NC State had watched Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey on film the last two years, but it has never played him.
Dungey subtly became a mythical figure of sorts in the Wolfpack and Orange series. He has thrown for 5,026 yards and 32 touchdowns in his Syracuse career, but hasn’t thrown for a yard against NC State.
Injuries preventing him from playing in both 2015 and 2016, and NC State faced walk-on junior college transfer Zack Mahoney in each meeting. Mahoney played with guts, running the option in 2015, and then the spread four-wide receiver set last year. However, it is still a bit of a drop off from Dungey, who had some concussion issues in the past.
Dungey is off to a strong and healthy start, going 105-of-165 passing for 1,052 yards and six touchdowns, and he has 52 carries for 233 rushing yards and five scores for the 2-2 Orange.
“We saw him on film a lot [in the past], and he’s a really good football player,” NCSU coach Dave Doeren said. “We have a lot of respect for him, and he’s obviously tough to continue to play the game. He is so competitive and is their leading rusher.”
NC State had been hoping senior cornerback Mike Stevens would be back against both Furman and Florida State, but was held out of both contests. He has missed four games due to a preseason knee injury. Redshirt junior free safety Dexter Wright remains a “game-day decision” after getting injured against South Carolina in the season opener.
Doeren expects the secondary to get a steady diet of Syracuse’s short passing game. Making sure the defensive line gets their hands up to try and deflect the passes is a big key.
"[Dungey] is super accurate and understands the offense,” Doeren said. “He is the heartbeat, you can see it.
“They are very good after contact. That is the one thing that jumps off of film for me. They just don’t throw it underneath and get five yards. A lot of times, they turn it into first downs. We have to tackle well in space.”
When Dungey does take some shots downfield, senior wide receiver Steve Ishmael is the likely target. He has 45 catches for 512 yards and a touchdown, and has caught double figures in passes in three out of four games and crossed the 100-yard barrier in all four contests.
“Good player and they’ve put him over where last year’s transfer [Maryland graduate transfer Amba Etta-Tawo] was at,” Doeren said. “He goes up and gets the football and runs good routes. He has been playing four years for them. He has good length and good timing with the quarterback.”
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