We done crying about how the 2021 season ended differently than we imagined?
It has become abundantly clear, that this State football program is in a better place than it’s been in decades. There were moments of special teams and players, but the resounding affirmation that this team is “one” has never been louder. Is the pressure about to go 50 notches high? Absolutely. But we are reaping benefits of days, upon weeks, upon years of work that this staff has put into this program.
State has a culture. It’s about winning and it’s about family.
We saw it in the weeks that followed the regular season. Players from offense and defense, not only saying that they’re returning, but doing so with words of passion and love for this team and WPN.
Durden was a transfer from Florida State. His reason for coming back? “His teammates and the Raleigh community.”
Moore felt like the job just wasn’t done and that he wanted to leave on his terms.
State’s brings back just about everyone from a top-20 ranked scoring defense and a top-30 ranked scoring offense. The talent is returning in droves.
State ranks in the bottom 8% of the country for transfer rates. That says something folks. It tells you that not only are people hungry to win, but they aren’t leaving until they do.
I’ve actually seen a few folks from rival ACC schools questioning the rankings of State’s class. How could we be celebrating a 52nd-ranked group of guys?
Because each one of these dudes are; 1) Built for State and 2) Ready for State.
This is the highest ranking per player class State has ever had. Whether it’s Allen joining the backfield on day one or the LB duo getting one-on-one time with a stud LB crew State already has. Every guy has speed, size and a willingness to get the job done. And frankly, they didn’t even have too much space to spare. They got their dozen guys and each fits PERFECTLY.
You listen to their parents and the players themselves, it’s different. Their answers went beyond the cliches of nearly every other school. In particular, I loved Torren Wright’s dad talk of this State staff. People don’t just throw around “genuine” and “never changed”. We have something special here, folks.
— NC State Football (@PackFootball) December 15, 2021
The future…is…well…the future. It’s still an unknown, but it’s bright and ready for the taking. ACC has had a whole lot of turnover and yet here State is, determined, focused and knowing EXACTLY who they are.
To Doeren, Gibson, Beck and this staff, thanks you and let’s do this thing.
NC State’s Highest & Lowest Graded Defensive Players vs. UVA
Here’s a look at which NC State Defensive players graded out the best and worst according to ProFootballFocus against UVA last night.
LB Payton Wilson – 83.4
DE Davin Vann – 74.7
S Bishop Fitzgerald – 73.7
DE Savion Jackson – 73.5
LB Caden Fordham – 63.1
DE Noah Potter – 45.7
CB Shyheim Battle – 48.0
LB Jaylon Scott – 55.2
DE Red Hibbler – 56.3
S Cecil Powell – 56.7
- Payton Wilson has now graded out at 80+ for 2 straight games, which he has never done in his career.
- He has been in the Top 5 in 3 of the first 4 games.
- He had the highest run defense grade: 90.4.
- He also had the highest grade in pass rush: 72.8.
- Davin Vann has been in the Top 5 in all 4 games in 2023.
- Bishop Fitzgerald has been in the Top 5 in 2 of the first 4 games.
- He had the highest grade in pass coverage: 77.5.
- Caden Fordham has been in the Top 5 in 2 of the first 4 games.
- Noah Potter has been in the Bottom 5 in 3 of the first 4 games.
- It’s his 2nd time posting the worst grade.
- Shyheim Battle has been in the Bottom 5 in 2 of the first 4 games.
- He did have the highest tackling grade: 81.1.
- Jaylon Scott has been in the Bottom 5 in 2 of the first 4 games.
- Red Hibbler has been in the Bottom 5 in 2 of the first 4 games.
- Safety Sean Brown had the lowest grader in coverage: 41.9.
- Noah Potter, Davin Vann and CJ Clark had the worst tackling grades: 18.4, 23.1, 26.3.
NC State’s Highest & Lowest Graded Offensive Players vs. UVA
Here’s a look at which NC State Offensive players graded out the best and worst according to ProFootballFocus against UVA last night.
IWR Kevin Concepcion – 80.9 – career high
QB Brennan Armstrong – 72.3
C Lyndon Cooper – 66.0
LT Anthony Belton – 64.6
WR Bradley Rozner – 63.9
IWR Juice Vereen – 41.7 – career low
WR Keyon Lesane – 53.1
WR Julian Gray – 54.2 – 2nd lowest of career
TE Trent Pennix – 54.5
RB Michael Allen – 56.0
- Concepcion caught 6 passes for 116 yards and 2 touchdowns, and was targeted a team high 10 times.
- Brennan Armstrong has graded out in the Top-5 in 3 of the first 4 games.
- He posted a rushing grade of 77.5, which was tops on the team, and his best since Week 9 of the 2021 season.
- Juice Vereen has been the lowest graded player on the team two weeks in a row.
- Anthony Belton has been in the Top-5 in 3 of the first 4 games.
- Julian Gray has been in the Bottom 5 in 2 of the firsts 4 games.
- Anthony Belton had the highest pass block grade: 83.7.
- RB Michael Allen has to improve at pass protection. His pass protection grade was 31.6.
- Give Julian Gray credit…he had the highest run blocking grade on the team in 22 snaps: 74.3
Dave Doeren’s Postgame Press Conference After UVA Win: BULLETED
NC State head coach Dave Doeren met with the media for his postgame press conference after the Wolfpack defeated the Virginia Cavaliers 24-21 tonight. Here’s a bulleted breakdown of what he had to say.
