NC State did a 180-degree turn after their Virginia loss and dominated Wake Forest 37-6 Saturday. Now it's time for a final look at the contest with some Monday Morning Quarterbacking.
Key moment of the game:
Despite controlling most of the first half, NC State led just 17-6 at halftime, and even Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe admitted after the game he felt good about that. Fifth-year senior receiver Tobais Palmer ended all doubts however by taking the opening kickoff of the second half over 100 yards for a touchdown, giving State an insurmountable 24-6 lead.
Three things that worked:
1. Offensive game plan
Wake Forest followed Virginia's blueprint and tried to prevent NCSU from making a big play. This time though the Wolfpack took what was given to them. A steady diet of running plays and out routes helped NC State gain 428 yards of total offense.
2. Defensive effort
This was about as dominating a defensive performance as NC State could have hoped. Aside from a 39-yard trick pass from junior receiver Michael Campanaro to fifth-year senior wide out Terence Davis, the Wolfpack defense was flawless. They sacked the Wake quarterbacks five times, held the Deacs to 187 total yards and a season-low 16 yards rushing and limited Campanaro to five catches for 14 yards.
3. Kick returns
Palmer's 100-yard return was the highlight of the game, but for a good while it looked like redshirt junior receiver Rashard Smith was going to be the one to break the big return. Smith returned seven punts for 74 yards, an average of 10.6 yards.
Three things that did not work:
1. Defending the trickery
Once again the Wolfpack was burned on a trick play. It should not have surprised State that Campanaro was going to attempt a pass at some point in the game especially when he catches a lateral, but still Davis was wide open for the touchdown.
2. 50-plus yard field goals
It gets to be nitpicky when you dissect the negatives for NC State. Twice they trotted out sophomore Niklas Sade for field goals of 50 or more yards. Both times (from distances of 50 and 52 yards) Sade was wide. The good news is he had the distance on both of them.
3. Closing the door in the second quarter
NC State jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter, and even after Campanaro's touchdown pass, the Pack had plenty of opportunities to close the game out before halftime. State punted twice, missed two field goals and had an interception in the second quarter.
Breaking down the position battles:
NC State's OL vs. Wake Forest's front seven
Considering NC State was starting its sixth different offensive line combination of the season, Saturday was not that bad. They gave up just two sacks, and were able to give a little running room for freshman back Shadrach Thornton. It was a win for the Pack's offensive line.
NC State's front seven vs. Wake Forest's OL
Biggest mismatch of the afternoon. Wake could not run the ball nor could they protect their quarterbacks effectively, as outlined in the three things that worked.
NC State's WR vs. Wake Forest's DB
Wake Forest did a good job taking away the deep pass. The longest reception for a receiver was redshirt sophomore Bryan Underwood's 25-yard catch on the sideline that was tightly covered. However, the Pack did a better job catching passes (at least the wide receivers did).
NC State's DB vs. Wake Forest's WR
It was a superb effort against Campanaro, mainly by junior Dontae Johnson. Davis burned the secondary once, but overall NC State's defensive backs had a fine afternoon.
Glennon was not sensational, but he was good. He completed 25 of 41 passes for 258 yards and two scores with one interception. That was plenty better than Wake Forest junior Tanner Price, whom Grobe admitted after the game played poorly. Price completed 18 of 33 passes for just 113 yards and an interception.
Thornton was the best back on the field, rushing 27 times for 110 yards. Redshirt sophomore Tony Creecy had a harder time finding running room, carrying 14 times for 36 yards but did have a touchdown. Wake's backs were a non-factor, although redshirt freshman Deandre Martin did rush seven times for 41 yards, a healthy 5.9 yards a rush.
Wake did not involve its tight ends Saturday. The NCSU combination of fifth-year senior Mario Carter and redshirt junior Asa Watson had the two longest catches of the afternoon for NCSU, Carter a 30-yarder and Watson a 26-yard touchdown. The two combined for four catches for 77 yards, but it's worth noting that Watson had a few drops as well.
Sade's missed field goals aside, it was a very good afternoon for NCSU's special teams across the board and they outshined Wake's special teams on this afternoon.