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Film Room, Syracuse aka GET YOUR COFFEE EDITION!


North Carolina State v Boston College Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

A win erases many mistakes. Like chucking a ball clear out the back of the endzone. I’m glad we get to pretend that never happened. Moving on.

Many of the plays shown this edition of the Film Room will make it seem like NC State dominated this football game against Syracuse. I chose not to highlight many of the disastrous plays that put Syracuse in the lead by 9, requiring NC State to finish on a 16-0 second half run. There was a lot to gripe about, but 2020 is shitty enough, let’s focus on (mostly) good vibes today. This one is, honestly, a lot of words. Hope you brought your coffee.


First play from scrimmage for NC State. Bailey Hockman drops in the pass over two defenders and underneath a third.

The Hockman bootleg draws the CB down to cover Ricky Person in the flat. Syracuse LB #32 slips as he sees Cary Angeline slide by on a delayed release.

Well timed pass by Hockman around three defenders. First down.


NC State enjoys gifting opponents career days, they are a very giving organization. They also heard that Syracuse had literally NEVER scored a kickoff return TD since joining the ACC. They felt this crime needed to be rectified and gave one to the Orange. In the spirit of Thanksgiving and all.

My professional opinion on this play is as follows: smdh

Is it just me or did Delbert Mims (#34) and Devan Boykin (#12) both appear to have an angle to tackle him around the 45 yard line but just, didn’t?


3rd and 15 conversion to Angeline (again). Get him the ball more, giant target, great hands. Not even sure how Syracuse lost him in coverage, he was just standing there.


This reverse field run is the type of improvisation that Bailey Hockman brings to the table. A lot of times this is a “no no no no.. yes yes yes!” type play

A run like this can show you how bought in the rest of the team is. The whole line stayed with the play and blocked to extend the play.

Also, that’s a lot of maple syrup:


Hockman’s TD run that was overturned. I think we can agree there wasn’t enough evidence to reverse the call on the field.

The refs looked at this angle and felt he lost control:

BUT, this was the angle they should have looked at:

I’m just a guy with a laptop but that looks like a TD to me:

Hockman was in

And can we talk about how dumb of a rule this is? If you fumble out of bounds anywhere else on the field, offense retains possession. But in the endzone, nope, the other team gets the ball. Just push the ball back to the 20 and let the offense keep playing. If there’s a legit reason for this rule I’d love to hear it.


NC State was 8 of 13 on 3rd down, gaining solid conversions all afternoon like this one. I sincerely hope Thayer Thomas uses this as a freebie year and the redshirt junior stays another two years after this one. The team is better off with him staying as long as possible. Routinely catching passes in traffic. Remember how Kelvin Harmon and Jakobi Meyers would catch tough passes making it look easy? That’s Thayer, but slot receiver edition. Dude has two guys on him and still goes up and gets it.

So many people were calling for Ben Finley come in the game, but I’m not convinced he’s ready to make plays like this with a defender breathing down his neck. Maybe he is, maybe he needs reps, but the coaches have seen Hockman do it time and again, so he’s the guy until further notice.

Move the sticks


On the flip side of this coin, if we’re going to laud Hockman for not tucking and running before a play develops, then we have to also say when he holds on to the ball too long.

He has Houston open but doesn’t see it in time. He is looking right in his direction, maybe he’s looking downfield?

I think he had a receiver on the far right doing a double move who was going to be open, and didn’t anticipate the safety would come in completely untouched. Blame here is on Hockman not seeing the rusher but also the line for not picking it up.

There were other sacks we could pick apart, that was just one example.


Thayer gets one of his three TD passes on the day. Trips right. Watch both Emeka Emezie and Devin Carter run short hitch routes in order to free up Thayer for single coverage in the endzone.

Devin Carter loop de loop

Great design to get your playmakers in position. The Tim Beck offense is the reason the Wolfpack have made such a leap in the redzone. Credit to Hockman for putting the ball up and away from the defender where only Thayer could catch it.


Giving the defense some love, Shyheim Battle came to play:

This guy is a redshirt FRESHMAN! He reads the play and makes a break on the ball with no delay. Good clean hit to dislodge the pass. At first it looked like he was letting the first receiver go open past him but Tanner Ingle was covering as usual.


Then again, if we’re going to give credit, we have to show the other side. Ibrahim Kante was inches away from a big 3rd down sack but just missed out.

He did good holding up his run to avoid the penalty though:

Meanwhile, Tyler Baker-Williams got beat down field for a huge Cuse TD.

