It’s Game day! We continue our preview of the Hokies by taking a look at the players who will attempt to shut down the NC State offense. In case you missed it, check out our preview of Virginia Tech’s Skill Positions.
Rs-Junior DE Ken Ekanem-6’3″/248 lbs (9 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 FF)
RS-Senior DT Corey Marshall-6’2″/266 lbs (6 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 Sack, 1 FF)
Rs-Senior DT Luther Maddy- 6’2″/283 lbs (23 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 Sack)
Junior DT Woody Barron- 6’1″/275 lbs (10 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 2 Sacks)
Rs-Senior DE Dadi Nicolas- 6’3″/223 lbs (12 Tackles, 3 Hurries)
This may be one of the most underachieving groups in the ACC so far this year. Dadi Nicolas, and Ken Ekanem have zero sacks on the year combined after both having over 9 last year. They are both light and quick. They want to get to the QB fast. Virginia Tech mostly rotates three tackles and they are all pretty good, if not light. This is a smallish group in general, but very experienced.
Key to Containment
Establish the pass with the run. States O-Line is going to have a pretty decent size advantage across the board. If they can establish the run in the first few possessions, they will be in good shape in general. The speed on the edge is going to be a challenge for the offensive tackles. LT Joe Thuney is going to need to move well laterally.
Rs-Senior OLB Ronny VanDyke- 6’5″/215 lbs (12 Tackles, 1 TFL)
Rs-Sophomore MLB Andrew Motuapuaka- 6’0″/238 lbs (15 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 Sack, 1 INT, 2 FF)
Senior OLB Deon Clarke- 6’1″/227 lbs (28 Tackles, 5 TFL, 2 Sacks)
There will be some rotation in the group, although the backups have not put up any noteworthy stats. Motuapuaka is a load. He has only played in three games this season, and lacks ideal size, but has a good nose for the ball. Vandyke on the other hand has great tools. He has good size and speed, and is a versatile linebacker. Deon Clarke is the best blitzer of the bunch, and will get sent a lot in this game.
Keys to Containment
Nothing special here. Getting Motuapuaka off track would be nice. Wouldn’t be surprising to see some misdirection and sweeps to challenge them on the perimeter. If the RB’s can pick up a linebacker when they blitz, big plays can be had.
Rs-Freshman CB Terrell Edmunds-6’1″/201 lbs (10 Tackles)
Rs-Sophomore CB Brandon Facyson- 6’2″ 196 (7 tackles, 4 PBU)
Freshman S Adonis Alexander- 6’3″/193 lbs (27 tackles, 2 INT)
Junior S Chuck Clark- 6’1″/204 lbs (41 Tackles, 2 TFL, 1 Sack)
Sophomore Nickleback Greg Stroman- 6’1″/ 168 lbs (12 tackles, 1 INT)
Losing All-ACC performer Kendall Fuller was a big blow. They are asked to do a lot. Cornerbacks are going to play almost exclusively man-to-man press coverage. They dare you to beat them over the top. Adonis Alexander is just a true freshman, but has good size and ball skills. Facyson doesnt have many stats, but does a good job in coverage. Young unit who can get beat deep.
Key to Beating Them
If State can get some points on the board early, this unit is going to feel the need to make a big play. They will be more aggressive. They get left on an island, so if a receiver can get behind them it is a potential TD. NC States wide-outs will have to run crisp routes and be sure handed. If Jacoby Brissett throws a long pass, the reciever will have to make a play on the ball.
Does Virginia Tech’s defense concern you? Let us know why in the comments, or head to The Forum and join the discussion!
NC State Locks In an Official Visit with Notre Dame Transfer Center Zeke Correll
NC State is in need of a starting Center (I did confirm with NC State Center Dylan McMahon himself that he is heading to the NFL), and the Wolfpack coaching staff has prioritized Notre Dame Transfer Zeke Correll (6’3″/306). I confirmed with a source that Correll will be on an Official Visit to NC State next weekend.
Correll is a Graduate Transfer, with one year of eligibility remaining. He is a multi-year starter for the Irish, starting in 30 of the 41 games he played in. Out of high school, he was a consensus 4-star prospect, with 247Sports ranking him as the #81 overall player nationally in the 2019 recruiting class.
247Sports ranks Correll as the #3 overall Interior Offensive Lineman in the Portal, and ON3 ranks him 6th. Correll’s strength lies in pass protection, recording a grade of 78.0 according to ProFootballFocus, which was 2nd on the team. His run blocking grade on the other hand was 57.5.
