Observations From The Game: Wake Forest

Pack Pride takes a look back at NC State's 35-17 win over Wake Forest.

NC State rebounded from two consecutive losses with a convincing 35-17 win over Wake Forest in Winston-Salem. Pack Pride takes a look back at the Wolfpack’s fifth win of the season.

Pack Comes Out Red Hot
After anemic offensive showings against Louisville and Virginia Tech, NC State made some changes that paid off early against Wake Forest.

The Pack scrapped its ball-hogging, control the clock offense and came out in a spread the field, no huddle offense that put the Deac’s defense on their heels. Before Wake knew what hit them the Wolfpack had connected on scoring plays of 59, 85, 58 and 57 yards. It was one of the most impressive offensive sequences we’ve seen out of State in recent memory.

Hats off to Dave Doeren and Matt Canada for making some changes on offense. They made freshman WR Maurice Trowell a bigger part of the offense and he responded with four catches for 87 yards and his first touchdown of the season. QB Jacoby Brissett also took some shots down the field and that paid off.

Defense Equally Impressive
While a lot was made about the Wolfpack offense, the defense was just as impressive. They forced Wake to punt on six of their first seven possessions and snagged an interception on the other.

State’s fast start on defense has almost been a given this year as they’ve some out strong in virtually every game in 2015.

While no one considers Wake Forest to be an offensive juggernaut, the Pack limited them to just 271 total yards while averaging about four yards per play.

Defense Comes Up Roses
Hats off to defensive ends Mike Rose and Darian Roseboro for outstanding individual efforts. Roseboro finished with four tackles and two sacks while Rose collected three tackles with all of them being sacks.

For Roseboro in particular, he was seeing his most extensive playing time of the season and made the most of it. This game should do wonders for his confidence headed forward.

Brissett Coming Around
While I wouldn’t say Jacoby Brissett is back to the level he played at during the second half of 2014, Saturday’s game certainly looked like a step in the right direction.

There’s no questioning that the Wolfpack was at its collective best last season when Brissett was extending plays with his feet and gaining huge chunks of yards in the ground game on designed runs.

There hasn’t been a lot of that in 2015 but we started to see a few glimpses on Saturday. His scoring strike to Maurice Trowell came after he spun out of a would be sack and managed to keep the play alive. He hit Trowell again on a nice pass play with a Wake defender hanging on to his waist. Brissett also added 33 yards on the ground and while not gaudy by any stretch, the Pack has to hope they can build on that headed forward.

Hate To Complain But Pack Left Plays On The Field
Anytime you get a win by 18 on the road in ACC play it’s a good day. With that said the Pack still left a few plays on the field that you know they’d love to have back.

There were a couple of chippy field goals missed- the second being a horrific miss from 39 yards that likely wouldn’t have been good from 10 yards.

Brissett missed an uncovered Maurice Trowell that would’ve/should’ve been an easy toss and catch for a score.

Trowell also dropped a beautifully thrown deep pass from Brissett that hit him in the shoulder pads. While that play wasn’t a gimme, it’s one that Trowell could’ve made.

Defensively, the Pack gave up a huge running play to Wake Forest QB Kendall Hinton that resulted in the Deac’s first score. At first glance it didn’t appear that this was anything more than Hinton making a great football play. However, State has had a tendency to play suffocating defense for 95% of the game but then inexplicably give up huge explosion plays that have cost them in their two losses. Obviously this is something that has to be corrected with teams like Clemson, Florida State and UNC looming.

Special Dayes
RB Matt Dayes isn’t the biggest guy or the fastest but I haven’t seen anyone this year that can cut at full speed the way he does. He is a nightmare for any defense when he gets to the second level with his ability to cut and explode. If the Pack can just open enough gap to get him beyond the line of scrimmage, he’s going to be a handful for anyone he faces from here on out.

Pack Needs An Answer At Placekicker
At this point it’s clear State has to carefully evaluate its options at placekicker. While Kyle Bambard may certainly be the guy at some point, he’s simply in a bad place right now that could ultimately cost the Pack a win in a tight game. It’s not the point of wanting someone who can hit 50+ yard field goals. State just needs a player that can hit from 40 yards and under consistently.

That should be doable on the FBS level. It may be time to give someone else a look in live action.

Headed Forward
The Pack sits at 5-2 and for me personally, they’re one game off schedule of what I was thinking pre-season and in the big scheme of things that’s not terrible.

The bigger issue thus far has been inconsistency. There was the first quarter against Virginia Tech and Wake Forest where it appeared the Pack could compete with anyone. Then there was the second quarters against Virginia Tech and Wake where State looked like it could easily lose to everyone on the schedule.

One thing is for sure, those second quarter efforts will get State blown out the next two weeks with games against Clemson and Florida State coming two of the next three weeks. Conversely, their first quarter work may give them a shot at pulling an upset.

Up first is Clemson and the Pack will be huge underdogs at home. However, State has faced this scenario in recent memory and prevailed so it can be done. The Pack will have to eliminate their tendency to give up big plays on defense because the Tiger’s offense could easily put up a half a hundred on the Wolfpack if they make mental mistakes.

Offensively State has to move the ball consistently but they’ll have to hit on some explosion plays along the way. It’s just hard to imagine a successful outcome if they have to beat the Tigers with a bunch of 10 play, 80 yard drives.

One thing is for sure- Carter-Finley Stadium will be rocking, at least initially. From there it’s up to the team to keep the crowd in it. If they do, anything could happen.

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