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NC State Controls Its Own Destiny

By Jim Johnson
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Despite an early season loss, the Wolfpack are still in the hunt.

Coming into the season there were, reasonably, high expectations for NC State.

The potential for greatness was so obviously there, but whether or not the Wolfpack could live up to it was the question.

After losing to South Carolina, in week one, most people were quick to dismiss Dave Doeren’s squad. However, even in defeat, they dominated nearly every facet of the game and, according to Bill Connelly’s advanced metrics, if that game had been played 100 times, just like that, the Pack would have been the victors in 77 of them.

It was just one of those games.

In hindsight, given what has transpired over the successive handful of games, the college football community was much too quick to forget about a team with the likes of Bradley Chubb and Jaylen Samuels.

On paper, in the preseason, NC State arguably had one of the top two or three front sevens in the country. Now, with a fairly substantial sample size, against good competition, it’s fair to say call that an accurate assessment.

What has been most impressive, though, is the development on the other side of the ball.

Ryan Finley has made his unit one of the ten most efficient passing offenses in the sport.

Samuels, of course, has been unsurprisingly magnificent, although perhaps even better than most of his more optimistic followers would have projected.

The emergence of Jakobi Meyers and Kelvin Harmon, to go along with Stephen Louis, is a huge factor in the team’s success.

And, while the running game has plenty of room for improvement, Nyheim Hines is nothing if not a playmaker.

There are some issues to iron out along the offensive line, especially by the time Clemson come to town, but there is talent within that position group and ample space to do so.

As anticipated, and previously states, the defensive front is out of this world. B.J. Hill, Kentavius Street, and Darian Roseboro are all producing at an elite level. Oh, and Bradley Chubb is still, somehow, dwarfing all their contributions, combined. There’s an argument to be made that he’s the best defender in the nation.

Meanwhile, linebackers Jerod Fernandez, Airius Moore, and Germaine Pratt are exceeding already high expectations of their own.

The secondary needs to work on limiting big plays, but has been reasonably steady on a down-to-down basis.

All that to say, NC State is good. Really good.

It was silly to brush them off after a flukey loss against South Carolina.

And, for as good as Clemson is playing, it would be silly to brush them off as a team just playing for second.

Even with the Tigers on the horizon, the Wolfpack control their own destiny.

Jim Johnson - Editor of Southern Pigskin, Producer of "Three & Out", and host of "Explosive Recruiting" on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. E-mail: Twitter: @JimJohnsonSP