Well boy howdy. NC State has won four consecutive football games since the bye week. The Pack bounced right off rock bottom after the Duke loss and shot itself into the stratosphere. This is fun now. We are all having fun now.
The Wolfpack offense posted its first 400-yard game against a power five defense since November 13, 2021. It has been over two years, but the heart is starting to beat again. Robert Anae has hit his stride, the offensive line is playing the best it has in a long time, Armstrong is finally comfortable, and the ball is beginning to move.
State is getting the motions, the confusion, and the demand for a disciplined defense from its play design. It wasn’t getting as much of this earlier in the year. There’s been a noticeable evolution in the variety and creativity. A lot of Armstrong runs in the first half of the year came on QB draws and scrambles. This has not been the case lately. The run game has developed a lot conceptually while the pass game has simplified, and Armstrong is reaping the benefits. Everything that’s happening now works so much better for the player he has been this year.
Of course, none of this works without run blocking. This offensive line is run blocking at a much higher level than it did earlier in the year. Losing McMahon really threw a wrench in this unit’s development, but they’re playing well now, and it's catalyzed a transformation of this group into a run-first team. It’s keeping State ahead of the chains, which helps the play calling and minimizes the need for Armstrong to operate true drop backs. The quarterback is averaging 6.2 YPC over the last two weeks (excluding the three kneel downs).
How much better has NC State been on the ground the last two weeks? If it wasn’t for the -21 yards of kneel downs, the Pack would have posted back-to-back 200 yard rushing games for the first time since . . .
You really don’t want to know.
Ok I guess . . .
December 1, 2018
Anae is fully in his bag now
The first half of this season made me want to put my head through the drywall in my bathroom. Looking backwards at it now, though, it's been a worthwhile experience to watch this staff organize and develop the personnel. Ideally, that's all good to go from the start, but that's just not how it works. This wasn't a rebuilding year for the team in the traditional sense of the word, but the offense was starting from a very low point. It took a while.
State is no longer putting as much on the quarterback's shoulders as a passer. It's doing a much better job taking what's there for it. Virginia Tech played a lot of zone in this game, mostly quarters and cover 3. Armstrong hit a few quick boundary throws to take advantage of the cushion and bail technique of the corners. For example, this is free.
Virginia Tech is showing quarters. Rozner has a huge cushion. It's there, so take it. This is a HOSS concept, with Rozner's hitch exploiting the bail of the cornerback into the deep zone for easy yards. The Hokies were showing State a variety of looks, and would sometimes roll into cover 3 right before or at the snap, which is what happened on KC's long touchdown. In this case, they stay in quarters. Whether it's quarters or cover 3, you have a bailing corner, and State exploited this for free yards a few different times.
When State caught VT rolling to cover 3 post-snap, a coverage called cover 3 buzz, it struck in the seam for the big play.
State hit two big plays with this RB leak call.
Note the three receivers to the field side. State overloads that side and Armstrong looks that way after the snap to move the safety, then comes back to the running back in the shallow flat. Mimms just leaks out there for a little running back screen while Dacari Collins pins the linebacker responsible for Mimms.
Here it is again without the linemen release.
Oh, I'm sorry. Were you thinking this was another sweep?
You knew this was coming at some point. A total bite from Virginia Tech. You run all these plays around the line of scrimmage and you get the safeties coming downhill and it's too late for them.
The play design and calling has evolved with the personnel growth. They go hand in hand, and they've complemented each other the last two weeks. State had a number of explosive plays in this game. I believe only one involved a throw of more than 15 air yards from Armstrong. State is taking what's there, it's running the ball, and it's catching the defense where it can when it builds off that.
Dave Doeren scores another winning ACC record
With Saturday’s win over Virginia Tech, Dave Doeren has secured his fifth winning ACC record in seven years. Tom O’Brien had one total. Chuck Amato had one total. Mike O’Cain had two. You have to go back 21 years to 1992 to find five winning records in the league prior to Doeren’s 2013 arrival.
This rather impressive rally has helped to solidify that winning record as the minimum expectation for NC State. That is a place State has not inhabited since Dick Sheridan. This staff has faced about every surprise left turn it could since the start of the 2020 season, and it’s navigated them to four consecutive years of 8+ wins and a 22-11 ACC record.
The team’s record in that time in games where the starting quarterback did not start the previous game (excluding openers) is 5-2. State has played six quarterbacks through those 4 seasons. It changed starters eight times mid-season. It has won at least one ACC game with all six as the starter. Only Jack Chambers has a losing record.
The staff’s ability to navigate all of this has been the most impressive part of Doeren’s time in Raleigh. It’s really just been injury city for Dave dating all the way back to 2019. 2023 is, to this point, the healthiest team in years. Everybody wants a championship, but for the love of pepperoni pizza, would you please consider the implications of these things. When people write this off with the ol’ tried and true “everybody has injuries,” it makes steam come out of my ears. Everybody does not have . . . *gestures wildly* . . . this. The only year State has started the same quarterback for more than nine games, it finished the year with four healthy defensive starters.
If State can finish the job against the dense, foul-smelling cloud of egomania rolling into Raleigh on Saturday night, this coaching job will be Dave’s best yet and deserving of a coach of the year award. It will not win because Jeff Brohm, but it would be more deserving. It’s been a tremendous turnaround for NC State, and because Doeren loves him some disrespect and doubt to motivate his team, I will add that Doeren is garbage, his team is terrible, NC State is a baseball school, and complementary football is stupid.