Monday morning quarterbacking: Furman at NC State

Matt Carter, Editor
The Wolfpacker
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Ken Martin/The Wolfpacker

NC State was looking for an easy win and to emerge unscathed from its game against Furman. Mission accomplished after a 49-16 victory. Now it’s time for a final look at the contest with some Monday morning quarterbacking.

Key moment of the game:

NC State should have had a three-and-out on the first Furman drive of the game, but a roughing the passer penalty on senior defensive end Bradley Chubb allowed the Paladins to sustain its possession for what would eventually be a field goal and 3-0 lead.

That was the only anxious moment Saturday. NCSU responded by marching down the field with a methodical drive for a touchdown during which it faced only one third down in 12 plays. After the Pack forced a three-and-out, NC State added another touchdown in a feel-good moment when redshirt junior Ryan Finley connected with fifth-year senior JuMichael Ramos on a 30-yard score.

Ramos missed all of last season following serious knee surgery.

Three things that worked:

1. Taking care of business

The bottom line with playing a team like Furman is asserting your will. NC State did that, amassing a 49-13 lead through three quarters. It was not always perfect, but business was nevertheless handled.

2. Distributing playing time

Many reserves saw valuable snaps for the first time this season, including reserve redshirt junior quarterback Jalan McClendon. Among others seeing their first snaps from the line of scrimmage this season: redshirt sophomore left tackle Philip Walton Jr., freshman right guard Joshua Fedd-Jackson, redshirt junior wide receiver Maurice Trowell, redshirt freshman wide receiver Daeshawn Stephens, redshirt sophomore defensive end Tyrone Riley, redshirt freshman linebacker Brock Miller, freshman cornerback Chris Ingram and redshirt freshman cornerback Bryce Banks.

3. Balancing the offensive attack

The running game has been a struggle to develop this season, but it busted loose for 242 yards against Furman to go with 248 yards passing. Whether that’s a sign of things to come is difficult to determine considering the opposition, but it beats having a third straight contest with little traction in the run game.

Three things that did not work:

1. Shutting down big plays

Furman got a 71-yard touchdown on a pass from senior quarterback P.K. Blazejowski to senior tight end Andy Schumpert. Blazejowski also completed a 41-yard pass to sophomore Thomas Gordon, and junior tailback Triston Luke broke through for a 45-yard run. Part of that was the element of surprise while defending a triple-option attack, but it was still too many big plays.

2. Covering Schumpert

The tight end finished the game with four receptions for 107 yards and the one score. He became the second receiving target this year to eclipse 100 yards and the ninth in the past 15 games dating back to last season.

3. Kicking game

The hope was that redshirt junior Carson Wise would stabilize the kicking game, but the early returns are not that promising. He is 1 of 3 on field goals after missing a 38-yarder against Furman. While he connected on all seven extra points Saturday, he missed one against Marshall in week two.

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Position-by-position battles

NC State’s offensive line vs. Furman’s front seven

The biggest difference in a game between a Football Bowl Subdivision team and a Football Championship Subdivision squad typically will be found in the trenches, and NC State’s offensive line dominated. The Pack averaged 6.2 yards per rush and allowed only one sack.

Furman’s offensive line vs. NC State’s front seven

Officially the defense had two sacks, but it had several other hits on the quarterback — including a couple that were for loss, but counted as running plays. Furman was held to just 2.8 yards per rush, and NC State finished with eight tackles for loss, all of them coming from NCSU’s front six.

NC State’s wide receivers vs. Furman’s secondary

Other than one noticeable drop by fifth-year senior Gavin Locklear on a quick pass to the sideline, the Pack receivers played well and won the matchup.

Furman’s wide receivers vs. NC State’s secondary

Senior nickel Shawn Boone recorded a pick-six on one of the bigger highlight moments from the win, and sophomore corner Nick McCloud did a nice job breaking up a deep throw. The secondary did well enough that there was no need to get senior corner Mike Stevens into the game. He will make his debut Saturday at Florida State.

Quarterbacks

Finley continued his incredible start to the season, completing 22 of 27 passes for 231 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. He was easily the best quarterback on the field.

Running backs

Kudos to Luke for running hard for Furman until getting hurt, but the best runner was junior Nyheim Hines, who would have gone for 100 yards easily if he had a few more carries (he finished with 11 runs for 92 yards and a score). Fifth-year senior Dakwa Nichols ran well in brief action in the fourth quarter, perhaps earning more consideration for more carries down the road.

Tight ends

Schumpert had the big afternoon for Furman, but NCSU senior Jaylen Samuels ran for three touchdowns and caught six passes for 75 yards.

Special teams

Furman gets the slight edge even though NC State did block a punt. Wise missed a field goal, and Furman freshman Grayson Atkins was impressive with three made field goals, including a pair from 46 yards. One bright spot for the Pack: junior Kyle Bambard kicked five of eight kickoffs for touchbacks, and one of the three that was not was a designed sky kick with 18 seconds left in the first half.

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