Thomas Tackles

Freshman linebacker Drake Thomas tackles versus Louisville on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019 at Carter-Finley stadium. Thomas had five total tackles in the 34-20 loss.

With its 31-30 loss at Miami, NC State football lost both luster and its top-25 ranking, but there’s more to be taken from Saturday night’s performance. Let’s take one last look at what stood out from the game:

Third downs

Loyal “First and Tech” podcast listeners will remember my initial thoughts on Miami, looking through the statistics for Tyler Van Dyke’s last couple starts. Miami’s third down conversions stood out to me as something which was keeping it in games, and the same can be found with a look at the stat sheet for the NC State game. The Hurricanes were 6 for 17 on third downs, not a great clip, and surely not the near-50% they were at in recent games, but it’s a full 10 percentage points better than the defense was giving up coming into this matchup.

The offense in contrast was just 3 for 14 on such occasions, leading to Miami winning the time of possession battle and keeping an increasingly hobbled defense on the field.

Secondary struggles

After three straight weeks forcing at least one turnover, NC State couldn’t muster a takeaway against Miami. Much of that came from the fact that Van Dyke was getting whatever he wanted offensively. After talking the talk, he backed it up with 325 yards and four touchdowns on over 75 percent completions. Cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell seems to be looking for a playmaker in the back end, with freshman cornerback Aydan White’s snap count increasing game by game — this is coming at the detriment of graduate corner Derrek Pitts, Jr, so it may be a result of his pass interference issues — but White’s still young and he was not alone in being taken advantage of in coverage at times. The unit faced probably the best receiving corps it’ll take on this year and finished the game with zero PBUs.

O Captain! My Captain!

There’s no word yet on how bad redshirt junior linebacker Isaiah Moore’s knee injury is, but it makes him NC State’s second captain to suffer what could end up being a serious injury. Though he tried to play through it, it forced him from the game and forced Tony Gibson into moving Drake Thomas around the linebacking corps. This is not something Gibson can keep up forever; he’s already scheming around the loss of three other starters. If Moore can’t go for a substantial amount of time, it’ll be by far the biggest blow this defense has felt yet.

Hometown vets a spark for the offense

On a day where it seemed like no one could get it going, redshirt junior receiver Thayer Thomas was a safety blanket for redshirt sophomore quarterback Devin Leary. On eight targets he recorded seven receptions for 71 yards, two of those going for touchdowns. Thomas is very hot and cold in terms of his participation, but the offense gets a new dimension when he’s feeling it.

Junior back Ricky Person Jr. also had a standout day. Though not gaudy numbers, the fellow Heritage product averaged six yards a carry and did his job in pass protection, earning himself some pancake syrup for a huge block he made to free Leary up to throw a touchdown. Those two players were a bright spot for a Wolfpack offense that struggled to match the Hurricanes blow for blow.

Looking forward

I’m sure head coach Dave Doeren would kill for a second bye right now, but it’s on to Louisville in a welcome home matchup. This should be a get-right game for NC State, but going up against a mobile quarterback without Isaiah Moore is not something to be excited about. Everything’s still in front of NC State, but Saturday’s a must-win to keep the dream alive.


I'm Jaylan Harrington, Editor-in-Chief at Technician. I'm in NC State's class of 2022 majoring in communication. I've been at Technician since the fall of 2018. For more of my coverage, you can follow me @jaylan__1 on Twitter.