This was a very impressive performance all around. We followed the “how to beat Georgia Tech” recipe to perfection. We got ahead early and made them play from behind all game, forced them into passing situations on 3rd down, didn’t lose the turnover margin, minimized their big plays on offense, and made a huge special teams play. You couldn’t have scripted it any better … well except that interception returned for touchdown early in the 4th quarter that cut the lead to 3 points. The drive we had following that was the most clutch NC State drive of the TOB era. If we don’t score we likely lose the game, but score we did and the Pack pulled out a very gutty ACC road victory.
Quarterback – Grade: C+
Russell Wilson had the TV announcers raving about him all game as he set a career high in passing yards (368 yards) and accounted for 4 TDs (3 passing and 1 rushing). All over the internet you can read articles praising Russell, and rightfully so, but I can’t get past the terrible pick six in the 4th quarter. We still won the game, largely due to Russell’s play before and after the pick, but a 3 year starter can’t make that mistake.
Running Backs – Grade: A
Mustafa Greene was impressive again (68 yards rushing, 1 TD & 4 receptions, 41 yards receiving), extending his streak of a touchdown in all four games of his young collegiate career. Dean Haynes bounced back nicely from his terrible game last week (75 yards rushing, 34 yards receiving) and Taylor Gentry continues to be a force to be reckoned with on passes out of the backfield.
Receivers – Grade: A
This receiving corps has to be the best in the ACC and they played like it against the Yellow Jackets. There were two drops that I remember, but that’s really all there was to critique.
Offensive Line – Grade: A-
Run blocking was very good, but we still have to do a better job protecting Russell. There were several plays were miscommunication led to Tech defenders getting through untouched. Russell is our meal ticket and we have to do a better job of protecting him.
Defensive Line – Grade: A+
They really dominated the line of scrimmage and clogged up all the blockers so our linebackers could run free and make plays. Very impressive game from this unit.
Linebackers – Grade: A+
If there was any doubt that Nate Irving had lost a step due to the car wreck, he squelched all that talk with his performance (16 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 2 sacks) on Saturday. All the other linebackers were great as well.
Defensive Backs – Grade: B-
Georgia Tech doesn’t throw the ball so the DBs weren’t really challenged much this game. When they were, however, C.J. Wilson and Earl Wolff made a couple great plays to break up some passes, but we also had two breakdowns that led to big plays. Going forward this unit has to tackle better and eliminate the busted coverages.
Special Teams – Grade: C
Asa Watson blocked a punt and Jarvis Williams recovered it for a TD. That’s two straight weeks with a blocked punt, but the good stuff ends there. Josh Czajkowski missed 2 chip shot field goals, Andy Leffler took over the punting duties (37.3 avg) and was no better than Ruiz, and our coverage teams were solid but not as good as they’d been in the previous 3 games. This unit is still a huge liability.
Coaching – Grade: A+
To go into Atlanta and dominate the defending ACC champs the way we did earns kudos for the entire staff. The redzone playcalling is questionable at times, but most of our other problems are not due to poor coaching, but rather poor execution.