The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets take on the North Carolina State Wolfpack this Thursday night and with the quick week, here’s five things to know about the Wolfpack.
This week, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and North Carolina State Wolfpack will face each other on short-rest and in a game both teams need a big win out of. Now, not only do the two programs have a short week to prepare, so do we here at Yellow Jacked Up. With that, to speed up the process, today we present five key things to know about the North Carolina State Wolfpack leading into this week’s game.
1) Their passing game has struggled quite a bit
The Wolfpack this season have already used three different quarterbacks that have thrown over 75 passing attempts. Sophomore Matthew McKay was the Wolfpack’s starting quarterback for the beginning of this season and performed probably a bit above average. He completed 57.3% of his passing attempts this season for 910-yards and three touchdowns. Then against Florida State, McKay started off slow, completing 3-of-7 passing attempts and was pulled, step in Bailey Hockman.
Hockman took over for McKay against Florida State and in relief completed 21-of-40 passing attempts for 208-yards and one touchdown. The Wolfpack would take a 31-13 loss in the game. Hockman would get the start the next week against Syracuse and performed well but against Boston College on October 19th, he struggled and like his counterpart in McKay was pulled.
That brings us to freshman quarterback Devin Leary. The New Jersey native came in against Boston College and did decent, completing 15-of-33 attempts but did pass for 259-yards and three touchdowns. Since then, Leary has been starter and while he hasn’t been efficient, he’s been putting up decent numbers. That being said, efficient is the key word there. Through his four games as the Wolfpack’s quarterback, he’s completed just 46.3% of his passes. He has thrown for 817-yards and six touchdowns and three interceptions.
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On Thursday, Leary will be the Wolfpack’s quarterback and while he may not be efficient, he does seem like their best option. That being said, while Leary can put up some impressive numbers, the Jackets secondary seems to be in a good matchup here with his lack of efficiency at time.
2) Running backs Zonovan Knight and Jordan Houston are a formidable duo
While the North Carolina State Wolfpack passing game has struggled this year due to their quarterback situation, their running backs have been quite decent this year. In the backfield, the Wolfpack are led by freshman running back Zonovan Knight who has 589-yards and four touchdowns on 105-carries this season.
When Knight isn’t getting the carries, redshirt freshman Jordan Houston is taking the carries with 77 so far this season. The Maryland native has been productive with his 77 carries, rushing for 375-yards and two touchdowns.
Between the two, North Carolina State has a strong duo in their backfield who can help keep the offense on pace. Combined, the two have 183 carries this season for 964-yards and six touchdowns. While you sometimes see that out of a single running back, the Wolfpack certainly can’t complain about the production their getting out of the two him.
3) Their defense has struggled to force turnovers and offense has turned the ball over too much
We talked about the Wolfpack hurting themselves a ton above by committing penalties but they’ve also hurt themselves in the turnover battle. On offense this season, the Wolfpack have turned the ball over quite a bit, throwing seven interceptions and fumbling it away an additional nine times. They’re lucky its’ that low of number as well as they’ve fumbled the ball a total of 17 times this season but were able to recover the ball in eight of those occurrences. But turning the ball over 1.6 times a game is a pretty alarming rate for any offense and is a recipe for disaster.
To make matters worse for the Wolfpack, while they’re offense is turning the ball over way too much, they’re defense isn’t forcing enough turnovers by any stretch. Entering this week, the Wolfpack have just four forced turnovers. Three of those forced turnovers came through the air with junior cornerback Chris Ingram leading the way with two interceptions.
Now, the Jackets have turned the ball over quite a bit this season on offense but if they can limit their turnovers and NC State continues their disastrous trends on offense, the Jackets will be in a great position to win on Thursday night.
4) They commit A LOT of penalties
Entering Thursday night, the Wolfpack have committed 61 penalties this season for 541-yards. That may not seem like a ton but it really is when you consider that is 6.1 penalties per game for 54.1 yards. That’s a lot of free yards to give up in any given game and is a big reason why the Wolfpack have struggled in picking up some victories this season. For comparison, this season has felt like the Yellow Jackets have committed a ton of penalties but even the Yellow Jackets have committed fewer penalties than the Wolfpack this season. Geoff Collins will need to make sure his team is ready to take advantage of the Wolfpack’s penalties on Thursday night.
5) They only have one win over a Power 5 program this year
We mentioned it above quickly but the Wolfpack have just one win over a Power 5 program this year. That lone Power 5 program that they’ve beat this year is the Syracuse Orange who have had their own struggles this season after entering the year with a ton of promise. Outside of that, North Caolina State 0-6 against Power 5 programs and in their six losses have lost by an average of 24.8 points. It’s safe to say they probably won’t lose by that amount to the Yellow Jackets this weekend but it shows that when facing Power 5 programs, the Wolfpack have been over matched quite a bit this season.
The Yellow Jackets and Wolfpack will kickoff on Thursday night at 8:00 pm at Bobby Dodd Stadium.