Welcome back to the Film Room! Or, as it will be known this week, the Ricky Person, Jr. Truck Stick Memorial to the Poor Guy He Bowled Over, aka the RPJTSMttPGHBO.
This was the week where our offensive line started to realize their true potential for parting the seas and creating huge running opportunities. Both Person and Zonovan Knight had big nights. Knight had a good game against Clemson, but needed a lot of carries to get there, having 23 carries for 79 yards, with his longest being 9 yards. Against LA Tech, he was quite efficient, going 13 carries for 89 yards (6.5ypc), with a TD and a long of 25 yards. Person was nearly identical, 15 for 90 yards (6.0ypc), a TD and long of 24 yards. This dual-hatted approach was ultimately the difference in salting away much of the game.
Let’s go to the video tape!
- First things first, Devin Leary is an absolute gamer
The great thing about doing this series is being able to see the progression of Devin Leary over time. Here, he sees the pocket collapse, spins out of it and rolls to his right but keeps his eyes downfield the whole time.
Leary initially had the right thought to step up in the pocket, but sees that isn’t an option. Right Tackle Bryson Speas needed to hold that side up better. Also, watch Ikem Ekwonu just harass the DT from LA Tech to the point of frustration, it’s pretty funny.
Leary was always pretty good in these bootleg situations, but he’s gotten better. Specifically talking about accurate passing on the run, Leary may be the best QB NC State has had since Jacoby Brissett. He’s not exactly Russell Wilson territory, but with that extra free year of eligibility everyone got, I’m excited to see him continue to grow and make more throws like this:
Emeka Emezie maintains awareness of the play and makes sure he’s a visible target. Leary throws a total dart, 43 yards in the air with one of the tightest spirals possible.
I like how the defender knew he’d been beaten and could only hang on to Emezie for dear life to save the touchdown.
Then Emeka hits ‘em with the MJ shrug:
2. Congrats to Chris Toudle getting his second TD of the year, first since the season opener. This score happened because of two things.
A) Misdirect play action. LA Tech has to respect the run game. The offense pulls left, creating the passing opportunity:
B) Great individual effort by Toudle to get to the endzone. Everyone bites left, the safety reacts late, and Toudle makes him pay.
3. Credit to Austin Kendall for making the most of his opportunities. The former 4 star recruit journeyman QB lit the NC State defense up for 341 yards in the air, with another 71 on the ground. The NC State defense has a long list of good QB’s ahead of them on the schedule, so they can ill afford to have more busted plays like this.
They do a good job of breaking protection but Kendall gets out of Dodge quickly and takes off:
The initial rush looked good for a second. Tony Gibson dials up a LB/CB blitz. Isaiah Moore juuust about breaks in. Upon a second look, however, the LT gets away with an egregious holding (offensive tackling?) penalty, otherwise Derrick Pitts, Jr. is coming around the edge to seal off the run. Pretty sure that’s not legal.
I know I shouldn’t laugh, but this was pretty funny. I just like the “I didn’t do it” look Savion Jackson does here. He’s a big dude, hard to hit the brakes that fast.
4. I feel like I’d be a bad Defensive Coordinator. It’s hard to know when to time your blitzes. When it works, we love Gibson’s tenacity. But when it doesn’t like on LA Tech’s scoring play, it really doesn’t look good.
Here, LB Vi Jones is sent in but he gets picked up while the FB slips out for a wiiiiiiiiide open TD catch. To be fair, those FB catches have a tendency to work specifically because you least expect the guy who’s blocking all the time to go out for a catch.
A receiver went into the endzone so Tanner Ingle had to cover him, and that was too much ground to expect Moore to cover. That was a wide open hole left by Jones. Perhaps he thought the FB was coming up to block him and he was trying to get around. Whatever it was, it was a well executed play to tie the game.
5. An interception so stealthy the announcer didn’t even know it happened. Aydan White reads the play and comes flying in to swipe it away. This is like those bots on ebay that snipe the bid you think is yours right at the last second.
