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Thoughts from Alec’s Brain: Georgia State

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Georgia State v North Carolina State Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

NC State is 2-0 after beating Georgia State in what should be its easiest game of the year. The Pack held the Panthers scoreless over the final 55 minutes and just sort of squeezed the life out of them, eventually pouring it on at the end to make it look ugly. Below are one human’s thoughts on the game. That human is me, Alec.

Offense

Ryan Finley continues to look like one of the best quarterbacks in the country. He made two poor decisions, but when you can count the number of bad decisions your quarterback made on one hand, that’s probably a good quarterback.

Finley completed 31 passes on 38 attempts for 370 yards. He was accurate, methodical, and for the most part smart with the ball. He even looked good throwing on the run and under pressure, which was the one area from last week where he wasn’t sharp. The senior quarterback has been exceptional, and a head to head battle with Will Grier would be really fun to watch. Hopefully it gets to happen at some point.

The receivers were sans Jakobi Meyers and it didn’t mean anything. When your receiver group is six deep with really good players, you can survive being down a guy. They did it last week without Steph Louis and they did it again this week. Kelvin Harmon was great, and we got to see our first example of #KelvinHarmonThings early on Saturday.

Thayer Thomas was the biggest story though. Thomas is definitely going to annoy the crap out of every opposing fanbase for the next four years and I honestly cannot wait. The story of his James Madison game was the potential he showed and what he could develop into for the Pack. Thomas decided not to waste time developing and chose to just be good right now. He had nine catches for over 100 yards and threw a 56 yard pass. After Saturday, Thomas looks like he could become Finley’s go-to guy. So does Kelvin Harmon though. But so does Jakobi Meyers.

This group is totally stacked, and we should all spend more time appreciating its turnaround. Wide receiver was putrid as recently as 2015 and put a cap on an otherwise good offense that year. Barely two seasons later and the group is the best in the ACC.

Now it’s time for things to get much less exciting. NC State’s rushing attack is like a well oiled machine in the same way that a poorly oiled machine is like a well oiled machine. It stunk, and it stunk for the second straight week, which is particularly alarming.

Brady Bodine led the team in rushing on just five carries. Reggie Gallaspy averaged 2.2 yards a touch. Pennix was only a little bit better. It was abysmal, and the caliber of opponent against which it was abysmal should concern you.

The problem is starting with run blocking. That’s a weird thing to have to say given the offensive line returned three starters from one of the best lines in school history last year. But it’s true. The offensive line doesn’t look up to standard right now, and there’s nowhere to run the ball

There is nowhere to run here:

The offensive line is not solely to blame through these two games though. Not even close. State badly missed Cole Cook and run blocking has suffered even more in the temporary absence of Dylan Autenrieth and Cary Angeline. This is a short yardage play on fourth down that should easily be a first down, but Parham whiffs on an attempt to block his man, who would ultimately be the first to hit Gallaspy in the backfield.

On another 4th and short play, we see another missed block by the inexperienced lead blocker and a general lack of push by the offensive line, encapsulating most of the issue within one play

The backs can certainly do more too. Pennix, Person, and Washington are all entering their third game, and that concentrated youth at running back was always going to be a concern. State hasn’t been able to rely on its senior though. Gallaspy isn’t a guy who will put his foot in the ground and burn you with a cut, and that’s tough when you’re operating with mediocre blocking.

Defense

The Pack completely forgot how to do a defense on the Panthers opening drive. After those five plays though, the defense had a pretty encouraging day. The line is still working things out, but that group looked better than last week and certainly got more pressure on the quarterback. State still needs more from veterans like Roseboro, but Alim McNeil and Ibrahim Kante look good for the future. You’d like to see a few more tackles for loss against an inferior opponent, but sacks were hard to come by against that speedy of a quarterback.

In the backfield, Isaiah Moore certainly looks like a good young player. He notched a tackle for loss and already has 17 stops on the year. The much criticized secondary had a very encouraging game while playing some young players. Nick McCloud made several good plays including a great pass breakup and an excellent read on a screen, which occurred on back to back plays in the second quarter. Chris Ingram might be the answer opposite McCloud at corner. Overall the unit covered very well and some strong individual plays were made all around. They will be seriously tested next week.

Other Stuff

  • Overall, the play calling balanced being a pass first team with trying to develop the run nicely. The run did not develop, but State didn’t get caught in a bunch of 3rd and 10s because of it.
  • The Pack had 3 players score a touchdown for the first time in their career, which was cool to see.
  • Ryan Finley is good. Have I mentioned this?
  • We haven’t seen enough from Chris Dunn to really know anything yet, but at the moment my biggest concern is that he’ll forget to kick a game winning field goal.