NC State Football: Stock report after 1st ACC win
NC State has now won 2 games in a row and secured its 1st ACC win of the season. The Wolfpack defeated the Virginia Cavaliers by a score of 24-21 on Friday.
While closer than Wolfpack fans would’ve liked it to be, a win is a win, especially in the conference. The Wolfpack will next welcome the undefeated Louisville Cardinals to town for a Week 5 battle.
We’ve already learned quite a bit about this team, but we’ll learn even more after a couple of ACC games. Let’s take stock of where the Wolfpack are at after Week 4.
Player of the Week: Kevin Concepcion
It’s official: Concepcion is the No. 1 receiver for the Wolfpack. As a true freshman, Concepcion leads the team in receptions and receiving yards, and is tied for the lead in receiving touchdowns.
Against Virginia, Concepcion had 6 catches for 116 yards and 2 TDs. Concepcion now has 22 catches for 238 yards and 2 TD’s on the season. It’s exciting to see a true freshman showing this much promise, especially on an offense that isn’t particularly explosive.
Freshman of the Week: Kevin Concepcion
It’s all about Kevin Concepcion this week. The freshman has won this award 3 weeks in a row and doesn’t seem likely to pass the baton anytime soon. Not only has Concepcion consistently been the best freshman, he’s been the best overall offensive player.
Concepcion’s performance was easily the best of all the freshmen, as running back Kendrick Raphael did not play as prominent a role with Delbert Mims and Michael Allen getting most of the carries.
Biggest surprise: Brennan Armstrong’s mediocre game
Armstrong had a lot of emotions heading into this game. Playing against his former team made many think the QB would have a huge game. Instead, the QB had a very mediocre performance. Armstrong finished 15/30 for 180 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT.
I was expecting Armstrong to build some positive momentum following his best performance of the season against VMI. Instead, Armstrong had his 2nd-lowest passing yardage total of the season.
Biggest concern: Lack of creativity on offense
It seems like the Wolfpack have 2 ways to get yards: a Brennan Armstrong run or by throwing the ball to Kevin Concepcion. Nothing else works all that well with any consistency. That’ll be enough to get past teams like Virginia and VMI, but it won’t be enough to compete against the top-tier of the ACC.
I just haven’t seen enough from this offense to think they could hang in a shootout. With a QB who’s been in college since 2018, you’d expect more flow and consistency on offense.
Kendrick Raphael had an impressive 85-yard game against VMI and then barely saw the field against Virginia. I’d like to see Raphael get more involved as the season goes on.
Developing trend: Elite 3rd down defense
The Wolfpack allowed the Cavaliers to convert just 5/14 third downs for a 35.7% conversion rate. Against VMI, the Wolfpack allowed the Keydets to convert just 1/10 third downs. It’s officially becoming a trend for the Wolfpack to be efficient at stopping offenses on 3rd down.
This is a good trend as ACC play starts to ramp up. Getting off the field on 3rd downs is huge in conference play and could be the difference between a win and a loss.
Key stat: 50%
This was Brennan Armstrong’s completion percentage against Virginia. It’s a disappointing setback after Armstrong made nice progress against VMI. Armstrong completed less than half of his passes against Notre Dame and exactly half against Virginia. This is not a good sign for the future ACC games Armstrong will have to play.
If the veteran QB has problems with accuracy against ACC-level defenses, the Wolfpack won’t be able to win many more games.
First impression about Week 5:
The Wolfpack will play the Louisville Cardinals in Week 5. The Cardinals are undefeated thus far and present a tough test for the Wolfpack defense. The Cardinals boast the No. 5 rushing offense, the No. 15 passing offense, and the No. 5 total offense in the nation.
The Wolfpack have the No. 45 rushing defense, No. 58 passing defense, and the No. 44 total defense. The Cardinals are averaging 304.8 passing yards per game, which could present a problem for the Wolfpack secondary. I think the Wolfpack will be able to contain the Cardinals on the ground. I think a bigger concern will be Louisville’s Jack Plummer, who has 5 years of starting experience for 3 different teams. The veteran QB may very well be able to dice up this secondary.
However, Louisville is also vulnerable in the secondary. This game will be a huge litmus test for Brennan Armstrong. It is incredibly possible to throw all over the Cardinals’ secondary, and Armstrong can quiet a lot of doubters with a strong performance. The Wolfpack will likely have a tough time running, so Armstrong may have no choice but to get it going through the air. This could be another huge Kevin Concepcion game.
If the Louisville ground game is contained and Armstrong hits his passes, the Wolfpack could win this game and get another conference win.