Coming off an impressive defensive showing against a solid Cavaliers offense, the NC State Wolfpack will be looking to keep the defensive side of the ball rolling against one of the worst offenses in the ACC: Duke. Perhaps the best part of Duke’s offense is the running back room, something the Wolfpack has been exceptional at containing in the last two weeks.
NC State D-line vs. Duke O-line
Duke’s offensive line has held up for the most part this season, save for outings against Virginia Tech and UVA that allowed 12 total sacks. In all, Duke has allowed 19 sacks this season through five games, an average of 3.8 sacks allowed per game. Meanwhile, NC State has 12 sacks through four games, an average of three sacks per game.
Sacks aren’t the only measure of how effective a D-line is by any means, but NC State only has six sacks since the victory against Wake Forest. This week offers ample opportunity for junior Alim McNeill and Co. to add some sacks to their resumes.
If graduate end Daniel Joseph returns to the lineup this week, he will provide some much-needed help against Duke’s own transfer, tackle Devery Hamilton, who could be a problem to deal with.
With two games in a row that featured strong goal-line stands, NC State seems to have some confidence heading into the matchup, something that can be built on in this game. If the Pack can win the battle in the trenches again, the momentum should be able to help the team in future games against ranked teams.
NC State linebackers vs. Duke running backs and tight ends
This is the marquee matchup of the game, as Duke’s backfield is ridiculously loaded with talent, something NC State can relate to. Backs Deon Jackson and Mataeo Durant each posted at least 160 yards in Duke’s victory over the Syracuse Orange, with all rushers totaling a jaw-dropping 363 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
On the year, Jackson and Durant already have 759 combined yards on the ground and five touchdowns. For context, NC State has allowed 637 yards on the ground to its four opponents, an impressive feat for the duo of Jackson and Durant.
The linebacking trio of redshirt sophomore Payton Wilson, redshirt junior Isaiah Moore and sophomore Drake Thomas have all been impressive this season for the Pack, and are one of the big reasons for the team’s overall defensive success in recent weeks.
Look for redshirt junior linebacker Vi Jones to get in on the linebacking attack on Duke’s backfield this week in what is sure to be an area that defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Tony Gibson highlights for this room.
It will also be interesting to see how the Wolfpack faces Noah Gray, Duke’s leading receiver. Gray has two receiving touchdowns on the year and will challenge the Pack, though covering tight ends hasn’t been a standout issue for the team this year. Another tight end to keep an eye out for is Jake Marwede, who averages 19 yards per catch and has his own touchdown on the year.
NC State secondary vs. Duke receivers and Chase Brice
Chase Brice has struggled through Duke’s first five games, something that is holding Duke from being a much more competitive team. The Clemson transfer has eight interceptions thus far, something the Wolfpack secondary will be keeping an eye on.
While NC State’s secondary is incessantly injured, the group has put up back-to-back inspired performances against a good receiving corps in Pittsburgh and a massive group in Virginia. Jake Bobo is one name to look out for in Duke’s receiving group, as he is 6-foot-5 and might be able to use his frame to his advantage more than UVA was able to.
Brice is also notable for slinging the ball around the field, as seven receivers have 95 yards or more on the year, including Bobo and Gray. Instead of the secondary having to worry about one or two solid receivers, Duke has a plethora that could have big games at any moment.
As for NC State’s secondary, the group is coming off a turnover party against Virginia, something that could definitely see a return given Brice’s knack for throwing interceptions. Look for junior safety Tanner Ingle, redshirt freshman cornerback Shyheim Battle and sophomore safety Jakeen Harris to have big days.
The game against Duke will be played inside Carter-Finley Stadium with limited fan attendance on Saturday, Oct. 17. The game will kick off at 3:30 p.m. and can be streamed on the ACC Network. Follow @TechSports on Twitter for live updates.