Observations From the Game: CMU

Pack Pride take a final look back at NC State's 48-14 win over Central Michigan.

NC State got points from offense, defense and special teams on Saturday and that helped pave the way to an impressive 48-14 win over Central Michigan. The Wolfpack improved to 3-1 on the season with the heart of the conference schedule looming. Pack Pride takes a look back at the Wolfpack's effort.

In a Nutshell

Anytime you can get points out of your defense and special teams you're going to be in position to win a game more often than not. D.J. Green's 37 yard interception return and Rashard Smith's 67 yard punt return were daggers for Central Michigan and helped the Pack build an insurmountable lead.

Defensively NC State was very good once again and that's been a given week in and week out through four games. The Wolfpack is 26th nationally in total defense and 22nd in run defense. Chippewa QB Cooper Rush struggled and clearly State's defense- particularly the front four- had a lot to do with that.

Offensively, State was balanced with 239 yards rushing and 244 yards passing. When the Pack brings that to the table- combined with the defensive effort we've seen through the first third of the season- they're going to be a tough out for any team left on the schedule.

Entertaining Offense

You have to tip the hat to offensive coordinator Matt Canada and the offensive staff. It's no secret that the Pack has had its struggles along the offensive line. To overcome that Canada has devised a smoke and mirrors offense that basically masks the deficiencies up front but succeeds in getting the ball to his play makers out in space. The skill spots are a strength for the Pack and you have to give the coaches credit for scheming plays that detour around State's weaknesses.

With a makeshift offensive line, new offense and quarterback- a top 45 offense is a pretty solid accomplishment. However, beyond just the early effectiveness of the offense, it's also been very fun to watch. The Pack's use of the jet sweep, reverses and wildcat has been entertaining. It's about as good as we've seen going all the way back to the Norm Chow year back in 2000.

Shout Out to Frisman Jackson

Much of the Pack's run game happens out on the perimeter and some of the unsung heroes behind that success have been State's wide receivers. So far the wideouts have done a phenomenal job of blocking and that was evident again this weekend. All of that goes back to coaching and you have to mention the job done by receivers coach Frisman Jackson. Fundamentally the receivers have been consistent and solid. Drops have been the exception where they were the rule the last couple of years. As a whole, the wide receiver position looks like a huge strength for State for years to come.

Player of the Game
There were several guys that had outstanding games Saturday but we're going with Bryan Underwood as player of the game. He has exploded the last couple of games and has become a big play threat for the Pack every time he touches the ball. You can sense that the crowd is looking for something explosive to happen every time he's involved in a play. On Saturday Underwood had five catches for 148 yards and an 80-yard touchdown reception. He also chipped in 42 yards on three carries and has emerged as a huge weapon on jet sweeps.

Caldwell Showing Consistency

If there was one position that NC State desperately needed someone to step forward it was at the middle linebacker spot. You know the Wolfpack coaches have to be thanking their lucky stars for the emergence of LB Robert Caldwell. No one outside of State's program could have predicted that Caldwell would develop, not just into a player that doesn't make mistakes, but a guy that has become a play maker. He led the Pack again on Saturday with seven tackles and two tackles for loss. You can see his confidence grow from week to week and State's going to need him to remain consistent from week to week with the lion's share of the conference schedule on the horizon.

Defense Becoming a Force

We have to admit, after week one we had our doubts about the prospects for the Wolfpack defense in 2013. While the down linemen were a given, the back seven looked shaky. However, the entire unit has become a force. They are fundamentally sound, have tackled well consistently and have limited missed assignments. The coaches have clearly done a solid job of not only preparing the defense but getting everything out of this squad that they can. When they have been beaten it's almost always been because the other team made a great play. If you can force the opposition into a position where they have to make great plays to be successful then you're doing your job effectively.

Headed Forward

Playing Wake Forest in Winston-Salem ranks right up there as one of our least favorite things to do. We're pretty sure Richard Nixon was president the last time State had success at Wake. While probably not that extreme, it's no secret that the Deacs are one of those teams that always gives State a fit, particularly when the Pack has to go on the road.

Getting a win is objective one and on paper, the Pack should have the advantage. However, this another test for a new coaching staff as they take State on the road for the first time. Can the Wolfpack show progress from week four to week five and do it in a hostile environment. They'll likely get some help as State will have a huge contingent of fans on hand.

There's no doubt that a 4-1 record with a competitive loss to the third ranked team in the nation would be a tremendous start for head coach Dave Doeren and company.

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