NC State dropped its season opener to Carolina 35-28 on Saturday after perpetually lighting itself on fire for a large portion of the game. It started with the first play of the season, when Carolina’s Deebo Samuel returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. It turns out this team is nothing new. It is exactly the same team as last year. A lot of good football players and a lot of very bad and very crucial mistakes.
Finley and the passing attack were actually very sharp in the first half, sending State to the halftime break tied 21-21 despite several mistakes on defense and special teams. Samuels, Harmon, and Meyers all had good games in the pass catching department. The third quarter was a complete and utter disaster. Finley was never the same in the second half after taking a beating in that quarter, partially fueled by youth having to play on the offensive line. The pack fell behind by 14 going into the final frame. Despite a good fourth quarter effort, It fell eight yards short of a comeback.
The secondary proved to be an issue. The group made some good plays late in the game, but made too many mistakes early that proved costly. It’s was unproven and matched up with the strongest part of the South Carolina team, which was the passing game. If you thought that would be an issue, congratulations, you are smart.
Offensive line shuffling was also an issue. Redshirt freshmen Joe Sculthorpe and Justin Witt were both forced into action as a result of injuries and suspensions. Long story short it was an issue. There were costly penalties and several sacks, specifically in the third quarter that hurt the Pack.
The mistakes were the biggest thing though, as they always seem to be. State squandered scoring opportunities with a missed field goal (shocker) and a forced turnover that was converted into exactly zero points. A fumble on its own end, a dropped deep ball that was perfectly thrown, and a missed throw to a wide open man on a fourth down also make the list. This is NC State Football guys. This is not a bad team, but a few critical mistakes each game make it look mediocre. Sound familiar?
It’s going to be very tough for the Pack to get to the level of success Dave Doeren needed to see this year for his job to be safe. If things don’t change quickly, it will be impossible. This one really hurt. I’m going to pull for them as hard as I can all year, and I’m sure you all will too, but I just don’t know guys.