FINAL GRADE: NC State's Defense vs. Virginia Tech

Looking back at the loss to Virginia Tech, 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
That second quarter. 15 minutes.

If NC State plays it differently, they may have left Blacksburg with the first conference win of the season.

Virginia Tech punted on the first three possessions of the game and trailed NC State 10-0 with 13:56 remaining in the second quarter after a Jumichael Ramos touchdown catch.  The Wolfpack defense then proceeded to give up touchdowns on three straight possessions, and at halftime instead of potentially leading State trailed by two scores.

What went wrong?  A lot of things.  Penalties on third down extended two of the three scoring drives.  Blown coverages in the secondary... missed tackles in the backfield.  It wasn't just one issue, and they all snowballed on the Wolfpack.

It also didn't help that senior Hakim Jones went down with an injury right before the blitz began.

The biggest takeaway?  NC State essentially lost the game with how poorly the defense played in the second quarter.

"I just think we got a little undisciplined with how we were playing and they scored," said linebacker Airius Moore. "They were making plays, and we weren't."

THREE STARS
Sophomore linebacker Airius Moore finished with a game-high 10 tackles and a tackle for a loss in the defeat.  Moore wasn't terrific in coverage, but his tackling in space was solid while watching the game back.  

NC State asked Moore to do a lot in that game, and overall, he fared well.

Sophomore Bradley Chubb also flashed.  He was flying around and disruptive.  Chubb didn't record a sack, but he totaled seven tackles and a quarterback pressure from his defensive end position.

Chubb is starting to come on for the Wolfpack and has solidified his spot as the starter opposite senior Mike Rose.

Finally, senior cornerback Juston Burris was good in coverage. He had a questionable pass interference called on him in the third quarter, but he tallied four tackles, a tackle for a loss, and a great pass breakup in the endzone.

He entered the game with the best completion% rate for cornerbacks in the ACC, Burris didn't disapoint with his play.

FINAL GRADE
C+ What has to be disappointing for NC State is that, for the most part, they played well defensively.  However, there were some bad penalties and a couple of big plays that proved pivotal.

"Nine penalties is going to kill you, and it was one of those games where everything was being called," said Dave Doeren.  "It was one of those games where everything was being called, and that's just how it is sometimes.

"The tough thing is some of the stuff they called they aren't calling in other games... it's a judgement call for officials."

But, credit to Virginia Tech.  They were really aggressive offensively, taking multiple shots down the field, and that style put pressure on State's defense and provided opportunities for the officials to make some subjective calls.

NC State's defense is still young with 10 of the top 14 tacklers being sophomores, but they have to eliminate the penalties, big plays, and play all four quarters.

The Wolfpack defense only played three Friday night.


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