It’s hard to imagine N.C. State scripting a much better start to the football season.
The Wolfpack is 2-0 after victories over Troy and Eastern Kentucky, with an 84-21 scoring margin. The Pack has rushed for 450 yards and passed for 443, a near-perfect balance. It has run 162 plays in the two games, controlling the ball for more than 40 minutes each game, and has one turnover -- a lost fumble Saturday.
“We’ve had a lot of learning experiences the first two games,” senior quarterback Jacoby Brissett said Saturday. “And we’ll continue to get better.”
After opening with a 49-21 win over Troy, the Wolfpack smacked Eastern Kentucky 35-0 on Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium, allowing the Colonels 112 yards in total offense.
“We focused on taking care of the little details and you see what happened,” sophomore nose tackle B.J. Hill said.
While solid throughout the game, the Pack defense was at its best late in the first half, stuffing the Colonels on four downs after EKU had first-and-goal at the NCSU 2-yard line. That was Eastern Kentucky’s only serious scoring threat of the night and the Pack responded.
N.C. State running back Matt Dayes scored all three of his TDs in the second half, including a 25-yard burst on the Pack’s first possession.
“Any time you’re 2-0 you have to be happy no matter how you get the win, whether it’s a shutout or not,” safety Hakim Jones said. “But with it being a shutout and the offense scoring a lot of points, as well, it just meant that much more to us.”
While N.C. State had a field-goal try blocked, Pack coach Dave Doeren was pleased with the play of his special teams. Bra’Lon Cherry had one 38-yard punt return and had another long return negated by a penalty.
After two games at home, the Pack travels to Norfolk, Va., this week to face Old Dominion. The Monarchs, behind senior quarterback Taylor Heinicke, passed for 308 yards and rushed for 196 against the Wolfpack a year ago at Carter-Finley Stadium before N.C. State clawed out a 46-34 victory.
“I just remember they basically threw the ball the whole time,” Jones said. “We came out thinking we had the upper hand against ODU and they proved they were a better team than we thought.”
ODU (2-0) topped Norfolk State 24-10 on Saturday as running back Ray Lawry had 215 of the Monarchs’ 338 rushing yards. Lawry, a 5-10, 201-pound sophomore who was the 2014 Conference USA freshman of the year, had a school-record 31 carries and now has back-to-back 200-yard rushing games.
N.C. State running back Shadrach Thornton is eligible to play after being suspended by Doeren for the first two games. It should be interesting to see how much work the senior gets with Dayes playing so well.
“It’s always great playing at home … but I guess a little road trip won’t hurt anything,” Jones said.