GAMEDAY: NC State vs. Louisville

NC State returns to action today at 12:30 pm in the ACC opener against Louisville. The game is televised on the ACC Network.

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Louisville Links

QUOTABLES: Dave Doeren

Opening Statement:
You know, excited to be back in Carter-Finley. Been on the road for two games. Proud of our team for finding a way to play really good football on the road. Thought we executed at South Alabama. After the first drive they went down and scored, we responded with a big kickoff return, and unfortunately that was called back, and then the offense responded with 28 unanswered points, and then the defense didn't let them back in the end zone. I thought our response to adversity was really good.

A lot of guys played in the game, and I think everybody on the trip played. When you can get four games in a row where you're backup quarterback and a lot of your backup players get valuable game experience, it's really good for the future of your program and for potential injuries that may come.

Moving forward, looking forward to starting ACC play and playing Louisville, who had a good win last week, good football team that looks like they've settled in on Jackson, the athlete at quarterback that can really run and does a lot of things with his feet, and they have a lot of good young athletes.

Defensively Coach Grantham does a really good job with their defense and presents a challenge with their pressure packages, and D-line wise, one of the better D lines that we'll probably face this year, great defensive tackles and long, athletic ends that can run, and a secondary that leads the nation in interceptions.

Louisville definitely presents a great challenge to our football team, and we look forward to having them here in Carter-Finley on Saturday, and hopefully the weather will hold off and we can get a great game in.

Any questions?

Running back Matt Dayes, nine rushing touchdowns in four games, have you coached a running back that's been this effective this early on with the talents that he has, or is he kind of a gem that you were able to find?
You know, Matt is a special kid because of his versatility. A lot of times when you find guys that are space players, they're not tough guys, and Matt is extremely tough.

He's worked hard. He was overweight when he got here, and proud of him and our strength staff and our nutrition staff for getting him to be the best him physically. He's really bought in the training and nutrition, and to answer your question,

I've been lucky to be around some good backs, particularly at Wisconsin. We had some great backs. Matt is like those guys. He's super productive, ultra competitive, and he's been consistent.

He's one of the best ones that I've been on the team with.

When you look at the fact that your rush defense is also strong throughout rankings in the country, would you attribute some of that to the fact that they have to go up against someone so versatile as Matt in practice?
Yeah. You know, one of the reasons that I like running the ball is that, because it makes your defense tough. You know, those teams that throw it all the time, a lot of times you'll see their defenses don't do well because they don't see it in spring ball, they don't see it in fall camp, they're out there just playing skelly all the time.

There are some head coaches that figure out a way to split the reps and get their defense ready. For us it all starts on defenses stopping the run and we have to play against an offense in practice that runs the ball very effectively.

It helps our team all the way around, mental toughness and adding balance on both sides of the football.

I realized in the Stanford game that Coach Petrino went from Bonnafon to Jackson at quarterback, which Jackson had almost 400 yards himself, but Petrino did show different looks with both on the field. I know as a coach you may have many concerns, but how much does that concern you with both being on the field at the same time?
You know, it's just hard to know what they're going to all do out of it, so you've got to cover a lot of unknowns. He's played three quarterbacks, and you just don't really have a good feel for what their offense is because it's been piecemealed.

They've all played. They've all had starting opportunities, and you have to kind of lean on the most recent game because I do know there isn't a coach in the country that wants to switch quarterbacks that much. I think he wants to settle in on what they're going to be and have an identity with it. We're planning on seeing a lot of Jackson, and there are packages with him and Bonnafon in the game, and we know that if those guys are injured or if they're not playing well that he will make a change.

We've got to have really two game plans ready, one for his traditional offense that he ran on us a year ago and one for the more athletic running quarterback, which is what we've seen throughout every game but exclusively last week.

How do you handle Shad's arrest?
Joe, I found out about it late last night and we had practice that I ran from to be on this phone call so I haven't had a chance to deal with it yet. As soon as I have all the information, I'll make a statement on what I'm going to do.

Last year you entered ACC play at 4-0 and things didn't necessarily go your way for a while after that. What are you hoping that maybe the players learned from that experience that'll have them a little bit better equipped to handle it?
Well, we're more experienced. Last year's team was extremely young, and we're still young, but at least we have guys that played a lot in ACC games last year. We hope we can take those experiences that we had and learn from them. We lost in close games, in our ACC opener the last two seasons to Clemson, and then to Florida State.

What we talked about was being a team that can finish. I think last year we learned how to finish as the season went on, and towards the end of the year we were able to do that in multiple games.

I'm hoping we take those lessons to the field with us Saturday and play four quarters, and when you get into conference play, that's what you're going to have are four-quarter games. We look forward to the first one this weekend.

I was curious, what have you heard from your administration or anything as far as monitoring this weather this weekend, and guess now it's a hurricane out in the Caribbean or whatever?
Well, we've got our thumb on the weather button, so it's not coming.

I'm just kidding.

