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Thoughts from Alec’s brain: Western Carolina

41 is more than 0

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 07 Western Carolina at NC State Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

NC State is 2-0 after dispatching Western Carolina on Saturday 41-0. It was a football game that definitely happened. It’s never smart to try and draw conclusions from a cake walk like this, so let’s do just that.

The first quarter was crap

The Pack was atrocious in the first quarter. Just about every part of the offense was bad. The list of mistakes and bad plays was pretty long, including a blown blocking assignment, an easy throw missed, a poorly ran route on third down, and multiple occurrences of just getting beat at the line of scrimmage.

All-in-all, it was a terrible quarter that should never be spoken of again, so that’s all I’ll say about it.

The second quarter was anti-crap

The first fifteen would be a lot more concerning if State didn’t turn it on in the second so easily. The fact that so many veteran players who oughta know better were making mistakes in the first quarter should lead you to believe that State was just sleepwalking through it. It’s not good, but it’s understandable. The second quarter should confirm that was the case.

The Pack leaned on its overwhelming advantage at the line of scrimmage and the run game to settle down the offense, and it worked perfectly. The game was pretty much curtains after that. NC State took over quickly and before long was getting whatever it wanted running the football. Certainly seemed like all it had to do was wake up.

Zonovan Knight is excellent. He’s about to be three years of terror. Every time he has a decent run, he finds a way to add two yards to the end of it. That’s valuable. He’s already the best back on the team and getting him carries helped to jumpstart the offense in the second quarter.

The best drive of the second quarter was the last one, where McKay locked away his meh start and went 4-5 on a march to the endzone. The incompletion was on him, but his other throws had pinpoint accuracy.

McKay is a bit of an enigma

It’s still very early for Matt McKay, but he has to be more accurate down the field if State is going to accomplish anything this year. He’s pretty accurate on the short and intermediate throws, but he can’t seem to give his receivers a chance downfield yet. I’m not going to pretend to know the mechanics of what is wrong with this throw, but you cannot miss this.

The redshirt sophomore quarterback hit some perfect deep balls in the spring game, so we know he can do it. Seeing the consistent accuracy on so many different kinds of throws in that scrimmage was part of the reason I was so high on him. It hasn’t translated perfectly yet. If McKay can find that downfield accuracy again, he’ll be in great shape. It’s worth noting that every single one of McKay’s misses is high or overthrown, which means something. I don’t know what.

OC good

I’ve got to offer up some more praise for the offensive coordinators. I don’t really know what they were trying to set up in the first quarter, but the rest of the game was very well called. Granted, this wasn’t a hard game to call, but I just love some of the wrinkles and play design we’ve seen.

State doesn’t have the huge receivers that will catch anything this year, but the team is much faster and more versatile on offense, and the coordinators have had some fun with some east-west action with Hines and Lesane. That helped set up this, which was my favorite play call of the whole game.

State used a fake swing pass to bait the DBs while the usually blocking tight end ran right by them. Pretty creative and teed up very well.

Also noteworthy that State intends to use its true tight ends in the passing game this year instead of just ignoring them. That’s exciting because it expands the playbook and uses two guys who can be pretty solid pass catchers in their own right. David Grinnage was born too early.


Overall the big takeaway from Western Carolina is that there isn’t a big takeaway. State didn’t look great but didn’t have to against a team that had no chance. Next week means something.

Other notes

  • There’s not much to say about the defense. It dominated the Catamounts as it should. State’s deeper and more aggressive than it has been in recent years, and there’s a scary level of young talent in the linebackers and defensive line. The future is bright there.
  • I’d love to see McKay and Emezie dial-up that back-shoulder throw that Harmon and Finley relied on so much. Emezie should be really good at it and it might help with some of the third down struggles.
  • Ikem Ekwonu has gotten a lot of snaps as State is basically playing everybody who can play on the O-line so far. Ekwonu is going to be a bread and butter tackle over the next few years.
  • I like Keyon Lesane. He should be a good football player.
  • Western Carolina punting from plus-territory on the first drive of the game was the ultimate weenie move. They were giving the ball back to the team I root for and it still made me mad. You’re playing with house money, dude. Get it together.
  • I’m just going to be blunt. If State cannot beat West Virginia, it is not a good football team. West Virginia does not look good.