CFN Take: NC State Wins Wild One Over ODU
2014 North Carolina State Wolfpack ...
Head Coach: Dave Doeren
2014 NC State
Sept. 6 at NC State 46, Old Dominion 34
2014 Schedule |
Aug. 30 Ga Southern W 24-23
Sep. 6 Old Dominion W
Sep. 13 at South Florida
Sep. 20 Presbyterian
Sep. 27 Florida State
Oct. 4 at Clemson
Oct. 11 Boston College
Oct. 18 at Louisville
Oct. 25 OPEN DATE
Nov. 1 at Syracuse
Nov. 8 Georgia Tech
Nov. 15 Wake Forest
Nov. 22 OPEN DATE
Nov. 29 at North Carolina
And You Care Because … Jacoby Brissett threw two touchdown passes and Shadrach Thornton ran for three touchdowns including a 23-yarder to put the game away late in the fourth as NC State had to fight to get by. It was a nip and tuck game with each team having an answer for the other until the Wolfpack took control with a Stephen Louis 16-yard touchdown catch late in the third and a ten-yard scoring dash from Matt Dayes early in the fourth, but ODU wouldn’t go away with Taylor Heinicke throwing his second touchdown pass of the day, finding Antonio Vaughan for a nine-yard score with just under six minutes to go. NC State answered going 37 yards in five plays with Thornton finally putting the nail in the coffin.
What Else? NC State QB Jacoby Brissett completed 21-of-29 passes for 253 yards and two scores, and ran seven times for 45 yards.
- ODU QB Taylor Heinicke completed 35-of-49 passes for 274 yards and two scores with a pick, and Ray Lawry ran 14 times for 71 yards and three scores.
- NC State RB Shadrach Thornton ran 14 times for 86 yards and three touchdowns, and Matt Dayes added 13 carries for 79 yards and a score.
- Old Dominion gained 504 yards, NC State 495.
Game Rating: A-
Aug. 30 at NC State 24, Georgia Southern 23
And You Care Because … Down 17-3 in the second half, NC State rallied back on three Jacoby Brissett touchdown passes with two to Bra’Lon Cherry from six and 11 yards out and a 35-yarder to Matt Dayes with 1:37 to play to finally get over the hump. Georgia Southern drove back and had one last chance, but the drive stalled on fourth down. Kevin Ellison threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Kentrellis Showers in the final second of the first half and Matt Breida ran for a 61-yard score for the Eagles.
What Else? Georgia Southern is a good team – don’t let this be a discouraging close call, NC State. Remember, this is the GSU program that beat Florida last season, and it gave the Wolfpack a fight to the gun.
- Jacoby Brissett rallied the Pack back when he had to, completing 28-of-40 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns and a pick, and he ran for 28 yards.
- GSU LB Edwin Jackson was fantastic, making 13 tackles and getting all over the field. However, defensively, there wasn’t any pass rush and there was little to no pressure on Brissett in the second half.
- The Georgia Southern offense didn’t change up that much. Kevin Ellison completed 9-of-16 passes for 184 yards and a score, and he ran 20 times for 116 yards.
Game Rating: A
Tom O’Brien was fired at the end of the 2012 season because NC State had grown tired of mediocrity. Mediocrity never looked so good in Raleigh.
The Pack is looking for a fresh start after going 3-9, dropping the final seven games and failing to win an ACC matchup for the first time since 1959. The debut of head coach Dave Doeren didn’t go as planned, as State proved incapable of delivering in the latter stages of tight games. A new year, though brings new hope and a wish to turn the page as quickly as possible.
As a program, State has traditionally struggled to get over the hump; the school’s last ACC championship occurred in 1979, and it’s won 10 games in a season just one time. Still, there’s cause for optimism in the Triangle. Not only does Doeren have a better grasp on his personnel in Year 2, but he’s excited about the bumper crop of high school talent that signed letters of intent in February. Oh, and the quarterback position has a lot more clarity than it did a year ago.
Jacoby Brissett isn’t a savior. He is a major upgrade. One of the Pack’s myriad—and biggest—issues in 2013 was a lack of consistency behind center. Doeren & Co. tried everything, yet State still threw more interceptions than touchdown passes. For the coach’s attack to work, the quarterbacks must do a better job of delivering the ball. And that’s where Brissett enters the discussion. The Florida transfer sat out last season, yet he still impressed the staff from the scout team. He is in many ways the prototype of what Doeren is after in a triggerman.
Brissett gives the locals a reason to smile. The rest of the roster will provoke frowns. The Wolfpack doesn’t stack up well versus the ACC’s tougher teams, which will create instant opportunities for the heralded rookies, like DE Kentavius Street, WR Bo Hines and CB Troy Vincent. The staff has let it be knows that every position will be up for grabs this offseason … except quarterback.
