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Scouting the Competition: Syracuse

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NC State will play it’s first ever ACC game against Syracuse this Saturday and will be in search of their first ACC victory. So what can Doeren and his guys expect?

Well, the Orange probably still have a bad taste in their mouth after their ACC opener with Clemson. They were slammed 49-14, but it’s not like they weren’t expecting the added competition.

“It’s what we signed up for,” Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer said Tuesday. “We played a really good football team. Everybody knows that. There are always positives, even in a tough loss against a good team like Clemson.”

Now they set their sights on a game that is a lot more winnable in their minds, a matchup with the Pack. State is coming off a bad loss to Wake Forest and needs this win to right the ship, however it’s not going to be an easy task by any means. The Orange ground game we pretty impressive against the Tigers as they reeled off 323 yards and 2 touchdowns. The good news for NC State however, is that they’ll be facing off against a QB who is still wet behind the ears. Terrel Hunt will be making his 3rd career start in Raleigh this Saturday. So far, he’s been good, but not great. In his first game against Tulane he put up 4 TDs and 181 yards, but took a huge step back against Clemson’s defense when he put up only 52 yards and threw 3 INTs.
State will be able to disrupt Syracuse with a little pressure, but they’ll need to really lock down their ground game if they want to put the clamps on them. On defense, Syracuse has been apt to give up the big play. Against Clemson there were plenty. This is a defense that does not look used to the type of athleticism that the ACC can bring to the table. NC State needs to take advantage of this. They need to take shots down the field and capitalize when Syracuse falls asleep at the wheel.
Players To Watch:
Terrel Hunt –
We mentioned him earlier as a potential weakness, but he’s young and with kids like this you never know. He had a great game against Tulane then stunk it up against Clemson. In my opinion, if State doesn’t really ratchet up the pressure, he could have a big game.

Jerome Smith- The junior RB has been great for Syracuse. 342  yards and 7 TDs in only 5 games. He’s scored in every one so far and 125 and a TD against Clemson last week. He’s a game changer and if the Wolfpack don’t look out he could bite them.

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NC State Football

Comparing Devin Leary’s 1st Four Games of ’22 to His 1st Four Games of ’21

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While Redshirt Junior Quarterback Devin Leary’s numbers have been good through 4 games this season, he hasn’t been elite. A lot of hype surrounded Leary entering the 2022 season, being named the Preseason ACC Player of the Year.

Through 4 games, Leary ranks 8th in the ACC in Passing Efficiency, 4th in Passing Touchdowns, 8th in Passing Yards per Game, and 8th in Completion Percentage.

Now, to be clear, the first 4 games does not make a season.

If you compare Leary’s numbers through 4 games in 2022, to his numbers through the 1st 4 games of ’21, they are very close to the same, though only slightly lower.

2021 – 68.9%/258 Yards Per Game/10 Touchdowns (2 interceptions)/147.09 Passing Efficiency/7.0 Yards Per Attempt
2022 – 64.0%/222.5 Yards Per Game/9 Touchdowns (2 interceptions/144.4 Passing Efficiency/7.1 Yards Per Attempt

A lot of factors go into these numbers. For instance, at this point last season, Leary had 23 more pass attempts. At this point last season, Leary had played 38 more snaps. How different would his numbers look through 4 games in 2022 if he had those snaps and those attempts?

In 2021, Leary finished stronger than he started, and there’s no reason to expect the same won’t be true in 2022.

 

 

 

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NC State Needs to be able To Pass Against Clemson

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When you look at where the Clemson defense is most vulnerable, it has been their inability to stop their opponents passing attack.

Surprisingly, the Tigers rank 48th nationally in Total Defense heading into Week 5, giving up an average of 347.2 yards per game. With a Rush Defense that ranks 8th nationally (78.5 yards per game), Clemson’s Pass Defense, which ranks 104th (267.8 yards per game), is what pushes the Tiger Defense up near 50th in Total Defense.

Opponents Passing Efficiency against Clemson has been 139.64, which ranks 92nd nationally.

Logically, looking at the data above, the game plan for Saturday night would be to unleash Devin Leary. The question is, how much will either team be able to effectively throw the ball with Hurricane Ian moving through the southeast region of the United States this weekend.

If the game is played in a downpour, it will likely come down to who can run the ball better, and both teams will be facing a defense that ranks in the Top-10 nationally in Rush Defense. As stated before, Clemson ranks 8th, and NC State ranks 10th, giving up 81.8 yards per game.

Thankfully for the Wolfpack, Junior Running Back Jordan Houston, who missed last weeks game against UCONN, will be back, as will Redshirt Freshman Demie Sumo-Karngbaye, who sat out the second half against the Huskies.

Last year, in the Wolfpack’s 27-21 2OT victory over the Tigers in Carter-Finley, Leary was 32/44 (72.7%) for 238 yards and 4 touchdowns, with 0 interceptions. That was against a Clemson Defense that finished 2021 ranked 34th in Pass Defense (208.8), 8th in Total Defense (306.3) and 2nd in Scoring Defense (14.8).

Leary hasn’t been as efficient through 4 games in 2022 as he was in 2021, but he’s a gamer. He’s not scared of Clemson. Hopefully weather will permit the Wolfpack quarterback to expose the weakness of the Tiger defense.

 

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5 out of 7 at N&O Pick NC State Over Clemson…OddShark is too

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Over at the News & Observer, 6 of their writers weekly take a stab at picking the winners of college football games for the upcoming week. Every week they also have a Guest Picker, and this week former sports anchor Mark Armstrong was the guest. Interestingly, Five of the Seven picked the 10th ranked NC State Wolfpack to beat the 5th ranked Clemson Tigers.

Also, over at OddShark, they put out a piece on the two best underdogs to bet on in Week 5, and NC State was one of the two, alongside Kansas.

Underdog Pick #2: NC State (+215) vs Clemson

We picked an upset against Clemson last week and nearly got it. Wake Forest had chances late in the game and in OT to snatch the underdog victory but couldn’t get it done. So, for the same reasons we bet on the Demon Deacons last week, we like NC State in Week 5.

Wolfpack QB Devin Leary has passed for four touchdowns in two of his last three games, and that offensive capability could be a problem for a beat-up Clemson secondary. Clemson’s top cornerback and strong safety were out last week against Wake, and the Deacons lit up the backup DBs for some huge plays in the air. If NC State can take advantage of some similar holes, they’ll have upset potential against the Tigers this week. (OddShark)

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NC State vs. Clemson Kickoff Date/Time Remains Set Despite Other Games Being Shifted Due to Hurricane Ian

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At this point, there is no denying that Hurricane Ian will impact the Top-10 matchup between #10 NC State and #5 Clemson. The question is what will the impact be.

We’ve already seen games in the path of Ian move their games. South Carolina vs. South Carolina State has been moved to Thursday night.

Florida’s game vs. Eastern Washington has been moved to Sunday at Noon.

At this point, the kickoff between the Wolfpack and the Tigers is still set for 7:30pm on Saturday.

Here’s the current forecast according to the Triangle’s own Mike Maze.

Also, 50mph winds might have a minor effect on throwing the football.

It will be interesting to see what other college football games get moved due to Hurricane Ian, and whether or not NC State vs. Clemson will be one of them.

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