NC State Study: Limited Offense, Strong Defense

NC State
Virginia Tech faces a reeling NC State offense on Thursday night. (AP Photo / The Roanoke Times, Matt Gentry, Pool)

Virginia Tech travels to Raleigh hoping to break a tough losing skid. Let’s see what the Pack has going.


The big news for NC State is that top quarterback Devin Leary is out. Leary should’ve—but didn’t—start against the Hokies in 2020. This time ‘round, we won’t see him at all, as Leary tore his throwing-side pectoral muscle. Repairing a torn pec is like stitching two Jell-O jigglers together, and you have to treat the repair as such over the long time it takes to heal.

Leary wasn’t dominant, but he was good enough. At least in his absence, the Wolfpack are running a misdirection-heavy offense, which normally would lead me to think that inserting a new quarterback wouldn’t be as much of an issue as it would be with, say, a more pro-style scheme. However, NC State’s offense looked disjointed against Syracuse. Jack Chambers (QB, #14) is a grad transfer from Charleston Southern who hasn’t hit throws beyond the LOS with any consistency. Most of the best passing plays I saw from him were with the screen game:

His best attribute right now looks to be his running:

After so many weeks of crashing into tall pocket-passers, Tech’s rushers will need to adjust to Chambers, who is only 5’10 and can duck sloppy rushes as well as he can dodge them. I wouldn’t be surprised if Devin Farrell had his scout-team reps maxed out this week. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Hokies stunt and spy more with the defensive line tonight, as it could be a little harder for Chambers to feel line movement if he’s struggling to find throwing lanes. He looked a little overwhelmed at times, and his newness messed up the cadence rhythm. One time somehow him and the right tackle both started early on a play.

Chambers runs in the play above because of a miscue in pass-protection; the tackle thought he was handing off the rusher, while the TE thought he was getting help. They look absolutely awful, but it’s a rare mistake. The TE, second-string redshirt freshman Ced Seabrough (#47), might’ve been the weakest link in the offense the past few games, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it was his mistake.

Tech will also have to adjust to MJ Morris (QB, #16), who got some snaps against Syracuse, and who I bet will make an appearance. Morris is 6’2, and is listed at 192:

Here, they’ve packaged a swing screen with a QB lead draw; Morris sees the alley player sitting on the screen, so he tucks and runs. He’s a true freshman, and against Syracuse, he threw like one:

That’s an open double-move ball that lands way over on the sideline.

Offensive coordinator Tim Beck (slumming in the ACC after stints with tOSU and Texas) understands the hand he’s been dealt, and he’s been trying to manufacture stuff for his QB’s:

Chambers has