A loss to Louisville in the rain at home puts a damper on the position ratings this week, but a few groups did their job on Saturday.
This was the first game this season where it would be fair to say that Jacoby Brissett struggled. He finished 16-28 with a touchdown and still no interceptions, but something seemed off. Several passes went into the dirt or were offline. He continued to take care of the ball, he just could not string enough plays together to win the game.
The strength of this team performed alright, but did not excel like they did during the non conference schedule. Matt Dayes had just 68 yards but added a short touchdown run. He added three receptions for 22 yards. Reggie Gallaspy had just the one carry for 3 yards. The running game needs to be more direct against talented foes.
The receivers were not the focal point of the offense as usual and had a roller coaster game. Early on, Jumichael Ramos had a huge play early on, taking a slant route almost 50 yards but fumbled on the 5 and changed the game entirely. Bra'lon Cherry had two short receptions, as did Johnathan Alston. Nyheim Hines had a potentially game-changing kick return inside the 10, but was missed a few times deep by Brissett.
David Grinnage's lone seven yard catch was the only statistical contribution from the unit, but the trio were decent in blocking the big Cardinals's front seven.
Samuels continued his touchdown streak, with a short reception for a score to keep the team in it. He made a long catch and run to set up the score as well. Surprisingly, he did not have a single carry, but that is nothing he can help.
The line struggled coming off a dominant performance against South Alabama, but that was somewhat to be expected with the ramp up in competition and the injuries at left guard. However, their opponents won't get any better, especially with the likes of Clemson and Florida State still on the schedule. Brissett did occasionally have time to pass, but also took three sacks.
One of the few relative bright spots, the line led the way for the three quarterback sacks tallied by State. The rotation seems to be coming into focus, and Darian Roseboro is starting to solidify himself in that grouping with his strong play. A few of the long runs don't make them look better, but that was a collective defensive effort.
Airius Moore and Jerod Fernandez had their usual decent performance on Saturday. They made a several tackles at the line and were fine against the pass. Even true freshman Riley Nicholson played a few snaps and made some plays.
The back line got beat a few times, but ultimately held their own. Hakim Jones made some good tackles in the run game and Mike Stevens continued to show his worth. The downside of the performance was the lack of turnovers generated, which lies mostly on the shoulders of the back five.
This was perhaps the most up-and-down unit of the day. Hines had the play of the game for the Pack with his kick return that set up one of the two scores. AJ Cole punted relatively well, but Kyle Bambard continued to struggle, missing an extra point that could have cost the Pack the game.