NC State will travel to Morgantown, W.V. for a big non-conference match-up against West Virginia on Saturday, Sept. 14. The Mountaineers (1-1) are coming off an embarrassing 38-7 loss to Missouri in Week 2. The Wolfpack (2-0), on the other hand, are coming off a 41-0 win against Western Carolina last week. The NC State offense will look to attack the Mountaineer defense and stay consistent, as it is averaging 37.5 points a game so far this season.
Running backs vs. West Virginia front seven
Coming into the season, Wolfpack Nation had a reason to be excited about three running backs in sophomore Ricky Person Jr. and freshmen Zonovan Knight and Jordan Houston, as they were all making noise in training camp as potential stars. So far, Knight has had the most touches and better numbers, with 161 yards on 27 attempts and three touchdowns. On the other hand, Person and Houston each have one touchdown, with Person rushing for 71 yards on 15 attempts and Houston rushing for 108 yards on 14 attempts.
The efforts of the three-man attack has helped the Wolfpack average 250 rushing yards per game in the first two weeks. Keeping the ground game rolling against the Mountaineers will be imperative if the Wolfpack wants to leave Morgantown with a win.
Linebacker Josh Chandler leads West Virginia with 21 tackles, and the sophomore has been the heart and soul of the Mountaineer defense in their first two games. West Virginia's defensive line is led by Darius Stills, who has nine tackles, and Quondarius Qualls is also up there with seven tackles.
Matthew McKay vs. West Virginia secondary
After competing for the starting quarterback position all offseason, redshirt sophomore Matthew McKay has proven his worth in the first two games. Mckay is averaging 254 yards passing per game, owns a completion percentage of 66.2%, and has yet to throw an interception this season.
It will be important for McKay to not turn the ball over on the road, as the crowd in Morgantown can be a rowdy one.
The West Virginia secondary has produced only one interception so far this season, but there are two names to keep an eye out for on Saturday. Safety Sean Mahone has been a bright spot for the Mountaineers defense with 10 tackles on the season, and cornerback Hakeem Bailey has three pass deflections so far to lead the team.
Offensive line vs. West Virginia pass rush
Up to this point, the offensive line for NC State has done a phenomenal job of protecting Mckay. The NC State front five, led by second-year starters junior Joshua Fedd-Jackson at right guard and redshirt junior Justin Witt at right tackle, will be up against its biggest challenge yet on Saturday.
The Mountaineers defense has six sacks through two games and, like most teams, will utilize the blitz packages on third downs. Stills leads the team with three sacks, as the Wolfpack line would be wise to send a double team to his side on passing plays.
Offense vs. West Virginia crowd
In the Wolfpack’s first road game of the season it will be interesting to see if the West Virginia crowd has any effect on the way NC State is able to move the football on offense Saturday. Last year, the Wolfpack offense thrived on the road, with the only exception being the game in Death Valley versus Clemson.
With a lot of new pieces in the puzzle this year on offense, communication in the hostile environment will be key for the Wolfpack to ensure procedure penalties do not happen.
If the Wolfpack can get ahead early, and take the crowd in Morgantown out of the game, being the away team should not be a problem for the NC State offense.