NC State got off to a fast start and was never seriously threatened as the Pack moved to 3-0 after a 38-14 win over Old Dominion. Pack Pride takes a look back at the game.
Other than one play, a 70 yard catch and run by ODU RB Ray Lawry, and one drive, the NC State defense played a nearly flawless game. On the short pass to Lawry the Wolfpack seemed to take some terrible angles on the play and once in the open field I think Lawry’s speed may have surprised the NC State defense. If there’s one item of concern for the Pack to work on headed forward it has to be the tendency to occasionally give up the big play.
During the Monarch’s 11 play 75 yard touchdown drive, NC State brought heavy pressure and went man coverage almost the entire drive. Interestingly they didn’t do that consistently prior to or after the score which made us think it may have been a situation they wanted to put the defense in for down the road. Clearly Josh Jones seemed to be the guy that got the short end of the man coverage stick as he was beaten a couple of times, including on the 13 yard TD pass.
Breakout Game For Street?
There’s been a lot of talk about Kentavius Street lately and it was good to see him have a dominating game. Whether it was a breakout game remains to be seen but this was the most effective he’s been since making the move to defensive tackle. Street led the team with six tackles and a tackle for loss.
D Line Produces
Street wasn’t the only one that impressed as the entire defensive line unit completely dominated the Old Dominion offensive line. The defensive line accounted for 28 tackles, two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss. Initially my thought was that the linebackers didn’t necessarily have a good game (eight tackles) but the fact is, most of the plays were made before the ‘backers ever had a chance to make a play.
Special Teams Gets A B+
Special teams continues to be strong although field goals remains a question mark. Bra’lon Cherry leads the ACC in punt returns and he had another good game on Saturday (54 yards on three returns). Nyheim Hines was equally effective on kickoff returns, totaling 84 yards on three returns. A.J. Cole had a 53 yard punt and put four of his kicks inside the 20. Jackson Maples had four of his seven kickoffs result in touchbacks. Kyle Bambard missed a 48 yard field goal attempt which is certainly not a gimme but he did connect on a 36 yarder which is certainly a step in the right direction after his first kick of the year was blocked.
Matt Dayes continues to amaze with his speed and acceleration and he’s been one of the conference’s best offensive players through three games. It was just another day at the office as he totaled 108 yards on 20 carries. He also added three catches for 29 yards. The play of the day had to be when Dayes took a desperation swing pass from Jacoby Brissett. He left an ODU defender paralyzed from the waist down after making a tremendous cut to the left on his way to a 17 yard gain.
The return of Shad Thornton gave the Pack another weapon on offense and they’re a much more dangerous team with him available. He gives State some physicality inside which is a nice change of pace from Dayes. He finished with 18 carries for 92 which almost mirrored Dayes’ effort.
Better Locate J-Sam
Jaylen Samuels continues to wow and he gives State someone that defenses have to account for all over the field. We would still love to see him in the backfield more and we suspect you Will Down the road. The thing that’s really changed with Samuels this year is his speed and acceleration. When he took the handoff on his three yard touchdown run, there didn’t appear to be a huge gap between his acceleration and that of Dayes or Thornton.
Areas Of Improvement
Taking off the red-tinted glasses for a minute, two areas of concern offensively that we’ve noticed has been the offensive line’s tendency to to get shoved back into Brissett and give up sacks. State has yielded seven sacks in three games and that’s too many. Not to take anything away from ODU, Eastern Kentucky or Troy but they aren’t Clemson, Florida State, Louisville or Boston College. The talent level that State is going to face will only get better each week. The Wolfpack has to do a better job of creating a pocket and keeping defenders off the quarterback.
Also, Brissett- maybe because of the defensive pressure- needs to improve his pocket awareness and presence. Occasionally he seems to panic and has more time than he probably thinks he does or doesn’t move around (step up) to give himself more time. Again, this is something that the offense as a whole has to improve on because October will be a much more challenging month than September. Again, these two issues haven’t necessarily put NC State in any danger of losing through week three but they could become a huge issue down the road if not cleaned up.
All during the off season I heard about the South Alabama game and how it was a classic trap game for the Pack. It’s the second of two road games and comes before the Wolfpack’s ACC opener. If you’re a State fan you have to hope that South Alabama’s win on the road over San Diego State will get the player’s attention. If the Pack takes care of business and plays the way they’re capable then a 4-0 start is likely. However, South Alabama has more than enough talent to beat NC State if the Pack sleep walks through the game.