NC State rallied from a 10-0 halftime deficit to take a 20-17 lead in the second half only to watch it all unravel late in the fourth quarter. Duke put together an eight play, 79 yard drive to take a 24-17 lead with 3:31 left. The Blue Devils then scored on back to back pick-sixes to put the game away, 38-20. Pack Pride takes a look back at NC State's sixth loss of the season.
In a Nutshell
It's become a familiar story line for NC State. The Pack plays well
enough to win in two phases of the game but the third continues to
erase any chance of coming out on top.
The Wolfpack continues to struggle to put points up. When they do
get opportunities there are way too many mistakes and the Pack is
being held to field goals much too often.
The reality is the Pack's problems boil down to their inability to
throw the football. They continue to put up decent rushing yards but
the passing game has become an inept mess. State tried rotating
quarterbacks throughout the game but the end result was the same.
Neither Brandon Mitchell or Pete Thomas seems to see the field very
well and they enjoyed nothing beyond very limited success.
It's hard to fathom that one aspect of the game could put you at
such a disadvantage but that's the mountain that offensive
coordinator Matt Canada and Dave Doeren must climb over the next
Defense Gets it Done
You can't fault the effort of the NC State defense and in fact, you
have to commend them because it would be easy to mail it in when
you're getting limited production from your offense.
The Pack gave up one big play and one sustained drive all day. As a
unit they were responsible for yielding 14 points. When you consider
State lost by 18, that's almost incomprehensible.
State held Duke to just 12 first downs, 321 yards of total offense
and 27 minutes time of possession.
Brandon Pittman, in particular, played quite possibly his best game
in a Wolfpack uniform. He finished the day with 14 tackles, three
tackles for loss and a sack.
Your team forces three interceptions, a fumble and gets a special
team's touchdown. The defense forces six three and outs to go along
with the turnovers on four other drives. That accounts for 10 of
Duke's 16 drives. And yet one player (DeVon Edwards) outscores NC
State all by himself with a 100 yard kickoff return and two
interceptions returned for scores.
Stat of the Game
Usually teams throw interceptions when the offense gets into a third
and long and predictable passing situation. That wasn't the case for
NC State on Saturday. The Pack threw all three of their
interceptions on first down. That really boils down to poor decision
making on the part of the NC State quarterbacks.
Second and Third Down Weren't Much Better
NC State completed just 5 of 22 passes on second and third downs
although one of those was an 80-yard touchdown strike to Quintin
Payton. Three other attempts ended in sacks. On third and long State
completed just 1 of 9 passes and really, most weren't even close.
Again, has to be the defense. They've kept themselves in it mentally
when it certainly would have been easy to fold the tents. You have
to credit Dave Huxtable and the rest of the defensive coaches as
they've had their squad prepared despite numerous injuries and
personnel changes. State is rated 52nd nationally in total defense
which isn't bad considering the losses the Pack had to overcome
during the off season.
Shadrach Thornton has definitely been a bright spot and he's
solidified himself as State's top running back. He's had consistent
efforts the last three weeks against Florida State, UNC and Duke and
has protected the ball.
You probably have to give the offensive line some credit as well as
they've played better in the run game over the last three weeks and
have improved dramatically in that aspect of the game.
The Quarterback Situation
Conventional wisdom says that your QB play should improve as the
season progresses, especially as you get more reps and game
experience under your belt. Unfortunately for State, the exact
opposite has been the case.
Clearly NC State knew they had a problem early on as they targeted
no fewer than four quarterbacks during the off season to bring in to
play immediately in 2013.
What State faces now is a one dimensional offense that is light
years away from being effective throwing the ball. The majority of
passes aren't anywhere near catchable.
At this point we have no idea what State needs to do to turn it
around. They're pretty much stuck with playing the cards they were
dealt. It would be nice to see if the Pack could shorten up the
passing game more and maybe make the throws the QB's are being asked
to make a little easier. State has some guys that are good in space
but there haven't been many swing passes, slants or bubble screens.
Perhaps that's something they can explore headed forward. To this
point, it appears the vast majority of passes State has tried to
complete are vertical and that just hasn't worked.
Next up is Boston College and that's definitely been a game that
hasn't played in State's favor very often.
However, the Eagles are one of the nation's worst at pass defense
and pass efficiency defense so perhaps this can be a game where the
Pack can manufacture some kind of success in the passing game.
The Pack just needs a win desperately. Six wins is still attainable
but State needs this game for confidence as much as anything else.
Observations From the Game: Duke
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