Three weeks ago, with a quarterback controversy brewing, NC State attempted 45 passes with just 25 rushing attempts in a 27-19 loss to Wake Forest. Since replacing Jay Davis at quarterback with Marcus Stone, offensive coordinator Marc Trestman is now churning up yards on the ground.
In Stone's first start, NC State rushed the ball 54 times for 297 yards, with freshman Andre Brown's 32 carries and 248 yards leading the way. The Wolfpack's ability to run the ball against the Golden Eagles allowed Trestman to limit potential mistakes from Stone, as the sophomore attempted just 26 passes. The 2:1 run-pass ratio was important in keeping NC State's defense rested and was crucial in the Wolfpack's 21-17 win.
NC State continued their reliance on the running game in the 20-15 win over No. 9 Florida State. Facing a Seminole defense that entered the contest third in the ACC in total defense, fourth best against the pass, leading the conference in sacks, and limiting opponents to just 29% efficiency on third down, Trestman didn't alter his gameplan.
The Wolfpack attempted just 17 passes, with Stone completing nine for 85 yards. However, NC State had 44 total rushes for 196 yards, with Brown gaining 179 on 26 carries. Nearly a 3:1 run-pass ratio, NC State was able to hold the ball for almost 32 minutes, keeping Drew Weatherford and company on the sidelines.
With an extremely productive running game and a young quarterback who is gaining confidence, NC State's offense is developing an identity as they are playing for a bowl bid.
Game Ball: Wolfpack Defense
Andre Brown had a big day rushing and Marcus Stone played well in the second half, but NC State doesn't win in Tallahassee if the defense doesn't play perhaps its most complete game of the season.
Wolfpack defensive coordinator Steve Dunlap had a brilliant gameplan, as he mixed up coverages and appeared to confuse both FSU quarterbacks on several occasions.
NC State utilized a three-man front on long-passing situations, dropping eight in coverage and double-teaming Seminole deep threat Greg Carr. With the three-man front, NC State got a sack in the first quarter from 6-foot-5, 220-pound defensive end Renaldo Moses, who had lined up at nose guard on the play. With eight defenders in coverage, Weatherford had no where to pass the ball, and Moses was able to shed his block and sack Weatherford for the loss.
|Defense Comes Up Big|
Because NC State's offense established the run and controlled the clock, the defensive unit was rested. After the Wolfpack took a 10-point lead in the second half, the defensive line knew Florida State was passing, and they really turned up the heat. Defensive ends Mario Williams and Manny Lawson pressured Weatherford off the edge, and Demario Pressley played well inside. Surprisingly, NC State was able to get constant pressure without standout defensive tackle John McCargo, who is out indefinitely with a foot injury.
Florida State led the ACC in total offense and pass offense, and was the second-highest scoring team in the league, averaging 36.2 points per game. However, they had no answer for NC State's aggressive, attacking defense as the Wolfpack limited Florida State to just 227 yards of total offense and only 43 yards on the ground. Seminole quarterbacks completed just 20-of-45 passes and threw three interceptions. The Wolfpack was also oustanding on third down, holding Florida State to just 2-of-16 on conversions.
Individually, several Wolfpack players had big nights. Rover Garland Heath registered nine tackles, one pass breakup and the game-winning interception. Cornerback A.J. Davis added six tackles and two interceptions and Manny Lawson chipped in five tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one pass breakup, and a sack.
NC State's defense is playing at the level most expected when the season began and was definitely the key to NC State's shocking win.
NC State-BC Set For Primetime
Next Saturday's game against Boston College has been set for 7:15 and will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
Earlier this week ESPN declared a six-day option on two games for Nov. 12th. ESPN could select either Maryland at North Carolina or NC State at Boston College to be televised on ESPN2 with a 7:15 pm kickoff time. After today's games, ESPN chose NC State at Boston College.
The Maryland at North Carolina game will be televised by Jefferson-Pilot/Raycom at 12 noon.
NC State remains the only Atlantic Coast Conference team to beat the Seminoles on their home field, and the Wolfpack have done it twice. NC State has now taken 3 of their last 5 meetings in the series and Wolfpack head coach Chuck Amato is 3-3 against the Seminoles.
Sophomore fullback/tight end Anthony Hill opened up big holes for Andre Brown all day. He also scored the first touchdown of his career on a four-yard pass from Marcus Stone in the third quarter.
Expect NC State to shore up the punting unit in practice this week. Florida State blocked back-to-back kicks in the fourth quarter and nearly blocked another earlier in the game.