- Very proud of Place Kicker Brayden Narveson for making that kick. Especially in the rain, after the first one was blocked, even though it was a penalty.
- Really good return by Julian Gray to set that up.
- ACC wins are hard to come by. Winning on the road isn’t easy. You’ve got to give UVA credit.
- Their QB [Anthony Colandrea] is going to be a really good football player in this league.
- Their receivers, Malik Washington and Malachi Fields, are really good players.
- We’ve got to play better in certain areas, but we found a way to win a game on the road.
- I don’t think there’s a problem in pass protection, if that’s what you’re asking.
- We felt like with our kicker, we needed to get the ball to the 35-yard line on the final drive.
- Because of the penalty and the return, we only needed 15 yards to do that. The first play got us in field goal range, so after that, we were going to be pretty smart with the ball.
- Brayden made a 60-yarder going that direction in pregame, so we felt like we were in a pretty good spot right there.
- 3rd down defense for both teams was solid. They were only 5 of 14, and we were only 6 of 14.
- Our short yardage defense was exceptional tonight.
- Where we really struggled was on 3rd-and-long in the red zone, which is kind of weird, because that’s an area you expect on defense to be good for us.
- The run game has been inconsistent up to this point. We’ve got to narrow some things down. We’ve tried a lot of things, and I think it’s time to narrow down the play book a little bit, instead of doing so many things.
- This offense has a lot of parts to it, and that are a lot of new pieces in it.
- KC Concepcion is really hard to cover man-to-man. Both of his touchdowns were in man-to-man coverage. He’s playing fast. He’s playing well. He’s hard to bring down after the catch as well. There’s a reason his numbers are what they are for a True Freshman. He’s very talented.
- I think Brennan Armstrong settled in. The first quarter, the wind was behind us. He had a lot of energy. He overthrew a few guys. As he settled in, he started playing better. The guys did a nice job catching the ball for him tonight.
- Caden Noonkester was tremendous tonight. His leg was a weapon.
- Too many punts…8 punts…he’s punting too much.
- To win on the road you have to win the turnover margin and in field position, and our punter was phenomenal.
- A bunch of guys had to play…there were injuries.
- 2nd play of the game starting Strong Safety Devan Boykin goes down. All week in practice, Cecil Powell was our backup Strong Safety…Cecil went in the game and got hurt. Both Strong Safety’s were hurt in the first quarter.
- Bishop Fitzgerald moves from Free Safety to Strong Safety, where he didn’t take a snap in practice all week.
- Linebacker Devon Betty wasn’t at practice all week, because him and his fiancé had a baby…he missed all practices this week.
- On offense, we lost a Running Back [Jordan Houston] on the 2nd to last day of the week. Then we get out there, and Kendrick Raphael gets hurt.
- People want to b&%$# at play calling, and this-that-and-the-other, but there’s other stuff going on man. We found a way to win on the road in the rain, against an inspired football team, s$#@, be happy we won. It’s a good win. I’m excited to go home 3-1, and get ready to play Louisville.
- Linebacker Payton Wilson is awesome every night.
- Is there a game he’s played in the past three years, where people weren’t saying ‘We love watching #11 play football.’
- He plays to exhaustion. He’s the heartbeat of our football team. Can’t say enough about him.
NC State 24 UVA 21: INITIAL THOUGHTS
The Wolfpack defeated the Cavaliers to kickoff their ACC slate tonight, winning 24-21 with a field goal as time expired. Here are some initial thoughts.
For starters, a win is a win. NC State improved to 3-1, and they are now 1-0, picking up a road win in ACC play.
True Freshman Receiver KC Concepcion had the best game of his young career, catching 6 passes (10 targets) for 116 yards with 2 touchdowns.
The Linebacker tandem of Payton Wilson and Caden Fordham filled the box score. Wilson finished with 13 tackles, 0.5 sack and a QB Hurry. Fordham had 12 tackles 1 tackle for loss and 1 QB Hurry.
Punter Caden Noonkester had himself a heck of a day, punting the ball 6 times for an average of 50 yards, with the longest one traveling 67 yards.
NC State won the turnover margin battle, intercepting two passes (Sean Brown & Aydan White), compared to Virginia’s one.
Julian Gray’s proved that he can change a game with his kick returning abilities for the second straight week. With 44 seconds left on the clock, Gray returned a kickoff 35 yards to UVA’s 48-yard line, putting the Wolfpack in the position they needed to work their way into field goal range.
NC State was fortunate to get a penalty on UVA’s QB for taking off his helmet after converting on the 2-point conversion. Without that penalty, Gray might not have the same opportunity to return the ball into UVA territory.
Place Kicker Brayden Narveson hit a walk-off game-winning 33-yard field goal, in the rain, on the road, with time expiring.
Delbert Mimms III picked up his 4th rushing touchdown of the season.
UVA had more total yards than NC State (384/319).
The Cavaliers won the time of possession battle (32:34/27:26).
Brennan Armstrong did not look sharp or accurate on many of his passes. His completion percentage was a very mediocre 50%. He led NC State in rush attempts (15) and rushing yards (64), which might seem cool, but on quite a few of those runs, there were open receivers down the field.
The Wolfpack secondary was torched by UVA Wide Receiver Malik Washington, catching 10 passes for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Michael Allen didn’t shine in his opportunity to start at Running Back after the exodus of Jordan Houston this week, gaining only 36 yards on 10 carries.
The Wolfpack defense gave up 6 receptions of 15+ yards, and 4 rushes of 10+ yards.