NOTES: NC State vs. FSU

NC State faces No. 1 Florida State today at 3:30 pm on ABC/ESPN2. Here are some pregame notes on the Wolfpack.

Wolfpack Versus No. 1
When top-ranked Florida State visits Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday, it will mark the first time in school history the nation’s No. 1 team has played on the Pack’s home field.

State Likes ‘Noles at Home
Five of the last seven times a ranked Florida State squad has visited Carter-Finley Stadium, their ranking wasn’t as high when they left.

NC State has posted a 5-2 mark at home against Florida State when the Seminoles are ranked in the top 25 since 1998.

Getting Offensive
NC State leads the ACC in total offense with 502 yards per game - up almost 100 yards from a year ago.

Did You Know?
The last time Florida State lost an ACC game was against the Wolfpack on Oct. 6, in 2012. The last time the ‘Noles lost a game was on Nov. 24, 2012 against a Florida squad that had a young man named Jacoby Brisset on its roster. Brissett did not play in that contest, but was on the sidelines in Tallahassee for the 37-26 Gator victory.

Ground Grind
The Wolfpack rushed for 162.7 yards per game in 2013 - the highest average for an NC State squad in 16 years (when the 1997 squad rushed for 178.8 yds/game). This season, Dave Doeren’s squad is averaging 248.8 yards on the ground per game and has a dozen rushing touchdowns - a mark which ties as the third-highest in the ACC this week.

In 103 rushes between the Pack’s top three backs, there has been just one tackle for loss. The line has allowed just three sacks as well and leads the nation in tackles for loss allowed with just two per game.

In the past three weeks, State has rushed for 242 yards vs. Old Dominion, 315 vs. USF (the highest total in 20 years) and 265 against Presbyterian. It marks the first time since 1994 that the Wolfpack has rushed for 200+ yards in three consecutive games.

108 & Counting
When quarterback Jacoby Brissett threw an interception early in the second quarter of the Wolfpack’s season opener, his head coach had an interesting response. He told him: “Congratulations. You just threw your first interception. Glad you got that out of your system.”

Brissett listened to his head coach and in his next 108 pass attempts, has not thrown to a member of the opposing team. He has, however, thrown 10 touchdown passes since then.

Field General
After four games, junior quarterback Jacoby Brissett leads the Atlantic Coast Conference in total offense, passing efficiency, completion percentage, passing TDs and points responsible for.

Here’s where Brissett ranks nationally and in the ACC this week:

ACC Rk. FBS Rk. Category Mark
1st 36nd Total Offense 280.8
1st 13th Completion Pct. 69.7%
1st 12th Passing TDs 10
1st 13th Pt. Responsible For 68
2nd 24th Passing Yards 1,005
2nd 15th Efficiency 166.7
3rd 37th Passing Yds/Gm. 251.3

JB vs. FSU
Jacoby Brissett did not get into the game on Nov. 12, 2012, when the Florida Gators defeated FSU, 37-26, in Tallahassee - the Seminoles’ last loss. But he did play in the matchup during his freshman campaign in 2011.

In that 21-7 Seminole victory in the Swamp, Brissett threw the Gators’ only touchdown pass and completed four of his 13 attempts. He also threw one pick in that contest.

Best Friends, Opposite Sidelines
Jacoby Brissett and Florida State tight end Nick O’Leary won a state championship together at Dwyer High School in 2010 and have been best friends ever since.

Pack on First
NC State has enjoyed enormous success on first down so far this season, averaging 7.6 yards. The Pack has completed .625 of its passes (38-56) for 480 yards and has rushed 72 times for a gain of 491 yards - a 6.8 yard average - on first down plays. Dave Doeren’s squad has scored eight touchdowns on first down in 2014.

Striking a Balance
In its first four games, the Wolfpack has found an almost perfect balance between the run and the pass. With 995 yards on the ground and 1,013 through the air, NC State has almost a 50/50 balance. That makes the Wolfpack’s offense the most balanced in the ACC in this young season and the second-most balanced in the FBS among teams ranked in the top 30 nationally in total offense.

A Good Start
NC State has started the season 4-0 for the first time since the 2010 campaign, and won all of its nonconference matchups for the first time since 2005.

No Bye
NC State will have to wait longer than any team in the ACC to have a weekend off this season. The Wolfpack’s bye week isn’t until Oct. 25 - week 9 of the season. Only Louisville, NC State’s week 8 opponent, has to wait as long among league teams.

Three teams (Miami, Pitt and Virginia Tech) will get a Saturday off before Thursday night games, but every other team besides the ‘Pack and the Cardinals will have a true bye week.

