FINAL GRADE: Defense

Looking back at the win over Eastern Kentucky, how did NC State's defense fare? Who were the standouts on that side of the ball? What grade would you give the defense?

BIGGEST TAKEAWAY
0 points. There really isn't much more that needs to be said.

Eastern Kentucky was held scoreless by NC State a week after the Colonels posted 52 points in their season opener, and the biggest key was the play of the Wolfpack's defensive line. They dominated the trenches and made plays in the backfield after not doing as much versus Troy.

"I challenged our D-line this week that we needed to have more plays in their backfield," said NC State head coach Dave Doeren. "They [Eastern Kentucky] only had 35 yards rushing, so we were definitely getting more push out of our D-line. Coach [Dave] Huxtable made some good adjustments after last week. We lost our key guys from last year, so it’s good to see some of our guys starting to step up."

THREE STARS
We stated it started with the defensive line, and that's where we will begin as sophomore defensive end Bradley Chubb jumped off the tape while watching the game back. He was consistently applying pressure and beating his man off the edge. Chubb, a former linebacker, has terrific feet and natural athleticism, and he is a valuable asset against mobile quarterbacks or read-option plays because he can read and recover very quickly.

Chubb totaled four tackles, two quarterback pressures, and a tackle for a loss in the win.

Joining him up front was another sophomore, defensive tackle B.J. Hill. Like Chubb, Hill seemed to harass EKU quarterback Bennie Coney all night. Hill is one of the top young defensive linemen in the ACC, and he showed that against the Colonels, totaling four tackles, three tackles for a loss, and two pass breakups.

"We wanted to play more in the backfield," said Hill. "Last week we didn't play the way we did [against Eastern Kentucky]."

Finally, senior safety Hakim Jones really flashed with his tackling in space. He made a couple of big one-on-one stops that prevented potential touchdowns, including a tough tackle on the Wolfpack's goalline defense... a stand that impressed Doeren.

"That was great," he said. "Anytime you're in the red zone on defense and get no points that is huge. I think we had one opportunity defensively in the red zone and we were one-of-one. That is big. That shows a lot.

"It was after a long pass and then a face mask penalty, and then another long pass. They had three consecutive plays that can kind of get you down. Then to hold them, that is a big drive right there for them."

Jones led the Wolfpack in tackles with five stops, all solo hits.

FINAL GRADE
A+ Anytime you give up zero points to an opponent you have to receive an A+, right? The Wolfpack's defense was just dominant.

Eastern Kentucky had just one drive that ended in NC State's territory, and the Wolfpack held the Colonels to just 112 yards of total offense, the fewest for a Pack opponent since 2009 (Murray State - 36). On Eastern Kentucky's 11 possessions, the Pack defense recorded nine three-and-outs (counting their final two-play drive). The Colonels were just 2-of-12 on third-down and averaged 1.5 yards per carry.

It was a terrific performance by the Wolfpack defense and probably one of the reasons why Eastern Kentucky head coach Dean Hood was so high on NC State after the game.

"They're a good ACC team, there's no doubt about it," he said. "I think they have a chance to win the ACC Championship."


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