We’re finally deep enough into the season where these Data Previews start to get fun. So without a bunch of to do let’s dive into what we can expect from Notre Dame’s Week 2 matchup against NC State over in Raleigh North Carolina.
History Against NC State
We’ve got some football history with the Wolfpack. The programs first met up back in 2002 and that Gator Bowl game resulted in a 6-28 Irish loss. The game was played in Ty Willingham’s first season at the helm of the program.
The next two times the Irish faced off against the Wolfpack were in the ACC-Connection era. That first meeting took place in 2016. It was an early October game in Raleigh and the Irish walked away with a 3-10 loss. Some of the standout players from that year were Deshone Kizer, Josh Adams, Dexter Williams, Tony Jones Jr., Chase Claypool and Equanimeous St. Brown. The Irish ultimately finished off that season 4-8, so not really a period we like to think back on.
The third meeting between Notre Dame and NC State came under much better circumstances. The Irish finished the season 10-3 and capped everything off with 21-17 Citrus Bowl victory over LSU. Don’t meant to be petty and as a Louisiana native it’s kind of sacrilegious for me to actively root against LSU but I can’t miss the chance to call more attention to the current Brian Kelly-LSU debacle.
The 2017 matchup resulted in a 35-14 Notre Dame win. Some of the offensive stars of that team were Ian book, Josh Adams, Dexter Williams, Chase Claypool, Equanimeous St. Brown and Miles Boykin.
Wolfpack’s Recent Game Outcomes
NC State finished its 2022 season 8-4, with losses to Clemson, Syracuse, Boston College and Louisville. It kicked off Week 1 of the 2023 season with a 24-14 victory over UConn. When it comes to more formidable opponents, the Wolfpack have walked away with full losses are close margin wins.
Total Yards Summary
Between the 2022 and 2023 seasons, NC State tallied up its highest total yards against Charleston Southern and UConn (2022). In total they’ve averaged 345 total yards per game and kicked off the 2023 season with 364 yards against UConn.
While the passing attack was the name of the game in 2022 for the Wolfpack, in 2023’s Week 1 we saw a shift, though, with 57% (209) of the total yards coming on the ground.
Across the 2022 and 2023 seasons, NC State generally posted passing completion rates between 50-67%. They hit a high of 72% against UConn (2022) and lows against Florida State and Louisville, both ultimately resulting in losses.
While the rushing attack wasn’t the most prolific part of the Wolfpack’s offense in 2022, they still made size-able amounts of attempts, ranging from 21 to 46. Through the lens of rushing attempts, we have another reason to believe that the 2023 strategy may have shifted more in favor of the ground attack. In 2022, they hit a season high of 46 yards against Florida State. During Week 1 of 2023, they tallied up 46 attempts and 4.5 yards per carry against UConn.
Throughout the first half of the 2022 season, turnovers (a pretty even mix of fumbles and interceptions) were a consistent problem for NC State. In the middle they cleaned things up but the turnover monster reared its head again during the last 3 games. The Wolfpack walked away from its 2023 Week 1 matchup without any turnovers.
The Irish are coming into Saturday’s game with a big win during the two team’s last meeting and 2-0 on the 2023 season as well as lots of momentum. This will be the most formidable challenge Notre Dame has faced thus far but one I think they’re entirely capable of beating.
Turnovers were a consistent problem for the Wolfpack last season and even though they finished with an 8-4 record, a lot of those losses and close wins came against teams within Notre Dame’s competition level.
If there’s one concern I have it is the shift of NC State to being more of a rushing team (at least in Week 1) and a Notre Dame defensive that’s still seeming to find its way. Our linebacker play has been great but tackling up front and in the secondary have been a bit spotty. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that game prep by the staff is at the highest level we’ve seen in a long time and I’m confident that the necessary preparations and adjustments will be made.
We won’t see the margins that we’ve become accustomed to in the season’s first 2 games but I’m pretty confident in a strong Irish victory out in Raleigh.
Cheers and Go Irish!!