Marshall, NC State return from week off following hurricane
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — North Carolina State and Marshall both have one fewer game to help prepare for the fast-approaching start of their conference seasons.
The Wolfpack (2-0) are eager to return from the unwanted break caused by Hurricane Florence and must play on the road for the first time.
“It’s good to be back into game week,” Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said. “A lot of thoughts and prayers have gone out to people in the Carolinas and all people affected by Hurricane Florence, and I know our players did the best they could in a tough situation with our staff.”
Waiting for them Saturday night is Marshall (2-0), which wants to show it can beat a Power 5 opponent.
The Thundering Herd are 3-9 against top-level schools since 2010. That includes a 37-20 loss last season at North Carolina State, which came from 10 points down and held Marshall scoreless over the game’s final 35 minutes.
Ryan Finley had something to do with that, throwing three touchdown passes in the comeback win . This season he’s completing 74 percent of his passes and will go after his third straight 300-yard passing effort.
“It’s so hard to pressure him because he gets the ball out of his hands so quick,” said Marshall coach Doc Holliday, who spent five seasons as an assistant coach at North Carolina State. “He’s going to make his throws and they’re going to make the catches. We just can’t give up the big play.”
Some other things to know about the Wolfpack and Thundering Herd:
YOUNG QB’S CHALLENGE
Marshall redshirt freshman Isaiah Green has thrown for five touchdowns in wins over Miami (Ohio) and Eastern Kentucky . North Carolina State’s defense has allowed 20 total points, including no TDs after the first quarter.
N.C. State’s depth should receive a boost with Southern California transfer Cary Angeline finally cleared to play. Angeline is listed as the starter at tight end, and can play after sitting out a full calendar year. “It’s not going to be like all of a sudden, he’s going to get 30 catches a game,” Doeren said. “But he will play and he will be a part of what we do.”
N.C. State’s ground game has averaged just 99 yards through two games to rank 120th nationally. The Wolfpack averaged just 2.9 yards per carry in the opener against James Madison. That number dipped to 2.5 yards against Georgia State before a long touchdown run in garbage time skewed the stats. Doeren said his offensive line improved from the first week to the second but “we were still inconsistent,” and he hopes Angeline can give the ground game a boost with his blocking.
Marshall wide receiver Tyre Brady caught 11 passes for 248 yards, including a 75-yard scoring catch, against the Wolfpack last year and leads the Thundering Herd again this season. Holliday said he figures North Carolina State can’t focus solely on Brady because Oklahoma State transfer Obi Obialo and Willie Johnson have improved over the past year.
North Carolina State was handed a bye week after its Sept. 15 game against West Virginia was called off by the approaching hurricane, which also forced Marshall’s game at South Carolina to be canceled. Holliday and Doeren said the week off enabled them to get some injured players healthier.
“It’s not ideal but it’s out of our control too, so you make the most of it,” Doeren said.
N.C. State opens ACC play Sept. 29 at home against Virginia, while Marshall starts Conference USA action at Western Kentucky.
AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina, contributed to this report.