to keep an eye on in 2016?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): I know it may be cliché to choose the starting running back, but Tarean Folston is ready to be the star of the Notre Dame offensive attack. Folston was all set to be the starter last season but tore his ACL after three rushing attempts in the season opener. In 2014, Folston had four 100-yard rushing games, including 120 yards and a touchdown at #2 Florida State. Keep an eye out for the senior running back, who will be playing with a chip on his shoulder.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): You won’t see Jaylen Samuels on many watch lists, but that’s because he has no position. He can play RB, WR, TE, and anywhere in the backfield. He’s big and fast, a great combination.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): In this Dino Babers system, gotta go with the QB: Eric Dungey.  If he stays healthy and grasps the system, Dungey could put up huge numbers.  But those are some big “ifs” to watch for.  With a fairly decent compliment of skill players (relative to past seasons), we really may see Syracuse play fast and be fast.

Q4: Who is one defensive or special teams player for fans of other schools to take notice of?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): Cole Luke will be the leader in the secondary. The senior is coming off a little disappointing season after his breakout sophomore season. Luke only had 6 passes defended last year meanwhile he had 11 in 2014. Watch the 5’11” senior come back to form in his last year with the Fighting Irish.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): Nyheim Hines is a guy that’s so fast, he lines up at RB and WR. This speed is what makes him a great option when returning kicks and punts

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): After 7 years of Scott Shafer as defensive coordinator and head coach, and with a very inexperienced and not-so-deep defense, this could be a struggle.  All the more reason that Syracuse will need to score a lot and actually convert turnovers (however many) into points.  With linebacker perhaps the area with most returning depth, and Zaire Franklin the junior that was a captain last year as a sophomore MLB likely to anchor that unit, watch Franklin.

Well, that is what these correspondents think.  What do you think?  Please feel free to share below.  And if you are interested in being a correspondent, see here.

ROSTER TURNOVER IN NC STATE’S GOTTFRIED ERA

GottfriedWith the news last week that NC State would lose 3 of their key players from this past season, the tactics of coach Mark Gottfried were once again called into question. It’s become a pattern now. Every year, the team finishes better than expected with one player leading the way, but it’s the exodus of talent that follows causes fans to pause. Why are so many players leaving, year after year? Let’s take a look at the roster turnover in the Gottfried era

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Gottfried’s first season in Raleigh left nothing but high expectations for the next one. A young team that certainly overachieved lost very little headed to the next season. CJ Williams graduated, but the duo of Brown and Leslie looked promising to the next season. Raymond and Harris played very few minutes, so their transfers aren’t a huge deal, but Painter’s departure was curious. He quickly announced that he was transferring to be closer to his family, but that did little to stop the speculation that followed. It still seems like a legitimate reason, but skeptics will point to this being the beginning of a trend

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The second year is what many point to when they criticize Gottfried. For perhaps the only time in his career at NC State, he actually had all the pieces. He had a deep roster with plenty of talent, but yet suffered an early exit from the NCAA tournament. Losing an 8/9 game usually isn’t too disappointing, but the way this team ended the season left many wanting more. The disappointing season and disfunction among the team made the draft announcements from Brown and Leslie a little less surprising. The bigger surprise came from Rodney Purvis when he announced he was going to UConn. The freshman probably didn’t play as much as he would have liked, but you would assume with six players leaving he could expect more playing time in the future. Thaey’s transfer is a whole other issue, one that Sports Illustrated already covered. Still, each of the three early departures were out of the blue and leaving fans  confused.

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The cupboard looked pretty bare with Brown and Leslie gone, but T.J. Warren quickly changed fans’ perception of the team. Warren was no slouch his freshman year, but as he moved into his role as the Wolfpack’s star player, he showed his true potential. Of course, that got the NBA interested, and to Warren’s credit, he’s made a solid pro career to this point. The transfer to Tyler Lewis to Butler was also understandable, as the sophomore saw fewer and fewer minutes as Anthony “Cat” Barber blossomed into the star point guard he would become in years after. Overall this year was probably the least surprising of any. Sure the two departures were a bit sudden, but both seemed reasonable.

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Alabama transfer Trevor Lacey was the supposed to be the key addition and the shooter that NC State needed. He turned out to be all of that and more. Essentially, Lacey became TJ Warren part 2. His similar playing style gave him a similar role on the team. Barber and Anya found their roles, and other players like Lee, Turner, and the Martins contributed for a deep run in the NCAA tournament. Next year seemed promising, with most of the talent returning. Yet, Lacey quickly declared for the draft and soon after, Kyle Washington transferred to Cincinnati. Both were unexpected, and while the verdict is still out on Washington, Lacey hasn’t made  much of his pro career.

