NC State’s offense continued to impress against mid- to high-level ACC teams in its 38-21 win over Virginia. With the team on track to surprise a lot of people, it must avoid bad losses, which is the case this weekend against a bottom-tier Blue Devils (1-4 ACC) team at home.
Pack quarterback Devin Leary
Since coming into the game at Virginia Tech, redshirt sophomore Devin Leary has been nothing short of spectacular and the same can be said about the whole season for offensive coordinator Tim Beck. Leary has completed passes at a 60% clip for 685 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception.
Against Virginia, he had a little trouble passing the ball, collecting 11 completions on 25 attempts for 184 yards, but the offense didn’t need the 336-yard, four-touchdown effort Leary put up against Pittsburgh because the rushing game almost hit the 200-yard mark. This week he has a chance to bounce back in a big way and he likely will since Duke has given up over 30 points per game this year.
Bold prediction: 300 passing yards and two touchdown passes for Leary
NC State running backs vs. Duke linebackers
Sophomore Zonovan Knight is coming off yet another huge game with 100-plus yards and two touchdowns against Virginia. The one-two punch with Knight and junior Ricky Person Jr. has been a lethal combination this season and should be again this week.
I’m predicting only two touchdowns for Leary because Duke is allowing 160 rushing yards per game while NC State is rushing for 162.5 yards per game, so the Pack's backs should find the end zone often.
The only person in the way is Duke linebacker Shaka Heyward, who has 38 tackles this year, nine more than anyone else on the team and 22 more than the next highest linebacker. It should be easy to get into the secondary and if Knight can make the back end miss, he will be crossing the goal line a lot.
Bold prediction: Three rushing touchdowns
Wolfpack receivers vs. Blue Devils secondary
With the running backs having good games, the stat lines for receivers will look more like the Virginia game than the pass-heavy Pitt game. Against UVA, senior Emeza Emezie took the lead with three catches for 54 yards while freshman Porter Rooks was right behind with three grabs as well. It will be interesting to see how many touches Rooks gets in the coming games after being such a playmaker last week.
Giving up about 250 passing yards per game, the Blue Devils are certainly not going to shut down the wideouts but they haven’t let a quarterback torch them for too much yet so I don’t expect anyone to have a huge game.
Bold prediction: No receiver over four catches
NCSU O-line vs. Duke D-line
NC State’s offensive line is coming off arguably its best game of the young season, earning top grades from correspondent Kevin Sebastian. Leary was not sacked and the backs often had room to run. That marks two great performances in a row after holding Pittsburgh to just two sacks after it had seven in each of its first two ACC games.
This won't be an easy game either as Duke is tied for second-most sacks in the country with Clemson and behind Pitt. It could be hard to continuously play this well against good D-lines so when Leary doesn’t hand the ball off, he better check his surroundings.
Bold prediction: Leary sacked four times