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.
Former NC State Offensive Lineman Justin Chase Transfers to ECU
Offensive Lineman Justin Chase announced he was transferring from NC State back on December 1st.
Now we know where he will be playing his final year of eligibility.
Chase is transferring to East Carolina as a Graduate Transfer.
— Justin Chase (@justinchase_73) April 11, 2020
Chase only saw action in the first two games of last season for the Wolfpack, playing 2 snaps against ECU, and 12 against Western Carolina. He was a 3-Star prospect in the Wolfpack’s 2016 recruiting class.
NC State’s Dave Doeren Buys Lunch for Rex Hospital Employees
Earlier this week, NC State head football coach Dave Doeren bought lunch for 100 employees at Rex Hospital in Raleigh.
The food bought was from Moe’s Southwest Grill.
Rex is where NC State sends their players if they need to go to the hospital.
Alan Wolf, media relations manager for Rex Healthcare, told Jonas Pope IV of the News & Observer how much Doeren’s generosity meant.
“It’s a stressful time to be at the hospital,” Wolf told the N&O on Tuesday. “These are folks on the front line of helping patients through this pandemic. To have an outpouring of support from people like coach Doeren and those in the community who have donated all sorts of food, lunches, meals, it’s been an amazing thing to see.”
“It’s thoughtful, it’s generous and it’s heartwarming,” Wolf said. “When you’re in the hospital for however long your shift is and all of a sudden there’s a boxed lunch that a football coach donated, it means the world.” (N&O)
2020 Vegas Odds: NC State Football Regular Season Wins: 4.5
After a rough 2019, in which NC State’s football team posted a 4-8 (1-7) record, every Wolfpack fan is looking for a glimmer of hope that 2020 will yield better results.
Vegas has released their odds for the 2020 college football season, and NC State is projected to win 4.5 regular season games, missing a bowl for the second straight year.
According to their projections, here’s how ACC football teams are projected to improve or worsen in 2020.
Boston College: -1
Georgia Tech: –
NC State: +0.5
Virginia Tech: –
Wake Forest: -1
NC State Ranks 4th in the ACC in Football Revenue
FootballScoop shared their research last week on the highest grossing college football teams, and NC State ranked 4th in the ACC.
1. Florida State — $69 million
2. Clemson — $61 million
3. Miami — $56 million
4. NC State — $46 million
5. Syracuse — $44 million (FootballScoop)
The dates of their research were from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019.
For some perspective, the ACC doesn’t have a school ranked in the Top-15 nationally.
Power 5 — Top 15
1. Texas — $156 million
2. Georgia — $123 million
3. Michigan — $122 million
4. Notre Dame — $116 million
5. Ohio State — $115 million
6. Penn State — $100 million
7. Auburn — $95 million
8. Oklahoma — $94.8 million
9. Alabama — $94.6 million
10. Nebraska — $94.3 million
11. LSU — $92 million
12. Tennessee — $91 million
13. Wisconsin — $90 million
14. Florida — $85 million
15. Washington — $84 million (FootballScoop)
Wake Forest is tied for the 2nd lowest Football Revenue out of all the Power 5 schools, and Boston College ranks 5th.