After three weeks of Brennan Armstrong at the quarterback position, Wolfpack fans aren’t sure if he is still the answer. Armstrong has shown flashes of very good play but hasn’t been consistent and his numbers remain mediocre. If Armstrong is not the best option for the Wolfpack, MJ Morris would be next in line as the signal caller.
Brennan Arm-strong Showings
While he looked lackluster passing in the first two matchups for NC State, Armstrong’s rushing abilities have shown up. He is currently leading the team in rushing yards with 161 and has three touchdowns on the ground. In addition to scoring a rushing touchdown in each game so far, he has only been sacked three times. His mobility is one of his strong suits, and he’s used it to extend plays. Morris is also a capable runner, but he tallied only 88 yards on 49 attempts last season. While he is not a big play candidate, Armstrong is not afraid of a physical run and has been used both on the goal line and in short-yardage situations with success.
On the passing side, Armstrong finally began to show some promise against VMI. He completed 84.4% of his passes for 264 yards and a touchdown. It seems like Brad Rozner and him are finally starting to click, which will be crucial for the Wolfpack passing game as the season progresses. Rozner now has two touchdowns and is averaging 13.4 yards per catch. Armstrong has also heavily targeted freshman Kevin Concepcion. The Armstrong to Concepcion connection has worked great in the intermediate passing game, totaling 122 yards on 16 receptions. It has taken some time for the Wolfpack offense to find its groove, but the showing against the Keydets was promising. Armstrong has done well when his receivers are able to get separation, but his gunslinger mentality may get him into trouble against stronger secondaries.
Brennan Arm-weak Showings
Armstrong did not look great against a great defense in Notre Dame. While they are a top-10 team with CFP potential, Armstrong threw three interceptions while completing less than half of his throws. He also struggled to throw the ball much against UCONN, only amassing 155 passing yards and no scores. His inconsistencies as a passer can be partially attributed to young receivers and a new offense. However, Armstrong has experience under Robert Anae and has to be a more efficient passer.
His tendencies to run the ball are beneficial at times, but he has missed some open targets downfield. In addition, the Wolfpack have yet to see him drive the ball downfield and have remained methodical. A very good defense is part of this strategy, but Armstrong needs to show he can gain chunk yardage when the team inevitably faces a two-minute drill. Outside of one 64-yard pass against VMI, he has not made another pass over 40 yards, and NC State will need a much more electric offense to compete with Duke, Clemson, or UNC later this season.
Armstrong has left much to be desired in his three games as the Wolfpack signal caller. However, it is still early in the season, and he seems to be improving along with the rest of the offense. He should not be replaced with Morris just yet. Armstrong returns to his old stomping grounds Friday, facing Virginia to open ACC play for the Wolfpack. He should find some success against a team on a six-game losing streak that allows 191 yards per game on the ground. Also, the Virginia defense is mediocre against the pass. The Cavaliers allowed 342 yards through the air in a blowout loss to Maryland last week. Armstrong will light them up on the ground and should be very competitive in the passing game.
The biggest test will be the following week against Louisville. The Cardinals have shown a strong defense, allowing only 191 passing yards per game. Louisville is not as potent as Notre Dame, but Armstrong will have to show that he can beat a good defense. If Armstrong struggles, the Wolfpack may have a short leash and bring in Morris. Until that point, Armstrong is the best option for NC State and should only improve as the season progresses.
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