Just reflecting back on Clemson, I'm certainly proud of our team's effort. I think, if you take the second half of BC and the first three quarters of Clemson, it might be the best five quarters of football we've played all year. I would like four of those to be in the same game, though.
I believe we're improving as a football team. Our kids continue to play with great effort and great heart. We've got three games left, and obviously this is a very big game for us. It's a huge in-state rivalry with NC State. They are an improving football team. On offense, we're very impressed with their quarterback. They have a very big physical line, talented backs, and a very young, talented receiving corps.
Defensively, they're younger, but they've got two really good ends. We've struggled protecting the passer this year. I'm sure those guys will give us a lot of work and some challenges. I think they're, again, a very young but very gifted secondary. We look forward to the challenge this Saturday and going back on the road for the first time in a while and playing a big in-state rival game.
Cam Serigne, obviously, there's been lots of ups and downs to the season, but what your freshman tight end has meant to you to not only give some bright spots to your offense and overall this season.
Yeah, he's certainly one of the most improved players on the team from spring to fall. He's our leading receiver as a freshman tight end. I mean, he had two really nice touchdown catches against Clemson, and he's been a very reliable, very dependable player. It certainly had an impact on the game the other day when he was the one that, on the targeting foul, was knocked out of the game.
So a good football player, great kid, and I think he's got a really bright future. I'm glad we're going to have him for three more years.
And then as far as what you've been able to see-- I know you talked a little bit about your upcoming matchup, but from your running game as a whole, I know that you and I have talked about Wolford before, and you talked about the passing game. But as far as your rushing attack, where are you in the development process and kind of what you can say about what you've been able to take away from them in your first season?
If you looked at our numbers last week, you'd say there's no progress, but in reality, there is progress. If you take away the sacks at the end of the game. If you take away the negative rushing yards that happened, we had a low snap, and our punter put his knee on the ground, and we lost 14 yards there. If you take away the sack adjusted and that adjusted yardage on the punt, we're improving running the football.
Again, from the beginning of the year, the standard couldn't get any lower, but we're certainly a lot better, a lot more comfortable running the football now than we were in September. We continue to work hard at it. We'll continue to get better. Part of it is going to take time. I mean, right now we're very young on the O-line. At the end of the Clemson game, our one senior offensive lineman got hurt, and we had a true freshman out there and three sophomores. When you're going against Clemson's front that had six seniors, at times they just got overwhelmed from a strength and experience and whatever standpoint you want.
But, again, they continue to play hard. We had some good runs early in that game. We're getting better at it every week in practice. So, again, a long ways to go, but it's going in the right direction.
Good morning. To develop on what you said, what's been the biggest key for those four quarters of football and what's the key to getting them all in the same game on Saturday?
I think the biggest thing is we haven't been turning the ball over like we were earlier in the year. A lot of games, because of our defense and because we're playing very well on special teams, we're in games, but a lot of games this year, whether it was Syracuse or Utah State or Louisville, our turnovers killed us.
We probably have as many third-down turnovers as anybody in the country. If we take care of the football with the way we can play on defense and our kicking game, it gives us the chance to stay in football games.
Whether it's the BC game and having the ball at the end with a chance to win it or being 20-20 with Clemson with 11 minutes left, we just can't beat ourselves. We are what we are on offense. We're not a team that's going to go out there and score 40 points. We're not at that point in our program right now, not even 30. If we can play defense, play the kicking game, not beat ourselves, we get in the fourth quarter of games and give ourselves a chance to win. At some point here, we need to break through and find a way to win one of those games.
Good morning, Coach. Just going back to Thursday's game, what was your impression of Grady Jarrett, the nose guard for Clemson?
He's an awesome player. He really is. Again, I don't want to compare people with other teams, but he's as good a tackle as we've faced in the ACC in year. He's physical. He plays hard. He's quick. He's very firm in the run game, and he's a good pass rusher.
We really struggled to block him. So he is an outstanding football player.
I wanted to ask you, throughout this year, teams coming off bye weeks have done pretty well, usually has done better. Is having two extra days, as you have going into this game, is it any kind of advantage at all? Or like a mini bye week?
I think it's a little bit of advantage. We got to spend an extra day on NC State. After the Thursday night game, we gave our players Friday off and Saturday off, and we got back Sunday. Usually Sunday is a day you just review the previous day's game, but because we had an extra day in there, we were able to give our players a little bit more information on NC State.
I think that always helps. I think, if you ask any coach, you'd always rather have more time than less. I like the extra two days. I think sometimes when you have a whole week, it really gets you out of rhythm, and I think this was a catch your breath, get an extra day, an extra day of rest, an extra day to prepare, and we'll find out on Saturday.
Again, it certainly helps the health. Not just the physical health, but I think sometimes late in the year it helps the mental health of your team just to be able to give them a day off.
And also, can I ask you about the problems that Brissett presents? He seems like he's pretty creative sometimes back there in the pocket, and that can cause problems. When it looks like you're gunning for a sack or something.
Oh, yeah, his ability to extend plays. I mean, he throws the ball well, but he's a really, really good athlete. We defended him as a staff when I was at Bowling Green. His first game that he played was when he was the quarterback at Florida. They actually started two quarterbacks that day because there was a quarterback battle and they thought they both deserved to start.
So I remember seeing him at Florida back in 2012, and they were excited about him there, and he was a very high level recruit out of Dwyer. Bowling Green, we recruited one of his teammates. He was a starting corner for us. So we've been following him for years.
I mean, he's just a very gifted football player. When he gets going and he gets hot, he's a very accurate thrower and has a strong arm. What concerns you the most about him is you can have everybody covered and you can even get decent penetration on the pass rush, but he can find a seam and make it a 20-yard play. Those are the plays on third down that just break your back.
So we've got to do a great job this week of keeping what we call the cage on him, that we have the pocket, we limit escape lanes. When you're in man coverage and your back is turned to him and he gets through there, it can be a big play.