PARTING SHOTS: South Florida

TAMPA, FL -- Here are some final thoughts and observations from NC State's 49-17 win over South Florida.

In what was expected to be a close matchup, NC State went on the road and dominated South Florida, defeating the Bulls 49-17 in Raymond James Stadium, and it wasn't even really that close.

Here are some final thoughts and observations on the game.

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MAN OF THE HOUR: Sophomore wide receiver Bra'lon Cherry scored three touchdowns on his first three offensive touches, setting the tone for the NC State offense. He finished with three catches for 50 yards and a touchdown and added 20 yards rushing (two carries) and two scores on the ground.

Cherry now has 12 total catches and carries this season and has turned them into five touchdowns, the second-most in the ACC.

He is proving to be a redzone weapon for the Wolfpack.

CLOSE SECOND: It was another day at the office for junior quarterback Jacoby Brissett.

Junior quarterback Jacoby Brissett completed 20-of-29 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. He also added another 23 yards rushing in the win.

Brissett now leads the ACC in completion % (70.4%) and passing yards (810) and is tied for the league-lead in passing touchdowns (7). He has an impressive 7:1 TD:INT ratio.

CLOSE THIRD: Matt Dayes continues to impact the game when he's on the field. His touches were limited this week (11), but that didn't stop him from rushing for 68 yards (6.8 ypc) and adding another 39 in the receiving game.

The sophomore showed his speed on his 34-yard touchdown run, and he nearly had another score but stepped out of bounds on his lone catch.

Dayes is a tough matchup for linebackers in space and has a burst, another gear, that he didn't show last year.

TURNING POINT: NC State nearly fell behind 14-7 early on, but probably wouldn't have if the penalty hadn't occurred.

After taking a 7-0 lead, the Wolfpack yielded a 75-yard touchdown pass and then came out offensively and went 3-and-out. USF's Chris Dunkley returned the punt for a touchdown, but USF was called for holding on the play, a legitimate call as Wolfpack linebacker Rodman Noel was clearly held while closing in on Dunkley.

NC State would force a 3-and-out and the Pack offense scored touchdowns on the next four possessions, taking a commanding 35-7 lead into halftime.

SOLID STRATEGY: Once again, offensive coordinator Matt Canada mixed up the playcalling and ran a balanced attack while the game was in doubt. The final numbers were skewed towards carries due to the Wolfpack holding a huge lead and running out the clock in the 3rd/4th quarter.

NC State finished the game with 33 passing attempts and 53 rushing attempts to total 589 yards of offense.

NUMBERS GAME: NC State allowed just 159 yards of total offense to South Florida and held talented freshman tailback Marlon Mack to only 51 yards rushing.

NUMBERS GAME II: NC State was 11-of-16 on third down, and South Florida was just 2-of-10 on third down.

BUSINESS AS USUAL: For the third straight game, Shadrach Thornton led the Wolfpack in rushing and for the third straight game Shadrach Thornton was the third back to take the field.

Thornton totaled 70 yards and a score on 12 carries.

He is now averaging 6.4 yards per carry and has four rushing touchdowns this season.

RED ZONE PRODUCTION: NC State's defense held South Florida to a field goal in their only drive that reached the redzone.

NC State's offense... dominated. The Wolfpack made six trips inside South Florida's 20-yard line and scored touchdowns every single possession.

Four touchdowns were on the ground and the other two came through the air.

WHAT'S UP WITH?
• The attendance. It was listed at 27,269, but it looked to be less than a third of that figure.

• Cherry in the return game. As good as he was on offense, Cherry had his issues at punt returner. He muffed two returns, and one of those was recovered by South Florida to set up their third-quarter field goal.

• South Florida tight end Mike McFarland putting two fists into the sternum/neck of Wolfpack safety Germaine Pratt.

HIT SQUAD: You know it's a good game defensively when the team is credited with just 32 tackles and the leaders had just three (Jerod Fernandez and Thomas Teal).

HIDDEN HERO: Senior defensive tackle Thomas Teal was huge.

He had three tackles, two tackles for a loss, a sack, and a forced fumble on this hit on USF quarterback Mike White.

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE:

DID YOU NOTICE?
• Redshirt sophomore defensive end Joe Wright recorded the first sack of his career and freshman safety Josh Jones grabbed his first interception.

• NC State dominated the time of possession. The Wolfpack had the ball for 38 minutes and 49 seconds while South Florida had it for just 21 minutes and 11 seconds.

The Wolfpack ran 86 plays to just 47 for the Bulls.

• Redshirt freshman tailback Dakwa Nichols was able to get his first carry for the Wolfpack and looked good.

Playing late in the fourth quarter, Nichols had 57 yards on eight carries, showing burst and elusiveness.

• Freshman tight end/fullback Jaylen Samuels scored his first career touchdown, a 3-yard run in the second quarter.

• NC State's 315 yards rushing were the most since 1994 against Maryland (327).

UNANSWERED QUESTION: Can NC State continue to spread the wealth offensively moving forward?


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