I think we are getting spoiled. NC State won its sixth consecutive game and third straight away from Carter-Finley in comfortable fashion, 38-14, over an amp and hype Old Dominion squad hosting its first power five opponent, yet the tenor of the loveblog was decidedly negative. Portland State has a win over Washington State (a 31-point favorite); South Dakota beat Kansas. Auburn needed overtime to survive against Jacksonville State. With the Tigers' precipitous decline, none of those power five teams are exactly playoff contenders, but those results should still serve as a reminder that we should, in the immortal words of bad brains, remain scared shitless until proven otherwise.
A year after taking the Pack to the wire in Raleigh, the Monarchs did little to pester our poo situations in the rematch. Thanks to State's D holding Ray Lawry, who entered the game as the nation's leading rusher, to a mere 15 yards on 11 totes, the game never felt like it was in doubt even when the score was closer than it should have been in the early going, and a comfy 24-point win on the road is never, ever a thing towards which we should direct a sneeze. It might not have been sexy, but State is 3-0 on the season and against the spread.
- Shadrach Thornton is back; the senior provided a punishing runner between the tackles in his 2015 debut, gaining 92 yards on 18 carries (with a TD).
- Matt Dayes, despite sharing a lot of the load with Shad, eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the third straight game, going for 108 on 20 attempts. Maybe it was my imagination, but his cuts looked a little sharper with those fresher set of legs. Dayes also tallied one of State's four rushing scores.
- With the two-headed monster of Shad-Dayes leading the show, State boasted 256 yards on the ground.
- Jaylen Samuels got his two scores, the second of which came on a shovel pass that should soil the undies of ACC defensive coordinators everywhere. How will they get him the ball next? (Muahahahahahaha!)
- ODU amassed a whopping -3 rushing yards for the game. Kudos to the defensive line!
- Speaking of the line, you know you had a pretty good day on defense when three of your four leading tackles are defensive linemen. Kentavius Street broke out with a team-high six stops, including one tackle for a loss. BJ Hill and Mike Rose added five tackles apiece, with Rose notching 1.5 tfls.
- The box score claims that Maurice Trowell had a pass breakup, but I think it safe to assume that the #87 who knocked down a Shuler Bentley pass was Pharoah McKever, who is indeed listed on the participation portion of the game stats. Big things were expected of the redshirt sophomore, but he was held out of the first two games due to a knee injury. Hopefully he gets more reps and has a greater impact going forward. (Note that, with over 100 players on the team, it is not uncommon for two players to share a number; it's totally kosher so long as they are never on the field at the same time.)
- Jack Tocho also returned from a minor injury.
- The Monarchs had 78 yards on 43 plays, or less than two yards per snap, on every play that wasn't Lawry's long TD reception.
- No turnovers; just two penalties for 26 yards (though ODU was not flagged at all).
- Kyle Bambard got his first trey.
- Bra'Lon Cherry has another nice day returning punts, including breaking off a 34 yarder.
- The Pack hogged it for 40+ minutes of time of possession for the third straight game.
- Tyler Jones got significant run at left tackle, allowing Joe Thuney to move back to his strongest position, left guard, and the line seemed improved as a result.
- Jerod Fernandez went down with a knee injury, and Alex Barr was unable to go.
- State's O-line (or its receivers' inability to get separation, or Jacoby Brissett's tendency to hold it too long) allowed two more sacks (according to the box score, but damn it seemed like more). The worst sack featured Brissett, on a third and medium, focusing forever downfield while Thornton stood wide open at the first down marker. His inexplicable lack of check down tossing resulted in Bambard having to try a 48 yarder which had the distance but ticked the upright before sailing wide. Points on that drive would have given State an early, demoralizing two score lead; instead...
- The defense played well, but their tendency to allow an out-of-nowhere WTF big play reared its ugly head when Lawry took an innocent looking swing pass to the house after the missed field goal to knot the game at 7-7.
- Still no downfield passing game, though Trowell had a shot for a long gain (on a well-thrown ball) but couldn't secure the pigskin after being upended.
- With Shad good for five yards a pop, and with power running eliminating the possibility of another damn sack, it sometimes seemed the play calling was a bit overthought. Just keep pounding!
So long as Fernandez's injury is not serious—and Dave Doeren indicated he believed it was just a contusion in the postgame—there really isn't an "ugly" this week with a 24-point road win. Fernandez is probably just a Tommie Copper wrap and some charge-stabilized nanobubbles from a full and speedy recovery.