Last week NC State saw Deebo Samuel return the opening kickoff of the 2017 season for a 97-yard touchdown. NC State’s opponent tonight was equally opportunistic in their 31-26 victory over Miami (OH) in their season opener.
Junior Keion Davis returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, and then he returned another one 97 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. Then Sophomore Chris Jackson returned an interception 72 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Needless to say, hopefully NC State learned their lessons last week, and won’t give their opponent points off of special teams and turnovers.
If they are able to that, this game shouldn’t be a close one. Marshall is coming off of a 3-9 campaign. This Thundering Herd team has 4 lone Senior starters.
Marshall’s offensive line shouldn’t be able to matchup with NC State’s talented defensive line. The Herd was tied for 85th in the FBS with 2.33 sacks allowed per game, ranked 100th with 6.67 tackles for loss allowed per contest and 122nd at 108.2 rushing yards per game (Source). Given, their O-Line is healthier now than they were at any point in 2016, but they are starting a Redshirt Freshman and a true Sophomore. Last week, Marshall averaged a measley 2.46 yards per carry.
A bright spot in Marshall’s offense last week was the play of their Junior Quarterback Chase Litton, who completed 20 of his 30 passes for 208 yards, accompanied by one touchdown and one interception. Litton has 5,435 career passing yards, with 48 touchdowns compared to 18 interceptions. Litton had an instant connection with Freshman Wide Receiver Willie Johnson that even surprised the Marshall beat writers, connecting with him on 7 receptions for 88 yards.
While Marshall’s special teams play was excellent, and Litton was productive in the passing game, the Herd’s defense was not impressive in the opener. Marshall’s defense surrendered 426 yards to Miami (OH), with 298 coming through the air. The Redhawks were two yards short of having two 100-yard receivers against the Herd. Marshall’s two Defensive End’s average weight is 236, and I don’t see them getting much pressure on NC State Quarterback Ryan Finley. If the Herd doesn’t get to Finley, I expect him to take advantage of a young secondary that boasts 2 Freshmen and 1 Sophomore.