Observations From the Game: Wake Forest

Pack Pride takes a final look back at NC State's disappointing 28-13 loss to Wake Forest.

NC State knew the history at Wake Forest but was helpless to do a thing about it on Saturday. The Pack didn't have an answer for Tanner Price or Michael Campanero and couldn't find any consistency offensively. It all culminated in a 28-13 loss to the Deacs and State's sixth straight defeat in Winston-Salem. Pack Pride takes a look bac at the Wolfpack's second loss of the season.

In a Nutshell

It's not like Wake Forest casts a voodoo spell on NC State when they travel to Winston-Salem although it certainly appears that way at times. And it's not just the 2013 version of the Wolfpack that has struggled. Teams much more talented than this year's edition have made the trip to Wake with identical results. Perhaps it's a mind set. More likely, once again, was the Deacs appeared to be have a better game plan and that, combined with Wolfpack mistakes led to another loss for State.

Winston-Salem House of Horrors Continues

Dropped passes, blown coverages, personal fouls, roughing the kicker, turnovers, presnap penalties- a perfect hodgepodge of junk that effectively brought NC State down to Wake Forest's level.

Things that the Pack avoid against virtually every other team seem to rear their ugly head each time State travels to Wake. Really, the only thing missing Saturday was a Deacon's half back pass for a touchdown.

State has had very few blown coverages in the secondary this year but had costly breakdowns throughout Saturday's game.

The Pack has played disciplined all year but there was Jarvis Byrd getting a crucial taunting penalty.

When was the last time State roughed a kicker on a field goal attempt?

At least now coach Doeren and staff have a taste of their own for the road debacles that have become the norm at Wake Forest. The chore now is to make sure it doesn't happen again headed forward. Unfortunately, history isn't on their side.

Pack Has No Answer for Deac's Offensive Adjustments

You have to hand it to Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe. When things aren't working he knows how to adjust to maximize his team's strengths. Staring at a potential 2-4 start, Grobe attacked State with a different offensive game plan than he had shown in the first five games of the year.

Wake had their offensive linemen use wide splits which all but neutralized the NC State front four. It also allowed Wake to manufacture rushing yards with Tanner Price accounting for 94 of the Deac's 114 yards on the ground. While not gaudy by any stretch, Wake Forest's rushing yards came at critical times and was enough to keep the Wolfpack guessing. This scheme also limited  Wolfpack LB Robert Caldwell's impact on the game. Clearly, State's defense is at its best when Caldwell is making plays but he had just five tackles on Saturday, well below his yearly average.

NC State played zone primarily but couldn't account for WR Michael Campanero, a player who is a master at finding soft spots in the defense. Whatever the reason, State simply didn't have or couldn't find an answer to the Deac's offense.

Third Down Defense Abysmal

Wake Forest entered the game as one of the nation's worst at converting on third down. As has been the case way too often, the Deacs seem to save their best for NC State. Wake Forest converted on 7 of 14 third downs which was well above their 29% conversion percentage entering the game. Three of those seven conversions came on scoring drives.

Wolfpack Offense Grinds to a Halt

Many will blame QB Pete Thomas for the Pack's offensive struggles on Saturday. Sure, he certainly made his fair share of mistakes but as we've been saying all year, Thomas is a guy that needs to manage the game. When State gets into a position where they have to rely on him to singlehandedly make plays, they're going to struggle.

The Pack ran eight designed running plays in the second half against Wake Forest. There were only two running plays in the fourth quarter.

NC State's offensive line simply isn't good enough to withstand a pass rush when there's no threat of a running attack. Wake's defensive line simply pinned their ears back and when they weren't sacking Thomas, they were shoving State's offensive line back into the face of Thomas.

This likely wasn't a one game problem for the Pack. To be successful they have to be able to generate yards in the run game. If not, well, the results were obvious against Wake Forest.

Lone Bright Spot

It was nice to see Quintin Payton having an impact for NC State. With the emergence of Bryan Underwood, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and JuMichael Ramos, Payton's role and touches have seemingly decreased in 2013. With Smith and Valdes out for Saturday, Payton played like a senior and made the most of his extra playing time by leading the Pack with six catches for 98 yards and a touchdown.

Headed Forward

It seems safe to say that Wake Forest threw NC State a changeup when the Pack was expecting a fast ball. State didn't appear to have the mental focus they've had in earlier games. They were unable to adjust to the Deac's offense and couldn't figure out a way to getting anything going consistently on offense.

It's on the coaching staff to get the team to bounce back and a home game next weekend should be a huge help. The Pack has been fundamentally sound much of the year and they have to return to that to be competitive. Syracuse is a team with problems of its own but State simply isn't good enough to take their foot off the throttle. They have to prove that the Wake game was an anomaly and get back to the style of ball that won three of their first four games.

Pack Pride Top Stories