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.”
|21||Matt Dayes OR||5-9/205||So.|
|Z - Flanker|
|X - Split End|
|S - Slot|
|89||Benson Browne OR||6-5/270||Jr.*|
|86||David J. Grinnage||6-5/269||So.*|
|50||Tony Adams OR||6-2/301||Fr.|
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.
WeaknessesThere 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.
OverallSolid 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.
|31||Germaine Pratt OR||6-3/230||Fr.|
|8||Dravious Wright OR||5-10/206||So.|
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.
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
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.