North Carolina State had a nice bounce-back performance in Week 3 after getting trounced by Notre Dame a week prior.

The Wolfpack defeated the VMI Keydets by a score of 45-7. QB Brennan Armstrong was nearly perfect, completing 27/32 passes for 264 yards, 1 TD, and 0 INTs. The Wolfpack defense stifled the Keydets, allowing under 200 total yards of offense.

With a get-right game out of the way, the Wolfpack now enter conference play. Before the matchup with Virginia, let’s go over the stock report from Week 3.

Player of the Week: Brennan Armstrong

Week 3 was definitely the best game of the season so far for Armstrong. The QB didn’t turn the ball over and completed 84.4% of his passes. Armstrong also had his best rushing performance of the season, taking 6 carries for 39 yards.

It’s a great sign that Armstrong had his best game of the season just before ACC play begins. The QB should have some momentum heading into the Virginia game, especially considering the Cavaliers are his former team.

Freshman of the Week: Kevin Concepcion

For the 2nd straight week, Concepcion was the most impressive freshman. Concepcion followed up his 5 reception performance with a 7 catch performance against VMI. The receiver is quickly becoming the favorite target of Armstrong and will only get better as the season progresses.

Kendrick Raphael is another freshman who had a strong day, finishing with 16 carries for 85 yards. The Wolfpack offense looks to be in good hands with Raphael and Concepcion.

Biggest surprise: The emergence of Kendrick Raphael

The true freshman RB burst on to the scene against VMI, finishing with 85 yards on 16 carries. To see a true freshman perform so well has to be an encouraging sign, even against an FCS foe.

In the first 2 games of the season, Armstrong led the team in rushing. In fact, Armstrong is still currently the leading rusher for the team. If Raphael continues to play like he did in Week 3, that won’t be the case much longer. The freshman had better success than Jordan Houston thus far, so I doubt we’ll see Raphael moved back to the bench.

Biggest concern: Lack of big plays by the defense

It is hard to find anything negative to say about the performance, so we’ll go with the lack of defensive plays. The team has a turnover margin of 0, as they’ve caused 3 turnovers and committed 3 turnovers. The defense has done a decent job getting to opposing QBs, but someone needs to step up and force turnovers once ACC play begins.

Most defenses look bad when going against Notre Dame, and most defenses look good when going against VMI. Virginia will be a nice litmus test for this defense.

Developing trend: Kevin Concepcion WR1

Concepcion, a true freshman, leads the team in both receiving yards and receptions. Concepcion has collected 16 catches for 122 yards over 3 games.

Porter Rooks has the second most receptions on the team, and he only has half of what Concepcion has. Concepcion is a smooth route runner and already looks like a veteran in this offense. It’s not a stretch to think the freshman could blossom into one of the best receivers in the ACC.

Key stat: 84.4%

This was the completion percentage for Brennan Armstrong in Week 3. It’s an encouraging sign after the veteran QB completed less than half of his passes in Week 2. In Week 1 against UConn, Armstrong completed over 60% of his passes, but on just 26 attempts.

Armstrong has not historically been known for his accuracy. In 2022 at Virginia, Armstrong completed just 54.7% of his passes. Seeing Armstrong complete the majority of his passes and look poised is an encouraging sign heading into ACC play.

First impression about Week 4:

The Wolfpack open up ACC play against the Virginia Cavaliers. There’s probably no better team to open up against than Virginia. The Cavaliers are 0-3 and have gotten blow out in 2 of those losses.  The other loss was to James Madison, who was in the FCS just 2 years ago.

Virginia is not a good team. The Cavaliers are allowing a whopping 451.7 yards of offense per game. The Cavaliers have the No. 106 passing defense, No. 120 rushing defense, and No. 123 total defense. This is the perfect game for the Wolfpack to explode on offense and show that the Armstrong-Robert Anae combination can work in Raleigh.

Virginia’s defense has been horrendous, but the offense hasn’t been much better. The team has the No. 128 passing offense, the No. 128 rushing offense, and the No. 115 total offense. This could mean the Wolfpack are in prime position to make some impact plays and increase the turnover differential.

I see no reason why the Wolfpack should struggle in this game. The Cavaliers are worse in pretty much every category, and the Wolfpack should have no problems coasting. Armstrong could have added motivation after playing at Virginia for 5 seasons. I also expect Robert Anae to dial up the creativity against his former team.