Every year NFL.com releases their Top 100 NFL players headed into the next season. They are not done unveiling the list, but former NC State quarterback Philip Rivers is ranked as the #56 overall player headed into the 2018 season.
For context, Rivers was ranked 73rd heading into last season.
Rivers maintained his place among the league’s better quarterbacks in 2017, and if it weren’t for kicking miscues early in the season, probably would have been playing in January instead of spending it at home. Rivers’ Top 100 tale is an intriguing one: He’s bounced between the top 30-60 positions for much of its existence, save for the 2013 rankings, in which he missed it entirely after failing to break 4,000 yards passing for the first time since 2007. At this point, his legacy is all but cemented — now we’re only left to wonder how much longer he’ll keep playing. (NFL)
NC State 34 Ball State 23: BOX SCORE
NC State 34 Ball State 23: OUR TAKE
This is not the way NC State wanted to head into conference play.
Did they want to head in with a win? Of course. Winning like this? Not at all.
People can say that “a win is a win”, but last nights win won’t equal wins in the ACC, no matter how bad the league currently looks.
NC State squeaked out a 34-23 victory over Ball State under the lights in Carter-Finley Stadium. If it wasn’t for a Wolfpack dominant 2nd quarter (14-0), NC State would have been in big trouble. Ball State won the battle of the other three quarters 23-20.
Also, don’t let the Wolfpack’s 34 points deceive you. One of those touchdowns was a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown by Thayer Thomas. Another one came off of a blocked punt by Malik Dunlap, giving the Wolfpack the ball at Ball State’s 7-yard line, resulting in a rushing touchdown by Matt McKay.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for Special Teams making plays…alongside a productive offense.
Ball State’s offense outperformed NC State’s offense, with the Cardinals’ producing 417 yards of total offense, with the Wolfpack putting up 389. With that being said, the Wolfpack secondary didn’t allow Drew Plitt to throw a touchdown (came into the game with 11) and didn’t give up the big plays the Cardinal’s have been making.
Sophomore Free Safety Tanner Ingle, Junior Cornerback Chris Ingram and Redshirt Senior Larrell Murchison all deserve a shout out. Ingle had 11 tackles (0.5 for loss). Ingram saved the game from being scary close, intercepting a pass in the end zone with 3:43 left in the game. He also had 9 tackles and 2 pass breakups. Murchison had 2 tackles for loss.
While the defense was far from perfect, they aren’t what gives me the biggest pause heading into next week.
We can act like the Wolfpack’s offense is the area of concern, but that’s not really the truth. Putting it on the whole unit covers up the truth. The consistent concern through 4 games is Redshirt Sophomore Quarterback Matt McKay’s play.
Doeren planned all week to have Redshirt Sophomore Bailey Hockman to come in for a drive early, and he stuck to the plan. McKay was average in the 1st Quarter (6-9 for 47 yards), but after Hockman came in for a drive (ended in an interception), McKay played really well to close out the first half. After Hockman’s series, McKay was 10-13 for 127 yards in the 2nd quarter, leading to 2 Wolfpack touchdowns, with a rushing one of his own. The 2nd half was another story altogether, playing some of the worst football he has played all year.
McKay was 1 of 8 for 1 yard and an interception in the 2nd half. Yes, you read that stat line correctly.
Yes, the Wolfpack receivers have dropped some passes each game, but McKay’s inability to throw the deep ball, being ahead or behind his receivers, or throwing too high or too low has not improved over four performances. While I’m sure the Offensive Line hasn’t been perfect, you’d have a hard time convincing me they are the problem. McKay wasn’t sacked a single time last night.
The Wolfpack’s rushing attack was impressive once again, rushing for 204 yards on the night. Freshman Zonovan Knight rushed 8 times for 36 yards before leaving the game with a hamstring injury. Sophomore Ricky Person led the Pack with 71 yards rushing and a touchdown, but looked to favor his back throughout the night. Freshman Jordan Houston has done nothing but prove he deserves the ball in his hands a ton more, rushing for 55 yards on 6 carries last night.
As good as the NC State backfield has been, if ACC opponents don’t fear the Wolfpack passing game at all, they will stack the box and completely focus on the running game.
The Quarterback position and health are two looming concerns heading into next weeks game in Tallahassee.
McKay hasn’t shown that he deserves to keep the job through 4 games, with two other 4-star quarterbacks behind him. I’m sure McKay is much better in practice, but if it doesn’t translate to Saturday’s, something has to change. McKay might have it in him, but it’s the coaches job to help get it out of him, and it’s not happened up till now. Also, some players simply don’t have it.
Answers need to be found. Whether that’s finding new ways to use McKay, utilizing his legs more, changing the play calling, throwing to the boundaries more, or simply finding a new quarterback.
Also, the Wolfpack squad is heading into ACC play pretty banged up. Graduate Redshirt Senior Defensive End James Smith-Williams has missed the past two games. Senior Cornerback Nick McCloud hasn’t played since the season opener. Redshirt Junior starting Tight End Dylan Autenrieth didn’t play last night. We don’t know the extent of Zonovan Knight’s hamstring injury. Ricky Person never seems 100%. I digress.
Previewing NC State’s Opponent: Ball State
NC State will host Ball State tonight at 7pm under the lights tonight, marking the first time the Wolfpack and Cardinals have ever played each other in football.
It might be the first time that NC State has played Ball State, but it’s not the 1st time that Dave Doeren has played the Cardinals. While at Northern Illinois, Doeren was 2-0 against Ball State.
Ball State is one of the most experienced teams in the nation, returning 17 starters from 2018 (8 offense & 9 defense), which is tied for the 2nd most nationally.
Against the ACC
Back in 2013, Ball State beat Virginia 48-27, marking the only time they have beat an ACC opponent. The Cardinals are 1-7 all-time against the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Cardinals’ Flying High
The Cardinals’ air attack has been prolific through three games with Redshirt Junior Drew Plitt chucking the ball. Pitt has already thrown for over 1,000 yards through the first three games (1,040). Plitt has completed 70.6% of his passes and thrown 11 touchdowns (3 interceptions). He enters the game ranked 5th nationally in passing yards per game (346.7).
Plitt has a buffet of options to throw to. Redshirt Senior Riley Miller is the team leader in receiving yards (236), accompanied by 14 receptions and 2 touchdowns. Miller earned 2nd Team All-MAC last season. Redshirt Senior Antwan Davis leads the team with 3 touchdown receptions, and also has over 200+ yards receiving along with Miller (222). For perspective, Emeka Emezie leads NC State with 205 receiving yards, and Tabari Hines is next with 129 yards.
Junior Justin Hall leads Ball State with 16 receptions (162 yards), and earned All-MAC Third Team honors last year.
The Cardinals have 4 touchdown passes of 35+ yards in 2019. Last year they only had two such touchdowns all year.
They Will Steal the Ball from You
NC State’s offense has yet to turn the ball over in 2019. In comparison, Ball State’s defense has created 2 turnovers in each of their first three games, ranking 20th nationally. Their 4 interceptions are tied for 9th nationally. The Cardinals will look to be the first team to intercept Wolfpack Quarterback Matt McKay.
Senior Inside Linebacker Jacob White leads the team in tackles in 2019 (29), and is the active career leader on the roster. White had a gaudy 17 tackles last week against Florida Atlantic.
Redshirt Junior James Jennette leads the team with 4 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. He is a first year starter, but led the team with 6 tackles for loss off the bench last year.
Comparing the 2 Teams
NC State has the 6th Most Talented Team in the ACC According to 247 Composite
I recently stumbled across a feature over at 247Sports that I was unaware of called the “Team Talent Composite”. Baically, it’s purpose is to calculate the talent on the roster of each college football team.
For all of you math junkies, here’s the way they arrived at their calculations.
In order to create the most comprehensive Team Recruiting Ranking without any notion of bias, 247Sports Team Recruiting Ranking is solely based on the 247Sports Composite Rating.
Each recruit is weighted in the rankings according to a GAUSSIAN DISTRIBUTION FORMULA (a bell curve), where a team’s best recruit is worth the most points. You can think of a team’s point score as being the sum of ratings of all the team’s commits where the best recruit is worth 100% of his rating value, the second best recruit is worth nearly 100% of his rating value, down to the last recruit who is worth a small fraction of his rating value. This formula ensures that all commits contribute at least some value to the team’s score without heavily rewarding teams that have several more commitments than others. (247)
According to the 247 Team Talent Composite, NC State has the 6th most talented team in the ACC in 2019, and the 36th most talented team in the nation.
Now, some of you might be uber critical of recruiting rankings, and think they are hogwash. Look, I get it. They aren’t always right.
But let’s face the facts, 6 of the Top-10 most talented teams this year according to 247’s Team Talent Composite rankings are currently ranked in the Top-10 of this weeks AP Poll, and 8 of them are in the Top-13.
If you take a quick glance at the rankings above, one thing is clear. FSU should fire Willie Taggart and hire Dave Clawson.
The Team Talent Composite rankings go back to 2015, and Dave Doeren has been progressively increasing the level of talent on the roster at NC State.
Here’s a look at the talent on NC State’s roster according to how they were rated before they arrived on campus.
(NOTE: The 2nd highest rated player on the roster, Linebacker Vi Jones, is sitting out this year due to transfer rules (USC).)
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