I had the feeling while watching this game that something felt off. I thought, “people are going to see the final score and say that NC State is legit now!” And that has pretty much happened in the last few days. The Pack are just starting to get the recognition they deserve, but still have work to do. I agree that State is the front runner in the Atlantic and is in the top 2 of the conference, but that doesn’t mean that this was the “dominant” win it looks like on paper. Don’t get me wrong, it felt GREAT riding through the fourth quarter feeling low blood pressure. A comfortable NC State win is not usually the way things go around here, but there we were.
After reviewing the game, it struck me that this game perfectly encapsulates what coach Dave Doeren has been trying to preach to his team for the last couple of years. NC State has had some really rotten “luck”, we know dis. But sometimes luck is something you can help speak into existence. He has said they need to prepare to capitalize on opportunities when they present themselves. Luck is the combination of preparedness and opportunity. There were a LOT of 50/50 plays that seemed like flukes, but NC State came into the game fully prepared and stayed mentally present in the moment to be quicker to jump on those moments than BC. Many of these plays could have gone the other way, but State made sure they didn’t. We’ve seen games where NC State behaved like BC in those moments, but State was the aggressor this week. It’s a new look, and boy does it look great on them.
On to the video tape!
- Pregame hype was legit. Doeren said after the game that was intentional. He wants the opposing sideline and their fans to see how hyped they are, to show they aren’t intimidated about playing on the road. I have to say, when I saw this I got a great feeling about this game. The team was not locked in like this in Starkville. This is what it takes to win on the road.
Before we begin, shout out to Alec for a stat that seems like it will become relevant very very soon:
2. Devin Leary and Bam Knight are getting really good at running the RPO. This time, they used the team’s well earned reputation of running left to get the whole defense to bite on the run. Leary pulls the ball back to hit Thayer Thomas on the post-slant.
By the time the sam linebacker realized it was a pass it was too late. Leary was decisive with the ball, hitting Thayer in stride.
3. Devin and Devin, back in action! They don’t waste any time getting to work, so we’re not wasting much time getting right to Devin Carter’s circus TD catch. Now, as great of a play it was, we have to first admit that this ball was under thrown by Leary. His deep ball is an ongoing area of improvement. Sometimes it seems like he’s more accurate throwing deep while on the run than he is taking 3 steps back in the pocket.
That being said, Carter gets full credit for the supreme presence of mind to recognize the ball off the bounce, grab it and then turn up to score. This is the first of several times throughout the night the NC State receivers exposed the BC secondary for their lack of awareness on what was happening around them.
The level of concentration (or, if you’re the ACC, it’s spelled “concertation”) and awareness to snatch that ball... Just stunning.
For all the years I’ve been watching NC State football, I’ve seen so many plays where the receiver quit on the play if it was underthrown like this. Dave Doeren said after the game that catching through contact was an emphasis going into the game because of how they knew BC played defense. Can’t get much more contact than this. It was pass interference (you can see it clearer below) that wasn’t called and Carter didn’t care. #20 on BC legit thought the pass was incomplete. When he turned to see the referee signal touchdown, he was dumbfounded. I don’t blame him, honestly, if you replay this 100 times, how many times does it result in not just a catch but a touchdown??
But these are those flukey moments the Wolfpack are finding ways to capitalize on. If Carter quits on the play, the drive is over. I doubt Doeren would go for it on the BC 40 yard line on the first drive of the game. Instead of coming up emptyhanded, the Wolfpack strike first.
In his press interviews this week, Carter downplayed the catch, calling it a “simple play”. From his perspective it was a quick bang-bang play, and it looks much better in slow motion. I appreciate his humility, and want to see more. Potentially two more years of Devin & Devin sounds like fun.
Speaking of dumbfounded. This play led to one of the greatest surrender cobras NC State has ever caused:
Trust me, bro, I understand that feeling. We’ve all been there.
4. I guess some jump passes are good? Maybe the key is both guys jump? I dfk.
5. The Ricky person hit from last game was fun. This was not fun to watch from the other side.
Pat Garwo III just straight up leveled Aydan White.
Like, I feel like we’re watching his soul leave his body. All I can say is thankfully White is okay. BC still runs the football strong, don’t get it twisted.