You know, obviously we're going to monitor it daily. We know there's 100 percent chance of rain. It's just -- there's been many times, I know all of us have heard weather reports and then they dissipate, so you've got to kind of hope for the best and plan for the worst. We just hope that it's not lightning and things like that. Sounds like it's going to be heavy rain, and I know there will be heavy winds on the coast, but they may not get to us. We've heard all kinds of things -- it's just what's going to be real. I don't think we'll know until we see what happens with the storm, if it gains momentum or dissipates throughout the week.

Does that change how you guys prepare?
Well, yeah, it does, yeah. To be honest with you, we probably would have practiced inside today, but we went out. Our field was pretty wet. It wasn't raining, but it rained here all night, and it was actually pretty nice outside, but the field was pretty wet.

I told the guys, hey, look, the balls are going to be wet and the grass is going to be slippery and we need to be ready to play on that on Saturday, so let's use this for preparation from a field standpoint, and the guys bought into it and had a great practice.

What did you think, as I assume you've looked at multiple games of Louisville, what did you think of the changes that they've made on the offensive line and did you think that they were improved in that regard?
Yeah, I mean, I have a lot of respect for Coach Petrino. I think he's a great offensive coach. I know we were kind of where they were last year. They had a lot of young guys playing, five freshmen. It's going to take a while, especially when you're not sure who your quarterback is, to figure out who the best five are on the O-line.

They move guys around. We've had to do a similar thing this year because of our injuries. Now that they're playing plus-1 in the run game with an athletic quarterback, it does change things. But we recruited Lukayus McNeil, the guy they played at left guard last week, and I thought a lot of him in high school, hasn't played until now, so this is the first game we've seen from him in college, but he was a very talented guy. But this is his first road game, and it's going to be extremely loud hopefully in our stadium, and all those things can help us.

Regardless of how Shad's situation shakes out, how do you and the coaching staff kind of try to keep this from being a distraction leading up to a big game, and are you concerned that it could become one?
No, it's no different than when you have an injury on your football team. You've got to approach it from a next-man-up standpoint. We've always talked about handling our business one play at a time and not letting things that we can't control affect how we do things and controlling the controllables.

If I'm a right guard or a defensive tackle, regardless who the running back is, I have a job to do and I need to go do it. Our coaches will do a great job, regardless of what happens, and you know, as a team we've just got to stick together, and any time you have any adversity, there's a lot of it in college football.

There's a lot of season-ending injuries, there's unfortunately been a death at Eastern Kentucky that they're dealing with, and there's a lot of tragedy in college football. You deal with it all the time and you've got to learn how to deal with adversity and persevere.

NC State Game Notes

The Wolfpack and the Cardinals will meet for the second time as conference foes on Saturday, a game which will mark the fifth in series history. The squads first met in 1951 with Louisville winning the first two contests at its home stadium - 26-2 in 1951 and 35-14 in 1993. The teams met for the only time in Carter-Finley Stadium in 2007, when the Cards took at 29-10 victory.

In 2011, the Wolfpack earned a 31-24 win over Louisville in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C. Last season, NC State lost at Papa Johns Stadium, 18-30, but despite the final score, Dave Doeren felt that the game was a turning point in his team's season. The Wolfpack pulled within five points with less than 3 minutes remaining in the contest, and then went on to win four of its next five to close out the season.

For a third straight year, NC State Athletics and its multimedia rights partner, Wolfpack Sports Properties, will pay tribute to agriculture in the state of North Carolina by hosting "Ag Day" festivities on Saturday.

Ag Day is dedicated to recognizing North Carolina's agriculture/agribusiness industry and celebrating those who work hard to improve the state's health and economy. The event is anchored by the NC State College of Agriculture & Life Sciences (CALS).

Two members of the NC State squad are currently leading the FBS in a statistical category this week.

Quarterback Jacoby Brissett is the national leader in completion percentage with a .779 mark four games into his senior campaign. The candidate for several national awards, Brissett has now thrown 189 straight passes without an interception, ranks 14th nationally in passing efficiency.

Running back Matt Dayes, another candidate for national awards, is the FBS leader in rushing touchdowns with nine for the season. He ranks seventh in overall scoring and 20th in rushing yards per game.

In just 17 games as an ACC quarterback, Jacoby Brissett now holds two of the top eight interception-free streaks in ACC history.

Brissett threw 187 passes without being picked off in 2014 - the seventh-longest streak in ACC history. He has currently gone 189 straight without a pick, tied as the second-best current streak in the FBS and now the seventh-best in league history.

The senior has been INT free for 30 quarters, dating back to the Georgia Tech game on Nov. 8, 2014 (the Wolfpack's last loss). In the six games games since, he's thrown for 11 touchdowns.

Last season, of Brissett's paltry five picks, only one came in a road game. He has 172 pass attempts in true road games, 198 attempts including the bowl game.

NC State enters the Louisville game holding the longest current win streak in the Atlantic Coast Conference, having won its last seven games dating back to last season.

It marks the most consecutive wins for the Wolfpack since the 2002 campaign, when the Wolfpack opened the season 9-0 en route to an 11-3 campaign.