Looks like a pick play. #14 impedes Baker-Williams’ path just enough to open up room. It looks at first glance like he gets burned but he got bumped (light penalty?). He also looks like he pulls up after closing the gap. Maybe it’s the angle of the camera but always seems like guys quit on these long runs a few yards short. Same with Mims on the kickoff return.


This whole game was a seesaw for both sides of the ball for both teams. Remember that Syracuse gave Clemson a run for their money a few weeks ago, they weren’t going to go quietly into the night in this one. But the Pack defense surely tried to make them. This play caused Syracuse to have negative rushing yards at this point in the 2nd quarter.

If Culpepper hadn’t tossed it then Drake Thomas was about to light him up Waterboy style.

Baker-Williams got beat on one play and literally one minute of game time later brings the freaking truck stick. Credit to the coaches for preaching resiliency, these guys aren’t going to quit after one(+) bad play.


Syracuse had six sacks in this game. Play from the offensive line like this is why:

Joe Sculthorpe just gets straight up beat. Shouldn’t really happen with a redshirt senior guard. This was 3rd and 5, Thayer was open over the middle but Hockman needed just another second to get it to him.

For anyone that thinks Ben Finley NEEDED to come in this game, it is likely he would have gotten wrecked a couple times. Offensive line has been struggling down the stretch of this season, any QB back there would likely have been sacked here.


I guess we have to address the Hockman safety. BUT, it must be noted that the filed position was set up by an ill-advised decision by Bam Knight to bring the kickoff out of the endzone:

After that, the pocket gets completely blown up with a 5 man blitz, and Hockman goes in the one direction he simply can’t go in that situation: backwards.

Whether he threw the ball out the back or not, it was going to be a safety.

It looks bad because of that goofy looking throw, but really, Ikem Ekwonu just whiffed on his block. The LB (#32) is the 5th rusher and it doesn’t get picked up. If Ikey holds that edge this may not have happened.

Was Hockman blameless? No. But he wasn’t fully to blame either.


Thayer Thomas is listed at 6’0”. While I think we can all agree that is probably generous, he was actually listed as 6’1” for his first two years. Weird, huh. Emeke Emezie is 6’3”, and Thayer is not only making catches in the slot, he’s catching over the top bombs.

Syracuse rushes 5 again, but this time the pocket holds firm just long enough for Hockman to throw the ball 38 yards in the air on a dime JUUUUST out of the outstretched arms of the defender. We’ve seen many, many underthrown Hockman passes before, but this was right on the money. The defender actually mistimed his jump:

too soon
It’s okay, guy, Thayer’s got it


Tanner Ingle solo tackle. That’s it.

Dude comes in with so much momentum he flips over.

He’s like, just, don’t.


I’m glad that Tim Beck is making room to get Devin Carter touches. If Emezie doesn’t use the freebie year and come back, Carter is likely to be the main WR to fill that slot, he’ll need to be ready. Plays like this make it seem like he will be.

Syracuse again brings 5, but the pocket holds. Ricky Person has slipped out of the flat multiple times so the LB’s stay low giving man coverage downfield.

The big knock against Hockman was his ability to accurately throw the deep ball. Either he’s on the juice or he’s just been on the Body by Thunder routine. He gets it Devin Carter, who has executed an excellent double move to create separation. And the DB tried unsuccessfully to do the hold.

39 yard completion, this was crucial, given where it led to...


I kept seeing that block S logo to the right of the endzone and thinking someone on the field team didn’t switch it out to the Tuffy logo yet. Then I was like, wait, this is at Syracuse. Hence the problem we faced for decades.

Give Dino Babers and his staff credit. They came in with the gameplan of trying to blitz and get after Bailey Hockman. And that they did. They bring 6 rushers here, with a 7th on a delay. Ricky Person does a great job staying home and proving a crucial block.

Do you think Beck should tell the other team he’s looking to get the ball to Thayer? Seems like teams keep being surprised. They must be because he keeps getting open. Actually, he catches the ball whether he’s open or not, nevermind.

I just love the arc on this one. If I wasn’t going through all this film, I wouldn’t really have a full appreciation of the progress Bailey Hockman has made in a short amount of time. At this point it is not a slam dunk that Devin Leary is the guaranteed 2021 starter coming off of a major injury. It’s at least a conversation (again).

8 play, 79 yards, great drive.


Bam doing Bam things.

My man’s just hanging on for dear life.


Emeka Emezie can go long stretches with being quiet in a game, then he’ll make a catch like this and remind you how good he is. On 3rd & 8, Hockman takes a shot with a great pass to Emezie, who makes an even better catch.

But let’s rewind one play. On 2nd & 8, NC State runs almost the same play. They threw to Bam Knight streaking to the endzone.