Bored Baumann
One of the top performances turned in this young season has been by senior punter Wil Baumann - a Ray Guy Award candidate for 2014. Baumann currently leads the ACC in punting average with 50.2 yards per game. That mark would rank second in the FBS, however .... the Pack’s offensive efficiency has kept him off the list.

With only 11 punts this season, the four-year starter doesn’t have enough attempts to qualify for the national rankings. He averages 2.75 punts per game while the cutoff mark for the FBS rankings is 3.6.

Baumann needs just 10 punts and 226 punting yards to become the school record holder in both of those categories.

A Tough Stretch
The Florida State contest marks the beginning of a tough stretch in the Wolfpack’s 2014 schedule. After hosting the nation’s No. 1 team for the first time in school history, NC State will travel to Clemson to face the team that just took the ‘Noles into overtime, will play host to the Boston College team that upset USC two weeks ago and then at Louisville - a notoriously tough place to play.

Youth For Six
NC State is tied for the ACC lead in touchdowns scored this season with 22 through four games. Ten have been on Jacoby Brissett passes, while 12 have been on running plays.

Eight of those 10 touchdown throws this season have been to freshmen and sophomores, while six of the 12 runs have also been by players from those classes.

In other words, 14 of the Pack’s 22 TDs have been scored by freshmen and sophomores. That’s 64%!

What A Difference A Year Makes
The season is still young but the Wolfpack has shown to be a much improved football team this season. Before the calendar moves to October, Dave Doeren’s second squad already posts one more win than his first squad had in all of 2013.

The most significant statistical difference for the Wolfpack seems to be the ability to run the football as NC State has averaged 86.1 yards more per game so far this season than it did in 2013.

Category 2013 2014 Diff.
Rushing Yds/Gm. 162.7 248.8 +86.1
Passing Yds/Gm. 240.8 253.2 +12.4
Total Offense/Gm. 403.5 502.0 +98.5
Points/Gm. 22.8 40.2 +17.4
First Downs/Gm. 20.8 26.3 +5.5
Points Allowed/Gm. 30.2 18.5 -11.7
TDs/Gm. 2.5 5.5 +3.0
Penalties/Gm. 4.3 5.8 +1.5

Young Players Play Catch
Out of the Pack’s 1,013 receiving yards this season, 895 yards - or 88% - have come from freshmen and sophomores. Other classes have accounted for just 9 catches for 128 yards.

Defense Digs In
The NC State defense was much maligned after the first two games of 2014 - giving up an average of 471 yards in those two contests. Games three and four, however, have been a different story.

On Sept. 13, the defense gave up just 17 yards on South Florida’s first drive of the game. On the Bulls’ next possession, they took the opening play 75 yards to the house for their only offensive touchdown of the day. For the next 39:06 (through the end of the 3rd quarter), USF gained a total of 17 yards.

Presbyterian gained 252 yards of total offense, but failed to score.

State ranks fourth in the ACC in scoring defense this week.

Triple Threat
The Pack’s rushing attack has definitely been a three-headed beast in 2014, with three running backs on its roster who entered the season with experience and talent: graduate Tony Creecy, junior Shadrach Thornton and sophomore Matt Dayes.

Thornton leads the team with 70.8 yards per game, but Dayes is just behind with 66.8 and boasts the highest per carry average with 7.6 yards. Dayes has caught more passes than any other RB with 14 (2nd best on the team), while Creecy has grinded it out for tough short yardage and has also been vital when the Pack runs it’s “wildcat” formation.

One of the most impressive stats about this year’s rushing game? In 103 rushing attempts between the three, there has only been one stop behind the line of scrimmage.

On Sept. 20 in the win at South Florida, each of the three posted almost identical rushing statistics, as Thornton rushed 12 times for 70 yards, Dayes rushed 10 times for 68 yards and Creecy rushed 12 times for 68 yards.

A Man With A Purpose
The versatility of sophomore running back Matt Dayes has been a vital part of the Pack’s powerful offense in this early season. Dayes has averaged 144.8 all-purpose yards per game this season - the 3rd best mark in the ACC and the No. 22 mark among FBS players.

Dayes currently ranks second on the Wolfpack squad in rushing (66.8 yards/game) and receiving (46.2 yards/game) and leads the team in kick returns with five for 127 yards. He also leads the team in scoring with six TDs - three rushing and three receiving.

Protecting The Rock
Discipline has paid off for Dave Doeren’s squad is in taking care of the football. The Wolfpack has just three turnovers this season (just one in the first two games) and one of those turnovers came on special teams. That mark ties for second in the ACC, 18th in FBS.

Last season in the first four contests, the Wolfpack had eight TOs. For the season, State averaged 1.75 per game (mainly thanks to no miscues in the last two games of the season). This year, Dave Doeren’s squad is averaging 0.75 per game.

Pack Pride Top Stories