A defense, which was thought to be the strength of the team, is allowing more than 400 yards per game. That includes last week’s 34-27 loss at Wake Forest in which the Wolfpack (1-1) allowed 438 total yards and gave up two scoring passes of at least 30 yards.
The prevailing preseason opinion was that the defense — which returns eight starters from last year — would carry the team while new quarterback Mike Glennon got comfortable in replacing Wilson, whose offseason transfer to Wisconsin generated plenty of buzz and overshadowed virtually everything else surrounding the team.
But in reality, the offense has been serviceable while the defense has struggled. N.C. State ranks 93rd nationally and 10th in the Atlantic Coast Conference in total defense, allowing an average of 422 yards.
“I’d say it was an all-around terrible effort,” safety Brandan Bishop said Monday. “Embarrassing, to say the least.”
Coach Tom O’Brien says part of the problem has been injuries to his top three pass rushers — defensive linemen J.R. Sweezy, Thomas Teal and Jeff Rieskamp.
The defense was of the bend-but-don’t-break variety in the opener against Liberty of the FCS, allowing 406 yards but matching a school record by forcing seven turnovers in that 43-21 win.
Then, against Wake Forest, the defense broke.
N.C. State allowed Tanner Price to complete 22 of 35 passes for 297 yards with a 31-yard touchdown pass. Receiver Michael Campanaro threw another scoring pass on a trick play and the Demon Deacons built a 27-6 lead midway through the third quarter.
Tough to argue with Heather Dinich on this one (ESPN):
NC State finished last season ranked among the Top 25 and excited about the possibility of building upon a nine-win season.
Now, after two questionable performances, it looks like NC State is a borderline bowl team.
And, no, it’s not too early to say that.
Keep in mind that NC State has two FCS opponents on its schedule, including this Saturday’s matchup against South Alabama. Only one of those counts toward bowl eligibility, which means NC State needs to find seven wins to reach the postseason this year. The Wolfpack have one, albeit an unimpressive one, against Liberty. You’d think they’d rebound this weekend against South Alabama, but the following weekend at Cincinnati isn’t a given. A 4-0 nonconference record, though, should be expected.
As for the other three wins?
Based on the first two weeks, there doesn’t seem to be a gimme on the schedule.
Keep in mind, Arizona State was left at home last year at 6-6, because they could only count one of their two wins versus I-AA opponents towards bowl eligibility. As ridiculous as it is for a 6-6 team to even be bowl eligible, it wasn’t too long ago when you could only count a I-AA victory towards bowl eligibility once every four years.