Doeren has been a success at every stop on the career path, from his days as a coordinator at Kansas and Wisconsin to being the head coach at Northern Illinois. He’s going to win in Raleigh as well. But fans of the program will need to be patient, as the young and inexperienced roster is gradually improved and groomed. The Pack will be better in 2014, in part because the team can’t get much worse. The extent of its improvement will depend on the play of the lines and the maturation process of the rookie class.
What to look for on offense: A return of the old Bryan Underwood. Nothing went right for Underwood in 2013. His battery mates weren’t ACC-caliber, and a broken collarbone ended his season with five games left. Healthy again and eager to get back on the field, Underwood is determined to become Jacoby Brissett’s top target. Brissett will want to rebuild the confidence of a clutch playmaker who caught 10 touchdown passes on just 44 receptions two years ago.
What to look for on defense: More pressure from the front four. The State line has far too much talent to produce only 20 sacks, last season’s meager output. The Pack was last in the ACC at getting to the quarterback, which is unacceptable. Most of last year’s starters are back, including DE Art Norman and agile tackles T.Y. McGill, Thomas Teal and Monty Nelson. There are no good excuses why the D-line can’t crank up the pressure and disrupt the quarterback’s rhythm in the fall.
This team will be much better if… it finds a backbone every so often in the red zone. The Wolfpack lost seven times in 2013 when games were competitive in the final quarter. A key reason for the late collapses? A failure to make stops at critical junctures of games. NC State ranked a miserable 120th nationally in red-zone defense, allowing 80% of trips inside the 20-yard line to result in touchdowns. Coordinator Dave Huxtable is doing whatever is necessary to ensure that the D has a little more bite in 2014.
The Schedule: As long as there isn't a slip on the road against a South Florida team still trying to find itself, the Wolfpack should be 4-0 - with one more win than it came up last year - before having to deal
with Florida State and Clemson in back-to-back showdowns. The game against the
Tigers start a run of three road games in four dates with trips to Louisville
and Syracuse to follow a game against Boston College. Hosting Georgia Tech and
Wake Forest are must-wins before finishing up at North Carolina.
Best Offensive Player: Junior QB Jacoby Brissett. The Pack is hoping to have found a poor-man’s Cam Newton, a big, dual-threat quarterback who began his college career in Gainesville. Doeren and the coaching staff have been floored by Brissett, from his leadership skills to his maturation as a passer. In fact, Doeren named his newcomer the starter long before any controversy could develop. NC State is counting on Brissett being more than just a numbers guy in 2014 and 2015. The school expects him to spearhead a renaissance in Raleigh.
Best Defensive Player: Senior DT Thomas Teal. State needs to apply more pressure than it did in 2013. Teal will fuel the charge from the interior. NC State notched a league-low 20 sacks last fall, which caused a ripple effect throughout the back seven. Teal will be the leader of a veteran D-line that’ll have no excuses if last season’s defensive futility is repeated. And when he’s tied up with a double-team, it’s going to help free up his linemates in the trenches.
Key player to a successful season: Senior LT Rob Crisp. Actually, it’s Brissett, but the quarterback won’t even approach his full potential if he isn’t properly protected. The Wolfpack gave up 35 sacks in 2013, which was more than every ACC team except Pitt. The 6-7, 300-pound Crisp has been granted an additional year of eligibility after missing most of 2013 with a concussion. State hopes he uses the extra season on campus to protect Brissett’s blindside, while elevating the overall play of a sketchy O-line.
The season will be a success if ... the Wolfpack is a part of the postseason, even if it enters through the backdoor. Is NC State bowl-worthy in 2014? Not yet. But is the schedule tailor-made for at least six wins? You bet. The Pack is set up to start 4-0 against Georgia Southern, Old Dominion, South Florida and Presbyterian, which would generate much-needed momentum in Raleigh. While there are no gimmes after Sept. 20, it would take just two more wins over two months to reach the six needed to be bowl-eligible.
Key game: Nov. 15 vs. Wake Forest. If September goes as planned, this visit from the in-state Demon Deacons could be the potential clincher for bowl-eligibility. State always wants to take down Wake Forest, regardless of the specific circumstances. But if the Pack is 5-5 in mid-November, with a trip to Chapel Hill on Nov. 29 still left, this fall’s edition of the rivalry will take on special meaning at Carter-Finley Stadium.
2013 Fun Stats:
- Yards per rush: NC State 3.8 – Opponents 5.0
- Sacks: NC State 20 – Opponents 36
- Red-zone touchdown%: NC State 44% – Opponents 80%
NC State Preview - What You Need To Know & Top Players