Observations From the Game: Syracuse

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Pack Pride takes a final look back at NC State's 24-10 loss to Syracuse.

NC State fell to 3-3 (0-3) on Saturday after a disappointing 24-10 loss to Syracuse. The Orange scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter behind a strong rushing effort to pull away from the Wolfpack. Pack Pride takes a look back at the game.

In a Nutshell

There were several things that went wrong for NC State this weekend but three factors in particular doomed the Pack's effort. State couldn't get anything going consistently on the ground, they couldn't protect QB Pete Thomas and they gave up way too many big run plays to Syracuse.

State rushed for 129 yards but managed less than three yards per carry. Conversely, Syracuse averaged an eye-popping 9.1 yards per carry. It's virtually impossible to win in a game with that kind of disparity.

When the Pack tried to throw the ball, Thomas was sacked four times and forced to run ten times. Most of those rushing attempts were of the unscripted variety and recent history has shown that when Pete Thomas is being forced to run the football, it doesn't bode well for State's offense.

Injuries Mounting

When asked, coaches will typically confirm that injuries affect their team but try to steer clear of making excuses. That has been the case with Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren. But let's be real here. State isn't necessarily a very good team when everyone's healthy so losing guys like Jarvis Byrd, Rashard Smith, T.Y. McGill, Rob Crisp, and Joe Thuney is nothing short of catastrophic. To add insult to injury, Jack Tocho is inserted as a starter at corner, has the game of his life and even he goes out with an injury after recording his second interception. The bye week couldn't have come at a better time and the Pack has to get most of their injured starters back if they hope to have any shot at making a run to bowl eligibility headed down the stretch.

Stat of the Game

55, 57, 48- Three runs and 169 yards resulting ultimately in three touchdowns. It's hard to recall a time in recent memory when an NC State gave up three home run rushes in a game. Perhaps you give up one and maybe two, but three in a game in inexcusable. On all three there didn't appear to be a safety or linebacker within 10 yards of the play and after an initial burst through the line of scrimmage it was clear sailing down the field. Obviously someone wasn't where they were supposed to be and it was disturbing that it happened repeatedly.

What If

Had State gone on to win Saturday you could have looked back at Mike Rose's effort on Tyson Gulley's 55 yard run as one of the best plays by a Wolfpack defensive lineman all year. Rose tracked Gulley down from behind and tackled him at the three which was critical at the time because the Pack held Syracuse to a field goal and a slim three point lead. The fact that a defensive end ran better than half the field to tackle a running back was certainly one of the highlights of the weekend.

Bright Spots

There wasn't a lot to cheer about this weekend but the Pack did have three bright spots that may bode well for the future. Travares Copeland continues to emerge and finished the game as State's second leading receiver with four catches for 45 yards. You could compare him favorably to former Wolfpack WR Tobais Palmer and we're looking forward to him getting the ball out in space. While you've seen glimpses of his potential, it would be nice to see what he can do in a open field.

The tight end position hasn't been used to any great extent this year but perhaps that will change headed forward as David Grinnage is proving himself to be a pretty nice weapon in the passing game.

After a one handed, juggling catch a week ago, Grinnage made another nice reception, hauling in a deflected pass while falling down. He also had a 21 yard touchdown reception which was probably tougher than it appeared just because he was so wide open.

Jack Tocho was inserted at cornerback this week because of the injury to Jarvis Byrd. Sometimes you wonder if a young guy is big enough for the moment but Tocho more than held his own. In fact, he was probably State's top defender against Syracuse. His two picks were obvious but Tocho also made a tremendous break on an out pattern that was broken up and nearly intercepted as well. Tocho has been one of those rare freshmen that have impressed from day one and he made the most of his opportunity this weekend. If Saturday was any early indicator, Tocho has the potential to be a good one before he leaves NC State.

Recruit, Recruit, Recruit

This coaching staff has a reputation for being good recruiters and the early results have been promising- and that's a good thing. State desperately needs an infusion of talent, not just at a couple of positions but virtually across the board. Losing is going to make the job more difficult and they'll likely have to fend off programs that will try to poach their commitments in the coming months. So far everyone that is in the boat sounds solid but the Wolfpack will not be able to take any of them for granted. Two areas the Pack can sell are the opportunity to contribute early and a fan base that loves their team. Maintaining what they've got and adding a few more will be critical for the foundation of Doeren's program headed forward.

Headed Forward

The Pack gets a week off and it couldn't have come at a better time. Realistically State should get back the lion's share of their injured players by the time they start prepping for Florida State next week.

While you do get back some of your more talented performers, the thing you can't replace are the reps that the group has missed over the last several weeks.

NC State will be a huge underdog against Florida State and for good reason. Don't think for a second that the Pack won't go into that game looking for an upset. At the same time, being even a little objective, there's other goals State can shoot for as well. The Pack has to show that they can turn this season around and pointed in the right direction. Even after a loss to Clemson, most everyone felt good about the Pack's effort. State has to get back to that level and it needs to start in a little under two weeks against the Noles.

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