RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren doesn’t need to do much research on No. 10 Notre Dame’s new quarterback. He has seen him plenty.
The Wolfpack’s home game Saturday against the Fighting Irish represents another matchup with quarterback Sam Hartman, an every-year opponent at Wake Forest in the same Atlantic Coast Conference division before his transfer this past offseason.
“Wake’s system was completely different,” Doeren said. “But we do know from experience what kind of player he is, and there’s a great amount of respect from our staff towards that young man. We do know what we’ve done well and what we haven’t done well over the years against him. And so there is some good knowledge in that.”
As well as success.
Hartman lost both of his starts in Raleigh, first in 2020 and then last November. He threw three touchdown passes with three interceptions in those two games combined, while the Wolfpack’s defensive front has gotten to him for 10 sacks. Hartman did lead Wake Forest to a late-season shootout win over the Wolfpack at home in 2021 that was critical to getting the Demon Deacons to the ACC title game.
“There’s no overlooking here,” Hartman said after last weekend’s win against Tennessee State. “I understand the challenge. … Their fans are going to bring it. They’re not going to like us.”
Hartman has started this season on a tear, completing 33 of 40 passes (82.5% completion rate) for six touchdowns with no interceptions as the Irish opened 2-0. He’s also yet to be sacked.
“I don’t know what happened when he was at Wake Forest,” Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman said. “I bet you he’ll probably look at it, right? I don’t know how much we’ll study that as much as we’ll study what they did vs. UConn (in the opener) and what they’ve done in the past year or so.”
Notre Dame has thrived in its annual scheduling partnership (averaging five games annually) against the ACC as a football independent but a member in all other league sports.
The Fighting Irish have won 28 straight regular-season games against ACC teams since a blowout loss at Miami in 2017. The last ACC team to beat Notre Dame overall was Clemson in the ACC title game in 2020, when the Irish played as a league member due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
N.C. State (1-0) has won 16 of 17 games at home since midway through the 2020 season. The lone loss was a stumble against Boston College in last year’s home finale.
N.C. State has multiple key returnees from one of the nation’s top defenses, while Notre Dame has been on point against two overmatched opponents to start the year. The Wolfpack held Connecticut to 273 yards while tallying two sacks and making a late interception to force that game’s only turnover.
The Fighting Irish have yet to give up a touchdown in wins against Navy and Tennessee State, surrendering only a field goal in each.
MORE THAN ARMSTRONG
The arrival of Virginia graduate transfer Brennan Armstrong gave N.C. State a veteran passer and tough runner under new coordinator Robert Anae, who coached Armstrong with the Cavaliers.
It would help for the Wolfpack to find more help for him, too.
Armstrong ran for 96 yards and two touchdowns in the UConn win while throwing for 155 yards. The rest of the Wolfpack players managed 113 yards rushing, while N.C. State attempted just 26 passes after an offseason spent looking for a receiver ready to step into a leading role.
The forecast as of Wednesday called for some rain and scattered thunderstorms in the area, but that would still be an improvement from the last time these teams met in Raleigh.
That game was played in monsoon conditions due to Hurricane Matthew in 2016, with the Wolfpack winning 10-3 by scoring the only touchdown on a blocked-punt return. The teams combined to complete 16 of 40 passes for 95 yards while having 10 fumbles, losing four.