As we continue our series of previews for the upcoming schedule for 12th ranked Miami Hurricanes, we will take some time today to look at the NC State Wolfpack. Unless you have been living under a rock, the Canes and NC State had a huge shoot out in Raleigh. The game culminated in a pair of electrifying passes and catches between D’Eriq King and Mike Harley. If you would like to relive it (I do often) check out the highlights below.
The most recent history between the Hurricanes over the last five games have the Hurricanes leading. The last NC State victory over Miami was 2008, also the last time the two teams played each other in back-to-back campaigns. The Wolfpack feature 11 players over the top two Athlon - ACC Pre Season All American teams. While that seems steep, don’t fret much as, similar to Miami, NC State has missed the marked frequently over the last few campaigns.
Last year, for instance, they had projected 8 over the same list, and finished the season with 1. Deeper into the national opinion, while ranked during the season 3 times over the last four seasons, the team has only finished rank once, in 2017. While I will stay away from assuming this is any type of cake walk, see last season, a home game vs a team like NC State will favor Miami. How so? Let’s break it down.
NC State Offense
Last week our own Justin Dottavio gave us another excellent Summer Scheming ‘21: North Carolina State Wolfpack - State of The U. Rather than copying and pasting, tempting, because it was GOOOOD, I’ll focus more on what NC State is working on in the background to make all that offense go vroom. As we know, everything starts with the QB. The quarterback from the game last year however, Bailey Hockman, was a grad transfer this offseason to Bowling Green. The biggest similarities of the two where their career paths, waiting in line for their shot before getting thrust into the spotlight due to injury. Leary is also a mature quarterback that has the ability to win games against good teams, see Pittsburgh vs NC State 2020. Also, which will be to a pure Manny Diaz defenses benefit, also a pure pocket passer.
A big offseason topic has been how well the offense will mesh. While the two deep at running back (Ricky Person, Zonovan Knight) and the number 1 and number 3 Wide Receivers (Emekea Emezie, Thayer Thomas) are returning, will the connection with Leary as well?
Of Note: An offense line in flux due to a heavy rash of injuries last year may struggle to find cohesion as the season progresses, an important story to follow in the NC State fall camp.
NC State Defense
If there was similar loss on the defensive side of the ball to first round, and current Miami Dolphin, Jaelan Phillps. Alin McNeil is it. The anchor of the defensive line for the Wolfpack was drafted to Cameron Underwood’s Detroit Lions in the third round. While that number of 11 preseason Athlon ACC All teamers is nice, none are on the defensive line. Two to watch are Daniel Joseph, returning sack leader, and FSU transfer Corey Durden. While Durden struggled at FSU, NC State does well to groom linemen. The real meet of the defensive however falls on the linebackers, especially with the team transitioning to a 3-3-5 defense.
Per David Hale of ESPN:
“Payton Wilson & Isaiah Moore are clearly the best 1-2 LB combo in the ACC,” Hale explained, “but they could develop into one of the top units nationally, too. Moore (27) and Wilson (25) rank 1 & 2 among returning defenders in tackles at/behind the line of scrimmage from 2020.”The deal here is that your linebackers must be disciplined and experienced, as Justin mentioned in his Summer Scheming. Discipline, however, was not a strong suit for that team core on defense.
The duo was present during the shootout last season but as seen by the final score, had minimal impact on the result.
Of note: Depth at LB is thin with freshman in the 2 and 3 deep, and even less at the all-important Note Tackle, with two redshirt freshmen up top and a true freshman on the third team. Injuries will be the story to watch during NC States fall camp.
It’s easy to do recognize these teams have both been underachievers recently, and have gone through significant personnel changes. Miami did well to address the defense this offseason and regained Manny Diaz calling plays again as a high-level pass defender at the sticks. NC State, while upgrading at quarterback still need to create continuity in season before we can crown him a game changer. Speaking of continuity, with Miami returning the most players in the nation, have already had that in season and have only improved there in the offseason. Not mention the health of OUR quarterback D’Eriq King where we want it, its difficult to find how NC State can make much noise on offense or defense. I like our running backs to gash an underperforming front and allow King to gash through the air. Leary will be forced to dink and dunk if Miami returns to the level of havoc Diaz has brought throughout his career. Enough havoc and this get out of hand quickly at home.
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