The NC State Wolfpack (4-8, 1-7 ACC) fell to the UNC-Chapel Hill Tar Heels (6-6, 4-4 ACC) in the final game of the season in embarrassing 41-10 fashion. The team allowed 35 unanswered points in the second half after leading 10-6 at halftime, with 28 Tar Heels points coming in the third quarter alone.
After the loss, defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable was fired, and the Pack is now left with a vacant spot on the defensive coaching staff after a horrid year. Let’s take a closer look at how the defense performed position by position and see what went wrong.
The defensive line produced all three of the Wolfpack sacks in the game, with two coming from sophomore defensive tackle Alim McNeill and one from redshirt freshman end Joseph Boletepeli. However, the line only produced one quarterback hurry, from graduate Larrell Murchison, and all three of its sacks came in the first half, going cold in the second half.
Furthermore, the defensive line was unable to topple the running backs, allowing Michael Carter, Javonte Williams and Josh Henderson to gain 184 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. For what was supposed to be a dominant year for the d-line, nothing but disappointment followed the group until the final game of the season.
Wolfpack linebackers played the best game of the defensive positional groups, though that is not saying much. Redshirt freshman Payton Wilson continued his terrific first year, recording 14 total tackles, four solo tackles and an interception on UNC quarterback Sam Howell that was returned for 16 yards. Redshirt sophomore Isaiah Moore also had a strong game, with seven total tackles, three solo tackles and one tackle for loss.
Despite this, the linebackers still quieted down after the first half like the rest of the defense and were unable to prevent the offensive UNC onslaught in the third quarter. After breaking free from the defensive line, the top three rushers for the Tar Heels each finished the game with over five yards per carry, with Carter and Williams each having over six per carry.
In its last five games, the Pack secondary allowed an abysmal 1,416 yards in the air, an average of 283.2 yards in the air per game. However, the yardage allowed by the secondary in this game is unacceptable, as it conceded a shockingly bad 440 passing yards in the game. Senior Kishawn Miller and sophomore De’Von Graves started on the outside for an injured secondary, but neither came away with an interception, and the secondary as a whole only came away with two pass deflections.
Miller, senior Nick McCloud, graduate William Brown III and redshirt senior Jarius Morehead will all be leaving the program due to graduation, so the secondary will have holes to fill over the offseason. For now though, allowing two receivers alone to get 280 yards, along with the receiving corps as a whole to get three receiving touchdowns, leads to a failing grade.
Overall Grade: D-