Because I don’t value my free time, I rewatched the NC State-BC game so you don’t have to.
Unsurprisingly, some of the main positive takeaways are what Devin Leary is bringing to the table. On second viewing, it seemed like he was gaining steam as the game went along. If the score wasn’t so obscenely out of hand and he had another 3 quarters, he may have just been able to pull that one out.
Let’s go through some sequences throughout the game and see where things went well and where things CLEARLY did not.
- Let’s briefly mention Bailey Hockman. Based on how Leary played, we may not be mentioning Hockman’s name too many more times this season. After his gimme pick-six everyone watching assumed that was it for him. But Dave Doeren gave him one more chance. For a hot second it seemed like maybe just maybe he’d get something going. The continued redzone struggles appeared, especially for the run game (more on that below). On 4th and goal, Hockman sailed a pass over Thayer Thomas’s admittedly not-very-long arms. Thayer had the angle and a more accurate pass could have converted.
After this pass, that was it for Hockman’s afternoon. Time will tell if that’s a season wrap for him.
2. Moving on to Devin Leary. While he wasn’t perfect (more on that below), he showed all the signs of why the fans have been clamoring to see him take the reins this whole season. One play that stood out to me was he had a very good long pass play to Jasiah Provillon, with a few contributing factors:
Leary was given time to throw and for Provillon to get down field. He timed the throw just right.
Provillon (this is a challenging name to spell) created space well while leaving room to get the ball to him without going out of bounds.
Then he catches the ball and makes sure he stays in bounds. Great control. These two redshirt freshmen (along with Devin Carter) could be a great combo.
3. Although he didn’t always get the timing right, Leary hit Thayer Thomas at just the right time for a 4th and goal TD. Good route by Thayer to put himself just inside the endzone.
4. PirateWolf has been saying repeatedly that he wants to see whomever is the QB to not panic, and step up in the pocket to make a throw. Leary did just that on this play and made a very good pass:
He put the ball over the underneath defender and away from the rear coverage. 1st down, move the sticks.
5. This may have been Cary Angeline’s best (or highest usage) game for the Wolfpack. He only had 3 catches for 55 yards and a TD (coming up), but he was also involved a lot in the running game (to mixed results, also coming up).
Here, he had a great catch for 24 yards on 3rd and 6. 1st down, move the sticks.
6. For me, this was Devin Leary’s best play of the game. 4th and goal, the pocket collapsed (offensive line struggled all day), so he escapes and rolls up.
He retreats to his non-dominant side, finds open space, resets his feet, keeps his eyes down field looking for someone in the endzone. He does not throw it to Pennix underneath because he knows it’s 4th and goal and that won’t get him anything.
Cary Angeline deserves just as much credit here. He didn’t quit on the play. He saw his QB rolling, so he rolled upfield with him, found open space and hauled in the TD. Great play by these two.
7. Switching gears to the run game (unfortunately), I have to mention some of Angeline’s blocking. Here, he did Jordan Houston no favors by totally whiffing on his block. If he’s able to really hold this spot, this may have been a TD. This is where the absence of Dylan Autenrieth is REALLLY felt.
8. To his credit, he really hit the block well on this 3rd and short play leading to a big gain for Bam Knight. 1st down, move the sticks.
9. As mentioned, this was probably the worst performance by the offensive line all year. I had to put an arrow on this one just in case there was confusion which direction the Pack were attempting to travel. This Bam Knight run got blown up so badly there are six (6!) BC players in the backfield. So, like, do better at this next time guys, k?
10. I mostly felt bad for Bam in this game. He had 10 carries and only 27 yards to show for it. That is a not good average for those of you unable to do basic division. Here he gets stuffed on 3rd and goal leading to a Chris Dunn field goal.
11. If we’re talking about the running game, then we have to mention Matt McKay. Not for any real fault of his own, but because the coaching staff does him no favors by bringing him in basically obvious wildcat situations. BC saw him come in the game and knew it was a QB “sneak” the whole way. I say “sneak” because there was absolutely nothing stealthy about this turn of events.
