Scouting Syracuse's next opponent: N.C. State

PackPride.com publisher James Henderson provides a detailed look at the North Carolina State Wolfpack.

Syracuse and NC State are set to square off inside the Carrier Dome on Saturday. James Henderson of PackPride.com breaks down the Wolfpack for us below.

Scouting the Offense

NC State's offense is best labeled “multiple” under offensive coordinator Matt Canada. The Wolfpack uses a variety of formations and personnel groupings and operate at different tempos.

They want to establish the running game, but their approach is to be balanced. They will use all of their backs in the passing game, and spread the ball around to different receivers... there isn't a “No. 1 guy.”

Projected Starters

Quarterback      
12 Jacoby Brissett 6-4/231 Jr.*
11 Garrett Leatham 6-4/220 Jr.*
2 Jalan McClendon 6-5/200 Fr.
Halfback      
26 Tony Creecy 5-11/213 Sr.*
21 Matt Dayes OR 5-9/205 So.
10 Shadrach Thornton 6-1/206 Jr.
Fullback      
47 Tyler Purvis 6-2/231 Gr.*
28 Jaylen Samuels 5-11/240 Fr.
Z - Flanker      
80 Bryan Underwood 5-9/180 Sr.*
84 Marquez Valdes-Scantling 6-3/208 So.
X - Split End      
15 Johnathan Alston 6-0/206 So.
88 Stephen Louis 6-2/212  
S - Slot      
82 Bo Hines 6-1/190 Fr.
13 Bra'Lon Cherry 5-11/189 So.
Tight End      
89 Benson Browne OR 6-5/270 Jr.*
86 David J. Grinnage 6-5/269 So.*
Left Tackle      
78 Rob Crisp 6-7/285 Sr.*
73 Andy Jomantas 6-7/295 Gr.*
Left Guard      
54 Joe Thuney 6-5/296 Jr.*
62 Bryce Kennedy 6-3/303 So.*
Center      
60 Quinton Schooley 6-3/301 Jr.
59 John Tu'uta 6-2/270 So.*
Right Guard      
50 Tony Adams OR 6-2/301 Fr.
71 Alex Barr 6-7/314 Jr.*
Right Tackle      
74 Tyson Chandler 6-7/345 Gr.*
71 Alex Barr 6-7/314 Jr.*

Key Players

QB Jacoby Brissett:

The key to NC State's offensive attack, Brissett has played well this season. He's passed for 1,796 yards with 16 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Brissett, who is also completing 61% of his passes, can do damage on the ground as well, as he's rushed for another 188 yards and a score.

RBs Shad Thornton/Matt Dayes:

NC State's two top backs, Thornton and Dayes have been equally effective on the ground, averaging 5.9 and 5.7 yards per carry respectively.

Thornton is the team's top inside runner, and leads the Wolfpack with seven rushing scores, and Dayes has impressed with his ability to make plays through the air. He has caught 26 passes and has a team high four touchdown receptions.

TE David Grinnage:

Grinnage has started to come on lately for the Wolfpack. A 270-pound tight end, NC State uses him in a variety of ways. He'll be lined up inside with his hand down or flexed out at receiver. He's coming off a two-touchdown effort versus Louisville.

WR Bo Hines:

Just a true freshman, Hines leads the Wolfpack with 28 catches and 422 receiving yards. They line him up in the slot, looking to match him up with linebackers and safeties. He is also the team's starting punt returner.

Weaknesses

There haven't been many, but at times they've struggled with protecting Brissett, and when he is pressured he can be erratic. He tends to tuck the ball and run instead of sliding in the pocket when he senses pressure... it's been an issue.

Overall

Solid group that has the potential to do well moving forward. They are coming off their toughest stretch of the season but have a lot of confidence after posting solid statistics at Louisville, one of the top defenses in the country.

Scouting the Defense

NC State runs a 4-2-5 scheme under defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable. Until recently, they didn't blitz much, but they really went after Louisville quarterback Will Gardner.

