North Carolina State struggled defensively in consecutive losses to North Carolina and Miami.
The last two games, however, have gone better for North Carolina State's defense. The Wolfpack look to continue producing on the defensive end Saturday afternoon when they visit last-place Syracuse.
The Wolfpack (6-3, 5-3 ACC) enter Saturday with two straight wins after allowing a combined 92 points to the Tar Heels and Hurricanes. Before that two-game stretch, NC State had not allowed more than 29 points since a pair of high-scoring games in the first two weeks of the season - a win over Wake Forest and a loss to Virginia Tech.
Since losing to Miami, the Wolfpack have allowed 36 points while beating Florida State and then top 25-ranked Liberty. On Saturday, the Wolfpack eked out a 15-14 win over the Flames when linebacker Vi Jones blocked a 39-yard field goal with 1:18 remaining.
The blocked field goal came on a night when NC State's defense allowed 279 yards while registering three sacks and three takeaways. The defense compensated for an offense that struggled at times by converting 4 of 14 third downs and committing nine penalties.
"Defense, obviously, was really, really good tonight," Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said. "The three takeaways, the fourth-down stop, blocked field goal to win it, they carried us. It was awesome to see those kids rise up against a really good Liberty offense."
NC State's next challenge is not letting up against an opponent ravaged by injuries and has the least effective offense in the ACC. Syracuse (1-8, 1-7 ACC) lost quarterback Tommy DeVito to injury five games ago and has sputtered offensively with an offense that ranks last in the conference in scoring (16.2 points), rushing yards (86.7) and passing yards (163).
"They are always a tough team when we play them up there," Doeren said of Syracuse, which scored 51 points against the visiting Wolfpack in 2018. "It's a team that will play hard and have an edge to them."
In Friday's 30-0 loss at Louisville, quarterback JaCobian Morgan exited with an apparent head injury after being sacked in the third quarter. Morgan completed 5 of 12 passes for 40 yards and one interception while getting sacked three times before the injury.
Morgan's status remains unknown for NC State, but Syracuse is desperate to halt a six-game losing skid. The Orange have been outscored 207-93 since beating Georgia Tech on Sept. 26.
In last Friday's loss, Syracuse finished with 137 yards, got seven first downs, and crossed midfield just three times. The defense, which started five freshmen, allowed 26 first downs and was on the field for more than 41 minutes.
"Those guys got twice as many plays as us, our defense was out there twice as many times," Orange coach Dino Babers said ‘It gets to be disappointing, obviously, not being able to produce on one side of the ball. It gets extremely frustrating."
North Carolina State leads the all-time series 11-2. The Wolfpack totaled eight sacks in a 16-10 win at Raleigh last season.
--Field Level Media