Texas A&M vs N.C. State
December 31, 2018
Gator Bowl Pregame Blitz
When the Wolfpack runs
N.C. State’s Reggie Gallapsy Jr., a 1,000-yard rusher, has rushed for a touchdown in 10 games behind a line that includes senior All-American Garrett Bradbury and senior left guard Terronne Prescod. Bradbury won the Rimington Award as the nation’s best center, and Prescod earned third-team All-America honors from the Associated Press. A&M, which didn’t allow a 100-yard rusher this season until the victory over LSU, is expected to be missing its two leading tacklers, linebacker Otaro Alaka and safety Donovan Wilson.
When the Wolfpack passes
Quarterback Ryan Finley has thrown for 3,789 yards and 24 touchdowns, getting sacked only nine times. He’ll be missing Kelvin Harmon (81 receptions, 1,196 yards, 7 TDs), who is skipping the game to get ready for the NFL draft, but he’ll still have Jakobi Meyers (89-1,028 yards-7) and Emka Emezie (47-580-5) working against a defense that allows opponents to complete 60.1 percent of their passes (225 of 370) for 25 touchdowns to only five interceptions.
A&M punter Braden Mann won the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s best punter by averaging 51.1 yards per kick. He’s also averaged touchbacks on 70 percent of his kickoffs.
N.C. State’s Christopher Dunn has made a school-record 21 of 24 field goal attempts with a long of 44 yards. A&M’s Seth Small has hit a trio of 52-yard field goals.
A&M is in its first Florida bowl since 1957, while N.C. State is only 450 miles from Jacksonville, Florida, and playing in the Gator Bowl for the fourth time.
Both teams have to replace two starters, A&M likely losing linebacker Alaka and safety Wilson to injuries with N.C. State wide receiver Harmon and linebacker Pratt opting to prep for the NFL draft
Play keep away: A&M has been able to keep its defense off the field by keeping its offense on, ranking second in the country in time of possession.
N.C. State is only 10 spots back and can play that game too.