After last week‚Äôs near-miracle versus LSU, it‚Äôs time for Syracuse football to open up its ACC schedule this Saturday against North Carolina State. The Wolfpack comes into the matchup fresh off a huge upset over then-12th ranked Florida State and is riding high going into a home game. The win proved that NC State could play with the big boys and showed just how dangerous a football team it is. So, with that being said, let‚Äôs meet three players to keep your eye on for the Wolfpack this Saturday.
Any successful football team needs a great quarterback under center and NC State can certainly check that box with Finley. The redshirt junior is in his fifth of six seasons of eligibility after a redshirt season in his freshman year and a transfer from Boise State. While he doesn‚Äôt have the flashiest of stats, the best things about the Arizona native are his above average intelligence and decision-making. Finley graduated from Boise State in just three years and is now pursuing his master‚Äôs degree in Raleigh. That academic intelligence also translates to the football field where Finley has yet to throw an interception in 2017. His decision-making ability has also notched him the third-highest completion percentage in NCSU history (.604) on his career. Finley‚Äôs smarts and solid mechanics make him a more than serviceable field general for the Wolfpack and with SU‚Äôs secondary still banged up, watch for him to air it out early and often on Saturday.
Over the past 10 years or so, we‚Äôve seen a huge trend in football, especially in the collegiate landscape. The college game has become somewhat positionless on the skill position level and has become more about athleticism and versatility than a skill set for a specific position. The Wolfpack has one of the positionless and talented guys on the offensive side of the ball in Jaylen Samuels. The senior is listed as a hybrid on the NC State roster and that‚Äôs exactly what he brings to the football field. Lining up at both wide receiver and running back, Samuels is a major threat with the ball in his hands. The North Carolina native led the Pack with 55 catches in 2016 and was third on the team in rushing a season ago. He also brings a nose for the end zone to the game, ranking sixth on the NCSU all-time list with 31 touchdowns coming into 2017. That knack for scoring has translated to this season where he leads the Wolfpack with 7 scores. He also brings a ton of experience to NC State as he has played in more games during his career than any other offensive player. The formula is simple for Samuels: Talent + versatility + experience = star power, and SU better watch out.
Rounding out the trio of top performers for NC State comes a tenacious defensive end. Chubb, a senior, has become one of the most highly-touted edge rushers in the nation. Standing at 6-foot-4, 275 pounds, he mixes sheer, unadulterated power with speed off the line of scrimmage that few guys can match. The Georgia native led the FBS in tackles for loss at the end of the regular season in 2016 with 22 of his 56 tackles coming from behind the line of scrimmage. With that success in the 2016 campaign also came success against the Orange. Chubb recorded a season-high 4.5 tackles for loss in NC State‚Äôs win over Syracuse in 2016. Simply put, this guy is an absolute monster both physically and athletically and he makes his living behind the line of scrimmage. Wearing former #1 overall pick Mario Williams‚Äô prized #9 jersey on the defensive side of the ball, SU fans could be left cringing every time they see Chubb near an injury-prone Eric Dungey or a relatively weak Syracuse running back corps.