NOTES: NC State vs. Syracuse

NC State faces Syracuse today at 3:00 pm on RSN. Here are some pregame notes on the Wolfpack.

NC State vs. Syracuse
Saturday’s meeting will mark the second time the Pack and the Orange have met as Atlantic Coast Conference foes and the eighth meeting overall.  NC State posts a 6-1 record against Syracuse, with the only loss coming in last year’s game, 24-10 at Carter-Finley.

The last time the Wolfpack played in the Carrier Dome was a game that is literally one for the record book.  That year, the unranked Pack took the No. 13 Orange into overtime, eking out a 32-31 victory.  That contest was the first overtime game in ACC history.

NC State also played at ‘Cuse in 1974 and 1977 - shutting out the Orange 38-0 in ‘77 and winning 28-22 in ‘74.  Johnny Evans, the color analyst for the Wolfpack Radio Network, was the starting punter in both of those games and the starting quarterback for the Wolfpack in the 77 contest,

Here’s a look at the series history:

Date Site Result Score
9/16/72 H W 43-20
9/28/74 A W 28-22
9/17/77 A W 38-0
9/16/78 H W 27-19
8/30/97 A W 32-31ot
10/1/98 H W 38-17
10/12/13 H L 10-24

True and Tried
Seven different true freshmen have earned starts for NC State in 2014 - the fourth-highest total in the FBS.  A total of four newcomers earned starting nods last time out in the game at Louisville, including three on defense. 

True freshman wide receiver Bo Hines has started five contests for the Pack, offensive guard Tony Adams has started four and linebacker Airius Moore, safety Germaine Pratt, defensive tackle B.J. Hill, tight end Cole Cook and WR Stephen Louis have each started once.

Here’s a look at where NC State ranks nationally in number of true freshmen who have started games:

Rk. School True Fr. Starters # of Starts
1. Tulane 12 16
2. Tennessee 8 32
  USC 8 31
4. NC State 7 14
5. Southern Miss 5 17
  Texas A&M 5 20
  LSU 5 18
  Georgia 5 18
9. Old Dominion 4 18

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 17 receptions for 243 yards this season and has scored three touchdowns in the last two contests.

Grinnage is one of 33 student-athletes named to the midseason list.

Short-Handed Pack
NC State traveled to Louisville without 10 players who were listed on the two-deep.  Eight players were suspended for the contest and another two were unable to go due to injury.

The defensive line was particularly hampered, as tackles T.Y. McGill and Justin Jones were suspended and tackle Monty Nelson and end Drew Davis were injured.

Jones, Nelson and Davis will be back for the Syracuse contest.

Baumann Breaks Records
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 46.9 yards per punt - the fourth-best mark in the FBS and a mark that would rank second in ACC history if the season ended today.

Earlier this season, Baumann broke Austin Herbert’s career record for punts and now has 240 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 9,738 - the ninth-best mark in ACC history.

Converting Thirds
NC State ranks second in the ACC in third down conversions, having gained a first down on 49 of 106 third down attempts.  That 46.2 mark would rank as the best for a Wolfpack squad since 2002 (.475) if the season ended today and ranks 23rd nationally this week.

Offensive Line Doesn’t Sit
In three of the last four games and in four total contests this season, the Wolfpack offensive line has gone the distance - playing every offensive snap.  Center Quinton Schooley has not sat out a single offensive play in 17 of his 19 career games played at State and leads the team with 556 snaps played this season.  Tackles Rob Crisp and Tyson Chandler are close behind him with 548 snaps played in 2014, while Alex Barr has been in for 518 snaps.

Striking a Balance
The Wolfpack continues to strike an even balance between the run and the pass this season.  With 1,446 yards on the ground and 1,804 through the air, NC State posts a 44/56 run-pass balance.  That makes the Wolfpack’s offense the third-most balanced in the ACC in this season (just behind Duke and Syracuse).

First Down Success
For the season, the Wolfpack has averaged 6.8 yards on first down.  NC State has rushed the ball 131 times for 692 yards on first down (a 5.2 average) and has posted a .618 completion mark, hitting 68-110 passes for 959 yards.

Pack Hits the Road
The Boston College contest was the only one the Wolfpack played in Carter-Finley Stadium during the month of October.  State played at Clemson on Oct. 4 and at Louisville on Oct. 18 before a long-awaited bye week. 

Freshmen in the Middle
The middle linebacker spot in the Wolfpack’s 4-2-5 defense is a crucial one as that position makes all the calls for the front seven on defense.  That position is manned in 2014 by not one, but two freshmen. 

Redshirt freshman Jerod Fernandez is the team’s leading tackler and is just one of two freshmen in the FBS ranks to lead their teams in tackles this season.  He has a team-high 58 stops in 2014.

He 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.  He was named the ACC Linebacker of the Week for that contest. 

When Fernandez drew a suspension for the Louisville game, his backup, true freshman Airius Moore, filled in.  The result?  Moore led the team in tackles with eight, including two stops behind the line of scrimmage and an eight yard sack.  He also picked up a fumble and wove and dove his way 76 yards to hit paydirt on a play that was overturned from the booth.

More on Moore

Airius Moore had a breakout game last time out at Louisville and will play more of a role in the defense for the remainder of the season.  Moore is the most freshman of all the freshmen on the young 2014 squad, as he did not join the Wolfpack until the first day of fall camp.

A native of Beavercreek, Ohio, Moore had a connection to the Wolfpack since seventh grade, when he began training with former Wolfpack wide receiver Tramain Hall in Dayton.

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