NC State is looking forward to a huge opportunity on Saturday when they host the #1 ranked FSU Seminoles. The Pack is coming in at 4-0 and after escaping a near disaster against Georgia Southern they have been pretty dominant. State has scored over 40 points in each of their past 3 games and have only allowed 17 points combined over the last 2.
While these are all great numbers and show an ever-improving football team, they task at hand is in a different stratosphere. Florida State is a team stocked full of future NFL talent and will be State’s first time this season lining up against these type of players. The Seminoles will be returning starting QB Jameis Winston who was suspended last game for disciplinary reasons and the Pack needs to be ready. Let’s take a look at the keys to this matchup.
– Hit them in the mouth early, Keep the fans in the game
The beginning of this football game will be huge. State needs to come out of the gate and punch the Noles in the mouth if they want a chance to win this game. They’re not going to be able to tire, or grind one out against this team. They are too talented and have too many elite weapons for that. But that’s not going to be easy. State has started pretty slow in all 3 of their games thus far. If they are able to come out and make some big plays then they can keep their fans in the game. This is important because Florida State doesn’t necessarily have a great track record at Carter-Finley Stadium. It was only 2 years ago that the Wolfpack took them down in a game that squashed their national title hopes. If the fans can get under their skin early on, then maybe the memories of two years ago will creep into the back of the Seminoles players’ minds.
“[Carter-Finley Stadium] is definitely wild. It’s always packed and the stands are right by the sidelines, so they’re right in your ear every second of the game,” Williams said. “It’s a great atmosphere. You have to be focused and locked in to succeed.” said FSU junior CB PJ Williams.
– Put pressure on their defense.
While this team is currently ranked #1, they aren’t exactly the juggernaut they were last season. This year’s FSU team still has great playmakers, however defense and consistency have already plauged them a bit at times. They narrowly escaped a Clemson team that did everything they could to throw that game away and they also were in a tight one against Ok State in their opener. The Noles gave up 31 points in that one and only won by 6. So this team is not invincible by any means, but they are talented and they are going to come to play. State will definitely need to take shots downfield and play to win this game. It’s going to take 2 or 3 big plays to come out on top here, so pulling out all the stops and opening up the playbook will be necessary.
-Brissett must come up big
We’ve already seen what this kid can do, but now we’ll have to see how he handles this type of pressure. He’s putting up pretty gaudy numbers thus far and has yet to throw a interception, but FSU is nothing like Presbyterian or South Florida. They are going to try to rattle Brissett with pressure, so Jacoby’s ability to get outside the pocket and makes plays with his arm or his feet will be paramount if State wants to shock the world on Saturday.
-Establish the pass?
Doeren has been trying to establish the run early in games this season, and while the ground game has been strong overall it has also been a reason we feel that State has started off slowly in the first 3 games. That doesn’t matter much when you’re playing smaller teams that are offensively challenged, but against FSU the Pack must be pedal to the metal from the opening kick. Opening it up for Brissett early and allowing him to make plays from the get-go could knock the Noles on their heels and allow State to get some much needed early momentum. Now, we’re not saying Thornton and Dayes shouldn’t be getting their touches. In fact, these two guys having big games is a necessity on Saturday, but if they can spread FSU out early on, they’ll be able to find more running room as the game wears on. Keep in mind, FSU gave up over 400 yards to Clemson, most of which came in the air.
-Expose their injuries
FSU had already been underachieving on defense this season, but to make matters worse they’ve lost defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr to a concussion and DT Nile Lawrence-Stample to a season ending pectoral muscle tear (both against Clemson). While they’ll likely bring a few 5 stars in to take their place, they obviously won’t be at full strength which could allow Brissett more time in the pocket and allow the backs a little more running room. State needs to take advantage of this.
