For the second consecutive year, NC State owned the first quarter against Florida State but could not hold on for the win. A season ago, the Pack scored 24 points in the opening frame, the most the Noles have ever allowed in a first quarter, before eventually succumbing 56-41 in a shootout. The script started similarly Saturday, with State taking advantage of copious turnover generosity to lead 17-7 after one, but the shootoutin' was all FSU after that. The Pack wouldn't score again in a 34-17 loss.
The inability to sustain any sort of offensive output was troubling. The Pack's 3.71 yards per play was the fewest FSU has allowed all year to anyone not named Boston College. Yessir, Texas State even managed over four yards per play against a Nole defense that is simply not that great this year. The State coaching staff must have no faith in running backs Reggie Gallaspy (0 carries), and Dakwa Nichols (3 carries, 14 yards), as they opted to put their fate nearly entirely in the hands of Jacoby Brissett, who dropped back to pass over 50 times. By contrast, only 10 runs went to running backs, and the Pack found itself in a lot of bad down and distance situations due to the inability (to even try) to run the football.
Without further ado, here's your good, bad, and ugly from game 10:
- The Wolfpack forced five turnovers and were +4 on the game (although that is almost a bad, considering how statistically unlikely it has to be to lose by 17 with that kind of advantage, but kudos to the D for the takeaways).
- The Pack KO'd Everett Golson due to those turnovers, which included picking him twice and forcing him to fumble (but, dadgummit, even the good is bad again, as his replacement, Sean Maguire, torched State from then on. Jimbo Fisher should donate his paycheck to charity for every game he started Golson over MaGuire).
- The Pack stopped Dalvin Cook for a gain of four or less yards (including several for no gain or a loss) on 12 of his 22 carries. OK, this is a stretch again as well, as Cook did have a couple of bursts for TDs, but his 6.3 yards per carry were almost two full yards per tote less than his average coming in, so there's that.
- Mike Rose continues to lead the ACC after recording another sack; he has 9.5 on the year.
- Jack Tocho made a nice play to tip away a pass and then wrestle it away from the receiver when it came back to the earth for an interception. It was good to see something good happen for Tocho, who has struggled with injury and ineffectiveness for most of the year.
- Niles Clark and Bradley Chubb also made athletic, leaping grabs for their INTs.
- Airius Moore made 10 stops, including getting in on a tackle for a loss that forced a fumble.
- I'll probably catch hell for this, but it's "goodish" to allow 34 points to FSU at its place. The Noles were averaging 41.6 points per game at home, and two of their TDs were a bit flukish (one on a busted coverage and one when the defender went down with an injury). Maybe they score on those drives anyway, but with even one less score it's a much more interesting game. Bottom line: When the defense forces five turnovers, the loss ain't on them. They did a pretty solid job overall, especially for being on the field for 8:51 or longer for each quarter after the first.
- David Grinnage had a nice game with seven catches for 63 yards, but that is pretty much it for offensive highlights.
- Kyle Bambard made a field goal!
- Fake punt converted! (but leads to nada)
- FSU was allowing 5.25 yards per play against conference opponents (including games against BC and Wake Forest). State, as noted above, managed 3.71. WAKE FOREST MANAGED 4.52 yards per play against FSU. WAKEFUCKINGFOREST. Dave Doeren hems and haws about balance, but the team has mind-numbingly made little or no effort to establish the run in several games post-Shad. What happened to "next man up?" The backs behind Shad and Matt Dayes haven't been given an opportunity.
- Trying to win with a pass-heavy Brissette approach might work better if the Pack had any receivers that could get separation. Several of JB's throws were on the money but were broken up by a superior athlete getting a hand in at the last second. FSU had six pass breakups, in fact, to NC State's one.
- Of State's 28 completions on the day, just 11 went to wide receivers. Of FSU's 23 completions, 19 came from wide receivers. Hmm, this might explain why they averaged 12.3 yards per catch compared to the Pack's paltry 7.8. Without closing the talent gap at WR and DB, the Pack is probably destined to a ceiling of 8 or 9 wins.
- Never thought I'd utter the words "yuck" and "Jay-Sam" in the same sentence. He managed just a bit over three yards per touch and fumbled.
- Nine penalties for 59 yards.
- Lots of other stuff, but we've all probably got things to do (*checks fridge for more beer*).
So, to summarize: Go easy on the defense, as they generated five turnovers and at least did not get fully embarrassed by Cook. You get the ball back for the offense five times via turnover, and you did your job. The offense...heavy, heavy sigh.