Identifying the strength and taking it away.
NC State did it against Eastern Kentucky and followed it up by doing the same against Old Dominion. The Wolfpack knew going in that they had to limit Old Dominion's running game, as sophomore tailback Ray Lawry was leading the country in rushing. What did Lawry do on the ground against the Wolfpack? 11 carries for 15 yards... as a team the Monarchs totaled -3 rushing yards.
"That was the plan," Doeren said of defending Lawry. "We wanted to see if the quarterback could beat us... pack the box, and we asked our DBs to play a lot of man-to-man early. Other than one drive, I thought they did a good job."
If NC State can eliminate the opposition's biggest strength each week, they will continue to be stout defensively because a lot of offenses remaining on the schedule are fairly one-dimensional.
It was a coming out party for sophomore defensive tackle Kentavius Street. A former defensive end, Street has been rotating with Justin Jones at rush defensive tackle and Street flashed all game on tape, setting up shop in Old Dominion's backfield.
He led the team with six tackles and also tallied a tackle for a loss, although it seemed like he totaled even more.
"Kentavius Street had a really good game last game," said senior defensive end Mike Rose. "He had TFLs and a couple of tackles."
Street played just 25 snaps in the win, making his production even more impressive.
Joining Street up front was Rose, who totaled five tackles, including three solo hits, a sack, 1.5 tackles for a loss, and a quarterback pressure. Rose and the rest of the defensive line were huge in stuffing the run game, as three of the Wolfpack's top four tacklers were defensive linemen.
Rose says the defense's plan is simple.
"I think just getting to the ball, getting hats to the ball," he said. "We've put a big emphasis on running to the ball.
"You'll see like eight guys in the camera frame at the end of the play, and that's what we want."
Finally, B.J. Hill continues to be NC State's most consistent defensive performer. It was another strong effort for the talented sophomore, and Hill is emerging as one of the top young defensive tackles in the ACC. He's a force in the trenches and occupies blockers on every snap.
Moving forward, he's vital to stopping the run game for the Wolfpack.
A- Another strong effort by the defense.
Outside of one long play and a one drive, NC State's defense was dominant. Old Dominion finished with -3 rushing yards and just 148 total yards. The Monarchs were only 3-of-12 on third-down and just two drives advanced past ODU's 37-yard line.
Why not an A or A+? Well, the big play did happen, and so did the long drive. Also, NC State wasn't able to create a turnover, and that's concerning for Doeren, however he has been pleased with the Pack's ability to prevent extended drives.
"We made a reel of the missed opportunities for big plays," said Doeren. "We dropped two picks that hit us in the hands on Saturday... they always come in bunches and they did last year. They need to.
"We've also been averaging 40 something snaps so if you play more you'll have more opportunities too. I'm happy not playing more on defense, trust me, but we do want more takeaways for our offensive field position."