"I'd say Matt Dayes did alright," said Thomas.
Dayes, who came in as the Wolfpack's second-string tailback behind starter Tony Creecy, had 84 yards on 17 carries, and he became just the 10th player in school history to rush for three or more touchdowns in a single game.
"We saw it from the first time we went out there," Thomas said of Dayes.
"He showed [his ability] right from the first day," added offensive lineman Joe Thuney. "We knew he was going to be a player. He always finishes every drill. He's a hard worker.
"He doesn't talk a lot but he gets down and works every day. It showed today with those touchdowns. I'm really happy for him."
Dayes made sure to do what any smart tailback would do after a big game. He praised the guys opening the holes for him.
"I want to give the offensive line all of the credit," he stated. "They are the reason why I was so successful today. I want to give them credit."
Some may believe Dayes only received this opportunity because sophomore tailback Shadrach Thornton was serving a one-game suspension. However, that wasn't the case. He earned his playing time with a great performance in camp.
"I felt regardless of if he was in his trouble or not I was going to play because of how hard I practice everyday," he said. "What I've been doing on the practice field, regardless, I felt i was going to play today."
"Anytime you have a great running back [like Dayes] it changes things," head coach Dave Doeren added. "He did real well today. We now get Shadrach [Thornton] back this week, and I think that will help Matt get better."
At 5-foot-9 and 215 pounds, Dayes has terrific size and good burst. His most impressive trait was his footwork... he slips through holes and made defenders miss on multiple plays, including his 18-yard touchdown run.
"That's something I pretty much have always been able to do," he replied when asked about juking defenders.
All wasn't good for the freshman.
"My coach in high school always made us block, we had blocking drills everyday, but, I feel like I didn't do a good job blocking today," said Dayes. "That's something I've really got to work on."
Still, the NC State coaches couldn't have asked for much more from the young tailback in his first college game, and Doeren believes the Wolfpack has a nice rotation at tailback moving forward.
"When he got here we knew we had to get him in shape, get him game-ready," Doeren said of Dayes. "He has good vision. He's compact, when he makes decisions he runs low to the ground and gets his foot in the ground and goes.
"You saw some of those decisions on the field today. He and Tony compliment each other, and Shad is a north-south guy. I feel like we have a good rotation to stay healthy back there."