NC State’s win over Syracuse on Thursday was art. Well, that may depend on how one defines art; however, in a contest that featured 16 penalties (12 on the Orange) and only two touchdowns, this was a brutish matchup. Art doesn’t have to be graceful of aesthetically pleasing to be appreciated. At the crest of this havoc was senior defensive lineman Larrell Murchison.
On defense, the Wolfpack’s front was dominant. Led by Murchison, NC State harassed quarterback Tommy DeVito all night, sacking him eight times. Murchison recorded two sacks; linebacker Louis Acceus sacked DeVito three times, too.
This (artistic) performance marked just the 10th time in the FBS this season that a team has recorded eight or more sacks in a game. The Wolfpack, in back-to-back weeks, account for two of those games — Florida State and Syracuse.
Sack Attack Numbers
NC State is the only team with two games of eight or more sacks this season. Currently, NC State ranks fifth in the FBS with 4.33 sacks per game. Interestingly, two of the four teams ahead of NC State hail from the ACC, too: Pittsburgh and Virginia.
So far in 2019, NC State has 26 sacks. Going back over the last 20 seasons, NC State has recorded 20+ sacks in its first six games just one other time — back in 2010. That squad, which was led by former superstar linebacker Nate Irving, sacked the quarterback 20 times in the first six games.
Dating back to the 2000 season — only six ACC team have recorded 25+ sacks in the first six games of the season. That short list includes Virginia and Pittsburgh from this season, too.
Dave Doeren and NC State haven’t even had the best version of star defensive end James Smith-Williams, who missed two games with a foot injury. Smith-Williams hasn’t recorded a sack since the opener against East Carolina.
NFL scouts are always looking for players that consistently get better each year and @PackFootball DT Larrell Murchison is that guy. Interior DL with pass rush ability don’t grow on trees and @Murchboy92 is coming off a 3.5-sack game vs. Florida State. #TheDraftStartsInMOBILE pic.twitter.com/TJ4u2PPePR
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) October 11, 2019
It hasn’t been all Murchison, though, of course. Acceus is up to 4.5 sacks this season; another defensive end, Xavier Lyas, has four sacks as well. Alim McNeil, a rising star along the line for State, has 3.5 tackles for loss on the year.
Also from the win on Thursday: NC State held Syracuse to a minuscule 41 rushing yards — on 37 official carries. (The way college football records sacks and lost yardage makes this rushing totals a little noisy, though.)
NC State state is allowing just 66.7 rushing yards per game, which is tops in the ACC and No. 6 in the FBS.
Some State/Syracuse thoughts. A thread.
1. A win is a win is a win.
2. Defense seems to finally look comfortable in the 3-3-5 scheme.
3. D line is feeling themselves right now. A great sign.
— Josh Goodson (@joshwgoodson) October 11, 2019
This is how NC State was built to win this season: defense first, with the offense in a rebuild mode. If Murchison and McNeil can continue to generate pressure, NC State has the chance to nail down some more wins — like artwork on a wall.