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Film Preview: NCSU at Miami, 10/23

The ‘Canes are home dogs against the Wolfpack on Saturday night.

NCAA Football: Louisiana Tech at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Hurricanes will host the NC State Wolfpack on Saturday, October 23rd. It’s a 7:30pm kickoff between NCSU and The U, and Miami is a home underdog to open the week’s betting lines. The game can be seen on ESPN2, as Disney would love nothing more than to give a showcase viewing to Miami’s demise (and NCSU is ranked).

NC State has a 50.9% win expectancy according to ESPN. This should be a close one, just like in 2020. NC State is 5-1 with their lone loss coming at the hands of Mike Leach’s Mississippi State Bulldogs. NCSU’s best win was an upset over Clemson. Miami, on the other hand, is 2-4 with their best win coming over Appalachian State.

The data

According to Bill Connelly’s SP+ metrics, Miami is the 27th overall program in the country. The ‘Canes have the 27th ranked offense, 39th rated defense, and 45th best kicking game in FBS. NCSU is ranked 25th overall. The Pack have the 60th rated offense, 14th ranked defense, and 68th rated kicking game in the country.

NCAA Football: Louisiana Tech at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

NC State is 40th in FBS in points per game, scoring 32.3 on average. The Pack are allowing only 14.3 PPG, good for 6th in all of FBS. Miami is scoring 32.3 PPG (39th in FBS) and allowing a heart stopping 30 PPG (93rd in FBS).

The Pack offense

The NCSU is called by Tim Beck and they run a fairly standard 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end) offense. The Pack likes to use motion and enjoys a strong running game from Zonovan “Bam” Knight and Ricky Person Jr. Knight and Person have rushed for a combined 887 yards with eight touchdowns between them.

QB Devin Leary is playing the role of game manager in 2021. Leary is completing 67% of his passes and has tossed 15 touchdowns with only two interceptions. He’s averaging only 7.4 yards per pass but has thrown for over 1500 yards on the season.

NCSU has big play threats in Devin Carter and Porter Rooks, and sure handed receivers in Thayer Thomas and Emeka Emezie. Carter and Rooks average 17.2 and 15.2 yards per catch, respectively. Thomas and Emezie have 61 grabs and five TD’s between them.

Above- Oooof, can you see this coming? Leary launches one a little short but Carter makes a ridiculous play on the ball. The BC defender quits on the play and NCSU gets a big one.

Above- I don’t care who I am or what I run, against Miami I’m attacking the flats and making the ‘Canes DB’s tackle in space, and their LB’s pursue the football.

Above- Leary runs an outside zone RPO and pulls last second to drill the slant in for a TD.

Above- Miami defenders need to start being playmakers. Jahfari Harvey’s pick 6 was pretty, but that was a rare moment in 2021. Leary and Thomas have a chemistry with each other that you would’ve expected D’Eriq King and Mike Harley to have grown but we didn’t see early in ‘21.

The Pack defense

The Pack defense is coordinated by 3-3-5 expert Tony Gibson. Gibson’s squad loves to bring pressure and play cover 1 and cover 3. NCSU has eight different players with at least one sack, and over a dozen with at least 0.5 tackles for loss.

310 pound Cory Durden leads the Pack with two sacks. Linebacker Isaiah Moore has five TFL’s, while seven different defenders have at least one interception. Defensive back Tyler Blake-Williams leads the team with four PBU’s.

Above- Van Dyke is definitely rocky with his deep ball but when he does step up and check down it worked well for him. He has a gutsy quality that you can’t teach. I can see some Dennis Grosel to him, a career back-up slash spot starter.

Above- I’m kind of surprised a team that likes to bring pressure fails to and drops eight inside the 10 yard line. Inside the 10 is where most teams really ramp up pressure packages.

Above- People want to call plays like this ‘lucky’ but coaches spend hours upon hours teaching DB’s how to mark a receiver, and how to play the football once the receiver’s hands go up and their eyes get big. Great play from NCSU.

Above- NCSU seems to consistently drop eight on 3rd down, especially 3rd and long. Maybe Rhett Lashlee should take a page from Mike Leach’s book since he seemed to have their defense figured out in Week Two.

Above- Oh boy, this looks familiar. I hope Rhett Lashlee has a QB sneak in by now.


The Canyonero keys to victory from the summer were to stop the gadget plays, run the ball and protect the QB. Through six games I can’t see any reason to change that based on both team’s performances.

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Boston College Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

While NCSU can come right at Miami with Knight and Person, they used a trick play or two in ‘20 to try to get an edge over the ‘Canes. But, that was without Leary at QB. Now that Leary is healthy I expect NCSU to stick to their plan of using a big body like Emezie against Miami’s soft defensive backs, while giving Thomas the Josh Downs (UNC slot WR) treatment.

Expect NCSU to pressure Miami’s inexperienced QB Tyler Van Dyke and to try to beat up on Miami on both sides of the line. With Miami’s O-Line both weak and injured, and the ‘Canes defensive line and linebackers playing mediocre- NC State has to be licking their lips for a big time road win.

Prediction: NCSU by 7.