Hockman overthrew the pass. A better thrown ball and this one is the TD, not to Emezie.

Difference in the two formations, but similar patterns:

2nd & 8
3rd & 8

The adjustment to trips right plus moving the back to the right shifts the defense to the opposite side and now Emezie has single coverage. A Tim Beck offense passes the “eye test” of seeming like it’s producing better results with the same pieces from a year ago, but it’s THESE types of shifts that cause the improvements.

In the past if our offense wanted to catch the defense off guard, they’d try a WR screen pass or a wheel route, or go for a bunch of trickeration. But ultimately these are predictable for an opponent who watches enough film. They’re making it look easy to move the ball down the field consistently. I don’t want to get too hyperbolic just yet, we’ll see if they can keep this up year over year. If so, then this will be the best the NC State offense has looked since the height of the Norm Chow days. Those are big words, but many times over the years it has seemed downright challenging to score. This offense is adapting on the fly with minor tweaks so they don’t know what’s coming next. And this is only YEAR 1! Whatever contract Beck is on, please double it.

But even with that, you still need the guys to make the plays on the field. Emezie is those guys.


Daniel Joseph is a guy who’s made an impact since transferring to NC State from Penn State. He stays at home and doesn’t get fooled by this attempted end-around.

This picture looks like that twisty road sign from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

Isaiah Moore over-pursues but it’s okay because the blitz has the rest of the area covered. Even if Joseph hadn’t gotten it, Wilson, Ingle and Jakeen Harris are all there to make the play. Really liked the red hats swarming to the ball on this play.

Yes, the defense has gotten burned this season by over-committing to the blitz, but overall it’s a good strategy to keep putting pressure on the offense. It puts more pressure on an already strained secondary, though, so it’s a bit of a risk.


This is a good long ball on 3rd & 4 to Devin Carter. I can’t tell if it’s under-thrown or if the placement was intentional.

Here, Carter has to turn for the ball. He makes a great catch and the Cuse defender didn’t look to make a play on it even though it was tight coverage. Can’t shake the feeling that if it was thrown a smidge further that this was a potential TD. These minute differences in down field accuracy could be the difference between for Hockman’s longevity.


Not going to lie, the final Syracuse drive was harrowing. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen an opposing team march down the field to score in the closing seconds of a game. Actually, just go back to the Miami game. Ugh.

After bringing the Orange from their own 25 yard line to the NC State 20, Moore almost intercepts a game icing pass. I swear, NC State must lead the world in ALMOST interceptions.

Next play, Syracuse calls their final timeout. Culpepper completes a 3rd & 10 pass for 11 yards to Taj Harris. This is really the play that could have cost the game if Syracuse ended up scoring later. You go from pressuring the receivers to giving massive cushion over the middle. Harris was wide wide open. This was a crucial play and that can’t happen. 1st & goal, Orange people.


Luckily, NC State’s goalline defense has been quite good this year. 1st down, high snap leads to a late handoff and a run for 2 yards. Then, inexplicably, Dave Doeren calls a timeout as Syracuse is rushing to the line here, clearly unsure of what to do. This is Doeren’s over-preparedness side, he should have let Cuse trip over themselves and trust the defense to do their job. Like they did on 2nd down. Good pursuit by Alim McNeill and good coverage forces Culpepper to just regain the line of scrimmage and step out of bounds.


OKAY, we’ve arrived at the main event. Hopefully you’ve made it this far. Before showing it, I have to feel bad for Culpepper. He played his heart out and almost pulled off a dramatic drive down the field. Syracuse had the ball for all but 1 second of the final 5:20 of the game.

That one second, though.......

On 3rd & goal, Good coverage all around. McNeill and Joseph hound Culpepper all over the backfield. He goes 17 yards backwards before only losing 11. He should have absolutely thrown the ball away well before Payton Wilson put him out of his misery.

(Narrator: But then, Culpepper created more misery for himself)

I dk dude, you just boofed this one. He’ll probably be thinking about this play for the rest of his life. I think he’s a grad senior, so this may be his second to last college game ever. Ooof.

You can see (or may you can’t with these 240p gif’s) the receivers all know it’s 4th down. They all start the play running routes towards the endzone. But Culpepper is making the “spike” motion telling them to get set because he’s going to, well, you know.

The linemen seem to be just as confused as the QB. Watching this over and over, I’m just happy it wasn’t the Wolfpack. Because would it really surprise you? Take the win, look at the positives, correct the negatives and beat GT to get 8 wins in a year nobody thought you could. Maybe even 9 with a bowl. Who the hell knows, this is 2020.

P.S: Have we figured out yet if Thayer can throw to himself? He should try.