In a nutshell
You could really sum this game up in two words- offensive ineptness. Predictably- at least by 2011 standards- the Pack came out flat and struggled to find any consistency on the offensive end all day.
It wasn't much better defensively, at least in the early stages of the game. Boston College scored touchdowns on two of its first four drives and that proved to be enough. In fact, the Eagles first drive looked way too easy. BC moved 61 yards in just five plays with the big gainer being a 41 yard pass play where Wolfpack cornerback C.J. Wilson got lost in coverage.
Give the defense credit, however. They adjusted and completely shut down the Boston College offense, again showing improvement over the second half of the season.
Something That Worked
Again, the defense. 14 points should win you a football game. After giving up two touchdowns in the first half, the Wolfpack defense adjusted and stiffened in the second half, limiting BC to just three yards of offense, one first down and five punts. This may have been the most dominant half of defense against a quality opponent under Tom O'Brien. Hats off to Mike Archer and his staff for getting the unit on track in the second half.
Something That Didn't
The offense...Where do you start? It's usually a pretty bad sign when the other team rushes three and are able to completely disrupt your passing game. Although the stats show just one sack, that hardly tells the true story. The Pack was beaten at left tackle for three quarters and Wolfpack quarterback Mike Glennon was never able to set up and never looked comfortable in the pocket.
They were also ineffective rushimg the ball against a Boston College defense that came into the game giving up better than 160 yards per contest. The Pack managed a measly 47 yards on the ground and didn't have a run longer than eight yards all day.
The sad fact is that other than a broken play pass completion of 32 yards to Quinton Payton that led to State's lone touchdown, the Pack never got anything going consistently all day.
Offense, Defense Going In Opposite Directions
Through the first half of the season NC State was putting up 32 points per game while the defense fought through multiple injuries that made them porous at times. Through the first six games of the year the defense yielded right at 30 points a contest.
In the last four games NC State has given up 15 points per game including holding three of those opponents to 14 points or less. Offensively, it's been the complete opposite. State has averaged just 11 points per game. For perspective of just how bad that number is, 11 points per game would rank dead last nationally in scoring offense, a full point worse than 120th place Florida Atlantic who is averaging 12.22 points per contest.
Head Scratcher With Mattes
You couldn't help but notice that seemingly out of the blue, Boston College lost their pass rush on the left side of NC State's offensive line in the fourth quarter. It wasn't hard to figure out once you noticed that OL R.J. Mattes had entered the game.
What's harder to figure out is how Mattes could come in and be so effective in the fourth quarter and not be ready to play for the rest of the game. If State thought they could win without him then that was definitely not a smart move considering the Pack has had zero room for error on offense over the last month.
Offensive Line Play Continues To Head South
Unfortunately, offensive line play seems to be a constant theme in this article. However, football isn't rocket science and success always starts with the big guys up front. This is a unit that has stayed intact for most of the year other than a player here or there. Certainly they've not suffered the attrition several other positions have incurred.
However, there's been very little improvement from 2010 to 2011 and in fact, they appear to have regressed. The thing that seems to jump out is their lack of physicality. They don't push anyone around and they seem to get caught flat-footed way too often in pass coverage. Until this unit improves or State finds a way to mask their weaknesses, it's hard to see the offense making any major strides forward.
State Uncharacteristically Penalty Prone
The Pack has been one of the nation's best at avoiding penalties but not on Saturday. State had eight for 56 yards and each was costly for a team struggling to stay ahead of the chains.
Amerson A Bright Spot
You would think at some point opposing quarterbacks would learn not to throw towards David Amerson, particularly on deep balls. With another pick on Saturday, Amerson continues to lead the nation with 10 interceptions and is three ahead of the next closest player. He has all but assured himself of being a finalist for the Thorpe award.
Where To Go From Here
Here's the only silver lining we can find. Clemson is coming off a hard fought and emotional win over Wake Forest- a game they very well could've lost. They go on the road to face an NC State team that in all honesty, looks horrid on offense at times. After NC State they have rival South Carolina. If you're a Wolfpack fan you have to hope this sets up as a trap game for the Tigers.
For State, it's do or die time. Lose and a bowl game goes out the window. The season finale then sets up simply as senior day. Unfortunately the Wolfpack has struggled defensively with teams that use a lot of motion and spread the field. However, the unit has been much better of late and they'll have to play their best game of the year to give State a chance.
Offensively, it's not just one thing State has to fix. There's a plethora of issues that have cropped up over the last four weeks. It's hard to imagine them finding enough answers over the next five days but stranger things have happened. It'll take a balanced effort from the run and pass game to give State a legitimate shot.