NC State won. I am happy. But this isn’t exactly what I wanted, however, it’s deep down what I expected.
NC State, coming in with a whole pre-season of hype and a national ranking of #13, wasn’t going to come in and dominate at ECU. At least that’s not what history said was going to happen. NC State, as a school in general, has a stigma attached to it. They’ll be at their worst when they’re ranked the best.
But that’s not a real thing, right? That’s just a myth, no?
Well, whatever it is, and whether it’s real or not, it’s obviously something that has seeped into the psyche of the guys in the locker room at NC State. It doesn’t seem to matter what sport. It doesn’t seem to matter who is on the staff. It just seems to be something that plagues the major athletic programs of this school.
But I swore it wasn’t going to happen this year. This team was too good to have an opening game lapse. They have a veteran team and a QB who’s been through the gauntlet. They have a defense full of future pros. They’ll blow ECU out of the water, which will catapult them into what will be one of the most successful seasons in program history.
But here I sit, just an hour after the game has ended, dealing with reality.
I’m so happy State won. There were a few minutes there where I was sure the worst-case scenario had come true. But man, this wasn’t exactly the way you wanted to start the season, even if the outcome was a win.
With that said let’s talk about what I loved and what I hated from this roller coaster of a win for NC State.
Demi Sumo is legit – One of my biggest questions coming into the season was the running game. I knew Leary’s success was going to be closely tied with how successful NC State was going to be on the ground. And while I love Jordan Houston, I don’t think he’s the style of back that you can lean on as a workhorse. They needed a grind-it-out, physical back to compliment Houston. Today, we were assured that player exists on this roster. Demi Sumo looked great. He has some amazing runs, great yards after contact, and just looked like a guy that is going to break out this season. He finished with 79 yards on 14 carries and 1 TD. And while he wasn’t able to get in on 4 tries at the goal line in a big situation down the stretch, I think Sumo is going to be huge for the pack going forward (pun intended).
The Wolfpack Defense and Special Teams came up big – The NC State front line was consistent and great all day. They only allowed 59 yards on 21 carries to ECU’s running backs. The secondary could have been better, but they did come up with two big INTs. Meanwhile, Special Teams was great again, coming up with a blocked punt/touchdown. ECU’s offense isn’t all that bad, and they have some big-time weapons that NC State kept in check.
Thank you to ECU’s kicker, Owen Daffer– Not trying to kick a man when he’s down, but NC State doesn’t win this game if Daffer does his job. Thank goodness he didn’t. Daffer missed a PAT that would have tied the game, and a FG that would have won it. You gotta feel for the kid, especially in a small college town that passionate about football. But this is football, baby. You sign up for this when you sign up to play competitive sports at this level.
The Play Calling – Maybe you’ll disagree. I don’t know. But this is what I feared the most. NC State would come out with a conservative game plan on offense, and fall into a trance that would have them sleepwalking through the entire game. That’s kind of what happened offensively. NC State was predictable and ‘safe’ all game long. This is Leary’s year, man. Let the kid go back there and rip it. Empty that backfield, and let’s put up some points. Instead, it was the opposite. Leary was basically a glorified game manager in this one. There was almost no misdirection, no creativity, and no excitement from Beck. Heck, I saw more offense in the last 2 minutes of the UNC/App State game that came on after this game, then I saw in the whole time from the Pack.
And don’t pin this take on me, there was a lot of conversation about this on Twitter, the most notable coming from NY Post contributor, Thomas Casale.
I hope we don’t see worse play calling all season than what we just saw from NC State.
I could have drawn up better plays in the dirt.
— Thomas Casale (@TheTomCasale) September 3, 2022
It just seems like the pressure is always on Leary to make a play. Most of his throws are coming on 2nd or 3rd and long. It would be nice to see them just put the ball in his hands a little more, open it up and see what’s possible with this offense.
I also think the goal-line calls were awful and that stands out the most. A run up the middle with Houston (fumble) and then 4 straight with Demi Sumo (stopped). No QB sneaks, no putting the ball in your Heisman candidate’s hands to make a play. This is just my opinion here, but NC State isn’t going to reach its potential until they take the reigns off their offense. And I know it’s week 1, so maybe this gets better, but this isn’t new. This is something we’ve seen for a few years now that I’ve been concerned about. Playing not to lose instead of playing to win on offense.