6. BC’s first TD is a recurring trend where teams are finding a weakness in the State defensive sets. The LB’s do a great job covering their portion of the field, but if receivers can get behind them it opens up opportunities for the opposing team.
Here, the TE for BC made a good double move and then just hid behind the LB’s. Jaylong Scott has played great in place of Payton Wilson, but he gave up the inside lane on this play. The safeties need to see that earlier and cover.
7. State defense gave up several long runs in the first half. Here, Shyheim Battle over-pursued and the BC offensive line got great push into the second level.
Another one. Solid protection, he made a cut and the line made a great hole that hit at speed.
Thankfully, State limited plays like these in the second half. Key stat of the game: BC had 100 rushing yards at the half. They finished the game with 97.
8. Devan Boykin you have arrived!
First, this monster hit:
He timed it perfectly, lowered his shoulder to avoid targeting and dislodged the ball. The receiver got his bell rung, and stayed on the ground like, “I just...need a minute.”
Unfortunately, this was negated by one of the most egregiously bad roughing the passer calls possible. Daniel Joseph looked like he was playing two-hand touch out there. Grosel just follows his training and sits down like a punter flopping at the slightest contact, and gets a gift of a flag.
Back to Boykin, this pass breakup in the endzone may just be the best play by a member of the NC State secondary in...years? That’s probably exaggerating, but this play was phenomenal. This was a guy who was thrust into action last year, and those reps are paying off this year.
Boykin actually got beat off the line, he almost bit on the play action going right. But he realized it and recovered.
Such a good play. Stopped a touchdown AND led to BC missing the ensuing field goal. Huge stop. This shows the resiliency of the team to not get down after a dumb penalty. Many people have noted that defenders don’t necessarily need to turn their heads back to the ball. They can read the receivers and disrupt the catch without interfering and getting a penalty. This is exactly what Boykin did. I was expecting a flag just out of habit.
I almost feel bad for the lone cheerleader who doesn’t realize what happened and is celebrating the BC TD that never came to be. Almost.
Also, Boykin was rewarded with his play this week by being named ACC Specialist of the Week. Well deserved.
9. Leary connected with Chris Toudle to bail out this slightly busted play. Some miscommunication on the play action led to Leary fake handing it off to nobody. Luckily he was able to recover, make a defender miss and find Toudle for the first down.
Another miscue by Leary here. He should have either thrown the ball away or gotten out of bounds on this scamper. He did neither, going down well in bounds so the clock kept running. Doeren noted this was a teachable moment for Leary.
But overall it was a good long drive to eat up 6:05 of clock. Credit to the field goal team to be ready to run out there and quickly get the kick up and good.
10. NC State scored to end the half and again right away to start the second half. But wait, BC got the ball after the half, didn’t they? Well, yes, they did. State almost got a stop on third down, but committed a dumb penalty to extend the BC drive. The defense stood strong and forced a punt soon thereafter... leading to this:
It was noted elsewhere that CJ Riley was very likely going to block this punt anyway, that’s how clearly NC State busted through this punt protection. Boykin sure had a hell of a game, huh? Another State player making a play with great presence of mind. Most guys would see a fumble and just try to jump on it. He seized the opportunity to turn into six. Who doesn’t love a good scoop ‘n score? I guess BC in this case, that’s fair.
In three minutes of game time, the score went from 7-7 to 17-7.
This play was reminiscent of the Chuck Amato era. He loved going after kicks. I’ve been thinking for a while that Dave Doeren takes some of the best aspects of Tom O’Brien and Amato. He’s disciplined but also wants his players to have fun and play loose, but with solid fundamentals. Kind of like how Miami USED to play.
This was quite honestly the back breaker in this game. The crowd had come back in it after halftime, and the Pack took them out of it permanently with this play. BC got very little the rest of the game.
11. BC’s first play after the scoop ‘n score was a 20 yard pass that seemed almost too easy for them to complete. The defense did not get rattled, however. That play was followed by an incomplete pass, a 1 yard run, and then Isaiah Moore entered the chat. Tip drill!