This was a really amazing field-flipping play. The kind of play the defense has been lacking in many years. The improvements to the secondary have made these more likely to continue (knock on wood). The funny part is, had the receiver made the catch, Tanner Ingle was coming in for the kill shot tackle. Credit to White for hanging on.
6. This 52 yard punt by Trenton Gill was great not just because it pinned the opponent inside the 5, but it led to points for NC State.
The State defense was able to hold LA Tech to a three and out. They had to punt from their own endzone to the NC State 44. The Pack just needed to go 37 yards and were able to get Chris Dunn on the board again for a field goal. This was almost derailed with Thayer Thomas coming dangerously close to turning the punt back over, losing about 8 yards in the process.
7. “Devin & Devin are two hard-nosed attorneys willing to do whatever it takes to win for their clients! Call them today, Devin & Devin will go on offense for you! If you catch a case then they will catch it for you/throw it out...?” (I don’t know this is running out of steam)
For real though, Devin Carter is quickly putting himself on track to be the next great receiver from NC State. His timing with Devin Leary continues to get better and better.
This is a throw that did not look like it was going to be caught all the way until it was actually caught. He hit ‘em with the go-go-gadget arms. Defender didn’t even know what happened.
Flex. This play kept the drive going to set up the field goal.
Welcome back, Chris Dunn, we never gave up on you
8. Again with this guy?
Moore and Drake Thomas were spying the QB run, but this left the first level of the field wide open. After staring at this trying to figure out what happened, I think Jakeen Harris and Shyheim Battle both were reading the QB’s eyes and thought the ball was going to the receiver coming from the left side to the right.
They just didn’t see him. Battle had to hit the brakes and change course but it was too late. Tanner Ingle caught up eventually to put a stop to that nonsense.
9. Harris makes up for it later with a good one on one pass breakup for a third down stop.
10. With under 30 seconds left in the half, NC State ran three crucial plays to get the ball in field goal range to close the half. First, Person up the middle for a first down. Good blocking into the second level.
Next, Leary extending plays with his feet and using the sidelines to find both Emezie and Thomas with great throws on the move. Emezie:
Over the outstretched arms of the defender:
Again, over the defense and dropping it in on time, plus Thayer with the back foot drag to make it clear. This is a good angle:
All that quick work paid off because Chris Dunn is good at kicking balls with his feet:
11. Good momentum taking the lead into the half. I liked hearing the coaches get after the players for their lackadaisical approach to the first half. This didn’t quite result in an amazing opening drive of the second half, as the Pack got two first downs before punting from the LA Tech 39 yard line. Wait, what?? Don’t punt from the opponent’s 39, ever. I don’t care if Thayer Thomas came close to downing it at the 1. Come on, Dave. With the touchback you net 19 yards. Was it worth it?
12. Dave would say yes, it was worth it. The defense gets a three and out, the LA Tech punter makes a bad 36 yard kick, and Thayer has a solid 24 yard return. So, after punting from the 39, NC State gets the ball back from the 40. Then the Wolfpack scored in two plays
Okay, Dave, it worked out...this time.
The first play is what happens when the other team respects your run game. Everyone bites on the RPO, even the announcer takes the bait as Leary really sells it before pulling the ball back at the last second. He’s reading the LB’s, sees they aren’t moving to coverage, then finds Carter on the slant for an easy 16 yard gain. Tim Beck is frustrating at times, but easy pass plays like this on first down didn’t happen before he came around.
The next play resulted in a touchdown. I will circle back to it later, trust me.
13. This is just a real unlucky play.
Tyler Baker-Williams makes a good play, but if you’re going to get a piece of the ball you need to get it down. Not tipped directly to the receiver. That’s counterproductive.
I don’t know. We’ve been wanting the DB’s to get their heads around to make a play on the ball. He does that, but doesn’t follow all the way through and results in a 31 yard gain.
14. The previous LA Tech drive ended with a field goal. The ensuing drive for NC State was very impressive: 7 plays for 71 yards and a touchdown. Bam Knight had three different double digit runs on this drive.
