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NC State’s new reality at linebacker: Living with freshman mistakes

The youths will have to try to fill Isaiah Moore’s shoes.

Clemson v NC State Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

NC State didn’t want to do it, but there’s no choice in the wake of Isaiah Moore’s injury: they’re going to have to rely on freshmen to play a lot of snaps in this middle of the defense. Second-year freshman Devon Betty, who played 41 snaps against Miami, is the new first-stringer at middle linebacker. Behind him on the depth chart is Jordan Poole, who was one of the top recruits in State’s 2021 class.

Have a look at the difference in college experience between Moore and the two guys who are tasked with replacing him:

Middle Linebackers

... 2021 GP 2021 Starts 2021 Snaps Career GP Career Starts
... 2021 GP 2021 Starts 2021 Snaps Career GP Career Starts
Isaiah Moore 7 7 336 42 42
Devon Betty 5 0 88 16 0
Jordan Poole 1 0 ST 1 0

That is ... stark. Betty at least was able to get his feet wet in the blowouts against South Florida and Furman, but he was almost exclusively a special teams player in 2020, logging only six defensive snaps. When Moore was healthy and the games were tighter, State’s coaches were reluctant to play Betty at all: he played three snaps at Mississippi State, didn’t appear in the Clemson or Louisiana Tech games, and was on the field for just one play at BC.

Poole has appeared in one game during his true freshman season, and that was on special teams, so he’s yet to line up for the defense.

Mistakes and other growing pains are inevitable moving forward, and we’re going to have to live with that. Moore’s injury has NC State in an uncomfortable position, and while this will pay off down the line, it’ll come with its share of frustrations for the rest of 2021.