The Brennan Armstrong experiment needs to be over.
I get why the coaching staff brought in Armstrong as a Graduate Transfer. NC State was entering their 1st season in a new offensive system under new Offensive Coordinator Robert Anae. The combination of Armstrong and Anae at UVA created one of the best offensive seasons in ACC history in 2021. Sure, Armstrong wasn’t great last year for Virginia, but maybe that was simply because Anae left for Syracuse, and he was learning a new system.
M.J. Morris came in last season, and grabbed the heart of Wolfpack nation, and rightfully so. His passing efficiency rating was an impressive 148.3. He threw 7 touchdowns, and only 1 interception. The hype was high, but the talent was also obvious. With that being said, Morris played in 5 games last year, and only started 2. Entering 2023, Morris was coming off of a knee injury. In 2022, he was playing as a True Freshman, and in 2023 he would be learning a new offensive scheme. Morris seemingly accepted the fact that Armstrong was named the starter in the Spring, choosing to not enter his name in the Transfer Portal. In fact, Morris doubled down in the preseason on his desire to be one of the greats to play the Quarterback position at NC State.
Obviously, the plan has been to redshirt Morris in 2023. It wasn’t Morris who was brought in for mop up duty against VMI. Doeren expressed after the game that Morris didn’t need mop up duty reps, and doubled down on the fact that the plan was to redshirt Morris.
After last night’s offensive debacle, we have five games of data and film to examine how the Brennan Armstrong experiment is going, and…well…it’s not going well. It appears that last year wasn’t a fluke. Armstrong ranked 2nd-to-last in Passing Efficiency Rating in the ACC in 2022 (108.3). We didn’t know which version of Armstrong we were going to get in ’23. Would it be the 2021 version, or the 2022 version? Well, it looks like we got the 2022 version. Truthfully, Armstrong’s Passing Efficiency Rating is higher this year than last year (currently 112.5), but his current numbers are inflated by an easy VMI performance.
This article isn’t an overreaction to last nights performance. The concerns have been there since the season opener against UCONN. Through 5 games, Armstrong doesn’t look like an ACC Quarterback. His arm hasn’t proven to be accurate, but his decision making gives me the greatest pause. I knew there would be risks of more interceptions with Armstrong at Quarterback in an offense run by Anae that was supposed to push the ball down the field. This offense hasn’t pushed the ball down the field, and most of Armstrong’s interceptions or “could have been interceptions” haven’t been trying to thread the needle attempting to create explosive plays. They’ve seemingly been elementary and mind numbing mistakes.
At this point, the coaching staff finds themselves in a precarious position. The hope was to redshirt Morris, but with Armstrong at Quarterback, I’m not confident in another W on the schedule. Carter-Finley Stadium on numerous occasions throughout the game last night chanted in unison the name “MJ Morris” or “Put in Morris.”
Now, to be completely honest, and completely fair to Armstrong, the offensive problems don’t all fall on his shoulders by any means. The offensive line wouldn’t all of a sudden become better simply because Morris was behind center.
With that being said, through the five games we saw of Morris last year, and the five games we’ve seen of Armstrong this year, there is no question in my mind who the better Quarterback is. There is no question which one gives you a better chance of winning. If they were to put in Morris, would I feel slightly bad for him, knowing that the “redshirt” was wasted? Sure. But at the end of the day, NC State needs to try to win games, and I bet Morris would love to help them do that.
Every single home game is sold out. The fans deserve to see the coaching staff to do whatever they can do to put a winning product on the field, and I can’t see a scenario where that includes Brennan Armstrong any longer.
NC State LB Payton Wilson Wins the Bednarik Award!
NC State’s Payton Wilson won the Butkus Award earlier this week, naming him the best Linebacker in college football. Tonight he won the Bednarik Award, which has been given out annually to the best defensive player in college football since 1995.
Wilson beat out Alabama Linebacker Dallas Turner and UCLA’s Defensive End Laiatu Latu.
Prior to this week, no NC State Linebacker had ever won the Butkus Award. Prior to tonight, no NC State defensive player had ever won the Bednarik Award.
Below is a list of the former Bednarik Award winners.
In one week, Wilson has done what no other Linebacker of defensive player at NC State has ever done.
Go ahead and retire the #11 already!
Wake Forest Transfer WR Welsey Grimes Commits to NC State!
NC State just picked up their first transfer of the 2024 class, and it’s a big one. Former Wake Forest Wide Receiver Wesley Grimes (6’2″/187) just committed to run with the Wolfpack.
As a Sophomore this season, Grimes caught 20 passes for 339 yards and 4 touchdowns in 12 games. As a True Freshman last year, he played in his 6 games, collecting 4 receptions for 33 yards and a touchdown.
In all reality, Grimes is coming home. He was a 4-Star prospect out of Millbrook High School here in Raleigh. ON3, 247Sports and Rivals all ranked Grimes as a Top-250 prospect in the 2022 recruiting class, with Rivals ranking him as the #36 overall player nationally, the #4 Wide Receiver, and the #2 player in the state of North Carolina.
From a recruiting rankings standpoint, Grimes instantly becomes the highest ranked player on NC State’s roster. Since he played as a True Freshman, Grimes has 3 seasons to play 2 years of eligibility.
Back in 2021, Grimes chose the Demon Deacons over NC State, Tennessee, Duke and Louisville. On December 8th, 2023, Grimes decided to come back home and run with the Pack.
Kansas State will be Without Their Offensive Coordinator & Starting Quarterback Against NC State
Kansas State will be without their Offensive Coordinator and starting Quarterback when they face NC State in the Pop-Tarts Bowl on December 28th.
New Texas A&M head coach Mike Elko, who just left the same position at Duke, paid big bucks to hire Wildcats Offensive Coordinator Collin Klein as his OC, who had been serving in the position at Kansas State for the past 2 seasons. For the past 7 seasons, Klein has served as the Wildcats Quarterbacks Coach.
This season, Kansas State ranks 23rd in Total Offense (446.1) and 14th in Rushing Offense (199.7).
As Quarterbacks Coach, he helped develop four-year starter Will Howard, who announced he would be entering the Transfer Portal on November 27th. This season, Howard earned 2nd Team All-Big 12 honors. In 12 games, he threw for 2,643 yards and 24 touchdowns (10 interceptions). Howard also rushed for 351 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Howard will be replaced by Freshman Avery Johnson. There was speculation that Johnson might follow Klein to Texas A&M, but he will be starting for the Wildcats in Orlando against the Wolfpack.
NC State’s Kevin Concepcion Earns Freshman All-American Status from The Athletic
NC State Wide Receiver Kevin Concepcion has been named a Freshman All-American by The Athletic.
Here’s what they had to say about KC:
WR Kevin Concepcion, NC State: “KC” easily won ACC Rookie of the Year this season after catching 64 passes for 767 yards, rushing for 297 yards on 7.8 yards per carry and scoring 11 total touchdowns. The 5-foot-11, 187-pound slot receiver from Charlotte was a three-star signee who proved he should start right away as a true freshman. Over his last seven games, Concepcion has averaged 117 total yards per game. (The Athletic)