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The Five Things: Virginia vs. NC State

  1. Virginia will look to run on the 3-3 Stack

uva footballNC State uses a 3-3 Stack defensive alignment – three down linemen, three linebackers, five defensive backs.

The idea is to get speed on the field by going in essence to the nickel defense as the base.

Which should help you defend the pass.

(More on that in a sec.)

And can make it kinda hard to defend the run.

To wit, with State this season: opponents are rushing for 185.0 yards per game, including a ghastly 314 yards from Virginia Tech back on Sept. 26.

Virginia is running the ball much better this season, averaging 167.5 yards per contest, including a tidy 147 yards against #1 Clemson last weekend.

You know that UVA offensive coordinator Robert Anae is going to look to establish the run.

  1. Should be able to throw the ball, too

So, about how the 3-3 Stack is a nickel defense with more DBs on the field, and how that’s supposed to help you defend the pass.

State is last in the ACC in pass-defense efficiency (149.2), which, for perspective, if you had a quarterback who was the sort of standard guy just playing NC State based on that passer rating, that guy would be ranked second in the league behind only Trevor Lawrence.

Another way of saying that the State pass D makes average guys look good.

Assuming Virginia is able to soften up the Pack with the run, it could be a field day for sophomore QB Brennan Armstrong and the aerial attack.

  1. State has upgraded at QB

Devin Leary won the starting job early in camp, then missed three weeks when State had to endure its issues with COVID ahead of the opener.

Sophomore Bailey Hockman led the Pack to a 45-42 win over Wake Forest in the opener on Sept. 19, but Hockman was benched after a poor outing in the 45-24 loss to Virginia Tech, in which he was 7-of-16 passing for 82 yards and two INTs.

Leary took over late in the Tech loss, and put up solid numbers – 12-of-16 passing on 32 snaps, 165 yards and a TD – which he followed up in the 30-29 upset of Pitt last week with a 28-of-44, 336-yard, 4-TD effort.

His return has resulted in a resurgence for 6’3”, 220-pound senior wideout Emeka Emezie, who had a total of five catches for 44 yards in State’s first two games, but went for seven and 101 with 2 TDs in the win at Pitt on Saturday.

Leary was also able to get more out of 6’7”, 250-pound monster tight end Cary Angeline, who hauled in four balls for 60 yards and 2 TDs in the win at Pitt.

  1. Vegas expects a shootout

The line has come down from where it was at the outset, at Virginia -9.5, to Virginia -7.5.

The over-under is 59.5, so you’re talking a game in the low 30s.

  1. You won’t see any pics of the empty stadium on social media on gameday from me.

I won’t be there.

Not because I don’t want to be.

My last live sporting event in 2020 remains the almost game at the ACC Tournament between Florida State and Clemson.

Shall I never forget those layup lines.

Story by Chris Graham

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