The Demon Deacons are off to an impressive start and coming off a huge win (some might even say it was “yuge”) against Indiana last weekend. The defense was able to hold Devine Redding to just 68 yards on the ground, snapping his 5 game streak of 100+ rushing yards. If the Deacs want to get to 5-0, they’ll need to pick up a win this Saturday in Raleigh against NC State, something they have been unable to do in a decade. Here are a couple Wolfpack players that could be instrumental in handing the Deacs their first loss of the season.
Offense: Jaylen Samuels, Jr. FB/TE
Samuels is a diverse weapon for the Pack who is able to make plays in both the running and passing aspects of State’s offense. He can line up anywhere on the field and make an impact, but he seems to excel most on end arounds, shovel passes, and screen passes. Samuels picked up 1st Team All-ACC honors last season with 597 receiving yards, 368 rushing yards, and 16 TDs combined through the air and on the ground. Through 3 games this season, he has caught 13 passes for 135 yards and 3 TDs and also run the ball 12 times for 62 yards and 3 TDs. 6 total TDs on just 25 touches is incredibly efficient (That’s about 25% of his touches resulting in a TD). The Deacon defense will need to be wary of Samuels running the ball on the end around near the goal-line, as it accounts for all 3 of his rushing touchdowns this season.
Defense: Airius Moore, Jr. LB
Moore led the Pack defense last season in tackles with 79, aided by picking up an impressive 10 tackles against both FSU and VT. Through 3 games this season, he has 21 tackles including 6 tackles for loss. He has great anticipation and ability to read plays, which helps him get to the ball quickly and make stops. The Deacs have a current streak of 3 games with 100+ yard rushers going, which has been instrumental in their 4-0 start. It will be interesting to see if Moore and the rest of the Pack defense can keep the Deacons from increasing that streak to 4 games, or if the Wake Forest running game can continue to produce and lead the Deacs to 5-0. Stopping Moore from getting into the backfield and forcing the Deacs into 2nd or 3rd and long situations will be crucial to picking up the win.