Welcome back to the BTP Team’s group chat reflecting on the game that was, and looking towards the Wolfpack’s next opponent. Apologies in advance to anyone who feels left out of this gathering. Just know that we love you, we appreciate you, and your comments in the comments section for comments are just as important as anything in the post.
TheRealEssad: Thanks again for y’all taking the time
First off, kudos to James for really stirring the pot with your post on scheduling. Really seemed like it got a lot of people talking on both sides of the conversation
JEOHankins2: That’s all I really wanted...Lord knows I’ve written enough articles where 7 people have looked at it and 2 cared hahaha
TheRealEssad: Haha, we’ve all been there. Spend 2+ hours writing a post and get 4 comments
PirateWolf: Is this where I raise my hand? Because, yeah... I understand y’all there
haha for sure
TheRealEssad: So as for the WCU game, I want to ask a philosophical question. Is it okay to have feelings of disappointment with a 41-0 blowout?
Because I love that we won, we got our first shutout since I think 2015, but there are concerns
PirateWolf: I don’t know anyone that didn’t feel entirely underwhelmed by that first half
Two games, two opening drives that seemed very well scripted by the opponent against the defense
That worries me. We haven’t had to play from behind yet, but how will this team react if it does?
TheRealEssad: Yeah, against better opponents, those drives come away with points
JEOHankins2: I believe its ok to be disappointed, only because we’ve seen this movie before...State team starts off hot against inferior opponents then we run into a team we should/can beat...and find a way to lose (nope not worried about WVU at all...)
PirateWolf: And obviously (what I’m assuming you’re most alluding to here)... Matt McKay has struggled mightily on the deep ball
JEOHankins2: Agreed on the concern of how we handle adversity...and can McKay hit a big play when we need it
TheRealEssad: He didn’t seem to have the same zip or crispness he had in week 1
In prep for this, during the game I was jotting a list of things that stood out to me that needed to be cleaned up. Then I realized I had written almost 10 bullets then stopped
PirateWolf: It’s not even the big play... it’s hitting open receivers. Again, better to miss those where they’re way over and not in threat of being picked, but he’s left a lot of points on the field by missing some seemingly easy throws
JEOHankins2: The optimist in me says its a timing issue and not an accuracy issue...but 2 games in a row now, it feels like both
PirateWolf: Regardless of what it is, it’s a concern
TheRealEssad: I got the sense that the coaches sort of took the ball out of his hands a bit
And shifted towards test driving the 100 RB’s in the garage
JEOHankins2: Yeah it really did...almost as if they wanted to get him comfortable with the pass early...but it failed to move the offense, so they switched to winning time and went with our strength
PirateWolf: I saw it the other way. After the passing game wasn’t working early, the coaches turned to the running game to put game out of hand
I do think he’ll get there. But part of me wonders if he thought he was coming in with the “running QB” reputation and he has been adamant about staying in the pocket even in situations where using his feet could be to their benefit
JEOHankins2: And there’s the added pressure of 2 guys right behind you that if you make a mistake, Hockman at the very least is ready to go
TheRealEssad: Yeah, Hockman is clearly chomping at the bit to get in
JEOHankins2: Even though we haven’t seen enough Hockman to make that switch feel good to me
PirateWolf: I do wonder about that... Has that element of the offense (running with McKay) been held back due to opponents/need?
TheRealEssad: I hope so. He could really excel at the RPO, and I don’t think we’ve seen that. I am hoping they’re just holding their cards close for now.
PirateWolf: It would have been nice to see Hockman more over the first two weeks, though
JEOHankins2: Yes I was disappointed we didn’t get to see him throw more in the 4th
PirateWolf: Just in case McKay struggles against WVU and they need to make a switch
TheRealEssad: You would have thought they’d want him to throw more just to see what they have with him, but they were also probably wanting to ice the game without injury
But on to things that went well, hot damn we have a LOT of running backs
JEOHankins2: Cerberus out there
PirateWolf: No kidding, right?! Person, Knight, and Houston have looked like a three-headed monster.
