How good (or bad) is this Demon Deacon team? Wake is clearly much-improved from last season but where is our ceiling? The Deacs "beat" a Boston College team who is 0-4 in conference. Then followed it up with a bombshell in Chapel Hill. This Saturday, we will found out against a challenging, but winnable opponent in Winston-Salem.
How good (or bad) are the Wolfpack? They defeated four week opponents and lost to Louisville and Virginia Tech. To gain a greater insight, we spoke to Will Thompson from Backing The Pack (follow him here).
NC State won four straight games to open the season, albeit against far inferior opponents. They followed this up by losing back-to-back games in ACC play. What are your expectations of this team in conference?
Well, to be blunt I had some higher expectations, but the last two weeks have really tempered them. After starting really strong, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, State struggled mightily against Louisville and Virginia Tech to score the ball, only notching 13 points in each game. Unless they can get that ship righted this weekend in Winston after the bye week, I'm not all that confident this season's going to go well from here on out. I'd like to think at least 3 conference wins is possible, but the past two games haven't given me any hope that's going to happen.
Jacoby Brissett is one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC, completing 69 percent of his passes and has a 8:1 TD to INT ratio. What makes Brissett so dangerous and how can the Demon Deacons to disrupt him?
Brissett has been very good this year, no doubt, and has made very few mistakes (the interception at the end of the Virginia Tech game was the first pick he tossed in a really long time). However, the last couple of games he has been fairly pedestrian, only completing around half of his throws. Not sure if it has more to do with some of the playcalling in those games, or if the defenses were just that much better in the last two games versus the first four, but there's definitely some room for improvement. One area I'd really like to see him work on is throwing the ball deep down the field - he has really struggled with throws longer than about 20 yards so far this season. In order to be successful, Wake will need to find a way to make Brissett make mistakes, and that is no small feat. He simply doesn't turn the ball over all that much, so the key will be to force him into making some tough throws. I'd also be prepared to see some option runs, as Brissett runs the ball extremely well in that offense, so that should definitely be an area of concern for the Deacs.
The Wolfpack have a variety of playmakers at skill positions, namely RB Matthew Dayes and WR Jaylen Samuels. Who will present the largest headaches for head coach Dave Clawson?
Other than Brissett, these two aforementioned players are ones that Clawson should be concerned about. Matt Dayes is a sensational talent, and can run well in just about any situation, whether it's out of a standard power formation, or if he gets into the option with Brissett. Samuels is another player that adds another level to that offense, as he can line up just about anywhere on the field offensively and produce. He is featured in a lot of jet sweep type plays, so I'd be surprised if we didn't see some of those called on Saturday. Once Samuels gets into open space, he is extraordinarily difficult to bring down.
The NC State defense has performed well so far, averaging 16 points per game. What do they like to do schematically and who are some of the impact players on this side of the ball?
State likes to control the line of scrimmage defensively, and the defensive line has done a pretty good job of that to date this season. Even in the loss to Louisville, aside from one breakaway play, the defense kept Lamar Jackson pretty well in check. Kentavius Street can definitely be a gamechanger for the Pack on the defensive line, and I think he'll have a big day this Saturday. The weakness has without a doubt been the secondary, and even though they're the most experienced unit, they've been torched lately.
PREDICTION TIME: We all have heard about NC State’s recent woes in Winston-Salem, will this streak end? How do you see this game going and what’s your prediction?
If State struggles offensively again to start the game Saturday, there's no way this dreaded streak ends. They simply have to come out and score early and often in order to get the bad taste of the last two games out of their mouth. The biggest issue in those two losses has been as soon as State faces any sort of adversity, such as giving up a big play for a touchdown, the offense seems to clam up and really struggle. If they find themselves in that situation again Saturday, it's going to be a long day again for Pack fans. I see this game being pretty close, and ultimately, I think the streak continues. Wake wins by a FG, 20-17.
Thanks again to Will for taking the time to talk to us!