Under head coach Steve Addazio, Boston College football has had more success against North Carolina State than any other team in the ACC. BC has defeated the Wolfpack three out of the past four seasons, including twice on the road. Just about a year ago, the Eagles traveled to Raleigh, N.C. and upset their Atlantic Division foe, snapping the program’s two-year conference winless streak.
But this year’s NC State team is hardly the same opponent. And Addazio says that it all starts with the quarterback: Ryan Finley.
“He’s accurate,” Addazio told reporters during Monday’s weekly press conference. “He’s smart with the football. He understands exactly what their offense is. I think he’s playing at a really high level…There’s a chemistry there. That’s obvious, you can see it.”
Last year against BC, Finley threw two interceptions and completed just 56 percent of his passes. Through nine games this season, the junior has only been picked off three times. He’s averaging close to 280 yards through the air, and is the most accurate starting gunslinger in the ACC.
But he wouldn’t be putting up the same numbers without the playmakers around him. Four Wolfpack wide receivers have eclipsed the 400-yard mark so far this year. To put that in perspective, the Eagles don’t even one wideout over 360 yards receiving. At 6-foot-3 Kelvin Harmon can go up and highpoint the ball at any point in the game. Then there’s Jaylen Samuels, who Addazio says is just another one of head coach Dave Doeren’s dynamic weapons. The H-back is the second best receiver on NC State’s roster, but is debatably more effective running the rock. Samuels has racked up 12 total touchdowns this season—eight of which have come on the ground.
The senior complements Nyheim Hines in the backfield. Although inconsistent at times, the scatback has provided the Wolfpack with an offensive balance. All around, the unit—a group that scored 31 points against No. 4 Clemson last week—is much improved from recent years.
Fortunately for BC, Doeren runs a pro-style offense. While dual-threat quarterbacks have given the Eagles fits all season, BC’s defensive line has terrorized pocket passers, with the exception of Virginia Tech’s Josh Jackson.
“I think our play up front has been great with Wyatt Ray, Zach Allen, Ray Smith, and Noa Merritt,” Addazio said. “We’ve had real consistent play up there. We’re continuing to improve on defense and kind of really anchor in thereafter the disruption that we had earlier in the year.”
The one guy he left out was defensive end Harold Landry. Addazio later revealed that the team’s sack leader has not been practicing, and that his status is still “unknown” for Saturday’s game. Landry was limited in the Eagles’ win over Virginia, and sat out their blowout victory over Florida State, a week and a half ago.
Regardless of whether or not Landry suits up, NC State will field a NFL prospect of its own. Bradley Chubb, who leads the ACC with 7.5 sacks, has Addazio’s full attention. Chubb adds quickness off the edge to a stoudt defensive front. As a whole, the Wolfpack’s defense ranks 25th in the nation in run defense, a stat that Addazio is well aware of.
From top to bottom, NC State is as talented as any team in the conference.
“They’re really good on defense, and they have electric playmakers,” Addazio said. “And the quarterback is making a lot of plays. Put it all in a bag and shake it up, and you’ve got a good football team. That’s what we’re playing.”
Addazio says that his team is entering every week with the mindset that it’s playing a one-game season. But it’s hard not to look ahead. If the Eagles take down NC State, they’ll be two games away from running the table and landing a spot in a tier-one bowl game.
Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor