The NC State Wolfpack (2-0) will take on the West Virginia Mountaineers (1-1) on the road in Morgantown, WV for the Pack’s first away game of the year. The Mountaineers saw a large amount of offensive turnover in the offseason, having four offensive starters drafted in the 2019 NFL Draft, including star quarterback Will Grier and standout offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste.
This game is a chance to make up for last year’s game that was canceled due to Hurricane Florence. Both teams lost their starting quarterbacks and several playmakers on offense, so let’s see how the new-look West Virginia offense will deal with a more experienced Wolfpack defense.
Wolfpack secondary vs. Mountaineers quarterback, wide receivers
In West Virginia’s last game, the offense was anemic against the Kelly Bryant-led Missouri Tigers. Grier’s replacement, Austin Kendall, passed for 137 yards on 15-25 passing with just one touchdown and two interceptions, while backup quarterback Jack Allison threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
Though Kendall finished the first game of the season with two touchdowns and no interceptions, the Pack should try and capitalize on his downward trend and grab another interception or two to boost confidence going forward.
The wide receiver corps of the Mountaineers is easily the team's most impressive offensive grouping, with Sean Ryan, Tevin Bush, T.J. Simmons and Sam James, who have a combined 265 yards on 26 catches, good for an average of 10.2 yards per catch. To go along with this, the group has one total touchdown.
Meanwhile, the Wolfpack secondary, consisting of redshirt senior safety Jarius Morehead, sophomore safety Tanner Ingle, senior cornerback Nick McCloud and junior cornerback Chris Ingram, has a combined 36 total tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, five pass deflections and one interception through two games.
On top of this, the secondary has allowed just 326 receiving yards in both games combined, with 228 of those coming in the first game of the season. If the Pack can once more hold a team under 100-150 receiving yards, as it did against the Western Carolina, the team should have no difficulty coming away with a victory.
Wolfpack D-line vs. Mountaineers O-line
Losing Cajuste was a huge blow for this West Virginia offensive line, and the line has allowed four sacks in its two games played thus far. While four sacks is not a terrible mark, the Pack defense has shown out in its two games, allowing only a combined six points between ECU and WCU.
Led by graduate defensive end James Smith-Williams and redshirt senior defensive tackle Larrell Murchison, the NC State defense has racked up six sacks in two games. Murchison and Smith-Williams have accounted for one sack apiece, along with a combined four quarterback hits and 1.5 tackles for loss. While the Mountaineers have an experienced offensive line, including Colton McKivitz and Kelby Wickline, the Wolfpack defensive line should still be able to come away with one or more sacks this game.
Wolfpack linebackers vs. Mountaineers run game
While the passing game looked miserable last week for the Mountaineers, the running game was just as disappointing. West Virginia was outrushed 232-30, a similar disparity to the 301-yard difference between NC State and the Catamounts in the Pack’s last game.
The starting linebacker core of the Pack, made up of redshirt junior Brock Miller, redshirt sophomore Isaiah Moore and junior Louis Acceus, has combined for five solo tackles, a sack, a pass deflection and 13 assists through two games of play. This game will give the linebackers a chance to prove their consistency and put up even bigger numbers against a Mountaineers rushing attack led by Kennedy McKoy and Martell Pettaway, who have a combined 26 yards on 33 attempts in two games.
The game will kick off at 12 p.m. Saturday on Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium.