This week all we really got from Coach Swinney was that fun mixture of contradictory coach speak where the media lob softballs (like asking Dabo just how good is Adam Humphries) and Swinney eats it up. It was really evident that no one in the media knew much about NC State so no one asked any insightful, football specific questions. At this point in the season the media just want some feel good puff pieces. So here are bullet points:
- McDowell will start.
- Zac Brooks will not move to WR.
- Mackensie Alexander will be reevaluated after the Wake Forest game. A redshirt is still not a certainty. This is perhaps the most interesting tidbit to come out of the press conference. Two trains of thought here, either this is just being done to ease a driven player like Alexander into a redshirt or the staff feels like this could be a 'special' season and want to use him in any way possible against Florida State or South Carolina (Alexander personally believes that he is on a three year plan so that is a small consideration too). I wasn't blowing smoke putting him as #2 on the class of 2013 list--while Venables calls him an 'enigma' because he hasn't seen him play a snap, everyone knows there is talent there. He will have another MRI and ultrasound to better gauge where he is at in the recovery.
- Peake will have surgery after the Boston College game. He should be back for Spring ball (or the South Carolina game if he works hard enough--I kid, I kid) and should get a medical redshirt.
- Dabo loves Adam Humphries. This love affair, when Dabo was sold on him, began watching Adam play point guard for Dorman. Right then he knew he was something special.
- Adam is the 'epitome of a football player' which apparently means he could play anywhere on the field if he wanted to (including RB??--but he won't play running back, it was just a silly hypothetical).
- Dabo thinks Adam will play a long time in the NFL. He is not a little guy and he is put together, legit 4.4 guy. Very unselfish and a great team guy. Humphries set up the game winning kicks against Wake and LSU.
- Tyler Shatley says he tore his planter fasciitis against Georgia, which is a good thing. He says he will be fully healthy for NC State. That is not true but the tear actually helps speed up the healing.
- The Chad said Seckinger would start at TE.
So what do we know about NC State this year? Not a whole lot. Dave Doeren came over from Northern Illinois last year (where he went 23-4 in two seasons) and his offensive coordinator comes from a year at Wisconsin. Doeren said this week that his team can go either super fast or slow (coming from Wisconsin) so we don't know what tempo they will be playing at. We do know that the starting Junior QB Pete Thomas (a Colorado State transfer) is not very good. He was 414-652 (completing 67% of his passes right now which is not bad) for 18 touchdowns but threw 24 interceptions. That has not gotten better because he has already thrown 3 interceptions this year. Venables had this assessment of the QB.
He's got game experience. He won't get overwhelmed. He has started a bunch of games and has been successful as a college quarterback and has been effective thus far. I see a quarterback who has strong accuracy and good precision. They say he's not a runner and not a thrower, but he extended a number of drives last week when coverage was tight because he pulled it down and moved the chains. I think he's smart and has good pocket awareness. He was pulling it down when lanes were there and showed some savvy in that Richmond game. Richmond is traditionally strong on defense and sound in what they do and he got them in that two-minute situation and made some great throws. That's always concerning. He manages things the right way and takes what defenses give him. He will be patient in his decision making.
When asked whether NC State gets it out quickly Venables replied:
Sometimes. Sometimes they did. Other times they're mixing it up with play action, double-moving and trying to take the top off the defense. They'll do both.
I think it is safe to say that we will see a lot of new wrinkles (as Swinney called them) from NC State. The amount of unknowns are the only thing that concerns me about this NC State team.
The offensive line is also very young, replacing four starters and the lone starter LT Robert Crisp at 6'7 300+ (someone Clemson really wanted back when the Wolfies put up a fight on the recruiting trail) is supposedly 50/50 for the game. There line is average right now but if he can't go we will be in the backfield all night. The leading rusher and receiver for the Pack right now are both freshman. This is a youth movement, rebuilding project as State has played 11 true freshman. Tom O'Brien left the cupboard bare.
True freshman Marquez Valdes-Scantling (or as Dabo affectionately calls him--#1) has caught 12 balls for 174 yards, leading all Pack receivers. #2 RS SR Rashard Smith is a little guy at 5'9 with legit speed as a WR and return man. We really don't know much about this personnel on offense. #21 Matt Dayes (5'9, 213), another true freshman, started at RB this past game. He is averaging 60 something yards a game but had three scores against La Tech.
On defense the defensive line is the strength of the entire team while the secondary are a bunch of newbies. That line is the main reason why State has 6 fumble recoveries in two games. Running back need to protect the ball. Chad Morris felt like NC State just played in there base defense and hadn't shown much in the first two games. The question is did they try to not do too much to save it for Clemson or is that the extent of their current installation on defense.
Morris had the line of the week when asked about Tajh trying to push the ball down the field and forcing it.
Take what they give you. You can't go broke making a profit, and five yards is a profit.
During his interview Boyd disturbingly admitted to trying to make the big throw on each play. This is the one thing Boyd needs to work on to become a more complete QB. Accuracy on shorter throws and taking what the defense gives you. But it is comforting to know that he is light years ahead of where he was the last time we went on the road against State.
Speaking of Chad Morris, I wanted to briefly point out that despite everyone (including Dabo) trying to talk about how good we played against SC State (and critiquing STS for being overly pessimistic)--it was Morris who finally started picking us apart. Dabo tries very hard with his nameless, faceless opponent rhetoric to try to keep his players from looking ahead but it is in his nature to be naturally exuberant. That is great but sometimes it can lead to guys feeling like they have arrived. Morris has been sticking it to Tajh and the offense every week. More of that please.
I was hard on Dabo this week but then the guy melted my cold, cold heart with this great piece (you can see a more recent one from Holly Rowe). My brother is a person with autism so this hits close to the heart and makes me proud of Dabo and our AD. Proud to be a Tiger!