NC State proud of steady improvements
NC State was expected to overwhelm Connecticut and it did 41-10.
The Wolfpack improved to 4-0 and are set for the potential game of the year at Clemson next Saturday. The Tigers topped Wake Forest 51-45 in double-overtime Saturday.
What was interesting for NC State was how they took a commanding 31-3 halftime lead. Redshirt junior quarterback Devin Leary aired it out with short, quick throws, with a shot downfield mixed in. Leary connected to Thayer Thomas for a 75-yard touchdown on the first play of the game, and then start hitting quick outs or flair passes.
The attention turned to playing 4-0 Clemson after the game. Junior quarterback DJ Uiagalelei threw for 371 yards and five touchdowns against the Demon Deacons.
‘It would be great if [ESPN’s College] GameDay was there,” NCSU coach Dave Doeren said. “You have two undefeated teams, and Clemson had a heck of a win today in double overtime. I watched that whole game.”
Leary went 25-of-32 passing for 275 yards and three touchdowns in the first half, with his lone blemish an interception that set up UConn’s (1-4 overall) points. Leary finished with 320 passing yards and four touchdown passes, including the first career scores for NC State junior receiver Keyon Lesane and sophomore receiver Porter Rooks.
“It was good to see Devin get into a rhythm,” Doeren said. “Almost everything we talked about during the week, we got to see. We wanted to see guys make contact catches.
“It was great to have some guys score their first touchdowns.”
Leary was smashed in the pocket and threw the interception to UConn linebacker Brandon Bouyer-Randle, who ran it back to the NCSU 11-yard line with 46 seconds left in the second quarter. The UConn drive stalled and sophomore kicker Noe Ruelas made the 28-yard field-goal attempt.
The quick passing game also allowed several players to get touches. Six different wide receivers snagged passes in the first half. Thomas finished with five catches for 115 yards and a touchdown, and junior Devin Carter had five receptions for 63 yards and a score.
“It was good to see Devin Carter play that way,” Doeren said. “The ball got spread around to numerous receivers.”
Carter felt Leary and the offense had good timing.
“It was good for our offense,” Carter said.
The Wolfpack defense dominated the injury-riddled Huskies. UConn lost its starting quarterback for the year in the season opener, and played without its top two running backs against NSCU. NC State out-gained UConn 357-56 at halftime.
The Huskies two quarterbacks combined for a miserable 39 passing yards on 10 completions.
“I think we are hitting on a lot of the cylinders that we wanted to,” Doeren said. “I feel we are in a good spot, but there are always things we can do better.”
NC State hopeful for good health
NC State was able to be cautious in the second half with any player affected by an injury.
NC State played without senior nickel starter Tyler Baker-Williams, and junior running back Jordan Houston. Compounding the situation, backup nickel Joshua Pierre-Louis also missed the game, which led to sophomore Devan Boykin to start at nickel.
“Jordan Houston, we’ll have him next week,” Doeren said. “He’s fine. Tyler is day-to-day. He is getting better.”
Backup sophomore running back Demie Sumo-Karngbaye was off to a quality start and then he got injured. He finished with 49 yards and a touchdown on four carries.
“Demie is going to be fine, he was sore,” Doeren said. “We plan on him being back. If it was a different kind of game, we could have played him today.”
That led to redshirt sophomores Delbert Mimms III and Demarcus Jones II to take over the rushing duties in the second quarter. Freshman Michael Allen picked up 10 carries for a team-high 66 yards in the second half during his Wolfpack debut. Allen can play in four games and preserve his redshirt season.
“Once Demie went out, we got some younger backs, some good reps,” Doeren said. “I thought he [Allen] did some good things. You saw his speed. He can run. He’s quick and had a couple of receptions out of the backfield. We are excited about him.”
NC State senior kicker Christopher Dunn also might have gotten dinged up when trying to run for a first down on a fake field goal. Redshirt sophomore Collin Smith kicked the rest of the night and he made a 40-yard field goal, but missed a 47-yarder.
“We’ve been practicing it three or four weeks,” Doeren said. “We thought it was there. We were getting rushed really hard. I hadn’t run a fake field goal in a while. I thought it would be good to get that on film for opponents.
“I don’t think he’s been tackled in a long time. It was good to get Collin Smith an opportunity. Chris will be fine.”
NC State did welcome back redshirt sophomore cornerback Shyheim Battle from injury.
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