NC State picked up their first win of 2017 in their home opener tonight against Marshall in a game that was way closer than anyone expected. The Wolfpack entered the game as 22 point favorites, and even though they won by 17, the contest was truly much closer than that.
Here’s how evenly matched the two teams were:
NC State – 485
Marshall – 451
NC State – 23
Marshall – 18
Time of Possession
NC State – 30:57
Marshall – 29:03
NC State came out of the gate flat footed, allowing Marshall to take a 10-3 advantage at the end of the 1st quarter, and they held the lead all the way until there were only 16 seconds left on the clock in the 1st half.
The Wolfpack defense was supposed to be one of the best defenses in the nation, but Miami (OH) played better defense against Marshall in week 1, than NC State did tonight. Miami (OH) only let Chase Litton throw for 206 yards…the Wolfpack let him chuck the ball for 350 yards. Miami (OH) held Marshall to an average of 2.6 yards per carry…NC State allowed Marshall to average 4.0 yards per carry.
NC State’s secondary was a question entering 2017, especially with the injury to Mike Stevens. Honestly, they didn’t do too bad against South Carolina in Week 1, no matter how pretty Deebo Samuel’s one-handed grab in the corner of the end zone was. The Wolfpack held the Gamecock’s to only 215 yards through the air. Tonight on the other hand was another story.
No longer is their a question mark by the NC State secondary. There is a HERD of question marks surrounding them (did you get the pun?). Chase Litton threw for 350 yards, and Tyre Brady put himself on the map (people like to have breakout performances against NC State), snagging 11 balls for 248 yards and a touchdown (Brady is a transfer from the University of Miami). In the 1st half he had his way with NC State cornerback Johnathan Alston, and in the second half Nick McCloud did a better job, but Brady continued to be productive. The 248 yards by Brady mark the most receiving yards an opposing player has ever produced in Carter-Finley Stadium.
On a good note, NC State’s offense, though inconsistent, produced in a big way tonight, putting 485 yards on the Herd. Wolfpack Quarterback Ryan Finley was outstanding, completing 29 of his 36 passes for 341 yards with 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Sophomore Wide Receiver Kelvin Harmon had his second straight 100-yard performance, reeling in 9 catches for 121 yards and 1 touchdown. Harmon might be one of the most impressive players that I’ve ever seen play Wide Receiver at NC State, and he’s only a true Sophomore. Stephen Louis and Jaylen Samuels both collected 5 receptions and a touchdown, for 73 yards and 63 yards respectively.
The running game was a major problem for the NC State in the first half tonight, but Reggie Gallaspy shined in the end this week, where Nyheim Hines did so last week. Gallaspy had 12 carries for 61 yards (5.1 yards per carry) and two touchdowns.
Even though I have mainly negative things to say about NC State’s defense tonight, I’d be remiss not to point out the fact that Bradley Chubb had a freakish stat line of 4 tackles for loss, with one of those being his first sack of the season. Chubb now has 40 tackles for loss in his career, which ties him with Stephen Tulloch for 6th all-time.
Before I move on to my epic conclusion, a congratulations is in order. Carson Wise hit his first field goal as a member of the Wolfpack, booting it in from 31-yards away. He also shanked an extra point. Just try to put that somewhere far far away from your muscle memory Carson. Ok. Thanks.
I know a win is a win, and I should be thankful (Trust me, I’m glad we didn’t lose), but I’m not happy. After losing a game that they should have won against South Carolina, I expected NC State to come out of the gate with energy, intensity, passion, and ferocity. What did we get? A team that seemed surprised that Marshall was trying really hard. The Wolfpack didn’t get an edge until he second half when Jaylen Samuels rammed his sternum through the chest of a defender, and everyone remembered they were playing a sport called football.
The Wolfpack coaching staff has a lot of things to figure out defensively, and they need to figure it out fast. And the offense isn’t off the hook here either. The coaching staff has to figure out what it is going to take for these players to come out of the gate freaking out of their mind that they get to play a college football game, and try to knock the other player out of their pads every single play.
Here’s to demolishing Furman next weekend.