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EKU vs. NCSU: post-game thoughts

Box score

Okay, so there isn't much worth dissecting here, but there are a few things worth discussing:

-- The biggest thing that stuck out to me from the box score--which I hadn't really noticed during the game--was third down conversions: 2/11. This poor percentage looks to be a combination of two things: first, conservative playcalling once we got up big; and second, extensive use of second- and third-stringers. By my count, NC State was 1-7 on third downs when backup QB Marcus Stone was under center. NC State ran the ball on five third-and-longs (6 yards or more), which isn't a recipe for converting those downs, obviously.

-- Turnovers! The Wolfpack forced five EKU turnovers (2 INT, 3 fumbles), one of which on the opening kickoff return of the game (always a nice way to get started). The Pack also blocked a punt. NC State did commit four turnovers of its own, but half were committed by backups.

-- How about that first quarter? NC State held the ball for 10:00 in the first, racked up almost 250 total yards, and scored 31 points. Running back Toney Baker scored three times in the quarter, including a get-outta-my-way-bitch 32-yard run right over EKU's safety. The Pack started on EKU's side of the 50 on four of five 1st quarter scoring drives.

-- EKU netted 48 yards rushing on 31 attempts. The Colonels QBs combined to go 10-37 for 180 yards and two interceptions. Starter Josh Greco threw both picks.

-- NC State should have dominated special teams, and it definitely did. John Deraney hit two more field goals, making him 5-5 on the season, although he hasn't attempted a kick outside of 37 yards (so he should be 5-5 at this point). He also punted the ball much better than he did against Virginia Tech. Kickoff coverage was excellent--EKU averaged about 15 yards per return.

-- After that 1st quarter score-a-thon, we played the rest of the game on cruise control. We were excellent in the 1st quarter...the rest of the game, not so much. From today's News & Observer:

NCSU coach Chuck Amato said he may have started the flood of substitutes too early.

"I did something I shouldn't have," Amato said. "All I could think of was injuries and I took the starters out. I got paranoid.

"Those first 12 minutes we were sharp, we were focused, the fans were into it and we were playing great. Then it turned into a slopfest."

I completely agree, and I'm glad Amato realizes his hook was a little hasty. Marcus Stone replaced Jay Davis about three minutes into the second quarter. After this play, which resulted in EKU's only touchdown, Davis was put back into the game. Stone's appearance kinda killed the vibe--his first series was a three-and-out and the second was that fumble. He'd look better in the second half.

Individual notes:

-- Jay Davis finished 12-17 for 234 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT. Not surprisingly, we didn't need to throw very much. His INT was a poor decision (although there may have been a miscommunication between him and his receiver...I would need to see the play again), but he made up for that with a pretty TD pass to Tramain Hall.

-- Toney Baker ran for 85 yards on 6 carries, scoring 2 TDs. After the game, a lot of the discussion focused on Toney's performance. Baker actually started the game and I suspect he'll start next week as well.

-- The best part about the game was seeing all the RBs. Baker, Blackman, Brown, R. Davis, Washington. No one had more than 9 carries. Blackman didn't do much on the ground, but his 70-yard TD reception on a screen play was one of the night's highlights.

-- Tramain Hall was NC State's leading receiver for the second consecutive game. He caught 4 passes for 44 yards and a TD.

-- EKU receiver Andre Ralston is a good player. He had 78 yards receiving (game high) and beat AJ Davis on several occasions. I'm not surprised that he's gone for 100+ in each of his team's games against D-IAA foes.

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Feels good to get the first win of the season, but things get serious again tomorrow. It's rivalry week!