Hart sack.jpg

N.C. State linebacker C.J. Hart Jr. (5) sacks Florida State quarterback Chubba Purdy (12) during the second half of N.C. State’s 38-22 victory over Florida State at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020.

After surrendering 44 points to then-No. 11 Miami in its previous game, NC State football’s defense rebounded with an adequate performance against Florida State. After the Pack gave up a lone field goal in the first half, Florida State quarterback Chubba Purdy spearheaded a Seminole resurgence in the second half, tossing two touchdown passes and scrambling for 47 of his 54 total rushing yards in the game. The comeback would not be completed, however, as the Wolfpack defense held off the Seminoles long enough for time to expire.

Secondary

Similar to the overall defensive performance, the secondary had a better first half than it did a second half. Junior nickelback Tyler Baker-Williams picked off Florida State quarterback Tate Rodemaker, who only threw five passes, to end the Seminoles’ last drive of the first half. Baker-Willams and sophomore cornerback Cecil Powell led the stat lines for the secondary with seven and six tackles, respectively. 

But Purdy started giving the Pack secondary and the rest of the defense some headaches in the second half, notching two touchdown passes. Given that Purdy and Rodemaker combined for a completion rate of 64.3%, it was not a perfect outing for NC State’s secondary, but only permitting 200 yards through the air is an improvement for a defense that has, on average, given up 341.5 passing yards over the last two games.

Grade: B+

Linebackers

The linebacking corps had the most statistically mediocre night of any level of the defense, but still contributed to the Wolfpack win. Redshirt junior linebacker Isaiah Moore and redshirt sophomore linebacker Payton Wilson each racked up double-digit tackles with 11 and 10, respectively. Redshirt junior linebacker Vi Jones was impressive in the open field, with each of his three tackles being solo tackles. Jones also got into the back field quite a bit with one sack, one tackle for loss and one quarterback hurry.

The main criticism of the Pack’s linebackers is its inability to contain the run. Although Florida State was held to just under 350 total yards, 147 of those yards came on the ground over 34 carries, meaning that NC State gave up 4.3 yards per rush. With this being the only major shortcoming in the Wolfpack’s linebacking performance, it was a solid night for Moore, Wilson and company.

Grade: B

Defensive line

It was an uneventful game for NC State’s defensive line outside of one particular player. Redshirt freshman defensive end Terrell Dawkins lit up the box score by recording one sack, two tackles for loss and a forced fumble. This marks the fifth consecutive game in which Dawkins has made at least half a sack.

Outside of Dawkins’ party in the back field, the defensive line was largely held in check, with the brunt of the defensive work being done by the other levels of the defense. Given the high completion percentage put together by Purdy and Rodemaker, the inability to contain the run and the lack of statistical contributions to speak of from defensive linemen not named Dawkins, the defensive line certainly could have done better against a Florida State squad with only two wins to its name.

Grade: C+