The Wolfpacker

July 2016

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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66 ■ THE WOLFPACKER FOOTBALL PREVIEW 2016 BY MATT CARTER N C State's defense had its moments last year, but too many big plays were allowed. The Pack gave up a gain of 40 or more yards from scrimmage 16 times last season, third most in the ACC (one of the two teams ahead of them was Clemson which played two more contests). While NCSU finished fifth in the league in total defense (350.7 yards allowed per game) and rushing defense (147.5 yards given up per outing), it was just ninth in scoring defense (25.8 points allowed per game). Huxtable feels that his unit, much of it intact from last season, should be able to cut down on the big plays and improve. When you look back at last season and evaluate it, what pleased you and what did you see that disappointed you? "I would say the thing I was pleased with was our guys played hard every game. There was not a lack of effort. I thought our guys played physical; they played tough. "The thing that we have to get better at is we gave up too many big plays. We have to do a better job, and I saw that this spring, where we are older, we are wiser. I think they have a confidence level that is higher. We are where we are supposed to be more consistently. "To me the biggest thing that we need to see improvement on is just the elimination of big plays. You can't take them away, but if we cut those even in half you'll feel better about it. Of course we don't want to have any, but that's the thing that we really have to focus on and get better at. "I think at the beginning there was a little bit of a youth issue, with discipline, and knowing, understanding and reading keys correctly; just knowing where you are supposed to be." There were a few games where it seemed like you were good on defense — Louisville and Virginia Tech in particu- lar — except for a few big plays. "In the Louisville game, I thought the guys were playing lights out. Then, we have a blitz called right into their run play, and we don't run the blitz. Our kid balks and doesn't come, and the quarterback runs a 70-yard touchdown. If you look at it, it should be a tackle for loss. "That's a mental mistake, and all of the sudden you have an explosive play. We are playing good and then [snaps fingers] there's a breakdown, and we gave up a big one. It distorts some of the good plays that we had. DEFENSE Q&A Huxtable wants to reduce the number of big plays — 40 yards are more — from the 16 NC State gave up last season. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN Coordinator Dave Huxtable Expects To See Improvement In The Defense This Season A YEAR OLDER, AND HOPEFULLY WISER AND BETTER

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