Devin Leary’s performance
I won’t say I hated Leary’s performance, but it wasn’t a good look for game 1 from a kid who wants to be in the Heismann conversation. ECU’s defense did a good job against him, but ECU’s defense shouldn’t slow down a guy of Leary’s caliber. His 211 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT performance (17/33) wasn’t what I was hoping for and part of it was his fault, but part of it I hit on above (the play-calling). I don’t really think the staff put Leary in a position to succeed in this game, and maybe that won’t be a popular take, but it’s that’s how I saw it.
The NC State WRs (beside Thayer)
Thayer Thomas aside, I was hoping to see more from this group. I wanted to see someone like Julian Gray, Keyone Lesane or Anthony Smith step up. Instead it was just Thomas who really stood out. No other receiver had more than 2 catches and the guy Leary hopes becomes his major deep threat, Devin Carter, dropped another catchable ball (that would have been a TD). This might be the reason for Leary’s performance, or maybe Leary’s performance was the reason for the lack of WR production. Who knows, either way, it’s got to get better in the next couple of weeks.
Don’t get me wrong. I am ecstatic that NC State came away with a win. I’m so thankful the season is still intact, and I hope this was an aberration, a game that we’ll look back on and laugh at. But I think the reality is that this squad has some work to do, and some growing to do before we see them at their final form. I think there will need to be adjustments made by the players and some by the coaches as the season progresses. I think NC State fans, myself included, thought this team would hit the ground running. They didn’t, but at the end of the day, it’s a win and that’s all that matters.
Wolferetti: It’s time to see what Delbert Mimms can do at RB
Delbert Mimms only totaled 3 carries against Florida State on Saturday, but with NC State down 1, with just over 9 minutes to play and facing a 2nd and 4, he showed Wolfpack nation what he’s capable of. Mimms broke off a 14-yard run, and put them into FG range, which helped them knock through what ended up being the game-winner.
The sophomore RB stands at 5’11 and weighs in at 215lbs. He’s NC State’s biggest back, yet he really has been stuck behind Jordan Houston and Demie Sumo for most of the season despite averaging 4.7 YPC.
Now, I get it, you have an experienced Houston who runs extremely hard, but so far this season he hasn’t been able to really break out. He’s averaging 4.1 YPC on the year. Meanwhile, Sumo has kind of had most of the hype, and deservedly so. He’s leading the team in rushing with 299 yards and 3 TDs (the only 3 TDs all season on the ground by NC State RBs). However, if he plays vs. Syracuse this Saturday he’ll likely be a bit banged up (He went out of the FSU game with an injury.)
That said, Sumo really struggled versus Clemson, the first real stout defense the Pack has faced this season, carrying the ball 5 times for just 10 yards. Against FSU he was a bit better, carrying it 8 times for 37 yards, but still not really allowing NC State to rely on the run and pound it down the defense’s throat like Dave Doeren would like to do.
So where does NC State go from here?
Well, I believe it’s time to give Delbert Mimms a true look. If you remember, he was my ‘sleeper pick’ in our preseason prediction piece.
Mimms isn’t some home run hitter. He isn’t a guy that’s going to break off 70-yard runs, but Dave Doeren isn’t looking for a guy like that. He’s looking for a ball-control bruiser. A guy that sees a hole and hits that hole with authority. He’s a guy who is going to give you great yards after contact and can help sustain drives.
Demie Sumo may very well be that guy for NC State as the season goes on, but Sumo is a very patient runner. If you watch his footwork, he likes to let the line set up their blocks before he picks his hole. If NC State’s offensive line was a little better, I wouldn’t be writing this piece because I think Sumo would be solving a lot of the Pack’s problems himself. However, the line hasn’t been that great setting up the run. The holes, when they’re there, don’t stay open long enough for a back like Sumo to reach his full potential. Because of that, I think they need a guy like Mimms. The sophomore doesn’t dance, he gets to that first level fast and is able to shed arm tackles because of his size and downhill running style.
Now, I think Houston does these things as well. He doesn’t dance and he hits the hole hard, but he hasn’t been as great at shedding those arm tackles without being slowed up. This is why I think with this team, at this point, it’s time to start working Mimms in.
