Oct. 3, 2013
Game 5: NC State Wolfpack vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
October 5, 2013 • 3:30 p.m. • RSN/ESPN3
Winston-Salem, N.C. • BB&T Field (31,500)
NC STATE VS. WAKE FOREST
In the history of NC State football, the Wolfpack has played the Wake Forest Demon Deacons more than any other team. Saturday’s game will mark the 107th meeting between the two squads, with NC State holding a 63-37-6 advantage.
The Pack has won 13 of the last 14 meetings with Wake at Carter-Finley Stadium, with the only home loss since 1984 coming in 2006. Overall at home, State has posted a 42-21-5 mark.
Groves Stadium in Winston-Salem, however, has not been kind to State in recent years. The last Wolfpack victory in Winston-Salem was a 17-14 win in 2001.
NO ROAMING CHARGES
The Wolfpack won’t have to wander very far from its home den during the 2013 football season, as NC State is playing eight games in Carter-Finley Stadium and two others in the state of North Carolina. The Pack won’t have to play a game outside of its home state until Oct. 26, when the squad heads to Florida State.
The only other game played outside North Carolina will be the Boston College contest on Nov. 16.
HIT THE ROAD, PACK
NC State is leaving Carter-Finley Stadium to play for the first time in 2013 when it heads west for the quick trip to Winston-Salem this weekend. It’s the latest the Wolfpack has played its first road game since 2005 (Oct. 6). It marks the third time in the last five years that State has played its first league road game at Wake Forest.
PUSH ‘EM BACK
Not only has the Wolfpack defense been proficient at limiting big plays for the opposition, but State has done a good job pushing the opponent backwards.
The Wolfpack leads the ACC and ranks second nationally in tackles for loss, with 37 stops behind the line (9.3/game) - including a season-high 12 vs. Clemson.
One of the goals for the Wolfpack defense in 2013 is to limit the opposition’s big plays. Four games into the season, NC State has come close to accomplishing that goal - no easy task considering that two of the offenses it has faced, La. Tech and Clemson, are known for making big plays.
This season, the Pack has just given up two plays longer than 30 yards - a 40-yard pass against Louisiana Tech and a 38-yard run late in the fourth quarter versus Central Michigan.
NOT YOUR AVERAGE JOE
Who needs depth? We’ve got Joe Thuney! In 2013, two returning starters on the offensive line have lost time due to injury. The solution to both of those problems has been the same: redshirt sophomore Joe Thuney.
Thuney spent all of last season at center, where he played in eight games. He spent spring practice and preseason camp at right guard.
But when right tackle Tyson Chandler was forced to miss the opener with an injury, Thuney started in his spot. In the second game of the season versus Richmond, he was back at his regular spot - right guard.
Prior to the game against third-ranked Clemson, left tackle Rob Crisp went out with an injury. Thuney, who had never had played with his left hand down in his career, was the solution. He has now started each of the last two games at that position and against Central Michigan, posted the highest coach’s grade of an offensive lineman all year.
The only position on the offensive line that Thuney has not played (so far!) is left guard.
In week four of the NFL season, almost 10 percent of the league’s starting quarterbacks were NC State alums. No other school in the nation can boast three starting signal callers in the NFL and only two other schools have two (Florida State and USC).
Philip Rivers, who still holds the ACC career record with 13,582 yards of total offense, is in his 10th season with the San Diego Chargers - his eighth as the starter. On Sunday, he finished 35 of 42 with an 83-percent completion percentage that set a single-game record for a QB throwing for at least 400 yards.
Russell Wilson, who ranks eighth on the league’s career total offense charts, was a rookie sensation for the Seattle Seahawks last season and is in his second campaign as the starter. On Sunday, he led his squad to an OT win at Houston to give Seattle its first 4-0 start in franchise history.
Last Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers named rookie Mike Glennon their starter for their game against Arizona. Glennon, a third round selection in the 2013 draft, ranks 30th in ACC history in total offense. A two-year starter for the Wolfpack, he was 24-43 with one TD in his debut, a 13-10 loss.
TACKLE BY CALDWELL
Senior linebacker Robert Caldwell is definitely making his presence known for the Wolfpack. The Pack’s starting middle linebacker is currently tied for second in the ACC in tackles with 9.2 per game.
Against Clemson, he had a dozen tackles and made three stops behind the line of scrimmage. He is tied for third in the league and 11th nationally in tackles for loss with 6.5 for the year.
Caldwell did not see action from scrimmage in 2012 after transferring from College of the Desert JUCO. He arrived to camp late from JUCO and did not have much time to learn the Pack playbook, but he did see action in every game on special teams.
PICK-ING IT UP
Although the NC State defense finished in the middle of the ACC pack last season in most defensive categories, one thing it has been known for was picking off the opposition. The Wolfpack defense led the league each of the last two years in interceptions, with a school-record 27 in 2011 and 16 in 2012.
However, this year has been a different story as the Pack did not pick off a pass in the first three games.
That all changed Saturday against Central Michigan. On the Chippewas’ second offensive play, linebacker D.J. Green stepped in front of a pass and took it 37-yards in the opposite direction for State’s first score of the day. Later in the game, safety Josh Stanley made an acrobatic touchdown-saving pick in the endzone and fellow safety Hakim Jones also had an INT.
Despite not recording an INT until the fourth game, the Pack’s pass defense still has limited the opponents. Only one opponent has thrown for 300 yards, Richmond’s Michael Strauss had exactly 300, and no opposing wide receiver has gone over 100 yards through four games.
SHADRACH-ING UP YARDS
It took him a while to get in, but once he did, Shadrach Thornton made it count. The sophomore tailback, who led the team in rushing in 2012, missed the season opener due to a suspension. Early in the second game of the season against Richmond, he fumbled a kickoff return and did not come back into the game.
Against Clemson, he played 25 snaps and had two touches - a 21-yard touchdown run and a 32-yard reception to set up that touchdown run.
He worked his way back into the starter’s job for the Central Michigan contest, responding with 71 yards on 13 carries (5.1 yards per carry) and scoring a TD.
In the preseason, there was much talk about how the Pack’s new up-tempo offense hoped to wear down the opposing defense late in the game. Four games into the 2013 campaign, however, it seems that it is the Pack defense that is having that effect on the opposition.
In the 60 combined minutes of fourth quarter action through four games, the Pack defense has given up an average of 35.8 rushing yards, 38.5 passing yards, and 74.3 yards of total offense. The Pack has forced five punts and five turnovers in 14 fourth quarter opponent possessions. The opponent’s numbers were inflated after the win over Central Michigan, as the Pack entered the fourth quarter up 38-0 and rested a majority of the starters that final quarter.
In the season opener against Louisiana Tech, a team that led the NCAA in total offense last season, the Pack gave up just one first down, 2 yards rushing, and no yards passing. The Bulldogs had the ball for just 2:40 of the final 15 minutes, and were forced to punt twice and also had a fumble.
PUT A RUSH ON IT
NC State enters the Wake Forest game with an average of 207.2 rushing yards per game. The Wolfpack ranks fifth in the ACC this week in rushing. Running the football has not been the Pack’s specialty in recent seasons - in fact the last time a Wolfpack team finished the season with more than 200 rushing yards per game was in 1992 and has only done so once since 1982.
SMITH DOES IT ALL
Rashard Smith could be the most valuable player on the team after the first third of the season - he certainly is the most used. The senior wide receiver is leading the team in receptions with 20 (a mark that ranks eighth in the ACC), receiving yards with 235, and has averaged 16.3 yard per punt return (second in the ACC and 12th nationally). He has also rushed for 92 yards in 2013.
Against Central Michigan, he had a spectacular punt return, crossing field to streak 87 yards for a touchdown. That tied as the third-longest punt return in school history.
Redshirt junior defensive tackle Thomas Teal has been a stalwart in the middle for the Pack this season. He is tied for second on thea team with four tackles for loss in four games and has played the second-highest amount of snaps among defensive linemen with 153.
On Saturday against Central Michigan, when starting end Darryl Cato-Bishop and backup end Forrest West were out with injuries, the 6-1, 303-lb. Teal saw action at defensive end to help stop the run.
THE TURNOVER BATTLE
One of the Wolfpack’s team goals for 2013 is to win the turnover battle. The Pack is certainly doing a good job in terms of causing and recovering fumbles with six - a mark that leads the ACC and ranks seventh nationally.
After Saturday, the Pack now has three interceptions to add to that total - making it nine takeaways for the season.
Unfortunately, the Wolfpack has also turned the ball over eight times - with five interceptions thrown and three fumbles lost.
SACK ‘EM UP
NC State has tallied nine sacks in its first four games - a stat that isn’t overly impressive unless you look at the opposition. Richmond allowed just five sacks in the entire 2012 campaign. The Wolfpack tallied three in the win against the Spiders.