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A down recruiting year along with the late departures of Lacey and Washington left NC State with just 12 players on the roster. This will probably be considered the worst team of the Gottfried era, since they didn’t make any tournament and finished very low in the ACC. However, the one bright spot was Cat Barber. One year removed from being a supporting member, Barber took over the ACC as one of the conference’s top players. With little support, the team didn’t win many games. After the season ended, Barber announced he would enter the draft and while he hasn’t singed an agent, sources indicate that he’s likely gone. It’s a little puzzling, seeing as Barber would likely be a frontrunner for ACC Player of the Year, but he’s likely taking a cue from his former teammates (Warren and Lacey). Shortly after that announcement, news came that the Martin twins intended to transfer. This was the strange announcement. Most reports say that Cody was going to see less playing time due to incoming transfers, and wanted to find somewhere where both brothers could play. Still, you’d think they’d at least wait a year to see how their playing time is effected. The new transfers are anything but sure things, and it’s quite possible both brother could’ve seen lots of minutes. Abdul-Malik Abu is also reported to be exploring his draft options, but most feel that he will return.

Final Thoughts

So where does this leave us? Well, throughout Mark Gottfried’s tenure at NC State, we’ve seen a troubling trend of top talent leaving early. It’s sort of a “glass half empty/full” situation. On the bright side, Gottfried has been exceptional at replacing talent and bringing in new stars. The fact that there is a new star each year is impressive, and a testament to his recruiting ability. On the other hand, why are these players in such a hurry to get out? If any of the players had stayed just one more year, they’d be paired with another star to make an exceptional team. But maybe it’s a good thing, maybe Barber would have taken points away from Lacey. We’ll never know, but it’s clear that Gottfried can bring talent in, but can’t seem to hold on to it. Next year will be a very pivotal year. If the newcomers are as good as advertised and the team makes another tournament run, then we can revisit if this “strategy” is working. If these newcomers struggle, then you have to start questioning whether Gottfried is the right man for the job. What are your thoughts? Is this just another example of one-and-done’s hurting the college games? Why are so many NC State players leaving?

NC State Give Clemson a Scare on Halloween

Fans of NC State know the recipe all too well: a lackluster NC State team hosts a nationally ranked team at home and somehow pulls off the upset. It’s happened plenty of times before, and it almost happened on Saturday, but the wheels fell off and Clemson escaped with the win.

Game Recap

This game started off at breakneck pace with four scores in the first four drives. What’s more, each team had an extra point blocked and the score was 13-13. The first drive without a score came when Brissett fumbled on a sack. Clemson was held to a field goal in a nice goal line stand by the Wolfpack. NC State was forced to punt on the next drive, but again were kept to a field goal. It looked like the game was getting away, but a risky play gave the Wolfpack a 20-19 lead. On a 3rd and 1, Brissett found Samuels on the pass for a 40yd touchdown.

Samuels

After finally getting a stop on defense, the team looked to improve on their lead. The Wolfpack marched all the way down the field, but missed a field goal. Flashes of the Troy game came back to fans as Clemson threw a hail mary and scored just seconds before the half, giving Clemson a 26-20 lead. While in the locker room, it was announced that Matt Dayes would not return for the second half.

Each team came out of the half and scored pretty quickly. Clemson scored again, and again, and again. The NC State defense fell apart in the second half, and could never slow down Clemson’s offense enough. The absence of Dayes really hurt as the Wolfpack’s running game fell flat. Clemson’s offense exploded for 30 points in the second half, while NC State was left with just 21.

Clemson

Takeaways

Wolfpack fans complaining about this loss need to take a step back. Clemson is one of about a dozen teams still undefeated and for good reason. They are a solid team and have a very legitimate shot at a national title. The fact that NC State hung 41 points on them is a big deal and shouldn’t go unnoticed, especially since Miami was shut out a week ago.

Dayes

The defense was unimpressive, which is interesting because they’ve been a strong point all season. Again, I’m willing to attribute some of this to Clemson being one of the best offenses in the nation. Still, some of these two play drives looked really bad. Hopefully the defense can turn it around next week when they go to one of the ACC’s worst offenses, Boston College

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GIF Reaction

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It was a good effort and perhaps with Matt Dayes playing the whole game, this would be a different story. Either way, you can’t be mad about this loss, but you can’t be very happy about it either.