I know the Sumo faithful won’t like this take, and I’m not saying Mimms needs to be NC State’s featured back, but Mimms passes my eye test. When NC State is taking on a faster defense, I think the move is to not try to beat them with speed or with patience, NC State will lose that battle. I think your best bet on the ground is to beat them with a leg-churning bruiser.
We’ll see how it plays out going forward, but I saw something in the preseason and I saw that same thing this weekend when Mimms took 3 carries for 21 yards. He’s got value for Dave Doeren, and with the offense sputtering as of late, I think it’s time to see what he can do.
LOVED IT, HATED IT : From NC State’s letdown in Death Valley
Welp, that was a let down. After circling this game and waiting a full off-season for it, it’s over and it didn’t end the way we wanted it to. And honestly, I’ve got mixed emotions about it.
The realist in me says I should be happy we played it close, and we still can have an elite-level season. But the real me is pissed at a few things and knows we could have won this one.
I’ll get into the specifics in this week’s ‘Loved it, Hated it.’
Wolfpack D came to play– All I heard for the first 4 weeks was Will Shipley this and Will Shiply that. Clemson’s version of Christian McCaffrey was supposed to cause all kinds of havoc for the Wolfpack in this game. Instead, Shipley turned in his worst game of the season, rushing 14 times for just 60 yards. The Pack’s defense was great, especially against Shipley. They were going to force DJ Uiagelelei to beat them, and he did (sort of). Uiagelelei threw for 209 yards and a touchdown, but the real damage he did was with his legs. He ran 14 times for 73 yards and 2 TDs. NC State’s secondary wasn’t bad either, and if it weren’t for Uiagelelei taking matters into his own hands, the Pack wins this one. The NC State defense came to play, they were dealing out some big hits and they were swarming to the ball. I loved it.
The Leary to Thomas connection – Devin Leary didn’t have a great night, but I’m not letting him take all the blame for that. When Leary had time, he was good. He threw some amazing balls in this one, threading the needle multiple times to Thayer Thomas. But it shouldn’t be this hard. For one, the NC State run game was nowhere to be found (we’ll get into that later), so Clemson’s D was able to sit back. Meanwhile, when Leary threw it, his receivers weren’t creating much separation, nor were they coming down with tough catches (most of the time). Clemson really needed to just focus on covering Thomas, and while they tried, they failed. Despite all of this, Leary connected with Thayer Thomas 9 times for 84 yards.
Christopher Dunn’s revenge– Yes, I’m using my last “Loving it” on the kicker. One reason is, there isn’t anything else I really LOVED, and two, Dunn had a horrific game last year vs Clemson. In this one he was 4 for 4 on the night. 2 extra points and 2 FG’s, the longest being a 49 yarder. Dunn was kicking in the biggest game in NC State history and trying to exorcize some demons of his own. Him being perfect on the night took a lot of focus and a lot of confidence.
The Play Calling – You had a full off-season to gameplan this one. You had 4 weeks of watching your opponent. And somehow Clemson was sitting on every running play and every screen you called. This was a real buzz-kill for me. I wanted to see the Pack get a little creative and show some wrinkles we hadn’t seen. I mean, it is the biggest game your program has ever had, right? Let’s throw it all at them, no?
Instead, we got more conservative play calling. Wake Forest had just brutalized Clemson’s depleted secondary a week before, so you’d have thought Leary was going to be trigger-happy throwing the ball downfield. Welp, it didn’t happen. State took a few shots downfield but didn’t really put enough pressure on Clemson in my opinion.
If you want to find that is extremely frustrating about this team, it’s with the offensive play calling. It’s obvious Dave is a defense-first coach. The offense plays like they are trying to just manage the game and not make mistakes while leaning on the defense. This works most of the time in the ACC, but if you want to get to that next level and really be competition for Clemson, you have to get a more aggressive approach on offense, especially when you have a talent like Leary behind center.
