Today we spoke with Will Thompson of Backing The Pack, SBNation’s N.C. State Wolfpack community. Definitely check them out for all your NC State news and opinions.
BCI: I watched NC State's game the other week against Clemson and was very impressed with the play of quarterback Ryan Finley. But he had a rough game on Saturday against Louisville. What makes him dangerous, and how were the Cardinals able to contain him?
BTP: Finley's strongest point up until last week was his ability to keep control of the game. I'm hoping last week against Louisville was more of an aberration than anything. He's not going to wow you with any highlight reel plays, but he manages the game very well. He has an arsenal of weapons at his disposal including Matt Dayes and Jaylen Samuels (more on them below), and he's been able to spread the ball around pretty effectively all season. He's also for the most part been very very good on third down, which helps the Pack keep control of the game. The Cardinals were so good at taking NC State out of their rhythm from the get go, as well as limiting their ability to pick up third down conversions. By the time the first quarter was over, Finley was never going to be able to chuck the ball that many times to get the Pack back into the game. In addition, many of us felt like Finley just looked lost the whole game, so again hopefully it was just a one time thing and he can get back to being the effective quarterback we know he can be.
BCI: Matt Dayes, and Jaylen Samuels are two big name weapons for the Wolfpack. How does Dave Doeren use them effectively, and who are some names to look out for?
BTP: Matt Dayes is State's primary running back, and he's one of the best backs in the country. He's very good in primary sets out of the I-formation, but he can also catch passes in the flat and turn the corner very quick. You'll see State try to establish the run very early so that Dayes can get comfortable, which will hopefully open up the passing game for Finley.
I've said this most of the season, but Samuels is really the jack of all trades for the Pack. He's listed as a tight end, but can line up in the slot, in the backfield, really anywhere on the field offensively. In particular, watch out for Samuels running the wheel route - that's one of his specialties.
As far as other names to watch out for, Thaddeus Moss is a freshman that plays very similarly to Samuels. Yes, he is the son of Randy Moss, and he definitely has his father's ability to make insane catches. Nyheim Hines is another name to watch, as he is very capable of making big plays in the passing game.
BCI: Let's look at the defense, and forget about passing defense right now, let's look at the aspect of the d that really matters the rushing defense. How is the Pack against the run?
BTP: The Pack's front four is one of the best units in the country. They have a tremendous amount of size, and they hit as hard as any team in the country. BC will have their work cut out for them having to contain the likes of Darius Roseboro and Kentavius Street from the defensive line. But don't sleep on some of the defensive backs, either. Dravious Wright and Shawn Boone are players the BC offense should absolutely be aware of. For BC to be successful on Saturday, they're going to need to get into third and short situations, because in conference games NC State is giving up first downs on almost 43% of attempts in conference games.
BCI: Last week Syracuse almost blew the game with penalties and mental mistakes. Do you see Doeren making lots of questionable decisions, or has he been pretty consistent this year?
BTP: Well, I'd expect a similar number of penalties given the way State's season has gone so far. The Pack has had an unfortunate propensity for making a lot of pre-snap penalties this year, and in some games have had well over 100 yards in penalties. They were able to defeat Wake Forest despite almost 150 yards in penalties, but I can't imagine that being a winning formula for any team. As far as the play calling from Doeren, I think they've been pretty consistent so far this year. They've had some questionable play calls at times, but that's to be expected for any team.
BCI: Prediction Time: What have you got?
BTP: This is a vitally important game for NC State if they want to make a bowl game. I think the Pack will look to wash the stink off their hands from last week's beatdown from Louisville and try to take control of this game early. If Towles is not able to go for BC, I think NC State will look to turn up even more pressure on the BC offense. I look for the Pack to win this game by 17, 31-14.