3 takeaways from NC State's home opening loss to Notre Dame
RALEIGH, NC — There’s something about Notre Dame coming to play at NC State that Mother Nature just doesn’t like.
The 1st time the Irish came to Raleigh, she unleashed Hurricane Matthew on the game. Despite the torrential rain and winds that turned the field at Carter-Finley Stadium into a quagmire, the show went on as scheduled.
And the Wolfpack won 10-3.
Notre Dame got its revenge this time, pulling away late for a 45-24 victory. It was the Irish’s 29th straight regular season win against ACC competition.
For a while Saturday, it looked as though history might repeat itself. There was no hurricane this time, though it sure looked like it during a 1:45 weather delay early in the 2nd quarter. Notre Dame led only 3-0 at the time. But it didn’t take the Irish long to take control once play resumed.
Audric Estime rumbled for an 80-yard touchdown on the 1st play back and while the Wolfpack stayed close through 3 quarters, turnovers and an inability to take advantage of their own scoring chances allowed the game to get out of hand.
Here are 3 takeaways from NC State’s home opening loss:
Tale of 2 transfer quarterbacks
The anticipated showdown between veteran transfer quarterbacks Sam Hartman and Brennan Armstrong never materialized.
Notre Dame’s Hartman, who was 0-2 in his previous games at Carter-Finley while with Wake Forest, held up his end of the bargain. It took the ACC’s all-time leader in touchdown passes to get rolling. But once he did, he finished 15-of-24 for 286 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions.
Armstrong, however, struggled from start-to-finish. He didn’t get much help from either his offensive line or his receivers, who dropped several passes – including several that would have extended drives. Along with leading to 1 of his 3 interceptions.
He did throw his 1st touchdown pass as a member of the Wolfpack, a 9-yarder to Bradley Rozner in the 2nd quarter, along with a late window dressing Dacari Collins score But he ended up completing only 22 of his 47 passes for 260 yards with 2 touchdowns and 3 picks.
Big play bugaboo
State’s defense, which allowed the fewest points in the ACC last season, remains solid. That is when it’s not giving up big plays.
A week ago in their season-opening win at UConn, the Wolfpack got burned for a 71-yard run by the Huskies’ Victor Rosa. Saturday against Notre Dame, they got burned 4 times.
Estime broke free for an 80-yard touchdown run on the 1st snap after the weather delay on what looked to be a similar play to the one on which Rosa scored. Later in the 2nd quarter, Hartman took advantage of little to no pressure to find Chris Tyree streaking down the near sideline for a 65-yard gain that led to a score just before halftime.
Hartman also completed a 45-yard pass to Tobias Merriweather and a 40-yard touchdown pass to Holden Staes. Those 4 plays accounted for 230 of Notre Dame’s 351 yards through 3 quarters and led directly to 21 points.
Plenty of leg
Notre Dame didn’t need it on Saturday in a 21-point win. But if the Irish get into a close game later this season, they’ll have a valuable weapon in kicker in transfer kicker Spencer Shrader.
The Lou Groza Award semifinalist from South Florida showed off an NFL-caliber leg against NC State by drilling a 54-yard field goal late in the 1st quarter to give his team a 3-0 lead. Although he missed his other attempt, when he hit the left upright from 56 yards out just before halftime, his attempt had more than enough distance to get through had it been on target.