The Ground Game- This was the fear all off-season. NC State had proven vets at nearly every position, except running back. Jordan Houston isn’t bad and Demi Sumo had a lot of hype around him, but when you face a Top-10 defense, can these guys produce? Houston actually ran hard, hit holes fast, and did what he could. And while a lot of pundits are going to say NC State couldn’t get anything going on the ground, Jordan Houston actually ran 7 times for 32 yards. That’s good for 4.6 YPC. Now, his longest run was just 6 yards, but he only got 7 chances. Meanwhile, Sumo couldn’t get anything going. He ran 5 times for 10 yards (2 YPC). He was slow to the holes and was a little too indecisive against a defense this good.
The truth is, NC State’s RBs just didn’t scare Clemson at all. They were giving them no respect and they didn’t get burned for it. The inability to move the chains on the ground put it all on Leary to make plays, and while he did what he could, it wasn’t ever going to be enough.
Questionable Reffing– There weren’t that many bad calls, but the bad calls were REALLY bad and ended up really hurting the Pack. First off, NC State did themselves no favors with a ‘running into the kicker penalty that gave Clemson a new set of downs. But they were about to get the ball back with no harm done…until this happened (excuse the tweet language, not our account)
Dogshit flag pic.twitter.com/wbdy8Npn47
— Quigs (@BigSeanQ_) October 2, 2022
That’s not pass intereference. That’s nearly perfect defense. That led to 3 points, giving Clemson a 6-3 lead.
Then there was the Will Shipley
THAT BALL IS OUT BY A MILE pic.twitter.com/9diASqt9my
— Barstool Pack (@BarstoolPack) October 2, 2022
Now, that ball is not “out by a mile” like the tweet suggests, but this was a TD call that was reviewed and reversed, putting the ball back on the 1. But wait, did the refs just refuse to look at whether or not this ball was fumbled? Slow it all the way down and follow Shipley’s hands. It appears the ball is loose a split second before his left knee hits the ground. If this is ruled a fumble, NC State takes over, instead of the eventual TD that Clemson scored, giving them a 10-6 lead.
So, NC State loses by 10 and there are 10 questionable points on the board. Not going to blame the refs here, because the fumble was a close play and because NC State did themselves no favors, but without a doubt, as a State fan, I did hate these calls.
Wolferetti: Chancellor Woodson was the highest paid in 2021, making some happy and some mad
A couple of days ago I read a pretty interesting piece by NC State’s on-campus newspaper ‘The Technician.’ I’m not really sure what the public response is going to be on this, but it’s been on my mind and I figured it would be a good conversation starter.
Chancellor Randy Woodson’s salary was around $2.3 million in 2021 according to the Technician. He also brought in a $1.7 million bonus, making him the highest paid president of a public university.
Now, according to the piece, “Woodson donated $1.5 million back to the school in the form of a scholarship fund for dependents of University employees, $100k to extraordinary student opportunity fund and addition donations to other univerisy programs, including the ‘student emergency fund.”
The rest of the piece dives into the donations and how needed they were, and then talks about where his bonus money came from (which was 100% from The Board of Trustees raising money. Meaning no state funds were used.) So, this is all awesome right? A positive piece of news about NC State’s leader?
Well, I guess not everyone read it that way.
The reason I’m taking a deeper look at this article is because I’ve now been sent it twice by friends of mine. Both of whom seemed to have a negative response to Woodson getting paid so much. However, after reading it, I was wondering why they both were stuck on that point, instead of focusing on the $1.5 million he donated back to the school. I thought the piece really focused on that and that the likely response would be “Man, what a good person Chancellor Woodson is.”
I guess after reading it from their perspective, I’d want to know a little more about what makes NC State so unique that it warrants paying the nation’s highest price to it’s president. Are there some extraordinary circumstances that other universities don’t face? Size-wise, NC State is surely nowhere near the largest public university, so that can’t be what it’s about. These points aren’t discussed, but I believe would be beneficial to keep PR on the positive side as news like this starts to be reported.
I also wondered about the bonus. If Woodson is just going to donate it, then why is the Board of Trustees not fundraising specifically for those programs? I’m sure it’s easier to sell donors on funding scholarships than funding Chancellor bonuses, right?
The Technician piece leaves it pretty open-ended and that is 100% fine. The conclusion I came to was different than my friend’s, but when reading it from their lens, I understand their take.
On one hand they don’t really criticize or question Woodson’s salary in this piece and instead focus on the donation aspect. But on the other hand, the main image is an abstract version of Woodson, with money symbols in his eyes and a Scrooge McDuck pile of cash behind him…Leaving me really wondering how people are going to react to this? Is this a net positive for Woodson, or does this piece not go in-depth enough on the questions people may have, creating skepticism from some fans?
I honestly don’t know. But I’m always interested in how stories are presented and how that affects the subconscious of their readers.
If you’re an ‘ends over means’ person, then look, NC State scholarships just got a $1.5 million bump from a guy who didn’t HAVE to give it. If you’re an optimist who wants to see the good in the world, then Woodson is helping his university.
But if you’re already sour about rising tuitions for your kids attending State, still have a bunch of student loans from 10 years ago, and are feeling a little pinched on money these days, then seeing your Chancellor rake in $2.3 million per year with a $1.7 million bonus and be the highest paid in the nation, might make you frustrated.
Either way, I get your point.
Personally, I’ve always been a fan of Woodson and I think he’s had a tough go of it over the past 5 years. Between trying to navigate society’s equality debates and COVID, not many of us would want the stress that goes along with running a publicly funded University these days. So take that into account. Maybe that salary is worth it? Or maybe not.
All I know is that NC State hasn’t had many PR nightmares (unlike our neighbors in Chapel Hill) and they seem to be in a good place with athletics (if Basketball can get out of this rut). Maybe $4 million the going rate for that.
I guess that’s the debate.
Wolferetti: Who is benefitting most from these NIL jersey sales? The players or the 3rd parties?
WRAL investigative journalist (yes, those still exist), Brian Murphy, wrote a really great piece for WRALSportsfan.com a few days ago.
In this piece, Murphy investigates the deals signed to have players make money off of their jersey sales, and I found it interesting. I figured you might too.
First off, let’s take a step back and realize how we got here.
The NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) laws pass prior to this season and most college sports fans either agreed with the rulings or understood the argument for them. Universities are making a killing off of college athletics, and the players aren’t seeing a dime. To be fair, they are getting a free education, however, while tuition rates are rising, they aren’t keeping up with the influx of profits that major college programs have seen thanks to these new TV/Streaming deals that have been getting signed (ie. ACC/ESPN’s deal worth $1.86 BILLION over 12 years.)
So most fans were fine with players getting a cut. However, as these rules were passed, I don’t think there was enough scrutiny on how they were structured.
For instance, they insisted that schools could not directly pay players. Which on its face, seems smart, as schools and conferences argued that it would create corruption and have schools bidding for players.
What is legal, however, is 3rd party companies (which could be companies of boosters) can pay unlimited funds to a player for ‘their services.’ And sometimes those services don’t seem to match the compensation.
Here’s one example: QB Jadan Rashada was paid a reported $9.5 million for an NIL contract associated with Miami University (note the use of associated). Sure, Rashada wasn’t paid BY Miami Univeristy. That would be illegal. However, he is being paid by a company/booster whose deal almost certainly had a stipulation that he attend Miami. And what does he have to do for the $9.5 million? It’s not fully disclosed, but by the looks of it, he’ll be doing social media ads, appearances, autograph sessions, and some marketing.
For reference, note that Tom Brady, who is arguably the best quarterback in the history of the NFL previously held a deal with Under Armor that paid him around $10 million per year.
The point is, while the schools aren’t ‘paying players to attend their schools, a lot of times someone is (but in a roundabout way). And we’re supposed to pretend that the schools/coaches don’t really have a say in this? What if a company offers a huge NIL deal to a recruit that the coach doesn’t want? How are companies targeting un-committed recruits with these NIL deals? So, we’re being asked to pretend that these major NIL deals are happening without input from the coaches or the schools? Hmm. Hard for me to believe, but it’s possible.
Either way, it is convenient for the schools, no doubt, since they aren’t on the hook for the accusations of ‘buying players.’ But it’s even more convenient that they can’t pay players because it shields players from cutting into the REAL place that name and likeness are being exploited for HUGE money, and that’s in these cash cow TV deals (which, to be fair, were signed prior to NIL ruels).
Ok. That was both a little backstory and a little ranting. But hey, this is my opinion column and that is my opinion.
But anyways, back to the jersey sales.
