*Public Service Announcement: We are talking about a FCS opponent and thus, everything needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Fully prepared for part of WPN to roll their eyes at us breaking down State vs Furman, get over it dudes…*
Back in the win column and onto Clemson and the ACC schedule. Here is what we saw…
1) Defense Could Really Have a Special Season
Do we understand that they’ve faced both Furman and USF? Yes. But there’s a lot to like about this defense that through three games, has given up 24 total points (and if we’re focusing on starters and not garbage time, 17). While we’d like to see more quarterback pressures and sacks, the collective group is getting the job done.
Through the first half of Saturday’s contest, Furman was only able to gain ONE first down with about 50 total yards. Drake Thomas was an absolute beast, Moore had multiple heads-up plays and the freshman, Devon Betty, showed future potential.
If, IF, this defense can go two more clicks up for Clemson, Wolfpack might have an advantage this Saturday. (Again, don’t freak out folks…USF, Furman, yada, yada…but remember Clemson isn’t lighting up opponent’s defenses like in years past)
2) Leary was Better, but not Great
To his credit, he was making better reads and decisions as the game went on. It was great seeing him look WR1, progress to WR2 and then dumped off to Person or Thomas short. Sure does help playing at home versus a FCS team, don’t it? That said, accuracy still isn’t perfect, let alone 90%. Not leading receivers on slants and the ball to Smith (although he scored a TD) was a few yards short. In both categories, against a much, much faster Clemson or ACC foe, those are trouble balls.
Lastly, to all those asking for Finley to play more…stop…This is Leary’s team, until injury or a massive drop-off.
3) Redzone Recovery
NC State blew off their own foot with a bazooka in the Miss State game when in the redzone. It was nice to see a positive change for once. With the starters in, the Wolfpack were 6-6 in the redzone with five of those possessions being touchdowns.
What we’re more excited about, was balance of attack once inside the 25. The pass and catch to Thomas was perfect. Leary scrabbling to find open space for a seven yard gallop was great. And we just let Person and Bam run the damn ball in, when inside the two…HALLELUJAH.
Could make the case that this will make or break State in the upcoming Clemson game. Tigers’ defense is stout and if State gets in striking distance, they NEED to capitalize. No sh*t jump passes. No end arounds or wide, parallel to line draws. Just get us points and make the throws/runs you need.
4) Team Energy
Could you feel it? State came ready to play from the get-go (ignore the Bam fumble, haha). Far too often, whether it be a Richmond or an Old Dominion, we let super small schools just kinda hang around. After what we saw last week? There were nerves from WPN that this game could be catastrophic.
Yet the team looked refocused, the energy was up all night, there seemed to be a “no more bs” stance on both sides of the ball.
5) Thank you, WPN
On a Saturday night in Raleigh, after fans spent a week stewing about what happened at Miss State…WPN showed up and showed out. 56K filling Carter-Finley with a flyover and fireworks, all to see the Wolfpack play FCS Furman. That is absolutely incredible.
Saturday afternoon is going to be ELECTRIC.
6) Looking Ahead
And here we go. Other than a visit from LA Tech, we’e officially into the ACC schedule. If there is one takeaway from this conference, nobody is standing out amongst the crowd. Not saying to get your hopes up or that we are declaring an ACC Championship appearance, but the ACC has never been this wide open. Hopefully the dreams can continue beyond just this next month or so. Regardless, this team has the skills and capabilities to perform at a top level. It’s just a matter of if coaching and in-game mindsets can keep up.