Adding a multi-year starter from the Notre Dame Offensive Line would be a win.
It Looks Like NC State Center Dylan McMahon Will Not be Returning in ‘24
NC State redshirt Junior Center Dylan McMahon was honored on Senior night, but walking on Senior Night doesn’t guarantee that the player won’t return for another season if they are eligible. It has been unknown at this point if McMahon would return for a final season in Raleigh, or enter the 2024 NFL Draft.
It looks like McMahon will be heading to the NFL, after accepting the invitation to play in the 2024 East-West Shrine Bowl.
McMahon is a 4-year starter at NC State, starting in 43 of the 48 games he has played in. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. ranks McMahon as the #9 Center in the 2024 NFL Draft.
McMahon was a 3-star prospect in NC State’s 2019 recruiting class out of Savannah, Georgia.
Breaking Down NC State’s Assistant Coach Salaries
USAToday runs a report every year on the salaries of Head Football Coaches, Assistant Coaches and Strength Coaches. Here’s a look at the salaries of NC State’s Assistant Coaching staff.
Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers – Tony Gibson – $1.3 million
Offensive Coordinator/Inside Wide Receivers/Tight Ends – Robert Anae – $899,000
Running Backs/Special Teams Coordinator – $548,473
Offensive Line – Garrett Tujague – $520,000
Defensive Line Charley Wiles – $490,023
Assistant Head Coach/Wide Receivers – $482,966
Safeties – Joe Deforest – $430,459
Quarterbacks – Kurt Roper – $430,459
Cornerbacks – Brian Mitchell – $417,205
Nickels – Freddie Aughtry-Lindsay – $330,644
NC State ranks 4th in the ACC in total pay of Assistant Coaches. Tony Gibson is the 2nd highest paid assistant Coach in the ACC (28th overall), and the highest paid Defensive Coordinator. Robert Anae is the 4th highest paid Offensive Coordinator in the ACC, and the 7th highest paid Assistant.
With 9 wins, in accordance with Head Coach Dave Doeren’s contract, the salary pool for Assistant Coaches increases by $300,000. If the Pack wins a 10th game, that number becomes $400,000. (WRAL)
NC State Wants Pop Tarts
NC State wants Pop Tarts. Who doesn’t?
According to Brad Crawford of 247Sports, NC State has requested the Pop Tarts Bowl, which will be played on December 28th in Orlando, Florida.
You might be like, I’ve never heard of the Pop-Tarts bowl. That’s because this is the first rendition of the Pop Tarts Bowl, but it used to go by other names you might be familiar with: Cheez-It, Camping World, Russell Athletic, Champs Sports, Tangerine, Micron PC, Carquest, and Blockbuster (the last three were when the bowl was in Miami).
Below is an updated list of 15 bowl projections, with 12 of the 15 picking NC State to go to the Pop-Tarts Bowl.
(The three above the line have changed their projections since my last bowl projections post on 11/28.)
The Athletic – Pop-Tarts Bowl – NC State vs. Kansas State – December 28th – Orlando, FLA
CBS Sports – Pop-Tarts Bowl vs. Oklahoma State – January 1st – Tampa, FLA
College Football News – Pop Tarts Bowl vs. Kansas State – December 29th – Jacksonville, FLA
OddShark – Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl – NC State vs. Rutgers – December 28th – New York City, New York
Covers.com – Pop-Tarts Bowl – NC State vs. Oklahoma – December 28th – Orlando, FLA
USA Today – Pop-Tarts Bowl – NC State vs. Oklahoma State – December 28th – Orlando, FLA
247Sports – Pop-Tarts Bowl vs. Kansas State – December 28th – Orlando, FLA
Athlon – Pop-Tarts Bowl – NC State vs. Kansas State – December 28th – Orlando, FLA
ESPN – Pop-Tarts Bowl – NC State vs. Oklahoma State – December 28th – Orlando, FLA
ESPN – Gator Bowl – NC State vs. Tennessee – December 29th – Jacksonville, FLA
Sporting News – Pop-Tarts Bowl – NC State vs. Oklahoma – December 28th – Orlando, FLA
Fox Sports – Pop-Tarts Bowl – NC State vs. Oklahoma State – December 28th – Orlando, FLA
Action Network – Pop-Tarts Bowl – NC State vs. Kansas State – December 28th – Orlando, FLA
College Football Network – Sun Bowl – NC State vs. USC – December 29th, El Paso, TX
Betting Pros – Pop-Tarts Bowl – NC State vs. Kansas State – December 28th – Orlando, FLA