Pack Pride takes a final look back at NC State's 38-20 loss to Duke.
Observations From the Game: Boston College
In a Nutshell
Unfortunately for NC State, an anemic offensive attack has been a given since the beginning of conference play. For most of the season the defense has been solid but that certainly wasn't the case against Boston College.
BC dominated the Wolfpack's defensive line, opening gaping holes along the way which helped Andre Williams to a staggering 339 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
The Eagles showed that you can be one dimensional on offense and still win when you limit mistakes and make just enough plays on third down to sustain drives.
Offensively it was the same old sad story. The Pack simply hasn't been able to manufacture enough points to put themselves in a position to win. There were opportunities for State but they couldn't capitalize and never found anything they could sustain consistently. Throw in a special team's mistake on a botched field goal attempt and it all culminated in the Wolfpack's seventh loss of the year.
No one expected NC State to shut down the Boston College rushing attack. Andre Williams is the nation's leading rusher for a reason. However, there's not much excuse for the way the Eagles completely manhandled the Wolfpack's defensive line, a unit that is supposed to be the strength of the team.
Sure, you're going to give up yards but there's no way the Pack should have yielded 420 yards and nearly eight yards every time the Eagles ran the ball. That total was the second most in Wolfpack history and the worst performance by an NC State defense in more than 30 years.
Other than Robert Caldwell, NC State is fairly under sized at linebacker so whenever Williams got to the second level he owned a tremendous advantage. As the game wore on you could see it take a toll on NC State's defenders as they started reaching for tackles instead of squaring up.
NC State had cut the Boston College lead to 20-14 in the fourth quarter after a perfect pass from Rashard Smith to Quintin Payton for a 49 yard touchdown score.
It was at that point that State had to have a big series out of their defense if they hoped to win. Instead, BC went 72 yards in two plays but on both plays, the Pack still had an opportunity to change the game.
On the first carry the ball was knocked loose from Andre Williams. It appeared Juston Burris had an opportunity to scoop the ball up but he whiffed and a Boston College lineman fell on the ball.
On the very next play Williams ran through a massive hole in the Wolfpack defense but Burris broke off of a wide receiver block and was able to knock the ball loose at the one.
Yet again, State had a chance to either recover or knock the ball through the back of the end zone but could do neither. BC recovered in the end zone, took a 28-14 lead and for all intents and purposes, ended the game.
Each week there are plays that, if made, give you a chance to win. As is often the case with teams that struggle to win, they usually don't make those plays and that's definitely been a recurring theme for the Wolfpack.
Whether it be trick plays, going for it on fourth down, needing a defensive stand or coming up for a loose ball, NC State hasn't been able to make plays and that's played a huge role in their 0-7 conference record.
Thornton Struggles Without Mitchell
Shadrach Thornton has been an effective offensive weapon over the last few games for NC State. Boston College made a concerted effort to shut him down Saturday and they succeeded. Without running QB Brandon Mitchell in the game to provide an additional running threat, BC was able to focus on Thornton and held him to just 56 yards on two carries.
Down 17-7 at the half, NC State had several opportunities to get back in the game but the offense couldn't muster anything when it had the chance.
Boston College went three and out twice, punted three times and put up just a field goal in its first four possessions of the second half. That opened the door for NC State to get back in the game but they couldn't take advantage.
State went three and out on its first three possessions of the second half, mustering a pathetic 13 yards of offense and no first downs in the third quarter.
Bright Spots in Places
If you're looking for any kind of silver lining for NC State, it has to be that they do have some young players that appear to have a bright future for the Wolfpack.
TE David Grinnage has shown that he may have the best hands on the team as he made yet another spectacular one-handed grab against BC. Why he isn't a bigger part of the NC State offense is a head scratcher.
CB Jack Tocho continues to play well and showed on a couple of occasions that he didn't mind getting physical with RB Andre Williams.
DT Monty Nelson battled all day against BC and his five tackles were the best of any defensive linemen. Nelson has a tremendous motor and as he fills out, will become a force up front.
WR JuMichael Ramos had his best game for NC State, totaling five catches for 109 yards including a 52-yard scoring strike from Garrett Leatham.
NC State will have to change gears in a big way as they transition from the grind it out style of Boston College to the wide open passing attack of East Carolina.
One thing is for sure. If State isn't mentally prepared to play this game, the Pirates have the ability to run the Wolfpack right out of their own stadium. ECU can score points in bunches while State hasn't shown the ability to score on anyone.
The Pack desperately needs to win out to stem the tide of negativity and gain some positive momentum headed into the stretch run of the recruiting year. State needs to be able to show their recruits that they've turned the corner. Accomplishing that begins against the Pirates and it'll take the Wolfpack's best effort of the year to pull it off.
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