Texas A&M football is set to face off with NC State in the Gator Bowl; here’s a quick scouting report of the Aggies’ opponent
The 2018 Gator Bowl will pit Texas A&M football against the NC State Wolfpack from the ACC. The Wolfpack are similar to the Aggies in a few ways. They each have a dominant run defense and a shaky pass defense. They can both move the ball well, but NC State’s offense is more explosive. They also each struggle in pass defense but NC State’s is worse.
We could see a repeat of the 2017 Belk Bowl that ended with over 100 points scored. Nick Starkel had the performance of a lifetime in the loss, finishing with 499 yards and four touchdowns. It wasn’t enough to get the win, and that could be true of the Gator Bowl if the Aggies can’t get home with the pass rush.
Here’s a quick run down of NC State and some players to watch for the New Year’s Eve game.
NC State Wolfpack
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Enrollment: About 24,000
Head Coach: Dave Doeren (66-37, 44-33 with NC State)
2017 finish: 9-4, win over Arizona State in the Sun Bowl
Key 2018 Statistics:
Yards per game – 478.7 (11th)
Points per game – 36.6 (16th)
Rushing yards per game -149.4 (85th)
Passing yards per game – 329.4 (6th)
Yards allowed per game – 381.6 (49th)
Points allowed per game – 23.5 (40th)
Rushing yards allowed per game – 104.2 (7th)
Passing yards allowed per game – 277.5 (125th)
Players to Watch
Quarterback Ryan Finley
Finley is one of the best quarterbacks in the country and might be licking his chops to get after the Aggies No. 111-ranked pass defense. He finished the season with 3,789 yards, 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also completed 68 percent of his passes. The Wolfpack were No. 6 in the nation in passing offense and Finley was selected as the quarterback for the 2018 All ACC First Team.
Leading Rusher Reggie Gallaspy
The focus will be on NC State’s pass defense, and for good reason, but the Aggies can’t take their eyes off Gallaspy. He finished 2018 with 1,014 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground, plus a respectable 4.7 yards per carry. He was named to the All ACC Third Team.
Receiver Jakobi Myers
Normally Kelvin Harmon would be the player to watch as a receiver but he’s elected to sit out the game in preparation of the NFL Draft. That will make the Aggies’ job easier, but not easy. Myers put up monster numbers as the 1B to Harmon’s 1A in their passing attack. He finished with 89 catches 1,028 yards and four touchdowns and was an All-ACC First Team selection.
Safety Jarius Morehead
The Aggies are fortunate the Wolfpack have two players electing to prepare for the NFL Draft, one of them their best defensive player, but Morehead has the ability to make life hell for the Aggie offense. He was their second leading tackler and led the team with three interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
Defensive end James Smith-Williams
The Wolfpack have one of the nation’s best run defense and a lot of that has to do with Smith-Williams setting the edge. He was second on the team in tackles for loss and tied for the team lead with six sacks.