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Behind Enemy Lines: Talking NC State Football With Backing The Pack

What can we expect from the Wolfpack on Saturday?

NCAA Football: Sun Bowl-Arizona State vs North Carolina State Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

Every week during the season, opposing writers will give their perspectives on the upcoming game. Today we talked to Will Thompson of Backing the Pack, SB Nation’s premier NC State blog. Check them out on Twitter.

BCI: NC State hasn’t really played a physical running offense like Boston College. How do you think the defense will stack up against a back like AJ Dillon?

Backing the Pack: It’s going to be a challenge for sure. It sounds like Dillon may be a game time decision, but I would expect State to be operating under the assumption that he will play and will be fully ready to go. In five games, Dillon has already rushed for 652 yards, so needless to say stopping him is vitally important to beating BC. State will really need the defensive line to step up and not let Dillon get going early and force BC into long situations on third down where they’d be forced to pass. Much easier said than done, obviously. Dillon is a monster and he will be the Pack’s toughest test to date.

BCI: How are fans feeling about this team after the first few games?

Backing the Pack: Right now everyone feels really good about where this team is. Each game so far the Pack has won by double digits and has improved each week in how they play. The most recent example being against UVA, NC State was finally able to get something going on the ground, where freshman Ricky Person had a breakout game running for over 100 yards. Having Ricky be healthy takes a lot of pressure off of Reggie Gallaspy, who has struggled somewhat in the run game so far. Finley has been as expected so far, and he has even more weapons to throw to this season so that’s really exciting. There’s a lot of opportunity in this division this year with FSU and Louisville struggling, so if the Pack is going to take that leap forward, now is the time.

BCI: What are NC State’s most dangerous weapons going into this game?

Backing the Pack: Everything on offense starts with Ryan Finley. He’s been a sensational quarterback for NC State. He may not wow you with a lot of flash or some homerun passes, but he just doesn’t make hardly any mistakes. The offensive line has done a great job at protecting him, which allows Finley to check through his routes comfortably and hit any of the Wolfpack’s talented receivers. NC State this year has one of the deepest receiving corps I can remember. Steph Louis, Kelvin Harmon, Emeka Emezie, Thayer Thomas, Jakobi Meyers, and CJ Riley are all capable of catching any pass sent their way. You can’t really double team any of them either, because that just opens up opportunities for the others.

BCI: Any weaknesses you have seen so far?

Backing the Pack: I’m always concerned about the secondary, but that’s just me. They’ve played pretty well so far this season, but there will likely be some one on one situations Saturday if a lot of the defensive line is focused on Dillon, so they’ll have to be ready for play action situations for sure. I am also slightly concerned about some of the play calling when the Wolfpack gets in the red zone. Sometimes I feel like the coaching staff overthinks things there and they miss out on some opportunities to score.

BCI: What are your predictions for Saturday’s game?

Backing the Pack: I am relieved this game is in Raleigh. Chestnut Hill has generally not been kind to the Pack, and as good as Dillon has been I’d be extra worried about having to play this game on the road. That being said, I still think this is going to be State’s toughest test to date, regardless of whether Dillon is healthy or not. BC runs the ball very effectively, moreso than any team State has faced so far, and that will be a challenge. I really see State’s passing game being the difference overall, as there’s just so much firepower there that I think it’ll be too much for BC to overcome. I look for the Pack to take this one, 35-20.