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Film Room - Cruise Control edition vs CSU

A welcomed reprieve

NCAA Football: Charleston Southern at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Watching NC State play a team like CSU is not about whether they won or not, but how did they look doing it. I was looking for them to be more comfortable on offense, really try to stretch the field, and have stronger tackling on defense. I think they accomplished these and there were a lot of positives to take out of this game that can be carried forward for the rest of the season.

1. We can all agree that Devin Leary needed to look better in this game. The coaches were trying to get him in a groove early, calling 5 passes out of the first 6 plays.

They wasted no time going big with the first pass of the game, going for it all with a bomb to Chris Toudle. He either overthrew or didn't put enough air under it. I'm hoping this is a sign they know they need to be more aggressive in the air attack.

Next play, quick strike to Devin Carter for a sharp first down. Very crisp. As soon as Leary made this pass it was clear he was back on track. See how he immediately sets his feet and squares his shoulders after the play fake, he’d already seen Carter was open and wanted to get it right to him.

That drive ended up stalling and they settled for a field goal, and the next drive went three and out. There were some moments in there that brought initial worries about consistency, but the signs for positive work were there. And those worries subsided pretty quickly once the offense came back on the field.


2. It took until the Pack’s third offensive drive to really get cooking. Here Leary hits Keyon Lesane for a first down, who had another good first down later on the same drive. It's good that he’s getting looks, that needs to continue. Here, Leary progresses through his reads and sees the underneath LB stick with Thayer Thomas, giving Lesane man coverage out wide. He put the ball high for Lesane to grab it.


3. Leary with the tough TD run! I can’t be the only one who was terrified seeing this. Don’t get me wrong, it was probably the strongest run of his career, but it’s still scary seeing QB1 put his body out there like that against this kind of opponent. It was worth it in the way it hyped up the whole team. If the guys see the Captain QB putting himself in the mix that sets the tone.

Don’t get me wrong, I applaud the aggressiveness. At the same time, it's also game 2 against Charleston Southern, just makes me nervous that’s all.

The Pack had a 12 play, 95 yd drive, finishing it off with Leary's 12 yd TD run. The game is already out of reach for CSU.


4. Late in the first quarter, Demi Sumo-Karngbaye picked up where he left off with this first down run. It was a patient run where he looked for the opening. Good blocking creates a GIANT hole to run through. Don’t expect to see lanes this massive many other times this season.


5. Early second quarter, Jordan Houston with the red zone run to set up another Leary rushing TD. Houston is the shifty back. He side steps the RG to glide through an opening that closed right after he went through, hits the circle button to spin off the LB, then hits square to dive near a first down.


6. A false start pushed the offense back 5 yards, they gotta clean that up. It's kind of inexcusable with such an experienced o-line. Another Houston run got those yards right back to set up third down.

I like this play call, CSU went all out thinking Sumo was running it. To their credit, there hasn’t been a lot on film to tell them to expect Leary to run in this situation. NC State clearly loves to hand it to the back to dry and bulldoze in. Instead, Leary doubles his career total of rushing TD’s in the first quarter alone today. Where was this play call in Greenville?

I can’t tell who that is coming in motion to lay a big block to seal the corner, maybe one of you has better eyes than me. Leary probably makes it in anyway, but that block allows him to change directions to cut wide outside.


7. Drake Thomas with the tackle. There was more on his shoulders (as per usual) with Payton Wilson not playing today. Likely, Wilson was just nursing the shoulder given the lesser opponent, the coaches knew they could manage without him as we now know he will play vs Texas Tech. The RT has his hands full with Drake, who pulls off the block to make the tackle. Very impressive.


8. First play of the next drive. Big pass attempt to Carter, clearly they’re trying to prove to all of us doubters by saying “SEE! We can throw it long!” Even if it’s into double coverage, I guess. I wonder if Leary purposely overthrew the ball because there wasn’t really an opening to complete the pass.


9. Or maybe they were just setting up this next play. This was an example of a good screen, they get Porter Rooks in motion to fake one way and come back to Houston with the screen. Good that Rooks is being a team player being used as a decoy, but I’d love for him to get more looks and soon. Drop him in the slot, see if he can spell Thayer.


10. Then, on the ery next play, Leary completes a big pass to Houston for the TD! I have been saying this for a long time, I can not stress this enough, I have a fever, and the only prescription, is more wheel routes. I need more wheel routes!

Play action to Houston, Rooks is again used as the decoy while Houston rolls that wheel to burn the hapless LB that really had no chance of keeping up.


11. Next defensive drive had a few good blitzes and fourth down stop. Ayden White got called for an unnecessary DPI that helped extend the CSU drive, but they went for it on fourth down and the Wolfpack defense held strong.

Back on offense, I’m going to say this was not a good shovel by Leary. I think he’d want that one back. You can tell if he’d just stepped into it he’d have been able to get the oomph needed to get it to Toudle. It was the right read, he had the potential for some good YAC. In addition to bigger pass plays, putting your athletes in position for YAC is an area of opportunity for this offense. I just like saying YAC. YAC YAC YAC YAC.


12. Quick WR screen to Julian Gray third down catch to keep the drive alive. Thayer gives the defender a little rub to slow him down and create space. It’s also hard to fully see what’s happening because the Bally Sports cameraman was jerking the camera around like he’d had too many Tuffy’s.

This Leary TD bomb to Smith was just what we needed to see. Love how he shrugs off the sack. This was probably the play of the game, though you’d have a lot to pick from in a 55-3 victory.

