Welcome back everyone to Week 12 of the Countdown Q&A, where we typically stare off blankly into the distance and dream of seasons past while wondering where we went wrong…until this week. This week my friends, a new hope is being restored, the reset button is hopefully being pushed, and the players have found new life and new direction under a man named ‘Whammy’.
Whom, you may ask, will get the brunt of this forthcoming enthusiastic exuberation?!? None other than the NC State Wolfpack and our friends from ‘Backing The Pack’. I chopped it up with Mr. Will Thompson this week and found a whole mess of stuff to chat about. I thought about keeping it all to myself but then decided I would share his wealth of knowledge with you, my loyal and faithful reader. Check it out.
North Carolina State Wolfpack (6-3; 3-3)
CS: Will, things have been fairly uneventful around these parts the last few days. What’s up over in Raleigh? Fire five coaches this week or anything?
Whew...definitely a we’re all fine here moment, right? Thankfully no coaching firings over here lately. Truth be told, I was pretty surprised Louisville went ahead and pulled the trigger midseason on Petrino, given the size of his reported buyout. I suppose though that giving up 271 points over the last five games really should be a fireable offense on its own.
CS: This summer I said Ryan Finley was the best QB in the ACC and from his stats one could still make that argument, even with the W-L record not necessarily blowing people away. Finley is leading the conference in yards/g (318.2), completions (233), completion percentage (67.7%), and only trails ‘Malibu Ken’ over there at Clemson with a passer rating of 149.91. As someone who has watched NC State very closely this year is Ryan still the real deal? Is he the biggest threat from the NC State offense?
He absolutely is. Although the results have been disappointing over the last few weeks, Finley is still having a really solid year. I’ve said it many times, but he is the engine that keeps the offense humming. Very rarely do you see him make mistakes, and on the whole he’s generally why the offense is able to sustain long drives and stay on the field (though lately, the offense has struggled in the red zone due to some pretty terrible play calling from the offensive coordinator).
What also helps Finley is NC State’s receivers are a pretty formidable beast on their own. Kelvin Harmon gets a lot of the attention (and deservedly so, as he will likely be heading to the draft after this season), but Emeka Emezie, Thayer Thomas and Jakobi Meyers are all capable of putting up huge numbers.
CS: The leading rusher on NC State’s team is Reggie Gallaspy Jr, rolling up about 65 yards per game. Since everyone with two legs and heartbeat is putting up 150 yards rushing on the Cards do you think Coach Doeren will alter his offense approach any or stick to the gun slinger Finley?
No doubt the offense will still start with the passing game, but Gallaspy would have a good opportunity here to put up some big numbers. What really helps Gallaspy is when freshman running back Ricky Person is also able to play, and having that change of pace back available creates a lot more opportunities for both of those backs. Gallaspy is a beast who generally runs north south between the tackles, while Person can line up in other positions and his speed makes him someone Louisville will have to key in on.
The Pack’s run game was woefully bad against Wake Forest last Thursday, so they’ll need to rebound in a big way this week and take some pressure off of Finley.
CS: NC State on the other side of the ball has given up approximately 1 million yards through the air but has acted like a brick wall against the run. If we combined our defenses we might actually be a formidable foe in the ACC? It’d be like a Dollar Store Captain Planet. Ground! Air!.....Questionable facial hair! Why have teams had so much success throwing the ball this year?
Audibly yell laughed at Dollar Store Captain Planet. Simply put, the secondary is just not that good. They have a real propensity to give up huge chunk plays in the passing game, particularly on third down. In the three losses NC State has this year, each of those opponents had multiple third down conversions and when that happens, the defense gets tired and they get burned on a kill shot throw. Right now NC State is giving up over 50% third down conversions on passing plays, and the majority of those are coming in third and long situations, which is just demoralizing for a defense.
If Louisville can put together long drives and pick up a lot of these third down conversions, we may see a similar result for the Pack as we saw in Raleigh against Wake Forest last week. They’ve got to figure out how to get off the field again, like they were doing in the early part of the season.
CS: Appreciate your time Will, how about a lightning round to wrap it up…
Sure, lets go!
CS: You’re the Louisville AD, who are looking to hire to take over the football program?
Has to be Jeff Brohm, right? Going to be expensive to pry him away from Purdue but you have to go after him. If he says no...well things might get interesting from there.
CS: What’s our old buddy Kevin Keatts cooking up down there for the roundball fans?
So far so good! We were all pleasantly surprised with an NCAA tourney berth last year, and although there are still a lot of question marks on this years team just due to the fact there are so many new faces, State is 3-0 and has crushed each team they’ve played. Granted, the competition hasn’t been strong, but it has been refreshing to see such a renewed focus on playing defense. Keatts has really endeared himself to NC State fans and I’m extremely happy he’s leading the basketball team.
CS: Ranking your North Carolina ACC foes on a scale of ‘papercut to losing my finger at the hands of a dull butterknife’ where do UNC, Duke, and Wake fall in your opinion?
Honestly for me the big four is such a unique part of living and growing up in North Carolina. The trash talk around here particularly during basketball season is pretty intense. Carolina is obviously the most intense for me, but I don’t like losing to any of those three teams.
CS: Welp, NC State gets to roll into Louisville and play a team who will undoubtedly play with more energy this week than we’ve seen from them since Week 1 against Bama. How you think this one plays out?
Truth be told, I am worried about this game for two reasons. One, the Pack looked as flat and lifeless as they’ve looked in years under Doeren against Wake Forest last Thursday. Wake was 4-5 and playing a third string QB...that’s just an unacceptable loss, period. Two, Louisville fired Petrino, and I agree that they’ll play with much more urgency this week, especially at home. If NC State opens with a couple of three and outs on offense....hoo buddy, things could get really bad for the Pack.
Something tells me this game is going to be a lot closer than people think, but I’ll take the Pack to right the ship and win 38-35.
Huge ‘thank you’ to Will for this time this week. Go give him a follow on twitter here and learn all about NC State, and ACC athletics in general. Also, go check out my responses to his questions riiiiiight HERE. I’m proud of them, and Will is going to personally send me the IP address of every one who clicks on the link so I can mail you a ‘thank you for your support’ e-card. Just how sweet I am.
Come back next week as I am physically forced to speak with someone from the bowels of the ‘A Sea of Blue’ about the ‘Battle of The Bluegrass’. It should be great.