Easier said than done, but do note that FSU hasn’t had a RB reach the 70yd mark in any game this season. They’re doing all their damage through the air, so it makes it a little easier to really key on the pass here. Winston is going to look to get going early and quiet his critics who have lined up in droves the past 2 weeks to question his maturity and leadership abilities. State will be hoping to take advantage of his eagerness and get a few early turnovers before he settles in.
and just for good measure…
NC State LB Payton Wilson Wins the Bednarik Award!
NC State’s Payton Wilson won the Butkus Award earlier this week, naming him the best Linebacker in college football. Tonight he won the Bednarik Award, which has been given out annually to the best defensive player in college football since 1995.
Wilson beat out Alabama Linebacker Dallas Turner and UCLA’s Defensive End Laiatu Latu.
Prior to this week, no NC State Linebacker had ever won the Butkus Award. Prior to tonight, no NC State defensive player had ever won the Bednarik Award.
Below is a list of the former Bednarik Award winners.
In one week, Wilson has done what no other Linebacker of defensive player at NC State has ever done.
Go ahead and retire the #11 already!
Wake Forest Transfer WR Welsey Grimes Commits to NC State!
NC State just picked up their first transfer of the 2024 class, and it’s a big one. Former Wake Forest Wide Receiver Wesley Grimes (6’2″/187) just committed to run with the Wolfpack.
As a Sophomore this season, Grimes caught 20 passes for 339 yards and 4 touchdowns in 12 games. As a True Freshman last year, he played in his 6 games, collecting 4 receptions for 33 yards and a touchdown.
In all reality, Grimes is coming home. He was a 4-Star prospect out of Millbrook High School here in Raleigh. ON3, 247Sports and Rivals all ranked Grimes as a Top-250 prospect in the 2022 recruiting class, with Rivals ranking him as the #36 overall player nationally, the #4 Wide Receiver, and the #2 player in the state of North Carolina.
From a recruiting rankings standpoint, Grimes instantly becomes the highest ranked player on NC State’s roster. Since he played as a True Freshman, Grimes has 3 seasons to play 2 years of eligibility.
Back in 2021, Grimes chose the Demon Deacons over NC State, Tennessee, Duke and Louisville. On December 8th, 2023, Grimes decided to come back home and run with the Pack.
Kansas State will be Without Their Offensive Coordinator & Starting Quarterback Against NC State
Kansas State will be without their Offensive Coordinator and starting Quarterback when they face NC State in the Pop-Tarts Bowl on December 28th.
New Texas A&M head coach Mike Elko, who just left the same position at Duke, paid big bucks to hire Wildcats Offensive Coordinator Collin Klein as his OC, who had been serving in the position at Kansas State for the past 2 seasons. For the past 7 seasons, Klein has served as the Wildcats Quarterbacks Coach.
This season, Kansas State ranks 23rd in Total Offense (446.1) and 14th in Rushing Offense (199.7).
As Quarterbacks Coach, he helped develop four-year starter Will Howard, who announced he would be entering the Transfer Portal on November 27th. This season, Howard earned 2nd Team All-Big 12 honors. In 12 games, he threw for 2,643 yards and 24 touchdowns (10 interceptions). Howard also rushed for 351 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Howard will be replaced by Freshman Avery Johnson. There was speculation that Johnson might follow Klein to Texas A&M, but he will be starting for the Wildcats in Orlando against the Wolfpack.
NC State’s Kevin Concepcion Earns Freshman All-American Status from The Athletic
NC State Wide Receiver Kevin Concepcion has been named a Freshman All-American by The Athletic.
Here’s what they had to say about KC:
WR Kevin Concepcion, NC State: “KC” easily won ACC Rookie of the Year this season after catching 64 passes for 767 yards, rushing for 297 yards on 7.8 yards per carry and scoring 11 total touchdowns. The 5-foot-11, 187-pound slot receiver from Charlotte was a three-star signee who proved he should start right away as a true freshman. Over his last seven games, Concepcion has averaged 117 total yards per game. (The Athletic)