Wolfpack Get Up Early, Fight Off Deacons

After a few depressing weeks, NC State desperately needed a win. The only problem was that they were playing Wake Forest on the road. For some inexplicable reason, the Wolfpack had not won in Winston-Salem since 2001, back when now NFL veteran Phillip Rivers was under center.

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It had been a while since NC State had beaten Wake on the road, but thankfully, that changed on Saturday.

Game Recap

I don’t think this game could have started any better. On just the third play from scrimmage, Brissett found Maurice Trowell through the air for a 60 yard touchdown. Wake Forest then went 3 and out, and Matt Dayes ran 85 yards to score on the first play of the drive. Later in the first quarter, NC State scored on another 1 play drive when Brissett passed 58 yards to Nyheim Hines. Finally, Matt Dayes added on another score with a run in the closing seconds of the first to make it 28-0 Wolfpack.

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Apparently, NC State thought the game was over after the first quarter. Maybe offensive coordinator Matt Canada decided to catch up on some sleep, or perhaps Jacoby Brissett wanted to save his arm for next week. All joking aside, NC State pretty much parked the bus in the next three quarters. The defense held strong for the most part, but did concede 17 points.

Defense

With about five minutes left in the fourth quarter, NC State scored for the first time since the first quarter. It wasn’t the offense though. Brandon Cherry took a punt 52 yards back to the end zone. Wake managed to score once more after this, but NC State took home the victory 35-17.

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Takeaways

The first quarter was reminiscent of the “pre-season.” NC State got ahead early and never looked back. Brissett and Dayes both eclipsed 200 yards in passing and rushing respectively.Trowell

Only Wake’s quarterback, Kendall Hinton, posted more than 100 yards of offense. The defense played well when you consider how much they were on the field. It’s just tough to tell which NC State team was the real team. This week’s showdown with Clemson will hopefully tell us which team to expect down the stretch.

GIF Reaction

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I mean yeah, they won. But it was against Wake, who is a power 5 team, but not a good one. The score was similar to UNC/Wake, but they didn’t play that well after the first quarter. I’m just so confused!

Cardinals Escape Wolfpack in Disappointing Contest

To the outsider, Saturday’s Louisville/NC State matchup may have looked like an easy pick. The 4-0 Wolfpack against the struggling 1-3 Cardinals? Of course the undefeated team should win. But if you’ve watched anything from either of these teams, you know that’s hardly the end of the story. Louisville has 2 “quality losses” along with a weird one against Houston, but they’re better than their record indicates. On the other side, NC State may be the most untested team in the nation with wins over 4 teams you probably haven’t heard of. Hopefully you’ve read Pharmacard’s recap because things are different from the NC State side.

Game Recap

After a defense stalemate took up much of the first quarter, NC State appeared to have broken loose. Jumichael Ramos caught a pass and was almost in the end zone before he fumbled. To make matters worse, Louisville made them pay for the turnover as Lamar Jackson broke loose for a 68 yard touchdown run. That was ok, not the start they wanted, but most NC State fans figured the team could recover from this.

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As the second quarter started, NC State faced a fourth and 10 from the Louisville 33 and inexplicably decided to punt. I’m not going to get into the details, but there’s rarely a good reason to punt from the opposite side of the 50. To his credit, punter AJ Cole did great work to pin the Cardinals inside their own 10. Of course, as fate would have it, Louisville drove the field and scored to take a 14-0 lead.

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With their backs against the walls, NC State started the drive needing a score. Nyheim Hines did his part and ran the kickoff back to the 5. Instead of doing what’s worked all year (Matt Dayes), the Wolfpack thought it was time to get fancy with an incomplete pass and a QB draw. They finally called timeout and found their common sense. Dayes got the ball on the next play and ran it in for the score. They went into the locker room trailing 17-7.

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Things started looking up in the second half as NC State figured out they could run the ball and wound up in the red zone again. A short pass to Samuels and they trailed by only a field goal…except not because the extra point was missed (#collegekickers). Both teams went back and fourth for the rest of the game, but Louisville’s field goal with 15s left sealed the deal for a 20-13 win.

Takeaways

Simply put, this was not the same team State fans have been watching the last month. It isn’t just that they are playing against tougher competition, but the entire gameplan seems to have changed. NC State found great success against South Alabama running the ball and the success continued into the Louisville game. Yet NC State running backs only got 20 carries in the entire game. Most fans could agree that they should have made the Cardinals stop the running game before abandoning it.