JEOHankins2: Also hat tip to Lesane out of the backfield...I love that these OCs appear to want to use every weapon on the field
PirateWolf: Definitely some new, fast weapons
TheRealEssad: Lesane is my personal X-factor for this year
JEOHankins2: I know I am mistaken, but I feel like its been forever since I’ve seen an effective jet sweep and these past two weeks we’ve seen multiple
TheRealEssad: I had hoped the play calling would have gotten passes to these guys in space like vs ECU, but they were very good at just good old fashioned smashing through for 8-9 ypc
You are not mistaken. We have the personnel to really turn that corner now
JEOHankins2: Does that translate to the bulk of our ACC schedule? Besides Clemson and maybe FSU do we play anyone with the speed on defense to defend a multi-faceted attack like that?
TheRealEssad: Never say never
And (shudders) maybe UNC. They looked spry the other night
You can always have an off game, but at least we have depth to change things up if one or even two guys are off
PirateWolf: Shoot, man. You’re giving UNC way too much credit for being 1) very lucky, and 2) not being the dumbest team on the field two weeks in a row
JEOHankins2: They did give up I think 22 to The U in the 2nd Half on defense
TheRealEssad: Haha, doesn’t mean SSUPO won’t rear it’s ugly head
JEOHankins2: Oh that is on permanent rotation with that game
TheRealEssad: In his postgame presser, Doeren admitted that you’re not going to run for 300 yards against ACC opponents
Though we will probably try
At some point we will be playing from behind which will mean a more balanced or even pass heavy attack will be necessary.
I just don’t think we’ll see that for the next two weeks
The line is -6.5 in our favor against WVU, and I think if it was at home it would be closer to two scores
PirateWolf: I hope we don’t see it in the next two weeks
JEOHankins2: That is what encourages me a bit, even with McKay’s struggles on the long ball...we used our TEs, WRs, RBs to all catch passes...RBs and WRs to run the ball...I think we are competent enough on offense to overcome adversity...I am just not sure if we go down big are we a team that can come back from that
TheRealEssad: I have seen flashes these past two weeks that the plays are in the book to get big chunk plays if needed, even if it’s not necessarily a homerun ball
PirateWolf: Things would have to go terribly wrong for us to see a “pass-only” offense, so thankfully, I don’t see that being a scenario for a while... But, yes, definitely worried in that situation
TheRealEssad: It just seemed like the playcalling was not as aggressive as it was vs ECU
PirateWolf: It didn’t need to be against WCU. Line up and win. That was the name of the game
TheRealEssad: Speaking of line, the defense REALLY came to play
Another 3 sack effort
Near constant pressure
Only 5 hurries, but that stat is skewed
JEOHankins2: I just really appreciate the commitment to stop the run no matter the opponent, our guys tackle really well in space too
PirateWolf: I’ve been incredibly impressed by the defense. Switching out Ted Roof (App’s defense is struggling) for Tony Gibson on the defensive staff seems to be paying immediate dividends
TheRealEssad: Yes, it feels more modern and accurately using the personnel
One thing I really appreciate about Dave Doeren is he’s not afraid to make his guys eat a healthy slice of humble pie. He said Tanner Ingle really learned a lot from getting burned last year on those deep balls
He also said this week that Bam Knight was “reading his own press clippings” and has had to learn how to work hard at this level
PirateWolf: It was also nice to see the defense immediately make an adjustment after ECU came out and went right at Ingram at CB
JEOHankins2: To all those points its really a culture that has been built of accountability that really resonates with our defense I’d say even more than the offense
JEOHankins2: There appears to be a “just do your job” mentality, and the buy-in has that side of the ball playing at a veteran level
TheRealEssad: I would much rather have this workman-like approach than to have a turnover chain
or belt, or pencil..
JEOHankins2: this turnover pencil...my God...
