Thursday, December 25, 2014
NC State offense vs. Rutgers defense
NC State averaged 31.8 points in four consecutive victories to close out the regular season. QB Russell Wilson's emergence directly coincided with the unit's ascension. Wilson is currently completing a pedestrian 55.2 percent of his throws but his field vision and accuracy continue to improve with game experience. Most importantly, he is not making many critical errors, as evidenced by his touchdown-to-interception ratio of 16-to-1. He does not have a go-to-receiver but Owen Spencer and Jarvis Williams have stepped up to become Wilson's most reliable targets in the passing attack. Rutgers has had some trouble in coverage at times this season, though Courtney Greene is a veteran safety capable of reading Wilson's eyes and making a play on the ball. However, Rutgers cornerbacks Devin and Jason McCourty are not especially effective and SS Joe Lefeged can be targeted if left to cover too much space in deep-middle zone. Wilson is not a big running threat but he does move well inside the pocket and buys a lot of time with his feet. His ability to avoid the rush and maintain composure should come in handy versus an aggressive and quick Rutgers defense. The Scarlet Knights will be without their best pass rusher in fifth-year senior DE Jamaal Westerman (biceps tear), who leads the team with six sacks. DT Pete Tverdov and OLB Ryan D'Imperio still need to be kept in check, though. Tverdov (four sacks) is quick and relentless as an inside rusher and D'Imperio (4.5 sacks) shows good instincts and closing burst when turned loose on the blitz. Neither strikes the same fear in an opponent as Westerman, though, which means the Wolfpack can release 275-pound TE Anthony Hill more frequently on pass routes. Hill's return to health has played an underrated role in the recent offensive improvement. In addition to his excellent blocking skills, Hill has proven to be a valuable check-down target over the middle with 14 receptions in the last six contests.
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