The NC State football team is looking to bounce back from a rough outing in week two against Mississippi State and has an opportunity to do so against Furman. The Paladins come into the matchup undefeated, with wins over N.C. A&T and Tennessee Tech, two below average opponents.
“Obviously when you lose by two scores and you’re playing on the road and in a great environment like that, we have to maximize our opportunities, and we didn’t,” said head coach Dave Doeren. “It comes down to 11 guys playing together with great technique and effort. There’s a lot to learn from in [the Mississippi State] game for our football team. It is definitely a wake-up call.”
Furman pitched its first shutout since 2004 against Elon on Saturday in a 26-0 victory against Tennessee Tech. Running back Devin Wynn led the way for Furman with 93 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, quarterback Hamp Sisson won Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Week in week one. Sisson went 17 for 29 for 196 yards in Furman’s last outing, though NC State will be by far the toughest opponent Furman has seen so far.
The Pack comes into Saturday night's contest as the heavy favorite, with the line opening up with the Wolfpack at 29.5-point favorites. Furman should be a layup for this Wolfpack team that will hopefully get it back on track before Clemson comes to town in week four, and then Louisiana Tech the following week.
NC State’s running game struggled in Starkville, Mississippi last week and will be looking to return to the form it saw in week one when it takes the field Saturday night. In week one, both sophomore running back Zonovan Knight and redshirt junior running back Ricky Person Jr. had over 100 rushing yards. The duo combined for only 50 yards in week two against a dominant run defense, which contributed to the Pack’s offense coming to a halt.
“I just want [the offense] to be consistent and to execute,” Doeren said. “We need to eliminate mental mistakes. There’s too many of those. I just want to see 11 guys doing what the play caller asks them to do as hard as they can do it. That’s it. It’s really nothing more magical than that. If those guys will do that, we have good enough talent to score a lot of touchdowns.”
The Pack’s defense will be without two of its starters for the rest of the season with redshirt sophomore linebacker Payton Wilson and graduate safety Cyrus Fagan both suffering season- ending injuries in Starkville. The Pack will need someone to step up and fill these holes, but replacing the defensive dominance of the two veterans will be a tall task.
As for the Pack’s signal-caller, redshirt sophomore quarterback Devin Leary, the third-year quarterback will need to get his rhythm back against a weak defense. Leary looked rattled in his last outing, unable to find any sort of rhythm, and missed receivers on multiple occasions. Leary will need to have an eye on Furman cornerback Travis Blackshear, who had two interceptions in week two and is up to three interceptions on the season. If Leary can get back to his week one form, the Pack should handle Furman easily this Saturday.
“We get to play against Furman this week,” Doeren said. “It’s a very disciplined football team. It’s a team offensively that does a lot. They are an option team. They are a spread team. They’ll get in the pistol and run downhill at you. Their quarterback can run and throw. Their tight end is a first-team All-American and 20-yard per catch guy. They’ve got nine starters back, and defensively they are going to be where they are supposed to be. They’re very sound. They’re coached well. They’ve got good blitzes that they discuss. They try to stop the run. They put a lot of people in the box, whether in quarters or zone-blitz Cover-3.”
It is parent and family weekend in Raleigh, and Carter-Finley should be filled up for kickoff at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night in what should be a nice bounce back opportunity for the Wolfpack against the Paladins.