NC State

NC State defensive line makes case for top spot in ACC

N.C. State's Mike Rose (90), bottom, Justin Jones (93) and B.J. Hill (98) tackle Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) during the first half of the Wolfpack's game against Louisville at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015.
N.C. State's Mike Rose (90), bottom, Justin Jones (93) and B.J. Hill (98) tackle Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) during the first half of the Wolfpack's game against Louisville at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. ehyman@newsobserver.com

Mike Rose answers questions like he pursues the quarterback: straight and to the point.

Asked which team has the best defensive line in the ACC, the N.C. State senior defensive end didn’t need a lot of time to calculate his answer.

“I really feel like we can compete with any group,” Rose said.

Florida State (7-2, 5-2 ACC), with its parade of All-Americans and NFL draft picks on the defensive line, has been the standard in the ACC.

N.C. State (6-3, 2-3) faces No. 19 FSU on the road on Saturday. Rose didn’t discredit FSU’s reputation but quickly pointed out that N.C. State produced All-Pro defensive end Mario Williams and has its own share of NFL players.

“So that’s debatable,” Rose said of FSU’s position as the league’s standard.

What’s not debatable is that in ACC play this year, the Wolfpack leads the conference in sacks per game and ranks second (to Boston College) in tackles for loss per game.

Through five ACC games, N.C. State has 21 sacks – the same as it had in eight ACC games last year. On the season, 23.5 of the Wolfpack’s 28 sacks are by defensive linemen.

47 N.C. State defensive rank last season

9N.C. state defensive rank this season

Rose (6-foot-3, 270 pounds) leads the ACC with 9.5 sacks and is third among defensive linemen with 13 tackles for loss.

Last year, Rose led the team with 14 tackles for loss and was second on the team with five sacks. Rose has been more consistent this year, defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen said.

“Last year, maybe there was some ups and downs,” Nielsen said. “This year, you’re seeing the same guy every day. On Saturday, Mike’s going to show up and make the plays to help us win.”

The rest of the defensive line has followed Rose’s lead, Nielsen said. Rose is the only senior in the regular rotation, which can go nine deep.

Sophomore defensive tackles B.J. Hill, Justin Jones and Kentavius Street have been strong in the middle with big freshman Eurndraus Bryant (6-1, 350) getting more playing time as the season has progressed.

Outside, sophomore defensive end Bradley Chubb is second on the team in sacks (4.5), and freshman Darian Roseboro (4) is right behind him.

Nielsen has been impressed with the work ethic of his young players.

“They’ve done a really job of focusing on the fundamentals and coming to work every day,” Nielsen said.

The development of the younger players bodes well for the direction of the program. The defensive line was a point of emphasis in recruiting for coach Dave Doeren.

Street (Greenville) and Roseboro (Lincolnton) were highly touted recruits from inside the state.

The depth of the line has contributed to the overall improvements on defense. Last year, N.C. State ranked No. 47 in the country in total defense, giving up 373.1 yards per game.

This year, the Wolfpack ranks No. 9 through nine games and has allowed 296.2 yards per game.

The push up front, and being able to generate pressure, has made a big difference.

“We’ve gotten better and better as the year has gone on,” Doeren said.

With two of the better offenses in the ACC left on N.C. State’s schedule (FSU and North Carolina), such progress should help as the Wolfpack closes out the season.

Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio

  Comments