Just like the TD pass to Carter, this required a lot of “concertation”, and quick thinking to grab that live ball. The Pack really enjoys these tip drills.
Unfortunately, this is what BC is going to be living with playing Dennis Grosel right now. NC State fans lived through the inconsistency from one play to the next of a backup QB last year. Grosel shows flashes, then hits a guy on a slant route too high. Mark Richt made a good point on the postgame show that a QB has to hit a guy on a slant between the numbers to the knees. If you hit him high, he has to reach up, which usually ends in a tipped pass. This plass clearly sailed on Grosel, and Moore was there to collect as a penalty.
Another turnover, you know what that means, bone me, please:
12. I need to take a quick detour for some Ickey pancakes. I look forward to watching his highlight reels leading up to the next NFL draft.
Shout out to #20 who wanted absolutely none of that smoke Big Ick was bringing. I can never get enough of Ickey hitting the same guy multiple times. He was legit chasing after him.
13. Okay where were we? The drive right after the Moore interception was quite impressive. The pick gave the Pack good field position, starting at their own 39. They went 7 plays in 3:47 down the field for the TD. Leary and Bam Knight each had short runs, the rest were passes, and Leary went 4-5 and the score.
The first pass to Emeka Emezie really features a quick decision by Leary to pull the back from the RPO and hit the pass button:
Next up, I really like this play to Thayer Thomas. This is a modified version of the pick play they ran against LA Tech. This time, they bring Thayer in motion, then immediately slant him back across the line of scrimmage as Leary drops back.
It’s always fun when a buddy picks off two defenders for you to get a big 24 yard gain. The other wrinkle here is Bam Knight immediately released on a wheel route. This takes the LB with him and totally opens up the right side of the field for Thayer. This play is a combination of Tim Beck ingenuity, along with buy-in from the players to all play unselfishly for the gain of the team.
14. Same drive, two plays later. Bam Knight getting more involved in the passing game just makes this offense more lethal. This pass had some great blocks plus some excellent footwork by Knight to go for 17 yards and set up first and goal.
Relevant tweet based on that run (Also FYI, Miami leads the ACC in missed tackles):
Missed Tackles Forced Leaders, ACC:— Dan Siegel (ACC Content) (@ACContent__) October 20, 2021
1. Sean Tucker, Cuse - 49
T2. Zonovan Knight, NC State - 35
T2. Ty Chandler, UNC - 35
4. Ricky Person, NC State - 34
5. Mateo Durant, Duke - 30 pic.twitter.com/rh6x76QqjB
The blocks are just so sweet, #53 RG Derrick Eason and #56 RT Bryson Speas clear the way and Bam does the rest.
The Speas block is hilarious because #20 did not want to get pancaked so he halfheartedly attempted a chop then basically lied down and Speas hit him anyway.
This play really brought out a feeling throughout this game of NC State just seeming “bigger” than BC. They have more firepower now they know it. Bam got great blocks, but those were only three yards into the run. He still had great individual effort to get the other 14 yards.
15. Very next play, going right back to the pass. BUT, this play shows how much the defense has to respect the NC State run game.
I’m going to call this play the RPO Stunner. Dang, that’s a good name, I should save that one for something really great. Okay, so this one was still stunning. See what I did there?
We’ll show the progression of the play forward and backward, boomerang-style so you can see what went down.
#1: Leary and Knight really sold the RPO, and Leary pulled it out when he saw the mike linebacker bite, and bite he did. The LB shuffled to his right, giving Leary just enough of a window to fire the pass in there with some hot chili on it.
#2: The pass lane doesn’t fully open if Trent Pennix doesn’t draw the sam linebacker toward the top of the play, clearing out the space for Dylan Parham to do a quick button hook and sit right inside the goal line.
Scary moment here, though, for Parham getting tied up with his leg under him. Doeren confirmed he’s okay, so lots of phewww for that. Really happy for Parham to get some love with a TD, as he’s done everything asked of him to bulk up in the switch to TE to help with run blocking. The defefender did not need to do this. He’s already caught the pass, you’re gonna hurt somebody like that. It’s unnecessarily rough, if only there were a penalty for that or something. Somebody write in to the suggestion box. There’s a suggestion box, right?
