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Opponent Breakdown: NC State Offense

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

NC State media started to push the idea of State being “QBU” after five former quarterbacks became starters or backups in the NFL. That may prove to be a mistake as the Wolfpack has struggled to find a serviceable quarterback this year. Dave Doeren knew that he would have a reload season on his hands but I doubt he expected things to be this bad for his team. Injuries have killed the Wolfpack while also struggling to replace all that they lost from last season. They’re looking for their second power five win of the year when they face off against Louisville.

Injuries have been bad for State but Dave Doeren has three healthy quarterbacks that he won’t stop juggling. I don’t think it’s smart at all to spend your spring and fall figuring out who your quarterback is and then bench that guy for a guy that they beat out. Doeren has done just that by shuffling his quarterbacks all year long. Devin Leary has played the last two full games but he’s been flat out bad for the most part. Maybe they decide to go back to Matthew McKay as he has at least been more accurate and can run a bit. It may not matter who they start as any of them would be the second worst quarterback Louisville has faced this year.

State has a good group of running back to work with this year. Zonovan Knight was a four star recruit in this past class while Jordan Houston was the 6th ranked all purpose back in the 2019 class. If there’s a spot where you can lean on freshmen, it’s running back. Knight is the bigger of the two backs and he’s coming off of a 139-yard day against Clemson. This offense hasn’t run the ball well this year against Power 5 teams but they have to be happy about how they ran the ball late in the game even if it was against Clemson’s backups. I’d expect a heavy dose of both of these backs and the Wolfpack should have Ricky Person back from injury.

State lost a ton of guys on this offense but no spot was hit harder than wide receiver. Kelvin Harmon and Jakobi Meyers both left for the NFL and C.J. Riley is out for the year with an injury. That leaves Emeka Emezie as the lone contributor to return this year. They attempt to get Emezie the ball a lot in this offense. He had 76 targets going into the Clemson game which was 20 more than the next guy. Emezie is similar to Kelvin Harmon as a big body player that can do a bit of everything but he’s not the deep threat Harmon was. He’s more of a possession guy who has a knack for getting first downs.

The other receivers have shared the load as the second option. Thayer Thomas and Tabari Hines are the slot guys. Thomas is a threat to throw the ball on trick plays while Hines is a very quick player who can make a play after the catch. Devin Carter is the deep threat on the team and he has improved his game as the season has gone on. He’s 6-4 so he’s also an option in the red zone. At tight end, Cary Angeline is a threat to make big plays and to get the tough first downs. He’s massive at 6-7/250 and he probably deserves to get more passes thrown his way.

State also lost a lot up front on the offensive line and they’ve had injury issues to the most veteran player they had coming back. As of now, they are relying on a mix of veteran backups and freshmen to get by and it’s not going all too well. They haven’t allowed a ton of sacks or tackles for loss but they’re not opening up a lot of lanes for the running backs to help the offense. With State not being able to run the ball well, their quarterbacks are being put in a tough position. State could go air raid with Ryan Finley. They don’t have the ability to do that with this group of quarterbacks.