This run happens in large (pun intended) because of the massive bodies blocking up front.
Left Guard Chandler Zavala (#64) has not gotten enough love for helping support Ekwonu in creating these massive opportunities to the left side. Here, he gets the first lead block and Ickey gets the next major one to stretch the play.
Keep an eye on the left side of the screen toward the end of the play. You always need to know where #79 is, but good luck stopping him. Just watch how his effort gets two helpless DB’s out of the play simultaneously.
For this one, I’m still not sure how Bam made this happen. Most of the initial blockers thought the play was over once Knight went passed them but he just kept churning inside the mass of bodies and stretched the play to a first down.
After all those runs, it opened up an opportunity for Devin & Devin to get back on the case!
Again, if the defense respects the run, you get single coverage on the outside. Carter does the double move, out and up, creates enough space (defender half-heartedly tries to grab his jersey).
This was another pass Leary made on the move. Upon further review, if I was going to nitpick it seems like Leary could have led Carter more towards the endzone. There was a pocket of space there, as shown in this super blurry and unhelpful picture:
I’m not complaining about the result, but it’s an area of growth opportunity for Leary. Carter had to stop in his tracks to jump for the ball, whereas Leary could have dropped it in to guide him to the endzone.
Ultimately, I’m happy for CJ Riley to get on the board with a TD this season. With eveything he’s had to battle in his career, it’s nice to see him stick with itand get this opportunity.
15. In a drive that ended in a turnover on downs, Ricky Person wanted to put an exclamation point on his night. As good as his blocking was, here he just makes a great individual effort en route to 17 yards.
The stiff arm AND the spin move!
If I criticized Dave for not going for it on fourth earlier, I have to give credit for trying for it here. This fourth and 2 would have really helped, gotta get these.
16. LA Tech refused to go away, making two big chunk plays to score and cut the Wolfpack lead to 7 early in the fourth quarter.
Honestly, it’s blown coverage. Maybe a miscommunication, maybe he wasn’t expecting the ball to be thrown that quickly, perhaps anticipating a deeper route. In the end there’s no excuse for Pitts to leave that much room on a guy.
Gibson dials up a blitz, sends six in but Kendall stays cool and gets it off well in time. This added pressure leaves Chris Ingram on an island. His coverage was about as effective as Wilson was at providing conversation to Tom Hanks.
He’s just out of position the whole way. Yes, there’s some jibber jabber contact, but mostly incidental. Ingram has seen less action as Shyheim Battle (now the starter) becomes a more prominent CB on that side of the field.
17. NC State answered with a lengthy 72 yard drive that heavily featured Zonovan Knight. Mr. Bam got to share the spotlight with Ricky Person, highlighted by this 25 yard run.
Superb blocking here.
1: Dylan McMahon (#54), 2: Dylan Parham (#28), 3: Chandler Zavala (#64), and 4: CJ Riley, (#19) who takes out TWO guys.
Gotta love guys like Parham agreeing to change positions and change his body to get stronger and fill in that blocking TE role left by Dylan Autenrieth.
Also featured was a clutch Porter Rooks 10 yard catch on third and 9 to keep the drive alive. The offense simply must get Rooks more involved, but that’s easier said than done with so many weapons around the field. I have a feeling next year will be huge for Rooks since we’ll need to see someone fill in the void left by Emezie.
Here, Rooks and Thayer go on dual crossing routes. Thayer sets a quasi-pick to get Rooks open. I used to destroy people in NFL Blitz running this play. Worked every time.
Bam Knight was also running the wheel route but was covered, also allowing Rooks more space. This play allowed Bam to stroll in the endzone on the next play with more great blocking, specifically by Parham setting the edge.
18. NC State went up by two scores with under eight minutes remaining, making it seem like they’d put the game away. But nothing is ever that simple, is it?
Credit to LA Tech for staying in the fight, marching down the field, 75 yards in 9 plays.