Really good throw by Leary to get the ball low in the numbers. This is in contrast to the tipped pass by Grosel that Moore intercepted. What to do vs what not to do, and I’m happy to see the progression Leary is making with these small decisions.
16. The defense gets on and off the field in just 1:44 with a three and out. The offense comes back, and says, “off the field in three plays? psssh, watch this!”
First play is a run with Ricky Person for no gain, then Leary and Thayer Thomas decide to just end it with a 79 yard touchdown pass. Of the total yards, 19 were in the air and the other 60 were Thayer turning on the turbo jets. Sometimes I feel like the QB shouldn’t get all the yards in the YAC with all the hard work the receiver does, but I digress.
Here we have another crossing route/pick that kinda shouldn’t have worked, but worked out extremely favorably.
This was another play with Leary on the run. I initially wanted to give Leary tons of credit for such a great play with touch on the pass. Looking at it from this angle, I’m not convinced he should have thrown this pass, and Thayer bailed him out with a great catch. He threw the ball into a spot with two of his guys and two defenders.
At the same time, #9 on BC wasn’t even in the play, no awareness the ball was coming, so that was a bit of luck. Like the Carter catch, NC State took advantage of a miscue by the BC defense to turn a flukey play into six points. I don’t think this play is replicable.
Also, are we sure Chris Toudle didn’t totally wipe out both BC defenders in a halfway on purpose type deal? Upon review, it’s a little gray on whether he intentionally slid and kinda sorta caused a two defender pileup. Shrug emoji, scoreboard.
I can not say that this collision was done intentionally. But I can also NOT not say that it was intentional.
17. Shyheim Battle was one of the recent star recruits that’s paying dividends now, making consistent plays in the secondary. Along with focusing on recruiting this position of need, the imprint Joe DeForest has had in the last year is immeasureable. Unless you measure pass breakups and interceptions. These types of plays would have resulted in either a completion or a pass interference. Now they can regularly stop these passes in their tracks, playing them cleanly.
18. I want to go back to the sequence right after the Boykin pass breakup in #8 above.
A story in 3 parts:
This guy was so distraught about Boykin’s play he knocked over the girl behind him and didn’t even notice.
Part 1: Minding your own business
Part 2: What, in the actual fuck
Part 3: All good!
This missed field goal felt like redemption for the turrible roughing the passer penalty called on Joseph, but credit to the defense for being resilient and getting the stop.
Ball. Do. Not. Lie.
19. After the big TD catch and run by Thayer, the rest of the game stayed relatively the same with a few remaining highlights.
This pass play is similar to ones that BC had consistent success with. It is something the Wolfpack will have to button up moving forward. Receivers can drop right in the middle of the zone, as shown here for a 19 yard gain. There was another later in the game towards the sideline.
Again, the NC State defense shook that off. Here, Ibrahim Kante shows great pursuit for the sack. He just blows passed the LT and chases down Grosel.
This was key because it dropped BC back from third and 6 to fourth and 10, leading to this key tackle just short of the chains. Three defenders running to the ball, and Aydan White making a tremendous open field tackle. From a pure tackling perspective, this NC State defense is night and day from where it was a few years ago. Turnover on downs.
20. Moore nearly had another interception later in the fourth quarter. I don’t think Grosel saw him and threw a soft pass over the middle.
Moore had an excellent break on the ball, missed it by THAT much.
It’s okay buddy. My dude needs a hug. But you gotta love the passion for the game the Captain brings. He’s leaving it all out there, setting the example for others to follow. This is why Tyler Van Dyke is mistaken. This may be mostly the same group from last year, but they are one year older, and these games mean that much more to them.
21. The last big sequence of the game can first be attributed to Trent Gill’s OUTSTANDING punt and recovery by CJ Riley. This buried BC at their own 2 yard line.
This set up the ensuing play where reserve middle LB Devon Betty ran unopposed up the middle to add on to BC’s pain with a safety.
The backup to the backup QB was in the game at that point, and his look of dejection when he turns around to see what happened is honestly priceless.
And once again... bone me.
In conclusion, “players make plays, baby (bird sounds)”.
Speaking of this conference...
Can’t link it because it was quickly deleted... for reasons: