RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina State suddenly seems to have a penalty problem.
The Wolfpack nearly doubled their flag total with 13 of them for 144 yards in a win over Wake Forest — the most flags since 2012. They know they can’t afford to be nearly that undisciplined when Notre Dame visits this week.
Linebacker Airius Moore on Monday called the penalty issue “a huge emphasis” for the week, especially calls for roughing the passer and pass interference on defense.
“We got 13 penalties and you can’t expect to win a bunch of games with 13 penalties,” Moore said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re not committing penalties and giving the offense extra yards.”
Coach Dave Doeren said he’s asked the Atlantic Coast Conference office for an explanation on some of the chop blocks called against his team versus Wake Forest but has not received a response yet. He says the penalty issue “has been talked about” with the players.
For the first month of the season, penalties didn’t seem like a huge issue. The Wolfpack (3-1) averaged about five flags and ranked fifth in the league with 52.7 yards in penalties through three games.
That all changed in the ACC opener against the Demon Deacons.
Starting safety Shawn Boone was ejected for targeting in the second half and will miss the first half of the Notre Dame game because of it. Flags for unnecessary roughness and chop blocks piled up as the Wolfpack amassed season worsts in both total penalties and yardage. It was their most flags since they drew 14 in a loss at Miami four years ago.
“We could have prevented a lot of those,” receiver Cole Cook said, “but I was glad we didn’t let those distract us from what we needed to do.”
Still, it increased their average by more than 20 yards, and left them ranked 12th in the league and 113th nationally in yards penalized per game. Their average of 7.5 flags dropped them to 11th in the ACC and 99th in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
They’ve had at least seven penalties in every game but one, a 49-22 win over Old Dominion in Week 3 in which they were flagged just twice.
The Fighting Irish haven’t been much better. They’re 71st nationally in penalty yardage (56.8) and 49th with 5.8 penalties per game, and in a strange coincidence had season worsts of nine penalties for 94 yards in arguably their most complete performance — a 39-10 rout of Nevada.
They also lost a player to targeting in their last game — freshman Devin Studstill, who was ejected in the first half of the Syracuse win.
AP college football site: http://collegefootball.ap.org