|Posted on September 30, 2017 at 10:50 AM|
Article by Dan Tortora
The N.C. State Wolfpack enter into their match-up with the Syracuse Orange coming off of a victory on the road in Tallahassee, Florida, against in-division Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) rival, the Florida State Seminoles. N.C. State never trailed Florida State in that game, ahead for all four quarters, all 60 minutes of play despite being on the road in hostile environment.
Now, the Wolfpack get to be the hostile environment as they host the Orange in the Wolfpack's second ACC contest, and the first for the Orange, this season.
Heading into this match-up, junior running back Nyheim Hines and senior tight end Jaylen Samuels have been weapons of destruction against their opponents, both getting involved in the rushing and receiving elements of the offense. Hines is the Wolfpack's leading rusher through four games, with 296 total yards, carrying the ball more than any other Wolfpack back, with 63 carries, giving him 4.7 yards per carry. The closest N.C. State running back to Hines in carries through the first four games is junior Reggie Gallaspy II with 34 carries.
Hines has also caught 10 passes for 61 yards through four games. He has two total touchdowns in four contests, both rushing.
Samuels leads the entire Wolfpack in rushing touchdowns and receiving touchdowns to open the season, with four on the ground and three off of receptions. He has taken 13 carries for 49 total yards, averaing 3.8 yards per carry.
On the receiving side, Samuels is tied with senior wide receiver Kelvin Harmon in total receiving yards this season, each leading the team with 284, but Samuels has caught more passes than Harmon or any other N.C. State player this season, with 38 receptions.
As a whole, N.C. State has 18 total touchdowns through four games, with Hines and Samuels combining to account for half of those scores (9).
"Well, they're doing exactly what we hoped they would do," said N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren. "They play hard, practice hard, prepare the right way, and let their skillsets come out on game day. Both of them are ultra-competitive guys that want the football. When they don't have it, they play selfless football for their teammates."
"I'm proud of both of them and just excited that they're where they are right now developmentally, understanding their role in the offense and how they can help us win," Doeren went on to say.
Switching gears from his offense to the defensive side of the ball and preparing for Syracuse's sped up offense, Doeren shared, "It's a challenge. Syracuse outscores people in the first quarter by 20-something points, maybe 25 points. Just getting the guys ready for how fast it comes at them is challenging. We've got two offensive scout teams from a skill standpoint that rotate every snap. They're waiting on the ball for the defense to get lined up. That's the best you can do."
The Orange, in the first quarter, have scored 21 points in the first game against the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils, three in the second game versus the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, 10 points in the third game against the Central Michigan Chippewas, and three points in the fourth game versus the Lousiana State (LSU) Tigers.
Syracuse is averaging 35 points per game, with their lowest total coming in a loss to Middle Tennessee State (23) and their highest coming in a victory over Central Connecticut State (50). The Orange have scored 41 or more points in half of their first four games.
"You know, if the guys understand the plan and we have to communicate quickly and be ready to go," Doeren continued in saying. "Once you get into the flow of the game, I think it gets easier. You've just got to do your best to not let them get a couple scores before you get there. Last year that happened to us. We had to play from behind when we played up there. So we'd love not to have to play that way in this football game if possible. I think offensively they do a great job."
"Their quarterback is a tremendous player," Doeren expressed, in reference to Orange junior quarterback Eric Dungey. "He will have a great defensive line rushing him, but we have to be disciplined because he's their leading rusher as well. He gets out of trouble and extends drives and makes plays on his feet all the time."
Dungey leads all Syracuse players in rushing yardage through four games, with 233 yards. The closest player to him on the Orange is almost 100 rushing yards away (Junior running back Dontae Strickland has 134 yards).
The junior quarterback also leads the team in carries, with 52, with running back Dontae Strickland getting the ball 44 times behind Dungey.
Dungey has the most rushing touchdowns through four games for the Orange as well, with five, and Strickland follows with three, meaning that Dungey has accounted for 62.5% of Syracuse's scores on the ground in 2017.
He had his longest run from scrimmage of his three-year collegiate career, 74 yards, two games ago against Central Michigan.
Dungey adds six touchdowns through the air, with three interceptions, and over 1,000 passing yards through the first four games (1,052). He has completed 105 of his 165 attempts (63.6%), but Syracuse has suffered from numerous dropped balls over the first four games that have lowered this percentage.
The offensive catalyst of the Orange will set up across from senior defensive end Bradley Chubb, who has 3.5 sacks and 21 total tackles through four games, and company on Saturday, September 30, at 12:20pmET.