They rotate a lot up front and in the secondary... use a lot of players on that side of the ball.

Starters

Defensive End      
95 Art Norman 6-0/254 Gr.*
91 Drew Davis 6-3/252 So.*
Defensive Tackle      
69 Thomas Teal 6-1/296 Sr.*
93 Justin Jones 6-2/294 Fr.
Defensive Tackle      
98 B.J. Hill 6-4/300 Fr.
94 Monty Nelson 6-2/312 So.
Defensive End      
90 Mike Rose 6-3/271 Jr.*
35 Kentavius Street 6-2/287 Fr.
Weakside Linebacker      
5 Rodman Noel 6-4/223 Sr.
39 Brandon Pittman 6-2/236 Sr.
Middle Linebacker      
58 Airius Moore 6-0/220 Fr.
4 Jerod Fernandez 6-0/224 Fr.*
49 Bradley Chubb 6-4/247 Fr.
Right Cornerback      
11 Juston Burris 6-1/211 Jr.*
30 Mike Stevens 5-10/186 Fr.
Free Safety      
31 Germaine Pratt OR 6-3/230 Fr.
20 Hakim Jones 6-2/208 Jr.*
Strong Safety      
2 Josh Jones 6-2/212 Fr.*
1 Jarvis Byrd 5-10/190 Gr.*
24 Shawn Boone 5-10/184 Fr.
Nickel      
8 Dravious Wright OR 5-10/206 So.
6 Tim Buckley 6-0/200 Jr.*
Left Cornerback      
29 Jack Tocho 6-0/201 So.
25 Niles Clark 5-11/199 So.*

Top Players

Jack Tocho:

The team's top cover corner, the true sophomore had two interceptions in his first game last season against Syracuse. NC State will play man coverage with their corners, and they have a lot of confidence in Tocho.

Thomas Teal:

A physical, run-stuffing defensive tackle, Teal can collapse the pocket and has forced two fumbles this season. The senior has played well this year and has been the Pack's most consistent defensive lineman.

Airius Moore: Moore made his first start vs. Louisville, and the true freshman was dynamic. He finished with a game-high eight tackles and a sack. He's now the starter at middle linebacker, even after previous starter, Jerod Fernandez, returned from his one game suspension. When he was suspended, Fernandez was third in the ACC in tackles.

Overall

This has been arguably the team's biggest weakness this season. They struggle with mobile quarterbacks and can have issues defending the run, but there is optimism that they made strides against Louisville.

Look for this group to come out and pressure Long while playing physical coverage with Syracuse's perimeter wideouts.

Breaking Down the Special Teams

Projected Starters

Place Kicker      
32 Niklas Sade 6-3/219 Sr.
47 Will Stephenson 6-3/182 So.*
Punter      
36 Wil Baumann 6-6/187 Sr.
47 Will Stephenson 6-3/182 So.*
Long Snapper      
96 Scott Thompson 5-11/244 Sr.
52 Ben Garnett 6-0/231 Jr.
Holder      
36 Wil Baumann 6-6/190 Sr.
Kick Returner      
21 Matt Dayes 5-9/205 So.
14 Malcolm Means 6-1/189 Fr.*
88 Stephen Louis 6-2/212 Fr.
Punt Returner      
82 Bo Hines 6-1/190 Fr.
13 Bra'Lon Cherry 5-11/189 So.
34 Ben Grazen 5-9/180 Fr.*

Top Players

K Nik Sade: Sade has struggled at times this season.

He's hit just 6-of-10 attempts but did make both of his attempts at Louisville. Despite his struggles, Doeren still has confidence in him and he has 50+ yard range.

P Wil Baumann: Baumann has probably been the Wolfpack's best player this season.

He leads the ACC and is fourth nationally in punting, averaging 46.9 yards per punt, more than two yards per punt better than the next best punter in the league.

Baumann has a huge leg but can also consistently pin defenders inside their own 20-yard line.

Returners: The return game has been solid for NC State, with Matt Dayes (kick return) and Bo Hines (punt return) handling the duties.

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