I have questions, and NC State has answers, plus stuff that leads to additional questions. With one week done, I'm curious to see where the screws have been tightened, and what may begin to emerge as a season-long problem (or strength!). A few things worth watching:
1. Yes, hello, front seven, it's me, Steven.
A handful of chunk plays from Troy marred what was otherwise a decent performance by NC State's defense, but still we didn't hear much from the guys at the point of attack. Kentavius Street had a nice play on the first series of the game, and Eurndraus Bryant made a nice stuff later on, but State didn't provide consistent pressure behind the line of scrimmage, and we didn't hear the linebackers' names called very much.
Some fundamental mistakes cost the Pack big plays, most notably when Dravious Wright crashed into the box on a misread (or a "bad fit," as a coach would say) during the second half, which resulted in a long Troy touchdown run. In Week 2, State needs the big fellas, and the linebackers, to be more disruptive against a team that will be more reliant on running the ball.
2. How much Jaylen Samuels is too much Jaylen Samuels?
We honestly have no idea how to even estimate an answer to this question. NC State has not approached what could theoretically be considered too much Jaylen Samuels. The motion action in the run game will be there for Samuels***, but I'd like to see the Wolfpack get him more involved in the downfield passing game. Scientists have very little evidence suggesting this man can be tackled. A dubious amount, I'd venture. Get him the ball so we can have points.
(***Hilarious part of this play is Benson Browne chipping the edge defender, then moving on to the second level with absolutely no one in his area code to block. It was a good play.)
3. Stretch the field just a little bit
NC State got away with the absence of a vertical passing game against Troy, and should be able to do so again against Eastern Kentucky, but I'm looking for signs of life here. Listen, if the Pack can work effectively calling the same motion-option play over and over like we saw against Troy, that's great. When State works off of play action, though, it needs to be able to make defenses pay for stacking the box and/or run blitzing.
The Pack's offense won't take the next step until it starts crushing people with play-fakes; they ran some good ones in Week 1, plays that were well-sold by Brissett, but amounted to little. I think Matt Canada's instinct for change-of-pace calls was good; it just didn't pay off.
This is the "offense under construction" portion of the season, where things won't necessarily click like they will down the road. That's fine; that's what everybody deals with. I'm lookin' for this unit to level up, and that means a sharper Jacoby Brissett, and a receiving corps that has a better idea of what it needs to be doing, or rather, where it needs to be.