The Wolfpack and the Cardinals will meet for the first time as conference foes today at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The two squads have played just four times dating back to 1951 with Louisville winning the first two contests at home - 26-2 in 1951 and 35-14 in 1993. The teams met for the only time in Carter-Finley Stadium in 2007, when the Cards took at 29-10 victory.
NC State’s only win came in the last matchup, when the Wolfpack earned a 31-24 win over Louisville in the 2011 Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C.
Grinnage Tight End to “Watch”
Redshirt sophomore tight end David J. Grinnage has been named to the midseason ‘watch’ list for the John Mackey Award, which is given annually to the most outstanding collegiate tight end. Grinnage has 14 receptions for 200 yards this season and scored his first touchdown of 2014 against Boston College last week.
Grinnage is one of 33 student-athletes named to the midseason list.
Baumann Makes History
One of the top performances turned in this season has been by senior punter Wil Baumann - a Ray Guy Award candidate for 2014. Baumann currently leads the ACC in punting average with 47.4 yards per punt - the third-best mark in the FBS and a mark that would rank second in ACC history if the season ended today.
Three weeks ago, Baumann broke Austin Herbert’s career record for punts and now has 236 for his four-year career as a starter. On Oct. 4 at Clemson, he broke Herbert’s record for career punting yards and now boasts 9,566 - the 11th-best mark in ACC history.
Despite struggling on offense in the past two weeks, NC State still ranks fourth in the ACC in third down conversions, having gained a first down on 43 of 92 third down attempts. That 46.7 mark would rank as the best for a Wolfpack squad since 2002 (.475) if the season ended today and ranks 24th nationally this week.
Offensive Line Doesn’t Sit
For the last three games and in four total contests this season, the Wolfpack offensive line has gone the distance. For the last three weeks, LT Rob Crisp, LG Alex Barr, C Quinton Schooley, RG Tony Adams and RT Tyson Chandler have not sat out a single offensive snap.
Graduate guard Joe Thuney should return to the lineup this week after missing the past four contests with an illness. That moves Alex Barr back to his normal spot of right guard and gives the Pack the benefit of some added, experienced depth as freshman Tony Adams has now started four games.
1st and Good
NC State has had great success when reaching 1st and goal this season. The Wolfpack has reached that status a dozen times in 2014 and each time has scored a touchdown.
On the flip side, the Pack’s opposition has had first-and-goal 11 times, but has scored just six touchdowns.
Striking a Balance
The Wolfpack continues to post an almost perfect balance between the run and the pass this season. With 1,318 yards on the ground and 1,581 through the air, NC State has a 45/55 balance. That makes the Wolfpack’s offense the third-most balanced in the ACC in this season (just behind Duke and Syracuse).
Brissett Streak Among ACC Bests
Quarterback Jacoby Brissett’s streak of passing attempts without an interception ended on Saturday vs. Boston College, but not before the junior signal caller moved into seventh place on the ACC’s all-time list in interception-less streaks.
Brissett had 187 straight passing attempts without a pick. He threw an interception early in the second quarter of the Wolfpack’s season opener and did not throw another until the seventh game of the season. In the meantime, he threw for 14 touchdowns.
First Down Success
For the season, the Wolfpack is averaging 6.7 yards on first down. NC State has rushed the ball 117 times for 639 yards on first down (a 5.5 average) and has posted a .615 completion mark, hitting 59-96 passes for 785 yards.
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.
Pack Hits the Road
The Boston College contest was the only one the Wolfpack plays in Carter-Finley Stadium in October. State will play at Louisville, have a long-awaited bye week and then travel to Syracuse before finally returning home to face Wake Forest on Nov. 8.