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.
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
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
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.
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.
Observations From the Game: CMU
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