Observations From the Game: Richmond

Pack Pride takes a final look back at NC State's last-second 23-21 win over Richmond.

NC State was able to overcome 10 penalties and four turnovers to pull out a come-from-behind 23-21 win over Richmond. The Pack got a strong second half defensive effort and another tremendous game from K Nik Sade to record their second win of the season. Pack Pride takes a look back at the game.

In A Nutshell

First off, give Richmond credit. We mentioned before the game that the Spiders would not be intimidated by NC State and they definitely weren't. They played hard, had a tremendous game plan both offensively and defensively and made plays. For 59 minutes they were the better team on Saturday night.

You also have to give credit to NC State. There have been years where the Wolfpack likely would've lost this game. It's happened before. The Pack is not some ultra-talented team and their margin of error between winning and losing is predicated largely on playing mistake free football. They played anything but error free against Richmond.

State played a commendably clean game against Louisiana Tech but it was anything but against Richmond. The Pack killed itself with mistakes and allowed the Spiders to extend five drives because of penalties.

However, the Pack defense pitched a shutout in the second half which gave the team an opportunity to put together just enough offense to squeak out a win.

Offense Simplifies In Week 2

Only the coaches know for sure but it appeared the offensive game plan was designed to attack Richmond between the tackles and use a size and depth advantage in the run game. State used less motion, fewer formations and didn't work the perimeter very often. You can't say that it wasn't effective as the Pack managed to rack up 188 yards on the ground. However, State was never able to really get anything consistent going and didn't dominate the Richmond front four the way they thought they may be able to.

The passing game was adequate but again, there was less movement, less motion to throw Richmond off and State didn't attack the perimeter the way we thought they might. The Spiders did a good job of reading State and appeared to have picked up on something the Pack was doing offensively because they seemingly guessed right on virtually every pass and run play.

One thing Richmond did that State will have to be aware of headed forward was their strategy of dropping seven on pass plays, playing zone and making Pete Thomas either locate an open receiver or make the decision to run.

Clearly Thomas is much better when he can throw in rhythm. He seemed to rattle when his primary receiver was covered but to his credit, showed good wheels and was able to extend several drives with his feet. Because of the lack of depth at the quarterback position, this is something the coaches would probably like to limit headed forward.

Pete Thomas

Some fans seem down on Thomas but I don't see it. I recall two bad passes yesterday. One was intercepted and the other should've been. One interception was not on Thomas.

Thomas completed 24 of 31 passes yesterday (77%) and that's darn good. Those numbers will win some games. The only criticism I can see is Thomas' decision to bail too early when the primary receiver is covered. He seems to tuck the ball too early and perhaps lose his focus downfield, looking instead at the pass rush.

Additionally, at some point Thomas has to hit a pass down field so defenses will respect the deep pass. If he doesn't, teams are just going to load the box on run plays and then drop seven or eight in obvious passing downs.

Again, I feel like Thomas has been adequate. He's not Philip Rivers. But if he can continue to improve on what he's done the first two games, the quarterback position will not be the position that gets the Wolfpack beat over the next 10 games.

Player of the Game

For the second week in a row- K Nik Sade. If there's another kicker in the nation playing any better, I want to see him. His leg was as impressive Saturday as any Wolfpack kicker I've ever seen in Carter-Finley Stadium. All six of his kickoffs were touch backs and one nearly landed in the stands. His 48 yard field goal looked like it would've been good from 55. This is two outstanding performances in a row by Sade and it appears he is developing into a tremendous weapon for the Wolfpack.

Stat of the Game

83- that's how many yards the NC State defense gave up in the second half. Richmond had seven drives in the third and fourth quarters. Four of those ended in a punt and two others ended with a turnover. The Spiders averaged 2.4 yards per play in the second half. It's a pretty safe bet that had State yielded any points in the second half, the Pack would've lost this game.

Assessing the Team After Week 2

NC State has talent in spots but they're also talent-deficient and inexperienced in others. Some of the issues that the Wolfpack has will have to be addressed through recruiting and obviously, that will take time.

What the Pack can control is playing hard, playing smart and taking care of the football. The effort appeared to be there Saturday but the other two were not. As mentioned previously, State isn't good enough to win often over the next 10 games with four turnovers and double digit penalties. State has to prove this was a one week deal and play something much more similar to the effort they displayed against Louisiana Tech as they move forward.

There's a contingent of State fans that moan whenever you pick anything outside of an undefeated season. I picked the Pack to go 6-6 this year. Based on the first two weeks, I'll stick with that assessment for now.

Up Next

The good news is State gets a couple of extra days to prepare for the next game. The bad news is Clemson is coming to town. When the Tigers play to their potential, they may be the best team in the nation. Clemson has also been known to lay an egg or two with one of those coming in Carter-Finley Stadium two years ago.

So here's the deal. Clemson is more talented across the board (obviously). However, State has beaten this bunch before which should give them the confidence that they can do it again.

If the Pack repeats Saturday's effort, Clemson can likely name their score. If State eliminates the mistakes and is able to make some big plays, both offensively and defensively, then they can give themselves a shot.

Carter-Finley will be electric and the new coaching staff will likely get their first taste of what the Wolfpack faithful are capable of bringing. How long the 12th man remains a factor will be decided by which State team shows up on the field.

Pack Pride Top Stories