This weekend, the Jackets return home to Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field for their first home game since defeating the South Carolina State Bulldogs on opening weekend.
The Jackets will take on the N.C. State Wolfpack in their second ACC matchup of the season (State’s first). Tech leads the all-time series, with 17 wins in the 26 meetings.
This weekend, there are three key components required for Tech to win: dominating the running game, stepping up on pass defense and controlling the clock with time of possession.
To beat the Wolfpack, Tech’s No. 3 rushing offense must be able to maintain its 300+ rushing yard per game average. Senior B-Back Anthony Allen will need to be able to make gains up the middle to prevent N.C. State from clogging the outside and taking away a crucial element of Tech’s triple option.
Junior A-Backs Embry Peeples and Roddy Jones, meanwhile, must still be able to make big plays down the side lines to get the kind of yardage Tech’s running game is accustomed to gaining.
Senior quarterback Joshua Nesbitt, who’s first pass last Saturday at UNC was a 23-yard touchdown, will be crucial in making short gains and may also have an opportunity to exploit N.C. State’s thin secondary with an intermediate passing game.
As a defense, the Jackets main focus will need to rest on containing explosive quarterback Russell Wilson and the Wolfpack’s multi-faceted passing attack. N.C. State is ranked No. 28 in passing yards per game in the FBS and has not had a consistent receiving leader so far this season, which could be an issue for Tech’s weak pass coverage.
It will be the responsibility of the Jackets’ linebackers to put pressure on Wilson and not allow him to complete passes, especially on third downs.
The final key for Tech will be to control the clock. Last week, the Jackets had the biggest share of the time-of-possession (35 minutes to UNC’s 25 minutes) since their 56-31 victory over Vanderbilt last year. Third-down conversions and not allowing N.C. State to force turnovers will be pivotal to a victory for Tech.
If the Jackets can keep the ball and maneuver it down the field, the Wolfpack will be unable to score enough points to win the game.
After what is their most successful start to a season since 2002 , N.C. State’s Wolfpack travels to Atlanta to face the Jackets.
Head Coach Tom O’Brien’s team is currently one of two undefeated left in the ACC, though they have not played a conference game yet. The team comes to GT with two decisive wins at home (Western Carolina and Cincinnati) and a somewhat close game on the road (Central Florida).
The last time the Wolfpack defeated the Jackets was in Atlanta in 2005. Tech won the rematch in Raliegh, N.C. in 2006 en route to the ACC Championship game. However, this is the first meeting since both teams hired new head coaches.
On gameday, the Wolfpack need three elements to beat the Wolfpack: stopping the triple-option, an outstanding passing game and not getting overconfident.
This season, Tech has averaged 345 rushing yards per game while the Wolfpack’s defense has held their opponents to a meager 85.3.
N.C. State however has also not played against any team possessing anything near a top-tier running offense so far this year, so the numbers may be misleading. N.C. State will need to keep containment on Tech’s A-Backs as well as Nesbitt if they are to keep the Jackets from making big plays on the outside.
With all new starters on the defensive line and a young secondary, the Wolfpack could face issues while attempting to hold back Tech’s progression downfield. Tech may also have the upper hand on offense, as recently hired recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach, Andy McCollum, was the linebacker coach at N.C. State for the past three seasons.
N.C. State will need to make sure to exploit Tech’s rather weak pass coverage. Tech’s inability to stop the pass has plagued them in the past. At Miami last season, Tech allowed 20 out of 25 passes to be completed for three touchdowns). A good game by Wilson could mean trouble for Tech’s defensive backs.
While the Wolfpack has averaged 263 passing yards per game, this does not necessarily guarantee a victory over Tech as UNC averaged 310.5 and had 209 in the loss to Tech.
The final key element to a victory for N.C. State is the Wolfpack’s ability to build off of its success so far.
The Wolfpack looked great in it previous game against Cincinnati, completely shutting down the Bearcat’s offense. However, Tech’s offense is a completely different story as Tech is much more able to run the ball.
N.C. State will have to find a happy medium between being excited about their impressive win and getting motivated. Tech.