Although not many of the players in uniform know about it, for the past 33 years (since 1981), the series between NC State and Clemson has been dubbed the Textile Bowl. The textile industry has such a major economic impact on both states and both universities boast renowned textile colleges. The North Carolina textile manufacturers donate money to NC State’s scholarship fund every year in honor of the Wolfpack’s MVP from the game.
Even after facing the nation’s No. 1 team - defending National Champion Florida State - NC State continues to lead the Atlantic Coast Conference in total offense this week. Dave Doeren’s Wolfpack is averaging 505.6 yards per game - a mark that ranks 20th in the FBS. That mark is up over 100 yards from a year ago.
The Wolfpack ranks second in the league in scoring offense with 40.4 points per game - 20th in the FBS. (This week’s opponent ranks 21st with 40.3 ppg). The 41 points the Pack hung on the Seminoles were the 4th-most ever by an unranked opponent against the AP number-one team.
NC State has scored 40+ points in its last four games. It marks the first time a Wolfpack squad has ever posted more than back-to-back 40+ point games.
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 231.2 yards on the ground per game (25th in FBS) and has 14 rushing touchdowns - a mark which ties as the second-highest in the ACC this week.
In 124 rushes between the Pack’s top three backs, there have been just three tackles for loss (only eight yards).
In the three weeks prior to a 161 yard rushing performance against FSU, State had rushed for 242 yards vs. Old Dominion, 315 vs. USF (the highest total in 20 years) and 265 against Presbyterian. It marked the first time since 1994 that the Wolfpack has rushed for 200+ yards in three consecutive games.
Striking a Balance
In its first four games, the Wolfpack has found an almost perfect balance between the run and the pass. With 1,156 yards on the ground and 1,372 through the air, NC State has close to a 50/50 balance. That makes the Wolfpack’s offense the most balanced in the ACC in this young season and the fifth-most balanced in the FBS among teams ranked in the top 20 nationally in total offense.
156 & 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 156 pass attempts, has not thrown to a member of the opposing team. He has, however, thrown 13 touchdown passes since then.
Brissett posts the second-highest number of completions in the ACC with 115. His streak without throwing a pick ranks as the 11th longest in ACC history.
After five games, junior quarterback Jacoby Brissett ranks among the Atlantic Coast Conference and national leaders 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||12th||Pt. Responsible For||68|
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.
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 49.4 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 16 punts this season, the four-year starter doesn’t have enough attempts to qualify for the national rankings. He averages 3.2 punts per game while the cutoff mark for the FBS rankings is 3.6.
Last week against Florida State, Baumann set the school record for career punting yards and now has 8,934 for his career. He needs just five punts to become the school record holder in that category as well.
Baumann was named the Ray Guy Player of the Week following the Presbyterian game - when he averaged a career high 55.2 yards.
Man in the Middle
The middle linebacker spot is crucial in the Wolfpack’s 4-2-5 defense as that position makes the calls for the front six. Redshirt freshman Jerod Fernandez has continued to improve each week for the Wolfpack at MLB and currently leads the team in tackles with 39. His 7.8 stops per game ranks 15th in the ACC this week.
Fernandez had the best outing of his young career in the loss to No. 1 Florida State, as he picked off Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston twice in the contest.
Young Players Play Catch
Out of the Pack’s 1,372 receiving yards this season, 1,187 yards - or 87% - have come from freshmen and sophomores. Other classes have accounted for just 17 catches for 185 yards.
NC State’s top six receivers are freshmen and sophomores.
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 73.6 yards per game. Dayes ranks second with 54 yards per game and boasts the highest per carry average of the three with 7.1 yards. Dayes has caught more passes than any other RB with 18 (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 124 rushing attempts between the three, there has only been three stops behind the line of scrimmage.
Quarterback Jacoby Brissett has given each of the three a nickname based on what he feels is their strength to the offense. He calls Thornton “The Punisher,” Creecy is “The Creator” and Dayes is “The Finnesser.”