FINLEY LEADS THE WAY
NC State sophomore quarterback Ryan Finley continued his strong start to the season, as he completed 24-of-28 passes for 281 yards and a career-high three touchdown passes. Finley showed poise under pressure and did a great job of distributing the ball to NC State's playmakers.
"He's just consistent," Dave Doeren said of his starting quarterback. "He understands where to go with the football and leads the ACC in completion rate. He manages the game well and understands what Coach Drinkwitz wants and distributes the ball to our playmakers."
What's impressive is Finley did his work while being lifted multiple times near the goalline for reserve Jalan McClendon... the move led to points for the Wolfpack and Finley still maintained his rhythm.
"We don't care who scores, but as long as we win," he said after the game.
Finley's play clearly stood out to Old Dominion head coach Bobby Wilder who raved about him after the game.
“He is so accurate," Wilder said of Finley. "I think he is a three, maybe four read guy. There is not a lot of those in college football. What I mean by that. He can come off his first read, get his second and third read. There were times tonight I thought he was on his second and third read and we couldn’t get to him. He is such a good decision maker. I thought in the ECU game he was really aggressive.
"Tonight he was a star the way he played. He looks like a next level guy to me. He is poised. His accuracy is impressive. That being said we have to play better on our side of the ball, but if teams can’t get to him, he is going to be a 75-percent guy.”
Finley has completed 61-of-80 (76.3%) passes for six touchdowns and no interceptions.
DEFENSE STYMIES LAWRY
NC State was looking to bounce back defensively after allowing much success at East Carolina, and for the most part they handled Old Dominion on Saturday. The Monarchs scored a couple of times after the reserves were being subbed in, but early on the Pack defense was stout.
The Wolfpack held a 35-9 lead after three quarters and had limited ODU to 3-of-12 on third down.
"Defensively we played well in the first half," said Doeren. "Up until the run at the end of the game I thought they played the run game well."
The key with the run game was limiting Old Dominion star tailback Ray Lawry, who came in with back-to-back 100+ rushing games to start the season. NC State limited Lawry to just 14 yards on nine carries.
"The defensive line, our focus this week was to take bad plays off the tape," said junior defensive end Kentavius Street. "I feel like we did that tonight."
According to ODU's Wilder, the slow start really hampered the Monarchs offensively.
“We needed to play a lot better offensively in the first half than we did," he said. "I’m really disappointed with the fact that we had the ball across the 50 three different times in the first half and got three points. In the first quarter we had a drive start on their 40-yard line and went three and out. Then we got the ball after a turnover on their 20 and had to settle for a field goal. We needed to be within a touchdown in the first half and that affected us in all phases. Being down 21-3 on the road in the first half makes it really challenging to get back in it.”
LOUIS EMERGING FOR THE WOLFPACK
For NC State's offense to take the next step they must receive better play from the wideouts, and that appears to be happening. The Pack wideouts accounted for 16 of the team's 28 receptions with sophomore Stephen Louis leading the way with a 5-for-80 outing.
His play came on the heels of a 142-yard receiving game against East Carolina.
"Steph is playing with a lot of confidence," said Doeren. "He's playing fast, he's strong, and he's tough. He wants the football, and he's blocking. He's playing really good football right now, and he'll continue to do that because he's very confident in what he's doing."
Louis now has eight catches for 222 yards and a touchdown over his last two games.
He was one of the players visibly upset after the loss at East Carolina. His mood was much different Saturday night.
"We got to win, so I'm much happier after a win," he said, smiling. "I think everyone played great."
A NEW WILDCAT OPTION
"I know they had a couple of packages for me this week, and I just went in and did what I'm supposed to do," said McClendon.
He certainly did.
McClendon had three touches inside the five-yard line, and all three resulted in scores. The first two were touchdown runs up the middle, and the third showed why it's a nice adjustment for NC State to use McClendon in the package as he completed a three-yard touchdown pass to freshman Thaddeus Moss.
For McClendon, it can't be easy going from competing for the starting job to being used in packages, but he's taking it all in stride.
"As long as I win I don't care," he said. "That's what matters at the end of the day."
"Jalan is a great teammate," said Doeren. "He understands why Ryan was in front of him, but we told him he'd have opportunities, and he seized them today. I'm proud of him for that... I'm glad we were able to get him in there and have success for him because that will help him."
* NC State sophomore Darian Roseboro had three sacks on the night, and NC State used him a lot at defensive end and defensive tackle.
* While Bradley Chubb didn't officially record a sack, his motor and play early on started to attract extra attention.
"We didn't block Chubb at all in the first half," said ODU's Wilder at halftime.
Chubb finished the game with four tackles and two tackles for a loss.
* The Wolfpack defense totaled five sacks on the night.
"I was glad they finished some sacks today," said Doeren. "We've had a lot of big hits this year where the ball got out and weren't able to get the sack but today were able to do that."
* NC State sophomore Nyheim Hines sat out the game with an injury. He's expected to return in two weeks against Wake Forest.
* The Wolfpack finished the game with just two penalties, but one, a block in the back, negated a Bra'lon Cherry punt return for a score early in the first quarter.