Happy to be 1-0, and there's a lot of good things that happened in the first game.
Starting on our offense, we were very efficient in the pass game. Jacoby only threw two incompletions, and one of them was on a throwaway. I thought we threw it and caught it really well. Guys were clean, had one penalty, I think, the entire game, and you know, we talk about not turning the ball over and not having penalties, not beating yourself, those are things you look for and how clean you can play.
We were able to get a lot of people in the game. I think we played more freshmen than any team in the country, so a lot of first-time players, as well.
On defense played well for most of the game. There were some guys that played really well, and then gave up four plays that leave a sour taste in your mouth from a yardage standpoint and kind of hurt the overall production of what the guys did that day, but were able to force some turnovers on defense, and played great 3rd down defense. We were 8 of 9 on defense on 3rd down, and really had a couple nice returns.
Nyheim had a good return, Nyheim Hines, and Bra'Lon Cherry had one on a punt return. A lot of good things.
And now week 2, another home game here with a good Eastern Kentucky team coming to town. Look forward to the challenge.
Running back Matt Dayes, just not
only his performance in game 1 but what he's
kind of shown you as he's come up over the
last couple of years at NC State, your thoughts
on his performance now and how he's grown
before your eyes?
Well, he's gotten to be a mature guy. He understands the process and how to prepare himself and how to take care of his body and his mind.
He's a lot of fun to be around. He's just a really good young man, good person, and he's got a great skill set, not only as a runner, but he'll fight you in pass protection.
He's a good receiver. He's tremendous in space, and his best skills are -- if he was a 6'2", 6'3" guy, he would be an unbelievable receiver. Just has a lot of different things he can do. Jacoby and him have a good relationship and have good chemistry.
I'm proud of what he's done, and I know he's got a lot more in him, so looking forward to pushing him there.
And the rest of the Pack in general,
you put up five touchdowns in the first game of
the season. What have you seen from not only
Matt Dayes but your rushing attack now? Is it
getting to kind of where you want it to be as
opposed to maybe where it's been in the past?
It's a lot better. Year one we were under three yards per rush and year 2 we were five and a half yards per rush. I think if we have over five yards per rushing attempt, we're going to be in the top 5 in the nation. If we can do that, we're going to be able to throw the ball well because we have good quarterbacks, and it forces people to put numbers in the box.
Our receivers have a lot of one-on-one opportunities in man coverage, and we have a lot of zone defenses that will keep the box and open up some underneath things for us.
I think a quarterback's dream is to have a balanced offense in my opinion because it allows them to do a lot of different things. We can move the pocket. Are we ever going to say we're where we want to be? Probably not; coaches always want to get better. But if we can continue down the path we're on, we'll be happy with that.
Going back to you playing 23
rookies last week, 10 true, 13 redshirt, can you
talk about the development of your
Yeah. Well, we consider ourselves a developmental program. We have to recruit guys that -- not that we're not going to get five-star guys; we are, but we're going to get a lot of three-star guys, too, that we've got to develop, and they've got to spend time in the weight room.
Those kids that are coming off of their redshirt year are tremendously improved, not just stronger or faster but more mature and have gone through a year of a life skills program that teaches leadership and values and character, and they're just more prepared to play on the big stage.
It's hard for a true freshman to compete and compete well and handle the 12-week grind, and we've been able to do it. We've done it pretty well with some guys, and Nyheim handled his first game as a true freshman.
I think when you're recruiting, you've got to really identify guys that have that maturity. For us it seems like the kids that graduate high school early and show up a semester ahead of their class have a better chance than kind of a true freshman. We played only one, which was Nyheim, that was not here early.
Also with the 57,000-plus in
attendance, can you just talk about the
excitement coming into the program?
Yeah, you bet. Every game has been sold out for the season, as well as our parking, and so the fans are doing their part, and we've said many times and will continue to say how much we appreciate their loyalty and passion.
The thing I loved about the game is that they were there the entire game, and it rained. In the pregame there was actually a rain delay, and sometimes that hurts your crowd, and it didn't hurt ours at all. The fans were strong and they were loud, they were here the entire time, and that helps our recruiting and helps our players. They feed off of the fans.
You guys are obviously proud of
playing a clean game and got a record in that
area Saturday. Just curious if early in the
season what you guys do that other don't, is
that a bigger, faster, sort of not beating
yourself earlier in the season than it can be
down the road, especially if you're playing like
an FCS game or something like that?
I think it can be. I mean, I think it's a matter of focus. We spend a lot of time talking about not beating ourselves. It's one of our No. 1 things we talk about week in and week out, and our keys to victory are a lot of times in a lot of phases of the game are going to be about penalties, they're going to be about mental errors, things we control, effort.
So the players have bought into the formula, and I don't know other places what they do and what they spend their time on, but I do know what we do, and we spend a lot of time on that. We talk a lot about ourselves a lot more than we do about opponents. That's just been what I've been around that works.
One of the advantages of a really
good, really veteran quarterback like Jacoby, I
mean, in the sense that are there certain things that you don't need to worry as much about
because he's going to take care of them and
execute them right?
Well, you would like to think so. I mean, I think most coaches are going to continue to assume and probably supply the players with information they already know. But the things that happen on game days is he fixes problems that other guys can't fix. There's things that happened throughout the game where a receiver might be off when he should be on, and he'll see it and tell him to get on the line. It seems like a little thing, but a lot of times rookie quarterbacks aren't thinking about that, they're thinking about themselves, and he's able to understand the 11 guys on the field.
Obviously he's one of the 11, and what they're supposed to be doing and communicate to them in a certain way.
I think that's the biggest thing, to have a quarterback that's been through what he's been through, too, I think he's really focused. He's had to grow and push himself through tough situations, and it's not easy transferring and getting a team behind you, and he's done that and done it extremely well.
You know, as a coach I think the biggest thing is knowing that he's an extension of his offensive coordinator and that he's got the experience under his belt to handle a lot of things that we may not show him during the week.
How much better is he just in what
he does physically than he was last year?
Yeah. Well, underneath he was really good last year. Underneath, he threw the ball well. I think down the field is where he's improved the most, just not really the touch but the different types of throws. Sometimes you've got to hammer that ball in there and sometimes you've got to throw it more like a free throw where he's got some arc on it.
In the first game he did that. He threw a couple really nice balls and then he threw one 56-some odd yards down the field.
He's really worked hard on his footwork that goes with those throws, and I think he's spent a lot of time this summer on the little things in his position, and it showed.