NCSU vs Duke Preview: Wolfpack Quarterbacks, Passing Attack


Sep 19, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback Pete Thomas (4) hands off the ball against the Clemson Tigers at Carter Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Liz Condo-USA TODAY Sports

We are now just four days away from the Duke Blue Devils (6-2, 2-2) returning from a bye week to face the North Carolina State Wolfpack (3-5, 0-5) at home. All week, we’ll be looking at the various matchups we’ll see in the game, starting with the NCSU passing attack vs the Duke defense.

North Carolina State Passing Offense, On Paper

YPG: 225.6 (68th)

Touchdowns: 4 (tied for last)

Interceptions: 12 (tied for 102nd)

Sacks Allowed: 22 (tied for 98th)

Passing Efficiency: 108.57 (109th)

Completion Percentage: 57.9%

Randoms: 6.49 yards per attempt, 11.21 yards per completion

As you can see, it hasn’t been pretty for North Carolina State in the post-Mike Glennon era. The Wolfpack are in a season long slump and their quarterbacks have yet to record what could be considered a decent day at the office, a typical result when you combine a pitiful offensive line with average quarterback play.

Even more interesting, NCSU has yet to complete a game without throwing an interception. While I don’t have an exact number, I’m sure there aren’t many teams that can also lay claim to the achievement.

Pete Thomas, a junior, has received the bulk of the playing time this year, going 121-199 for 1,360 yards, 3 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Brandon Mitchell (30-58, 351 yards, 4 interceptions) has handled the backup duties.

Duke has been fairly average defending the pass this season, as they’ve allowed a passing efficiency of 127.78 (70th) and an average of 216 yards per game (35th).

North Carolina State Passing Offense, Off Paper

NCSU has yet to score 20 points in an ACC contest this year–a big reason for their 0-5 start–and it is largely due to the lack of success they’ve seen through the air.

While Thomas has been the main guy up to this point, there is a chance Duke could see two different guys under center all throughout Saturday:

Neither Mitchell or Thomas has played particularly well this year for any extended period of time, and there is little to suggest we’ll see them break this trend against the Blue Devils.

It should be noted, however, that both quarterbacks have the ability to scramble and have shown plenty of times that they can hurt the opposition on the ground when the passing game isn’t working (which is, for the most part, all the time).  Last week, Mitchell ran for 105 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries in a tough, 27-19 loss to North Carolina. Pete Thomas, meanwhile, has ran for 190 yards and two touchdowns on the year.

For the Duke defense, they’ll come off of a bye week looking to pick up where they left off: a ten-point, four-interception performance against Logan Thomas and the Virginia Tech Hokies in Blacksburg. The secondary should only get stronger, as safety Dwayne Norman has reportedly returned to practice:

My biggest key to this matchup lies in how well/often Duke can manage to get in the backfield. While they’ve been average-at-best in applying pressure this season, the shuffled mess of an offensive line at North Carolina State should help.

Wednesday – Previewing the Wolfpack Rushing Attack
Thursday – Previewing the Wolfpack Pass Defense
Friday – Previewing the Wolfpack Rush Defense