12. Earlier in the game, McKay was brought in in a similar situation. He had a similar issue that plagued him when he was the starter. If he’s going to run, he needs to be definitive and pick a direction. Here, his indecision cost a sure TD.
Spoiler alert, he picked wrong. The receivers held their blocks well, so the edge had a clear path to the endzone.
13. If we’re going to credit the receivers on that run, then we should mention how they’ve continued to exchange their hands for some samples from the brickyard. Here, Tabari runs a good route, Leary times the throw well and hits him right in the hands for a sure 1st down. Don’t move the sticks. Keep the sticks where they are.
14. I’m not sure what broke with Emeka Emezie recently, but we might need to do an intervention/exorcism soon. 3rd and 1, ball hits you in the hands, you gotta catch that.
Is Leary throwing the ball too hard/fast? Are the other QB’s throwing slower balls? So with Hockman, they were thrown off by the “lefty spin” on the ball? And now the ball is coming in with too much heat? Or maybe it’s a bad case of the dropsies.
15. As well as Leary played, there is definitely room for improvement with regards to his speed in decision making. One hopes that he just needs more real game reps to get that down (yes yes I know, shoulda happened earlier, but too late for that talk now).
Here, he had both Thayer and Provillon potentially open. If he had gotten the ball to Thayer just as he made his break, he could have walked into the endzone. It’s possible he saw the defender trying to recover to Thayer so he goes for Provillon...
Unfortunately, he over throws him. If he throws it a little earlier and gets it to the back corner, then Provillon would be the only one who could make a play and could have converted.
16. But even more than needing to make quicker decisions, Leary had a tendency to lock into his first receiving option rather than working through his progressions. This was the knock against both McKay and Hockman. Perhaps this was also what the coaching staff was seeing in practice? (We may never know the answer to that mystery)
Here, the pocket was holding nicely, and locks in on one option rather giving another few seconds for other options to present themselves.
17. For this play, he may not have had the time let things develop, because there was a BC player completely unchecked running in free for a hit. This was Leary’s blindside, so I doubt he even saw him coming.
The rumor coming out of camp and practice was that Leary knew his arm strength and would try to use that to put the ball into tight spots that he really shouldn’t. Here, he’s trying what is the harder pass rather than getting it to Carter for a sure TD. And Carter knows it right away when he sees the ball going the other way.
Not only was the pass to Thayer the harder angle, it was also into triple coverage. They did not convert this, FYI, and Leary took an unnecessary hit.
18. It wouldn’t be a post from the losing side if there wasn’t at least some complaining about the referees. Obviously, State was its own worst enemy throughout the day, but BC got away with a few penalties as well.
Emezie wasn’t able to make this catch. Part of that was because his timing was thrown off by being held as he makes his break.
19. This was a needed 1st down conversion hijacked by what I’m PRETTY SURE is holding/pass interference. What makes this even more hilarious is how close they are to the back judge. But the BC dude hides his hold away from his eyeline. Well done breaking the rules there, guy.
One silver lining is NC State moved the ball very well in hindsight. They were able to get the ball into the redzone with regularity, which wasn’t happening as much in previous weeks. But it got to the point where I had very little expectation they’d be able to convert it for a TD. Leary converted a few of these near the end though, so there’s reason for hope.
The long distance passes are finally starting to hit, and at the very least are an option with a realistic chance at success.
I think Dave may have gotten my text, as the Pack threw the ball 44 times compared to 27 rush attempts. Only 19 of those 27 were by actual RB’s. So I like to think that the staff knew that pass defense was a weakness of this BC team and tried to capitalize.
Areas of concern continue to be the offensive line, any and all plays involving the redzone, and all the other injuries that have piled up. At some point it will reach a breaking point.
I think there’s reason for holding out hope the Pack can get to bowl eligibility. Leary showed enough to prove why he should be the only QB the rest of the way. I’m VERY not interested in fans yelling “told ya so” to the coaches. Leary looks very good, but I’m not ready to place him on the QBU pedestal yet.
That being said, I’m fine shifting the passing game to be Leary, flanked by Thomas, Carter, Provillon and Angeline. If Bam and Houston (and Person?) can get into good flows then the offense has a lot of (very) young talent that should only continue to improve this year and next.