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Virginia preps for mysterious NC State

Bronco Mendenhall
Bronco Mendenhall. Photo courtesy Atlantic Coast Conference.

Virginia gets one of those cool, intersectional, nonconference matchups Saturday at Scott Stadium when the ‘Hoos host NC State from, wait, being told now that State is also in the ACC.

Because the ACC has 15 programs now, the noon kickoff on Saturday in Scott Stadium will be just the fourth matchup between the Cavaliers and Wolfpack in the past 13 years, and the first in Charlottesville since 2011.

State won the last game in the series, back in 2018, winning 35-21 in Raleigh, the only game between the two in the Bronco Mendenhall era, which is now in its fifth year.

Asked Monday what he knows about NC State, Mendenhall conceded the point: “not very much.”

“And as much reading or as much as you know the head coach, or as much as you think, until you play a team, their true identity, their true character, just kind of the culture of the program, you don’t see, you don’t feel, and you don’t know up close and personal,” Mendenhall said.

Even what the UVA staff would know from prepping for that one meeting two years ago has gone out the door due to staff and personnel changes.

What that means for Saturday: “there are certainly some unknowns, and certainly adjusting that happens, just as the game plays out,” Mendenhall said.

Getting to know: NC State

Thankfully, we can go to the interwebs to learn more about this NC State program from the other side of the ACC.

The Pack looked god-awful in their 45-24 loss at Virginia Tech, which gashed the State D for 314 yards on the ground.

Then, in a nice rebound win last week at Pitt (final: 30-29 State), the D still gave up 503 total yards, including 411 through the air.

For the season, NC State (2-1 on the season, which includes a 45-42 win over Wake Forest in the opener back on Sept. 19) is allowing 461 yards per game.

Starting QB Devin Leary, who wrested the QB1 job from Bailey Hockman ahead of the Pitt game, has put up some good numbers – a 164.3 passer rating, on 40-of-60 (66.7 percent) passing, for 501 yards and five TDs, without an INT.

The top targets downfield for Leary include 6’3”, 220-pound senior wideout Emeka Emezie (12 catches, 145 yards, 2 TDs), 6’4”, 216-pound sophomore Devin Carter (10 catches, 181 yards, 3 TDs) and monstrous 6’7”, 250-pound senior tight end Cary Angeline (8 catches, 122 yards, 3 TDs).

The Pack uses a two-headed backfield with 5’11”, 206-pound sophomore Zonovan Knight (220 yards, 6.9 yards per carry) and 6’1”, 215-pound junior Ricky Person Jr. (202 yards, 4.9 yards per carry).

State averages 415.7 yards per game on offense.

They can move it. They can’t stop the other guys.

Now you know as much as Bronco and his guys.

Story by Chris Graham

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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