After a shaky start defensively, NC State responded in dominating fashion with a 63-13 blowout win over South Alabama. Pack Pride takes an in-depth look back at the game.
Kudos to the coaches
During the off season we heard from several sources that South Alabama was the team out of the first four that the Wolfpack coaches were most concerned about. USA boasted several UAB transfers and the game came the week before the Pack’s first conference matchup. The NC State coaching staff has to get a shout out for having the team mentally prepared as the put together one of their more dominant efforts in recent years. The Pack had just four penalties and no turnovers. Limiting self-inflicted mistakes has become a calling card for this year’s squad.
South Alabama outmatched
It’s been awhile since we’ve seen NC State so dominant on both sides of the line of scrimmage. USA was terribly overmatched both physically and athletically. The Pack manhandled South Alabama’s defensive line and blew the Jaguar offensive line into the backfield all night. State amassed 586 yards of offense while limiting South Alabama to just 258.
State continues to dominate time of possession. In the past the Pack has used quite a bit of hurry up offense under offensive coordinator Matt Canada but they’ve been content to run a ball control thus far in 2015. They finished with a 35-25 time of possession advantage and that came despite the fact NC State had five touchdown drives that totaled just 5:40 of possession time.
Canada Pressing All the Right Buttons
Hat’s off to offensive coordinator Matt Canada. He has done a masterful job of mixing up play calls, installing just enough new wrinkles each week to keep defenses on their heels while staying fairly conservative overall. USA looked completely lost on several plays, especially the few new looks that the Pack unveiled. NC State currently ranks ninth nationally in scoring offense and is the nation’s leader in time of possession.
Jaylen Samuels- the country’s best kept secret?
When will anyone outside of Raleigh take notice of Samuels? In high school he averaged a touchdown every 2.9 touches. He’s declined a bit in college, averaging a touchdown every fourth touch. He’s had 32 touches in 2015 with eight touchdowns and is averaging better than 10 yards per touch.
By the Numbers
7- NC State’s current win streak going back to last year
3- The Wolfpack’s nation ranking in total defense
2- Sacks by freshman DE Darian Roseboro
11- Number of categories where State ranks in the top 10 nationally
Other notable stats
Jacoby Brissett leads the nation in completion percentage
Matt Dayes leads the nation with nine rushing touchdowns
Bra’Lon Cherry is 12th nationally in punt returns
Jaylen Samuels in ninth nationally in scoring
The Pack had 48 players that played Saturday night with every single player that traveled getting some amount of playing time.
Special Teams Continues Solid Play
What a super outing for P A.J. Cole and Punt returner Bra’Lon Cherry. Cole had his best game of the season averaging 43.5 yards per punt on four kicks. Equally impressive was the hang time on a couple of his punts. He has really improved as the season has gone along.
Cherry finished with 68 yards on four punt returns including a 51-yarder.
To be brutally honest, you really have to dig to find any negatives from Saturday’s game. If you want to find something to complain about, field goals still appear to be a huge question mark. For the second straight game it appeared the opposition really went after S Josh Jones.
Preseason Is Over
The Pack was expected to be 4-0 at this point. They are and they’ve never really been threatened. That will change Saturday as the competition talent level takes a huge jump up with Louisville coming to town. One could argue that it was last year’s game against Louisville where the Pack really started to find it’s identity despite losing. Because of the perception of State’s first four opponents, no one outside of Raleigh has really taken notice of the Pack and perhaps rightfully so. If the Wolfpack wants to establish a spot in the national conversation, it all starts next Saturday. This is a huge opportunity for the Pack. In the bigger scheme of things, this game will play a big factor in State’s bowl placement later in the year. One thing is for sure, we’ll have a much better understanding of whether this 2015 team is for real and what the prospects may be for the remainder of the year.