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Overall, I’m not as upset at the defense. There were a few plays where they covered everyone except the QB and that’s ok, dual threat quarterbacks will do that to you. Jackson compiled 224 of Louisville’s 306 total yards. That would have been ok for most games, but the offense just never responded. In short, there’s still work to do on both sides of the ball.

Defense

GIF Reaction

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Yep, it’s gonna be another one of those years. NC State is going to win a few games in a row to instill hope in the fanbase, but then let us all down with bad losses like this one. Oh well, at least we’re used to it.

Wolfpack Sprint Past South Alabama

No one really thought South Alabama would challenge NC State, but this game just wasn’t fair. The Wolfpack finished with 586 yards of total offense and were really never contested. This is going to be a quick recap because this was completely one sided.

Game Recap


The game started pretty quick as the Jags drove the field and scored in just six plays. As they scored, State fans said in unison “here we go again” (probably, right?). That was ok because that would be the only touchdown the defense allowed all night. The Wolfpack also helped State fans’ stress levels by scoring in just three plays.Cherry After giving up the initial score, they would go on to score 28 unanswered in the FIRST QUARTER. In the second, USA finally put up a field goal, but NC State dropped 21 more points on them before the half was over. The second half was irrelevant since most of State’s backups were in and still managed to outscore South Alabama 21-3. When it was all over, NC State picked up their 4th win of the year by a score of 63-13.

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Takeaways

While I’m not a huge fan of the team’s schedule, being 2/3’s of the way to a bowl game is quite encouraging especially with the way the conference looks this year. In terms of the game, I think State looks like they can be competitive in the ACC this year. As I’ve said in this column for the last three weeks, this team looks really good even when you take into account who they are playing

If you take a look at the drive summary, you can see that NC State scored touchdowns in all of their first five drives. That’s not a team that’s just squeaking by, that’s total domination. I don’t think they’ll do this every week, but I do think it shows that this team is talented. Three different running backs had at least two touchdowns. That kind of depth bodes well for a team going through conference. Matt Days and Shadrach Thornton both rushed for more than 100 yards and Jacoby Brissett threw for over 200 with 2 TD’s.

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Just like everyone else, I’m excited to see how the team looks this weekend against Louisville. Both teams have something to prove and similarly, this game will tell us a lot about both teams.

GIF Reaction

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ACC play is getting started and NC State is 4-0. They’re playing a Louisville team that has had three tough games so far and just got their first win last week. I’m ready, let’s go!

Overthrowing the Monarchs

Another week came and went, but unless you’re a hardcore NC State fan, you likely didn’t watch the Wolfpack completely overpower the Old Dominion Monarchs on Saturday night. It’s ok, I watched it for you. Here’s what happened:

Game Recap

It was almost surreal how easily they drove the field. On their first possession, a combination of short passes and runs allowed NC State to pound out a 15 play, 73 yard drive that ended in a Jaylen Samuels touchdown.

Later, the defense again succumbed to the “one big play” offense. A long 70 yard pass play put ODU on the board and tied the game at 7

But that was ok, Jacoby Brissett took over on the next drive. He threw a couple of long passes, scrambled out of the pocket and ran it in for a score. A few drives later, Brissett found Samuels through the air for another score. NC State went into the half with a comfortable 21-7 lead.

North Carolina State's Maurice Trowell (87) celebrates with Jaylen Samuels (28) after Samuels scored on a 3-yard touchdown run during the first half against Old Dominion at S.B. Ballard Stadium in Norfolk, Va., on Saturday Sept. 19, 2015. N.C. State won, 38-14. (Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS)

The offense got a little lazy in the third quarter, but thankfully the defense continued to play well. In the third quarter, Brandon Cherry returned a punt to the ODU 20. Matt Dayes found his way into the end zone a few plays later.

The rest of the game was pretty much irrelevant. The only notable happening was the return of RB Shadrach Thornton. Previously kicked off the team for a violation of rules, he was reinstated this week and scored a touchdown in garbage time on Saturday. His touchdown with 1:33 left in the game made the final score 38-14.

Takeaways

This was supposed to be the trap game. On the road, a primetime game, and the ODU team on the rise; NC State usually struggles in this type of game. For a team that usually plays down to their competition, this game was refreshing. The Wolfpack got ahead early and were never challenged.

Brissett had his lowest passing yardage of the season, but I’d like to think it’s because he didn’t need to. Much of the second half was just simple rushing plays to run the clock. He also hit his season high for rushing yards. Mostly thanks to his 21 yard TD run, Brissett was much more successful scrambling in this game.