Happy that Smith got one finally. Doeren has said he wants these guys included more, he admitted this week that they need these guys to get reps every week so they’re ready to take a larger role next year. I’m hoping to see a similar type play against Texas Tech.


13. In the red zone, Leary tried to make something happen, pointing downfield. Had guys open on the right, though. The RB (I think it was Demi) didn’t seal the edge of the pocket so Leary was forced to throw it away before progressing through his reads.

Mimms with the screen pass TD on the next play, good for him joining the club of guys getting their first TD’s today. SO many pancake blocks on this one, Ickey would be proud. They just cleared a path for him.

It’s great how everyone’s happy for him and any of the guys getting their first taste today.


14. Into the third quarter, the CSU offense had a bit of mojo but then T-Bake came in like a heat-seeking missile for the strip sack to rid them of any silly thoughts of scoring a touchdown on this day. I like how the CSU lineman comes flying in to grab the ball and is waving his hands around to grab it but Travali Price has already secured it behind him. Good job, good effort.

That feeling when you realize you’re completely outmatched. Kinda feel bad for the dude, this was a rough day at the office.

Show me your bone. Price gets it but Tyler Baker-Williams gets the credit.


15. On the very next play, the Pack offense goes for the jugular with the shot to the endzone and Leary finds Toudle for the score with a beautifullllll pass with touch. I was hoping not to see Leary in the second half, but this was his curtain call for the day. We would go on to see Jack Chambers play his former team. I’ve watched this several times and can’t get over how nice it is. Leary gets to the back line of the endzone, keeping it high for Toudle to make the catch, but arcing it so it’s catchable. Is nice.

Watch how he keeps his eyes downfield the whole time, just sensing the pressure around him and stepping up to make the throw.

This is the EXACT kind of play call we’ve been hoping to see. I just hope these aren’t saved for these types of games. The scheme should keep the foot on the gas to put teams away and not keep the window open at all.


16. T-Bake got another pick on the third play of the ensuing drive.

It was thrown behind the receiver but he still had very good coverage and took advantage of the opportunity. It wasn’t too long ago when these types of gift interceptions would bounce off the DB’s hands, so we should appreciate the work that coaches Tony Gibson, Freddie Aughtry-Lindsay, and Joe Deforest have put into the secondary.


17. Jack Chambers came in but they didn’t give him many opportunities. The initial passes he did throw weren’t great. It’s tough to come in cold to a game in full flow. On his fourth drive, he started to click when he threw a nice one to Smith who couldn’t come down with it.

Juuuust out of reach. This is the difference Leary provides, matter of inches drops this right into Smith’s hands and he walks into the endzone. Good effort by him to still try and make the play.

Chambers had nice touch on the ball, just threw it long.


18. Chambers kept pushing in that drive with a nice TD pass to Jalen Coit, who also gets his first TD.

You can see why the CSU fans have been so complimentary of Chambers. He’s set many records for that school, he has all the tools, and they say he is one of the best QB’s that school has had. He steps into this throw and drops it into the back corner.


19. TIP DRILL!!! I’m going to be honest, the second half of this game was mostly garbage time and seemed to drag on forever. CSU put in their backup QB, who seems to not see Jordan Poole standing in front of his intended receiver. It’s good Poole got heavy burn in this game, he put his vertical to the test to tip that pass. RS freshman Patrick Turner put a big pancake hit and the second shove for good measure. He’s doing his best Drake Thomas impression. RS freshman Jalen Frazier with the heads up play and broke on tip just right to snag it.

Sign that bone, kid!

It’s so cool to see the rest of the team happy for the backups, the starters stay engaged in the game to support the young guys.


20. Random notes:

Leary was playing on his birthday, quite the way to celebrate it. It was also nice that the band sang him happy birthday:

He tied Mike Glennon and Philip Rivers with 6 TDs in a single game. Both of those guys threw for 5 and ran for 1, so he’s the first one in school history to rush for 2 and pass for 4. Also, 14 different guys caught passes. You might have half that many on a usual game, so it’s good for other guys to get those reps.

Leary was taking phone calls from Beck in between series, as he moved upstairs this week. After the game, Dave Doeren said, “it’s frustrating when you come in on Sunday and you watch the film and you’re like, ‘man if I saw that I’d have done something different.’ I had another conversation after the last game and I just decided that’s enough, I’m not going to hear that anymore. So, for him to be able to make the checks and audibles the way he wants from the press box, I think he’s just got better eyes up there.” He also noted that coach Roper has coached QB’s in the past and can talk to Leary on the field as needed. Many times, you don’t get a ton of info out of the press conferences but I felt like this was an interesting insight into how Doeren has matured as a coach to be able to make a decision like that for the benefit of the team. We’ll see how it works out the rest of the way.

Here’s your #goacc moment of the week, Bally Sports showed Brennan Armstrong and not Leary’s face. Credit to the announcer for spotting it right away though.

They quickly took it down and corrected it, but can we just drop these RSN’s already, bah.

There was nothing really to show with the two MJ Morris completions. We were hoping for a glimpse into next year, but he was mostly in kill the clock mode. He had two completions for 38 yards, but the 30 yarder was a short screen pass that Delbert Mimms broke free on. Mimms showed a lot of promise, though.


Conclusion: This was a fun relaxing game, can they all be like this? Please? We saw what we needed to with the offense having more life and the defense being its usual stout self. Texas Tech allegedly has a weak secondary, a gameplan similar to this would be good to take advantage. It was good seeing Leary in a groove, hopefully he worked out any rust and doesn’t take too long to get going this weekend. Let’s just hope that all the passes don’t go back to underneath stuff and leaning on the screen passes.