TheRealEssad: High comedy
TheRealEssad: I didn’t realize until DD mentioned it, after the opening WCU drive, they didn’t pass midfield
That is a very impressive stat
PirateWolf: I mean... 1 total yard in the 2nd half. Yeah, impressive
TheRealEssad: 12 drives, 10 punts, 1 fumble, and 1 drive that ended the half
JEOHankins2: Hard to prevent any team from scoring in CFB, to have that kind of defensive performance makes a statement...I think (hope) we won’t see any cracks in that armor until Cam Akers and FSU
TheRealEssad: (knocks on wood)
Back to your post on scheduling, given the youth of the team, while I agree with the point that adding challenging opponents early raises the profile, this slow ramp of opponents is exactly what this young team needed
They will be 1/3 through the season before facing a major opponent
All respect to WVU, but they might not have it this year
JEOHankins2: Yeah, I don’t disagree with that...I think its likely a positive for a team like ours as it is right now
TheRealEssad: At some point it would be nice to be invited to play in those “kickoff event” type games at a neutral field
Not sure how the deals work for that
Where you’re in a primetime game, but we can but dream for now
JEOHankins2: I do believe as our stature grows and we are a program that proves we reload each year, we have to continue to upgrade our national exposure
TheRealEssad: Keep laying those bricks, one at a time
On to WVU, it is our first Power 5 opponent. Even if they’re in a rebuilding phase, I hope the team doesn’t overlook them.
Can’t afford to come out slow again
JEOHankins2: I don’t think wins will do it alone...after the loss to Wake we didn’t come close to a ranking after 3 wins in a row, 2 on the road...terrible teams at the time sure, but VT is getitng a 25 beside their name if they do the exact same thing I believe
I think being on the road will help prevent any arrogance going against WVU
TheRealEssad: I agree, there is something else that goes along with that reputation. It takes years to build at a certain level of consistent success if you didn’t have it before
I was very happy to not see that little number next to UNC this week, I don’t know if my heart is ready that
Or blood pressure
But I do think that winning premiere games contributes
JEOHankins2: no doubt...with WVU the crowd will be a factor...that fanbase is loud and proud...any momentum going their way we’ll hear it...tailgated there once and the scene showed all I needed to know
TheRealEssad: DD has a not good record vs ranked opponents
He’s currently 2-14 vs ranked teams
JEOHankins2: got to shore that up
TheRealEssad: You have to win those games if you want to earn attention
If the Pack had won just ONE of their games against ranked ACC teams they would’ve been in the tournament
PirateWolf: Yeah, even with WVU reeling a bit after two weekends, this is a huge game
TheRealEssad: The crowd will definitely be a factor
And DD gave them credit for having a lot of speed on defense
I do think there will be a step up in talent and physicality, even if their record doesn’t reflect it
I’m looking forward to it
JEOHankins2: Massive game...a big win, puts the rest of the ACC (sans Clemson) on notice...WF and BC already have some solid resume boosters, we know those two teams will be the ones we are jockeying for position with
TheRealEssad: Yup yup
Okay, let’s wrap this up. Any final thoughts before closing out?
JEOHankins2: Excited for the week ahead, looking forward to how the rest of the community sees this game
PirateWolf: Yep. Even with the questions about strength of opponent, I’d rather be 2-0 having waxed two teams than anything else.
TheRealEssad: And lastly, I am glad the Ball State game will be a night game, and not another nooner. I was pleasantly surprised about that
JEOHankins2: Wish i lived in Raleigh again for Ball State, that’ll be an awesome atmosphere...especially if we can win Saturday
TheRealEssad: Totally. I miss it too, being up north now myself
PirateWolf: I don’t know... all these nooners in the heat have me accustomed to sweating out all my alcohol by the end of the game... I fear the hangover that awaits me that Sunday
And on that note, we’ll close it out. Thanks again guys for the chat. Steven has told me that for sure this time he’ll be on with us next week.
So hold your breath on that.