Dec. 26 Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl
NC State 34, UCF 27
And You Care Because … Jacoby Brissett threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Johnathan Alston, and Matt Dayes ran for third quarter scores from 24 and 15 yards out as NC State held a 34-13 lead in the fourth and cruised the rest of the way. UCF took a 10-7 lead in the second on a six-yard Josh Reese touchdown catch, but it was all Wolfpack with 17 straight points and a 27-3 run to put it away. The Knights made it interesting late on Reese touchdown catches from 14 and two yards out, but they couldn’t get any closer than seven.
What Else? NC State QB Jacoby Brissett completed 15-of-26 passes for 262 yards and a score, and ran 14 times for 31 yards
- UCF WR Josh Reese caught six passes for 75 yards and three scores
- Total yards: NC State 487 – UCF 373
- Time of possession: NC State 33:51 – UCF 26:09
Game Rating: C+
By Rich Cirminiello
1. Uncle Mo will be leasing space in Raleigh for the next eight months.
Bowl games matter, but often more for the season ahead than the season at hand. NC State, for instance. The Wolfpack has a chance to use tonight’s 34-27 win over UCF, in which it led for the final 39 minutes, as a springboard into 2015. For the Pack, it was an especially perfect follow-up to regular season-ending blowouts of in-state rivals Wake Forest and North Carolina in November.
This finish to 2014 is exactly what the Pack and head coach Dave Doeren needed to light a spark beneath a program that had become increasingly stale and unimpressive in recent seasons. While there’s still plenty of work to be done, particularly on defense and near the line of scrimmage, State is finally headed north. And if Doeren and his assistants can press the wrinkles in QB Jacoby Brissett’s game, the program will elevate even higher next fall.
The Pack won its eighth game of 2014 tonight at the Trop. Of far greater importance, though, this team is already off and running in 2015.
By Pete Fiutak
2. Just how far away from being a really good pro prospect is Jacoby Brissett? The NC State junior quarterback has the bulk, and he has the look, and he has the combination of arm strength and mobility, but he’s considered a mid-level pick for the 2016 NFL draft, at best. The consistency isn’t there, and he needs to be more accurate, but when he was on this year, he looked the part and showed promise. Forget about being the next Andrew Luck, and he’s not a sure-thing NFL starter by any stretch, but he could turn into one of those guys who sees the game slow down in his final year and all of a sudden seems to find a groove. It’s way early, but it’s projecting to be a very, very mediocre 2016 draft for quarterbacks. There’s a void to be filled.
3. It would’ve been such a huge win for UCF if it could’ve pulled off the home bowl victory. A ten-win season would’ve proved that the program really is a powerhouse sitting in the American Athletic world, but the D was exposed a bit. The overall stats might have been great this season, but too many great performances came against the mediocre and weak. The campaign wasn’t a mirage, and UCF really is that good under George O’Leary – 9-4 isn’t a bad rebuilding year. It just could’ve been capped off with something bigger and a huge statement. The loss might not have been a bad thing, though. The Knights fought back to make it fun late, and now they have a carrot at the end of the stick – they still have to keep pushing.
4. What’s next for NC State
Can Jacoby Brissett become the type of next-level quarterback who can carry the team on his own? He won’t have to with a great-looking stable of backs to hand off to including Shadrach Thornton and Matt Dayes. The top seven pass catchers are back, including the backs and TE David Grinnage. The O line has to replace tackles Rob Crisp and Tyson Chandler, but everyone else returns.
The D has a nice mix of potential and experience returning up front with B.J. Hill at tackle and end Mike Rose the possible anchors. The young linebacking corps should be far better, while the secondary might be the team’s strength with all five starters returning including safeties Hakim Jones, Josh Jones and Dravious Wright. PK Niklas Slade is gone along with P Wil Baumann.
5. What’s next for UCF
The UCF defense that was such a killer at times this year welcomes back three starters up front and a potentially deadly rotation. The linebacking corps loses Terrance Plummer and has to replace Troy Gray, but Errol Clarke is back on the outside. The secondary is the problem with three starters gone and only corner Jacoby Glenn retuning.
The offense has its quarterback in Justin Holman, and it has the running backs with several good options around William Stanback. While leading target Breshad Perriman is back, three of the top four receivers are gone. The line has to replace the left side with tackle Torrian Wilson and guard Tarik Milner done. UCF’s all-time leading scorer, PK Shawn Moffitt is gone, but P Caleb Houston returns.
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