It was not the type of squad NC State head coach Dave Doeren had hoped to field but the dominance the Wolfpack starting defense showed had him happy with what he saw.
Unable to have his team separated via a fantasy-style draft due to injuries, Doeren opted instead to let his starters (Red) battle the reserves Saturday during the 2016 Kay Yow Spring Game at Carter-Finley Stadium.
What ensued was nothing short of complete capitulation as the Red team routed the White, 47-0. In the process, the reserves finished with minus-two yards of total offense on 41 offensive plays.
“It was good to see the defensive kids play the ball in the air the way they did,” the fourth-year head coach said. "Defensively I thought we took the ball away and created some takeaways."
There was four takeaways to be exact. Dravious Wright had an interception and a fumble recovery. Shawn Boone and Airius Moore also picked off passes in the romp.
Bradley Chubb, wearing the number 9 honored by the program for Mario Williams, had a flag football-like safety as well on a six-yard loss.
Donning the jersey number of one of NC State’s greatest defensive players ever is a privilege Chubb does not take lightly.
“I saw him right before the game,” Chubb said of Williams. “He said he wishes nothing for the best for me and to make sure I hold the number and make us proud."
When Williams was chasing quarterbacks across the field at Carter-Finley over a decade ago NC State had one of the best defensive teams in the nation.
Chubb has high expectations for the 2016 NC State defense and is not ashamed to clearly state his goals.
“We're going to be a Top 10 defense in the nation,” Chubb said. That's been our goal since I first got here. It's a huge goal that we have."
There was only three graduating seniors on defense from last season’s squad. Two, Juston Burris and Hakim Jones, were from the defensive secondary and the play of Wright, Boone , and several others will give Doeren a good feeling heading into the summer.
Mike Rose, who finished second in the ACC in sacks last season, is the lone senior from 2015 not returning this season. Chubb feels the remaining players will make up for the sacks lost due to Rose’s graduation and he intends to help fill the leadership void.
“We're going to be a good defense,” Chubb said. “I expect a lot from us this year and I expect a lot from myself too. I'm going to step up and become a vocal leader and a leader by actions.”
If Saturday’s performance was any indication, it is a defense that could be growing up before everyone’s eyes.