The way they are doing this is that players are signing licensing agreements with a 3rd party licensing company to have their names and numbers listed on the product page for a custom team jersey.
Here is what the product page looks like.
Now, before we get into NC State’s deal. Let’s see what Murphy said about UNC’s deal, which has a little more transparency in the numbers.
UNC players sign with a 3rd party company called OneTeam, which deals with NIL licensing.
“The players will receive some money, likely around $4, from each jersey sold with their name and number.” writes Murphy. He goes on to explain…
“UNC is charging Fanatics a 12% royalty fee for use of its trademarks and logos. That portion is split evenly between the university and athlete. The 12% comes from the wholesale price, not the retail figure. And of that 12%, OneTeam keeps 30%. On its website, it calls that figure customary “on the professional side” and says its for services such as managing the group licensing program, negotiating licensing deals, managing NIL approvals and protecting athlete NIL.
So if Fanatics has a wholesale price of $100 for a UNC jersey, the school’s royalty fee is $12. Of that $12, One Team collects $3.60, and $8.40 is left to be split evenly between the player and the school.”
So, let me try to do some math here.
If you buy a UNC jersey online, it’s going to cost you $130 + tax & shipping. Off the top, UNC gets 12%, and Fanatics (the company selling and shipping it) and the apparel company (Nike, Adidas) get the rest? It appears so.
After UNC takes their 12% cut, OneTeam jumps in and scoops up 30% for themselves and takes half of the rest for the players, which ends up being $4.20 for the player.
Note that OneTeam is paying the players, not the university, per the NIL rules.
Meanwhile, at NC State, the players signed a licensing agreement with The Brandr Group (which like OneTeam, deals with NIL licensing). However, NC State wouldn’t comment on the deal’s financial breakdown, telling Murphy “NC State is not and cannot be a party to the licensing agreements between our players and The Brandr Group, so I am uncertain of the financial terms on this item.”
Brandr’s president and founder, Wesley Haynes, did say this:
“Proceeds of co-branded jerseys sold with the NIL of student-athletes who have opted into our group licensing agreement is roughly $10 to $12 a jersey for the student-athletes. This approximate payment of 10 percent of the final invoice price is aligned with existing industry standard best practices, and it represents the baseline for negotiations for our jersey programs.”
Ok, so NC State players seem to be getting a better deal, but we don’t know what Brandr takes.
That said, just look at all the hands in this pot.
– Fanatics gets a cut
– Surely Adidas/Nike gets a cut
– Brandr / OneTeam gets a cut
– The player gets a cut
– The school gets a cut
Pretty complicated situation, if you ask me.
If the schools could pay the players then you’d be able to cut out Fanatics and Brandr/One Team, leaving more money for the school and the players. Which would be good for both, right?
Well, the schools/conferences aren’t going to fight that fight, because if they are able to pay the players directly, then that’s going to open discussion about the players getting a chunk of the TV deal money, and you can bet your bottom dollar, that’s what they are going to work the hardest to protect.
But what’s the alternative? Allow the schools to pay the players? Then the richest teams would just pay kids the most money, no?
Well, and I’m just spitballing here, what if they came together and created a luxury tax, sort of like how Major League Baseball does it? Schools can pay players, and offer NIL deals, but have a soft cap.
If they go over that soft cap, then they are taxed at a huge rate on what they went over. That tax funds the smaller teams that can’t afford these huge NIL deals.
It seems to have worked in baseball. Over the past 10 years, the Royals have made the World Series twice and the Tampa Bay Rays have made it once. Those are some of the smallest payroll teams in baseball.
Either way, a lot has to be worked out. NIL is opening a lot of doors for players, and I applaud that. These kids deserve a cut.
However, the structure of NIL seems overcomplicated and allows for a lot of greedy hands to get into the pot. But with the rules, as they are, I don’t see another way. However, I’d love to see the schools and the players figure out a way to get those rules changed and to do most of this themselves, without having to get so many 3rd parties involved…
Because at the end of the day, with them involved they need enough money to go around and you know who is going to bear the brunt of that. You and me. That’s why a UNC or NC State Jersey is $130, but I could grab a Patrick Maholms jersey for $100.
That said, I just picked up a Leary jersey yesterday for $130. Don’t tell my wife.