The departure of Jaylen Samuels from NC State meant a changing of the guard on offense for the Pack — it had to. Samuels — a high-volume, high-usage player — was a prominent player for NC State for the past four years.
In 2017, Samuels caught 76 passes on 98 targets, according to Football Study Hall, which ranked eighth most in the ACC. With Ryan Finley back, NC State is poised to have another big season through the air; and someone needs to replace those lost targets from J-Sam.
After emerging as a productive slot receiver in 2017, converted quarterback Jakobi Meyers seemed like an obvious candidate. Well, through the first game of the 2018 season: so far, so true.
In the 24-13 win over James Madison, Meyers was targeted frequently: 14 receptions on 15 targets (93.3 percent). This means Finley targeted Meyers on over one-third of his 43 pass attempts. Fun with small samples: currently, Meyers leads the FBS in catches per game.
NC State passing breakdown vs. James Madison, in YP form pic.twitter.com/QXaEHudDMk
— Joe Giglio (@jwgiglio) September 2, 2018
Third Down Factor
Jakobi Meyers was especially impactful on third down against JMU. On Saturday, NC State faced 16 third down plays, and the Wolfpack converted for a first down on 11 of those plays (68.8 percent). Nine of those first downs came through the air, too; Finley was 11-of-14 for 158 yards and a touchdown on third-down passing.
His primary target — Meyers — was wildly efficient, too. Meyers caught all five of his third-down targets for 83 yards — and five first downs.
When Stephen Louis returns to the lineup, NC State will have another player to target on the perimeter. However, Meyers’ role as a high-volume target machine from the slot is ironclad.