Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Getting to know NC State with Pack Pride

Pack Pride publisher James Henderson gives us a behind the scenes look at the North Carolina State Wolfpack just two days before the Deacs travel to Raleigh for the big game.

The Wolfpack blitzed the Deacs a year ago in Winston-Salem, as they scored four 1st-quarter touchdowns en route to a 35-17 win over Wake Forest. That was just the third time in the last 20 matchups where the road team had come away with a win in this series.

The Wolfpack (2-1) are coming off a 49-22 home win over Old Dominion followed by a bye week to prepare for the Deacs. We chatted with James Henderson, the publisher of Pack Pride, Thursday to learn more about NC State.

On the mood of the NC State fan base

Henderson: “The best word I can use is anxious. NC State is facing a daunting task when you look at their schedule. I think that put a little more pressure on the East Carolina game than most people realize. I think the average State fan would consider Wake Forest a winnable game, It’s kind of a deal where on your home field you have to take care of business in a game you’ve got a good shot in.”

On it being a tough road to six wins for State after the ECU loss

Henderson: “That’s kind of the nature of the beast in the ACC. In the Atlantic Division, you have to deal with those three at the very top. At NC State, their annual cross over is North Carolina, who has been playing really well the last couple of years. Their other game is against Miami this year, who is ranked in the top-25. It’s not that easy. When you’re a nine or 10 point favorite in a game, you kind of got to take care of business.”

On what NC State will do to attack Wake Forest offensively

Henderson: “A lot of it depends on how they think they can attack Wake Forest. Looking at Wake statistically, they seem to struggle defending the pass. I know Indiana is a really good passing team, but NC State is a good passing team averaging nearly 300 yards a game. Ryan Finley has done a good job of getting the ball out, and they’ve got several playmakers on the perimeter. I can see NC State going that route, but then you look at how they played Wake last year when Matt Dayes rushed for more than 200 yards on just 16 carries. Do you go back to the well with the running game. I got the sense from (NC State coach) Dave Doeren this week that they feel Wake is much improved and they think it’s going to be tough to rush against them. Reading between the lines a little bit, I think you’re going to see NC State try to pass the ball and spread them out. This isn’t an offense that has a No. 1 receiver that gets all of the targets. They’ll have eight or nine different guys getting the football, and that makes it tough to defend.”

On the NC State offensive line

Henderson: “They brought back three guys who started last year in Tony Adams, Will Richardson and Tyler Jones. One of the big pick ups they had was going out and getting Joe Scelfo, a grad transfer from South Alabama. He was All-Sun Belt First Team last year and is really solidifying things on the line. They’re in the top-25 in many offensive categories, but I don’t think they’ve played stiff competition. But you also have to factor is that in two of those games the starters were out basically in the third quarter. Then against East Carolina, they could do pretty much anything they wanted offensively. They’ve given up just four sacks in three games, which is good considering the number of drop back opportunities they’ve had. I think they’ve done a good job so far.”

On the job Finley has done at quarterback so far

Henderson: “He’s been outstanding. When we went into the year, we didn’t know who the starter would be. They never named a starter, so it was all the way up to the first snap. The expectation was that Jalan McClendon and Ryan Finley were going to go out there and compete for the job. What happened, was that Finley got the start, they scored on the first drive. They went to McClendon and he threw a pick on his first drive, and pretty much never got another opportunity because Finley has been so good. The numbers sort of speak for themselves with Finley. He’s been outstanding. He’s done a good job throwing the ball deep, he doesn’t take sacks. I don’t think you could ask for much more from him.”

On Nyheim Hines

Henderson: “He didn’t play against Old Dominion. I think that was by design, and he could have played. They wanted to rest him, knowing they had the bye week after that game. He’s apparently a full go now, and has practiced all week. I imagine he’ll be back out there against Wake Forest.”

On who Wake fans need to know on the Wolfpack defense

Henderson: “Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said in the teleconference that NC State might have the best defensive line in the ACC, and it’s certainly up there. Bradley Chubb is a guy they’ve been counting on as far as a potential All-ACC candidate. He hasn’t statistically been there, but he’s been taking on double teams. His brother Brandon played linebacker for Wake, and he’s someone who’s going to make an impact. Darian Roseboro has been really good. He’s not even starting, but he’s leading the ACC in tackles for loss. He’s a difference maker for State. Safety Shawn Boone has really stabilized things for State. According to Pro Football Focus, he’s played 190 snaps this year and has not missed a tackle, which is the best rate in the country. He’s been a disruptive defender that gets guys to the ground.”


Henderson: “I don’t know. A lot of times the second road game back-to-back is tough on a team. Wake just got a big win at Indiana, and NC State is coming off a bye. It’s a good setup for State, but Wake is playing well and has been opportunistic. I think it’s a dangerous opponent for State. Given Wake is 4-0 you don’t want to look past them. I think it’s going to come down if they take care of the football. Wake has forced turnovers. How Wolford plays is going to be big. I’d have to lean NC State because they’re playing at home. They’re the favorite, but nothing would surprise me. I wouldn’t be surprised if Wake goes in there and pulls off an upset.”


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