North Carolina State quarterback Jacoby Brissett (12) passes under pressure from Old Dominion defensive end Poncho Barnwell (95) during the second half at S.B. Ballard Stadium in Norfolk, Va., on Saturday Sept. 19, 2015. N.C. State won, 38-14. (Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS)

Just like in the Troy game, one play made up most of Old Dominion’s offense. With the exception of that play, the defense kept the Monarchs quiet all night. Of course, we’d all love to do without the one play, but if that’s what it takes, I think most of the fans would be ok with that.

Finally, the return of Shadrach was also a bright spot. While Matt Dayes runs with a more elusive style, Thornton is definitely a power running back. Having both really completes the backfield, especially with Samuels as the “fullback.”

North Carolina State running back Matthew Dayes (21) breaks free from Old Dominion cornerback Aaron Young (27) during the first half at S.B. Ballard Stadium in Norfolk, Va., on Saturday Sept. 19, 2015. (Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS)

GIF Reaction

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Oh no, this isn’t good. I’m starting to believe. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but NC State is starting to look really good. I’m not crazy, but this looks like a different NC State team. They aren’t allowing these lesser teams to stick around and make games close. I know, I know. They’re going to let me down. Just let me believe for a second ok?

Wolfpack Blank Colonels

NC State continued to NOT make headlines this week as they took care of business at home against Eastern Kentucky. Though they are a ranked team in the FCS, the Wolfpack should not and did not have much trouble with the Colonels. Oh and they also wore those nifty black alternates.

Game Recap

Ok, so NC State had a little bit of trouble with EKU. In the first drive of the game, it looked like maybe the Colonels could hang around. After barely converting on 3rd and 20, the Wolfpack made it down to the goal line. Then, the wheels fell off. Matt Dayes was stopped for no gain and Brissett could only get back to the line. Facing a 3rd and goal from the 5 after a false start, Brissett failed to avoid the pass rush and was sacked. So the Wolfpack settled for a field goal…except no, the kick was blocked. The entire NC State fanbase groaned in unison and prepared for a long game.

doeren

So close…

The defense forced a 3 and out, but the offense continued to disappoint. Dakwa Nichols fumbled as he got to midfield as Eastern Kentucky caught yet another break. At the end of the first quarter, the game was inexplicably tied at 0. Things got better though. NC State started the quarter in EKU territory and Brissett took over. He eventually found Benson Browne in the end zone to put the Wolfpack on the board.

TD

Finally, a score!

On the next drive, Brissett and Dayes alternated plays to march the team all the way down to the goal line where Jaylen Samuels ran it in for the score.

North Carolina State Jaylen Samuels (28) looks for running room after beating out Eastern Kentucky defensive back Tyrell Curry (31) during the second half at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. The host Wolfpack won, 35-0. (Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS)

Samuels runs over the EKU defense

NC State would take their 14-0 lead into the half. They picked up where they left off to open the half. Samuels caught a pass and brought State to the red zone. Matt Dayes then ran for 25 yards and his first of three TDs.

North Carolina State running back Matthew Dayes (21) breaks free from Eastern Kentucky defensive back Kobie Grace (38) during the first half at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. (Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS)

Matt Dayes does the same

The rest of the game went mostly to plan. Dayes and Brissett continued to tear up the EKU defense and on the other side, the Wolfpack defense ended up shutting out the Colonels for a 35-0 victory.

Takeaways

Of course it was against an FCS team, but the combination of Jacoby Brissett and Matt Dayes looked unstoppable again this week. Troy couldn’t handle them, and Eastern Kentucky had no answer for the two. Both did what they wanted basically the whole game. Going forward, it’s nice to know what they are capable of. There’s a lot to be excited about on offense if they can continue this play into the conference schedule.

North Carolina State quarterback Jacoby Brissett (12) passes during the first half against Eastern Kentucky at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. (Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS)

Jacoby Brissett airs it out

The defense looked better this week. With the exception of a few early drives, they kept the Colonels out of the red zone the entire game. Hopefully this is the real NC State defense. The version of this defense we saw last week was largely ineffective against a sub-par Troy offense. At times, they even carried the team notably in the first quarter when the offense was stagnant. They looked much better this week and hopefully that kind of play is here to stay, but it’s too soon to tell.

defense

Defense celebrating another stop

Gif Reaction

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It’s hard to get excited yet because of the weak schedule, but it’s hard to complain when you’re 2-0. Offense looks good, defense looks adequate, way to go NC State. Let’s keep these games one-sided.

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