I understand I’m not a DB or a coach, just a dude with a laptop. I know there are fundamental reasons why DB’s don’t always get their heads around, and instead try to keep your eyes on the receiver and knock the pass away. But it just seems odd, that’s all. This guy did to Shyheim Battle what Devin Carter did earlier.
Honestly great placement by Kendall to put the ball right at the high point for his guy to go get it.
This led to one of the more frustrating TD’s given up by NC State in recent memory. The LA Tech receiver makes Moore miss (maybe he slipped). But then he literally bowls over the combo of Jakeen Harris and Drake Thomas, and gets a push assist into the endzone. If they’d gotten the tackle, it would have been third and short from the 5 yard line, and with the time left that’s two-down territory. So they may have scored anyway, but you never know. Gotta clean that up for ACC play.
19. NC State could have chosen to answer when they got the ball back with 4:36 remaining, but nooooooo. Instead, they have a three and out at the worst time, finishing the drive on this incomplete pass to Toudle:
Credit again to Gill for absolutely crushing his punts tonight (and earning ACC specialist of the week honors while at it!)
Shout out to Keyon Lesane for the great open field tackle. He’s another guy that is in the midst of changing positions. WR has a logjam and he’s finding a home on defense/special teams.
20. The final three minutes of the game happened in slow motion. Austin Kendall methodically marched the team down the field with a 16 play drive. They started from their own 11 yard line, and went all the way down to the NC State 22.
This drive was death by 1,000 cuts. Nothing huge but lots of precise plays at the right time for LA Tech. The worst was this fourth and 10 run for 12 yards by Kendall:
It’s fourth and 10, the game is literally on the line so you want to cover everyone. NC State feigns blitzing five, sends four. Drake Thomas looks to plan to stay as the spy but the RB releases as a receiver so Drake has to go with him. This opens up the middle of the field for a big run. Just brutal.
Kendall was shaken up on the play. Because the refs called an official timeout, Kendall has to sit out of the game for a play, resulting in backup Aaron Allen coming in. This caused major confusion for LA Tech, as they burned 30 seconds and didn’t seem to realize it.
What happened was the official’s timeout only stops the clock temporarily, not fully like a team charged timeout. The clock had stopped to move the chains after the fourth down run, then as soon as Allen subs in and the ball is set, the clock starts to run. Allen and LA Tech didn’t catch it until it was way too late. He snaps the ball with one second on the play clock, and 15 seconds on the game clock.
This sequence was honestly a gift to NC State, as LA Tech was rolling.
Allen throws an incomplete pass, trying a fade to the endzone (bad play choice). Then Kendall comes back in with 11 seconds left, makes an eight yard run, getting them close enough for a heave to the endzone to end the game from the NC State 22 yard line.
Jakeen Harris, on his birthday no less, comes in to save the day and seal the Wolfpack victory. Harris makes a great play, but bails out Tanner Ingle in the process. Ingle had fallen behind the play and out of contention to make a play on the ball. If Harris doesn’t make that play, this is likely a touchdown with LA Tech attempting a PAT with no time on the clock to force overtime for the second week in a row.
It did NOT need to be this difficult. NC State has a history of making things harder on themselves than they need to be. But we have to admit this is the type of game NC State would have lost in the past.
I really liked Coach Doeren’s postgame remarks to the team. He says a win is a win, but openly calls out the team for not playing well, while giving credit to the offense and defense bailing each other out when they needed it.
21. That final play was too stressful to end this post on, so let’s go back to the third quarter for the best run of Ricky Person’s career.
The best block he got after the initial gap was from CJ Riley, giving him the first down. Devin Carter gave a good block initially but his defender came back and had Person straight on, but nope:
That great juke leads to one of the most epic moves I’ve ever seen an NC State player make. I don’t know what the list is, but this is on it.
Just a straight up SAVAGE stiff arm on an unsuspecting would-be defender.
It honestly gets better every time I watch it. And it’s been like a million times already.
Flip that TRUCK STICK!
I’ve got some of your face on my jersey, let me brush that off.
There’s nothing left to say after that. On to the bye week. Rest up. Kill BC. Take the fucking Atlantic. Go. Pack.