What did we learn about NC State from the Old Dominion win? We review the game by answering several critical questions about the Wolfpack.
What was the biggest reason for NC State's win over Old Dominion?
James Henderson: NC State's defense set the tone in the first half and their strong play allowed the offense to build a lead. Old Dominion was going to have no chance if they had to play from behind because it enabled the Wolfpack's pass rush to get going.
Rob McLamb: Near-perfect play from quarterbacks Ryan Finley and Jalan McClendon were the biggest factor in how well NC State did versus Old Dominion. The Wolfpack QB tandem threw 36 passes combined and only had five fall incomplete. McClendon also added two rushing touchdowns.
Bryant Carson: State was the superior team by a wide margin.
NC State's offense managed to score 49 points and had nearly 500 yards of total offense but there are always things that can be improved. What concerns you the most about the offense heading into the bye week?
James Henderson: I don't think NC State has truly been tested yet. Will they still be as productive when the competition picks up in league play?
Steve Williams: The Pack is averaging 210 yards per game rushing and 288 yards through the air in three games with just three turnovers. They’re averaging better than 42 points a game through a 2-1 start and won the time of possession battle, 31-28 minutes.
Offensively I think State has done everything they need to do to be successful. If there’s one thing that’s been missing it’s been the lack of explosive plays. At some point State is going to have to show the ability to go deep as the competition gets tougher.
Rob McLamb: Old Dominion basically presented no threat. The Monarchs did load up defensively to stop the run. If teams do that versus NC State in the future the question will be can the receivers step up as they did Saturday.
Bryant Carson: Top to bottom I think the offense has shown some really good things but the biggest question mark for me is really just the level of competition. You were able to move the ball and score against William & Mary, ECU and ODU but how will that stack up to the defenses you’re about to face?—I really don’t know.
From a scheme, productivity and personnel standpoint I’ve been more or less impressed. It is also normal for young offenses to get better as the season goes on so I think there’s still reasonable hope for continued growth and improvement.
Stephen Louis, Kelvin Harmon, and Jakobi Meyers all flashed at wide receiver. What do you think of that core... should they continue to be focal points?
James Henderson: Those three seem to be the Wolfpack's best options on the perimeter and could mature into a formidable trio. They share similar traits and have all flashed in the first three games of the season.
Steve Williams: Absolutely. I really like what all three bring to the table. Louis plays so hard and is a load to get down once he’s got a head of steam. Meyers seems to have that uncanny ability to find holes and his pass catching has been great especially given he’s at a new position. Harmon gives you a tall target that has the ability to go over the top and he’s had reliable hands as well.
Rob McLamb: It is a solid, yet young group of receivers and Nyheim Hines will add to it when he's returns. There should continue to development at the position but Matt Dayes and Jaylen Samuels are veterans who have proven they can produce. The receiving corps should augment the others.
Bryant Carson: Without a doubt. Steph Louis in particular has looked like a man out on the field. Harmon and Meyers have had nice flashes too. Those guys collectively have good size and athleticism—make defenses account for them.
Who was the best player for NC State offensively?
James Henderson: I think it would be the "quarterback" position because Ryan Finley and Jalan McClendon combined to account for six of State's seven touchdowns.
Steve Williams: For the third straight game I have to go with Ryan Finley. He’s not flashy but is so efficient and has been the perfect conductor for the Wolfpack offense thus far. He had several beautiful passes Saturday night and I thought it was his best passing performance of the young season.
Rob McLamb: The best player was Ryan Finley. He was remarkably efficient. When a quarterback completes almost 88 percent of his passes the offense will always be hard to stop.
Bryant Carson: Steph Louis. I’ll be interested to see if his success continues against some better competition but these last 2 weeks he has come alive.
What positives can NC State take away from the game offensively?
James Henderson: I think State found something with Jalan McClendon in the Wildcat. It can certainly be a potential option in short-yardage situations.
Steve Williams: I think the biggest positive was their balance. They ran the ball when they needed to (152 yards) and threw the ball effectively. The Pack also continues to take care of the ball.
Rob McLamb: The biggest positive for NC State offensively would be the way the Wolfpack moved the ball despite Old Dominion focusing on Matt Dayes. If State can score despite opponents loading the box there is a chance the Pack could have a good season.
Bryant Carson: The ODU game was the first game in the last 6 where NCSU failed to reach 200 yards rushing but they were still able to score nearly 50 points and went for over 500 yards of total offense—so, plenty of positives. The asterisk will always be there though because of the level of competition—which is fair.
The Wolfpack defense did some good things, but Old Dominion did score 22 points. What should the Wolfpack be concerned about the most on the defensive side of the ball?
James Henderson: Defending the slot has now been an issue for two consecutive games. NC State needs to work on slot coverage during the bye week.
Steve Williams: The biggest concern for me overall is the play of the secondary and that’s as a whole, not just this game. The Pack has had difficulty consistently shutting down the opposing team’s top receiver and that’s something that has to improve headed forward.
Rob McLamb: Much of what Old Dominion did came in garbage time. The concern for NC State's defense is not what the Monarchs did the second half but what East Carolina did and potentially what ACC teams will do.
The next two weeks are important for the Wolfpack. The team has a bye week before playing a home game against a conference foe that will be without its starting quarterback. NC State needs a closer to complete performance then.
Bryant Carson: While there are certainly some areas of concern I don’t think many of them were exposed in the ODU game. When the first string and primary reserves played ODU was only able to put up 9 points even given some pretty good field position in the first half (they probably don’t get that first 3 if State doesn’t fumble on the 20).
Based on the ODU game alone I suppose one might be legitimately concerned about depth but like most young and inexperienced players there’s little doubt that they will improve with time.
Which position group needs to pick up their game the most defensively?
James Henderson: NC State secondary will have major tests moving forward... they need to pick it up.
Steve Williams: Again, the secondary. The receivers State will face headed forward will be exponentially better than the ones they’ve already defended. It’s almost as if the defensive line doesn’t make a play then someone is ultimately going to be open. If the Pack doesn’t get better in this area then it’s going to be tough to get off the field against the Louisville, FSU’s and UNC’s on the schedule.
Rob McLamb: The defensive backfield needs to continue to grow but in this case it is most because Old Dominion presented little in the way of a threat. Wake Forest, Notre Dame and the remainder of the schedule will be tougher.
Bryant Carson: I think a case could be made for all the collective units across the board. The CBs and LBs have probably been singled out the most by the media and the message board members but as a single unit improves the entire defense improves. If the DL can apply faster pressure to the QB they’ll likely force errant and rushed throws that will aid the CBs…and so on.
Who was the best player for NC State defensively?
James Henderson: Darian Roseboro was outstanding... six tackles, three sacks while lining up at defensive end and defensive tackle. He is now second in the ACC in tackles for a loss (6.5), and he isn't even starting. Look for his snaps to continue to rise given his production.
Steve Williams: Without a doubt it was Darian Roseboro. I’m not sure of his snap count but man did he make the most of the plays he was in for six tackles and three sacks. It was easily the best game of his career. State has to be ultra-excited about his play in 2016 and they’ll certainly need more of it in the games to come.
Rob McLamb: The best players defensively were Darian Roseboro and Kentavius Street, although the defensive line as a whole played well. Sans a late touchdown, the Old Dominion running game was practically nonexistent.
Bryant Carson: Darian Roseboro (who just so happened to be my pick for breakout defensive player). I think Roseboro has played well in all three games and been really disruptive for the Pack DL. It’s just possible the light is starting to come on for Roseboro and if so…well…that should be a very good thing for the Wolfpack.
What positives can NC State take away from the game defensively?
James Henderson: That the defense, like most, is at its best when leading. It really put ODU in a tough situation and let the Pack's pass rush take over the game.
Steve Williams: When State played primarily their starters I thought they were pretty dominant. Perhaps fans expect one three and out after another but as I’ve mentioned previously, that’s just not the way it works anymore in college football. Obviously State has work to do on the defensive side of the ball but I felt the overall effort and performance against Old Dominion was solid.
Rob McLamb: NC State essentially shut down Old Dominion with the Monarchs only managing to sustain drives when it was no longer of any consequence.
Bryant Carson: Really similar to the offense here—just based on the ODU game I think most of what we saw was positive until the reserves started playing in the third quarter. ODU will most certainly be the worst overall offense State will face so I don’t know how much you take away from the complete performance.