Ryan Finley had a big game, and NC State rebounded from grasping defeat from the jaws of victory against East Carolina with a 49-22 romp over Old Dominion. The Pack head into their bye week 2-1 before opening ACC play at home against Wake Forest on October 1st. You know the drill: let's look at the good, the bad, and the ugly from week three.
- First and foremost, despite perhaps lacking a little "wow factor," Finley continues to impress as the signal caller for Dave Doeren's Pack. Finley completed a spectacular 86% of his passes, going 24-for-28 for 281 yards and three scores. He averaged a shade over 10 yards per attempt and has yet to throw an INT in his NC State career. I know I've trumpeted the "Jalen McClendon has a higher ceiling but Finley has a higher floor" refrain, but seriously, what more could you ask from Finley? Granted, he hasn't faced a real defense yet, but so far he has been nothing short of fanfreakingtastic.
- Speaking of McClendon, he vultured some TDs from his QB teammate, serving as the goal line specialist and rushing for two scores and throwing for another. More athletic than Finley, McClendon offers the Pack an intriguing wrinkle in short yardage situations.
- Stephen Louis continues to impress after missing last season due to injury. The redshirt sophomore receiver hauled in five balls for 80 yards and his spirited play seemed to reignite the Pack after ODU briefly threatened to get back in the game after halftime.
- QB/WR Jakobi Meyers took a snap at QB. While he only gained a couple of yards, the play hints of possible trickeration to come. Additionally, he showed his value in the passing game with three catches for 50 yards.
- Thaddeus Moss grabbed the first of what I believe will be many TDs. He's the next Jay-Sam, at least in the passing game.
- Speaking of tight end types, Cole Cook, normally an unheralded blocker, got himself a sixer on a nice shovel pass.
- Jaylen Samuels managed just 50 total yards but did his thing in the red zone, snagging a couple of TD passes. Jay-Sam did average 7.3 yards per rush and 9.3 yards per catch. He simply wasn't needed much against an inferior opponent but produced when his number was called (until...see below).
- With ODU stacking the box, Matt Dayes didn't eclipse the 100-yard mark on the ground, but he did contribute a team-high 120 total yards with rushing and receiving combined.
- The Pack was perfect in the red zone, finding the end zone in 7-of-7 trips.
- Darian Roseboro recorded three of the Pack's five sacks and the defensive line was dominant. ODU managed just 2.2 yards per snap in the first half before a combination of giving backups some run and perhaps some relaxation with a big lead allowed the Monarchs to get some movement.
- In all, State totaled nine tackles for a loss and the attention given to Bradley Chubb is really opening things up for the opposite DE. In addition to Roseboro's threefer, Kentavius Street recorded a sack. Both Roseboro and Street spent some time at DT as well as DE in an effort to get the team's three best pass rushers on the field as much as possible. Good plan.
- James Smith-Williams probably didn't have more than a dozen snaps but made six tackles. The bright and athletic Raleigh product could serve as a worthy replacement when Chubb takes his talents to the NFL.
- State had just two penalties for 24 yards, though one erased a punt return TD from Bra'Lon Cherry.
- Florida State and Notre Dame (despite the late rally) look a bit less terrifying after Saturday's results.
- The Pack OL looked solid in pass protection but was unable to impose their will in the ground game. State totaled a pedestrian 4.1 yards per rush and failed to eclipse the 200-yard mark on the ground for the first time this season. The longest rush of the day was just 18 yards.
- The defense failed to force a turnover, and the Pack finished -1 in TOM.
- He'll probably play on Sundays, but given State's questions in the secondary, it was unfortunate to see Zach Pascal eclipse 100 yards receiving with two scores. The unit has got to get better for the Pack to compete against the elite conference programs (all of which of course they face in the frightening schedule to come).
- Doeren has often lamented that he lacks 60-minute men, and, even allowing for the participation of guys down the depth chart once the game was in hand, it was pretty disappointing to see the middling Monarchs put 19 second-half points on the board. ODU had several big-yardage plays, raising the red flag that the defense's 2015 tendency to play well on a down-to-down basis only to get burned by the big play remains a concern.
- To drive the above point home, ODU finished the game with a 5.4-yard average per snap after managing just 2.2 ypp in the opening half.
- What happened to Jackson Maples? Kyle Bambard was perfect on extra points but only managed one touchback on eight kickoffs.
- Louisville looks considerably more terrifying after Saturday's results.
- Jay-Sam, who has been nicked up a bit, left the game in pain late. It didn't look terribly serious, and hopefully the bye week to come gives him plenty of time to get to 100% before conference play.
- No football next week. :(
The three-game ODU series has mercifully run its course. The fan base, and the team, seemed to have little interest in this one after the emotional rollercoaster in Greenville the week before. Thankfully, it didn't take an inspired, 60-minute effort to clip the Monarchs' wings.