NC State's defensive front is stout.
They played well the previous two games, but I thought you really got to see them turn things loose against South Alabama, a team that likes to drop back and take vertical shots down the field. NC State's defensive line harrassed USA quarterback Cody Clements all night, forcing him to throw two picks while completing just 14-of-33 passes for 201 yards.
NC State had just two sacks, but that doesn't tell the whole story. They were in the face of Clements all game, and they never let him get comfortable or find a rhythm.
They were also strong in the run game, limiting the Jaguars to just 45 yards rushing on 26 carries.
It was a filthy performance by the Wolfpack front seven.
"We were dominant in a lot of ways," said Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren. "We controlled the line of scrimmage. They are a big-play offense, and we took away the run game."
Sophomore defensive tackle Kentavius Street jumped off the tape again, pushing linemen into the backfield while also flying to the football. He had a great play in space, sniffing out a screen and holding it to a minimal game in the first half.
Street finished with three tackles and a quarterback pressure.
Freshman defensive end Darian Roseboro had both of the Wolfpack's sacks, the first two of his career. Roseboro has started to come on over the last couple of games, and that would be great for the NC State defense as they need to continue finding playmakers behind starters Mike Rose and Bradley Chubb.
Roseboro can push the pocket, but has the strength and size to also be stout against the run.
"Darian got some plays that he was able to finish in the backfield," said Doeren. "He got three backfield plays in the game."
"I didn't get the sack, the whole defense got the sack," added Roseboro.
Sophomore safety Josh Jones got off to a shaky start, but settled in nicely as the game went on. He finished with a team-high six tackles, including four solo hits, a tackle for a loss, and a fumble recovery.
He now leads the Wolfpack in tackles through four games.
"After that drive I got the jitters out and just settled in and played ball," said Jones. "You go on to the next play and continue to play hard. As a defensive player you can't dwell on the last play."
"Outside of a couple of big plays they've played well," Doeren said of Jones and the secondary.
B+ That grade is probably too low.
NC State gave up a few big plays and allowed South Alabama to get off to a fast start, but settled in and yielded just two field goals the rest of the game. The Wolfpack had two sacks and also picked off two passes while holding South Alabama to 3-of-15 on third down.
"Defensively, to get the takeaways is a big deal," said Doeren. "We're plus-4 on the season now and the offense continues to take care of it, but to feed them field position is a big deal.
"We had a couple of coverage breakdowns early on," said senior safety Hakim Jones. "Teams are going to make plays, they are on scholarship too. Those guys can make plays like we can. You're going to get beat sometimes. That's the nature of the position."