West Virginia – North Carolina State Preview
West Virginia Mountaineers (1-1)
North Carolina State Wolfpack (2-0)
|Points Per Game||37.5||13.5|
|Points Allowed Per Game||3.0||25.5|
|Pass Yards Allowed||163.0||153.0|
|Rush Yards Allowed||24.5||202.0|
Location: Morgantown, WV (Mountaineer Field)
Announcers: Eric Collins (play-by-play) and Ben Lever (analyst)
Weather: Scattered Thunderstorms Hi 81º Low 55º
West Virginia and NC State will meet for the 11th time this Saturday. The series is knotted up at five with the Mountaineers taking four of the first five before the Wolfpack returned the favor in the last five meets. The last matchup between these two programs came in the Champ Sports Bowl where a Russel Wilson led Wolfpack offense defeated the Mountaineers 23-7.
The Mountaineer’s last win against the Wolfpack came in 1975 in the Peach Bowl 13-10.
WVU head coach Neal Browns thoughts on NC State
“(NC State head coach) Dave Doeren I think has done a great job with that program. “He’s entering year seven and you can tell that, if you watch them play and look at their roster two things that stick out to me is, they’ve done a great job at recruiting and evaluating. They have quality depth across the board, and they’ve done a really good job at developing guys. They’re a program that I look at as far as how they’ve recruited and really built that up. They’re coming off two nine-win seasons in a row. They got the second-most wins in the ACC, outside of Clemson… They’re well-coached and they’re disciplined.”
North Carolina State
East Carolina W 34-5
Western Carolina 41-0
The Wolfpack are in a little bit of the same situation as the Mountaineers having to replace most of their production from a season ago. Twenty players made their NC State debuts including 12 freshmen and seven players made their first collegiate start. However, the continuity of the coaching staff has them ahead of the curve and have started the season 2-0.
Making his third career start quarterback is redshirt-sophomore Mathew McKay. At 6’4” 210 pounds, he has a similar build and style to West Virginia’s opponent last week in Kelly Bryant with his ability to elude defenders and break tackles.
On the season, McKay has completed 66.2% (43-65) of his passes for 508 yards and two touchdowns, including a pair of rushing TDs. Most of those yards (308) came in the opening season win against ECU.
Fourteen different players have hauled in a pass for NC State. Eight receivers, two tight ends and four running backs have made up the passing attack.
Oregon grad transfer Tabari Hines (5-10, 175-lbs) spent his first three years at Wake Forest and in three games versus NC State, he caught 22 passes for 306 yards and four touchdowns. Now that the big-time playmaker is with the Wolfpack, he leads the team in receiving yards (110) by getting him the ball is space and over the top, out of the slot.
As an underrated recruit, Thayer Thomas plays with a chip on his shoulder in the slot and expect him to step up in key moments throughout the game as he is second in receptions (8) and has 96 yards.
Emeka Mezie (jr) is one of their big-bodied receivers on the outside. At 6-3 210-lbs, he leads the team in receptions (9). Most of his work came in the season opener, snagging seven passes for 70 yards of his 102 total yards on the season.
NC State also has a nice pair of tight ends in Dylan Autenrieth (6-4, 240-lbs) and Cary Angeline (6-7, 250-lbs) that have combined for eight catches for 94 yards and will help on the edge in the running game.
The Wolfpack have a trio of young running backs. Freshman Zonovan “Bam” Knight leads the team in carries (27), yards (161) and touchdowns (3) and his first collegiate carry was a nine-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter against ECU. However, look for them to turn to sophomore Ricky Person Jr to start the game and in big moments, despite being third on the team in rushing (15 carries, 71 yards, 1 TD).
Jordan Houston is second on the team in rushing with 14 carries for 108 yards and leads the backfield in receptions with 3.
The Wolfpack bring in one of two defenses that haven’t given up a touchdown to begin the season. They will also bring in a familiar face on the visitor’s sideline in former WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson who is now the co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach. And as I’m sure you’ve guessed it, NC State had gone to that odd 3-3-5 stack, although the terminology is different.
Sophomore free safety Tanner Ingle leads the team in tackles with 13 and corner Chris Ingram (jr) is second with 10. Ingram has the teams only interception on the season.
Redshirt-freshman Linebacker Payton Wilson was named a preseason freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America and leads the unit with tackles (9) and tackles for losses with two.
Middle linebacker Isaiah Moore (6-2, 240-lbs) and WILL linebacker Louis Acceus have combined for 14 tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss.
On the edge of the D-line, look for Xavier Lyas and Joseph Boletepeli to cause havoc in the backfield while Tackles Val Martin and Larrell Murchison clog up the middle.
James Madison W 20-13
@Missouri L 38-7
The Mountaineers are coming off a gut checking 31-point loss to the Missouri Tigers last week after squeaking out a seven-point win over FCS opponent James Madison in the season opener. WVU head coach Neal Brown called his team out for not being physical enough and looking for contact.
West Virginia has not found an identity on offense and a big part of that is they have not been able to establish a running game. They’ve only been able to muster up 64 yards on the ground through the first two games and as a result, Neal Brown opened up the competition on the offensive side of the ball. Although the offensive line has not been able to win one on one situations, Neal Brown sited that no one on offense has been winning individual battles. This has opened the door for freshman receivers Ali Jennings and Winston Wright to make their presence felt on game day.
Alec Sinkfield showed he wasn’t afraid to hit the hole late in the game against Mizzou and the return of Leddie Brown to the backfield might get the Mountaineers in better situations on second and third down.
Austin Kendall through two picks last week early in the game after the offense was showing they could move the ball on the Tigers. Subsequently, it looked like the offense lost confidence and the offense sputtered until late in the game when Kendall hit George Campbell from 46 yards out for the touchdown.
The defense has seen their struggles in the first half, giving up the bulk of the yards on the ground. They let JMU rush for 137 yards in the first half before clamping down in the second and holding them to 122 total yards. Then in the second game against Mizzou, the WVU defense gave up 274 total yards, a 149 of them coming from the ground and although the stat sheet says they only allowed 108 total yards in the second half, defensive coordinator Vic Koenning site that he believed Missouri wasn’t playing with the same “edge” the second half after holding a 31-0 lead at halftime.
The coaching staff also stated the defense missed 22 tackles and five sacks in the game.
They have had some bright spots when it comes to the pass defense ranking first in the Big 12 with six sacks and only giving up 153 yards a game through the air ranks them 25 nationally. Granted one of the reasons is they’ve given up a lot of rushing yards.
Defensive lineman Darius Stills has three of the Mountaineers six sacks while his brother Dante has 3.5 tackles for a loss, including a sack.
Linebacker Josh Chandler is leading the team in tackles with 21 and is ranked 3rd in the Big 12 and 13th nationally is solo tackles per game (7).
There have been more questions than answers for this inexperience Mountaineer team. The biggest jump is supposed to come from week one to week two and it didn’t appear West Virginia showed much improvement. One reason could be the level of talent going from an FCS to an SEC opponent. Or, maybe they just haven’t found their way.
This could be the week where you see a big leap from the previous one. However, I’m not sure they’ve had enough success on offense to build off of yet but the opening up competition this week of practice and letting some young talent play on game day may provide the spark the Mountaineers need offensively to get their second win of the season.
One thing is for sure, if they play like they have the first two games, it will be a long day in Morgantown.