The Wolfpack has won its last five games away from Carter-Finley Stadium, winning at South Alabama (63-13) and at ODU (38-14) this season, and defeating Central Florida (34-27) in the Bitcoin Bowl, stomping UNC (35-7) in Chapel Hill and winning at Syracuse (24-17) in 2014.

NC State's five straight victories away from its home field marks the most since a stretch from 1973 to 1974 and only the third time in school history that has been accomplished (also won 5 in stretch from 1962-1963).

The left guard position has not been a very safe one for the Wolfpack four games into the 2015 campaign. Three different players have started at the spot so far this season, while three players at the spot have suffered injuries.

In game 1, backup right guard Garrett Bradbury went down with an injury and did not return until last week. Graduate Alex Barr, a returning starter on the o-line, started the first two games at left guard before suffering an injury in game 2 versus Eastern Kentucky. With Bradbury out, Bryce Kennedy stepped up to start game 3 at Old Dominion.

Before the first half was over at Old Dominion, Kennedy went down with an injury, so starting left guard Joe Thuney moved over to guard and Tyler Jones came in at tackle. In game 4 at South Alabama, Jones got the nod at left guard.

40 x 4
NC State has scored 40+ points 11 times during Dave Doeren's 29-game tenure as head coach, including two streaks of four 40-point games in a row. Prior to Doeren's arrival, the Pack had never scored 40 or more in four straight games.

The Wolfpack defense has allowed just 823 yards in four games this season - a paltry average of just 205.8 yards per game. That total defense mark ranks third in the FBS this week and is 13 yards better than the team in fourth place.

Of that 823 yards allowed, 494 yards (60%) have come on 16 'explosive' plays (10+ yard rushes, 20+ yard passes). Outside of those 16 plays, the defensive has allowed just 329 yards on 179 plays - an average of 1.8 yards per play.

NC State ranks third nationally in total defense this week, with just 205.8 yards allowed per game.

The Wolfpack ranks fifth nationally in first downs allowed (42).

Senior quarterback Jacoby Brissett has been exceptional in the first four games of 2015. He is back to leading all FBS QBs in completion percentage with a blazing .779 mark despite playing while ill at Old Dominion.

In his 17 career games, Brissett has posted a 63.4 completion mark, second only by a small margin in school history to Philip Rivers' .63.6. His 2015 passing efficiency mark of 170.3 ranks 14th in the FBS and his career mark of 145.37 has now passed Rivers as the best mark ever for a Wolfpack QB.

Brissett, a preseason candidate for the Manning, O'Brien and Unitas Awards, opened his senior campaign against Troy by completing 12 straight passes before an incompletion and posted a .913 completion mark. The last time a Wolfpack player posted a percentage as high was Terry Jordan vs. UNC in 1992 (23-25, .920).

The Wolfpack offense continues to be the most greedy in the FBS, with a division best 39:16 minute time of possession average per game.

NC State held the ball for 41:34 in the season opener - the highest time of possession in 93 games (since a 43:07 ToP in an OT win at Miami in 2007). That game marked the second in Dave Doeren's Wolfpack tenure that the Pack posted a 40+-minute time of possession. In his first game as head coach for the Pack, his offense held the ball 40:45 vs. La Tech (2013).

The Pack repeated the feat against Eastern Kentucky, as the offense was on the field 40:04, and then against vs. ODU with 40:12.

Before Doeren's arrival in Raleigh, the Pack had only held the ball more than 40 minutes twice in 235 games (2007 vs. Miami and 40:26 vs. FSU in 2002) dating back to the 2007 season. Since Doeren's arrival, it's happened four times in 29 games.

Since time of possessions began being kept for every game in 1981, no Wolfpack squad had ever posted back-to-back 40+ minute games - the 2015 squad did it in three straight contests.

Running back Matt Dayes has had a stellar start to his junior campaign, posting four consecutive 100+ yard rushing games and rushing for an FBS leading nine touchdowns. At the beginning of his junior campaign, he has moved into sixth-place in school history in touchdowns with 27 and his nine rushing touchdowns already tie for 13th for a single-season in school history just four games in!

He currently ranks second in the ACC in touchdown scoring and ranks seventh in the FBS in overall scoring. He ranks second in the ACC (20th in FBS) in rushing with 113.5 yards per game and third in the league (25th nationally) with 147.5 all-purpose yards per game.

Dayes is the first player since Joe McIntosh in 1981 to top the 100-yard rushing mark in four straight games. His 77-yard TD run at South Alabama was the ninth-longest in school history and the longest for a Pack player since 2001.

Last season, Dayes was one of just three players nationally with more than 300 yards rushing, receiving and in returns (Jamal Morrow of Washington St. & Temple's Jahad Thomas were the others). He was the ONLY player nationally to reach those marks and also boast five or more touchdowns rushing and receiving in 2014.

Fullback/tight end/touchdown scorer extraordinaire Jaylen Samuels seems to have the magic touch when it comes to finding the endzone. The sophomore currently ranks second in the ACC (to teammate Matt Dayes) in touchdown scoring with eight touchdowns in 2015.

Although he is tied for ninth in the FBS in scoring, Samuels' touchdown-to-touch ratio might be leading the nation. "JaySam" has eight touchdowns in just 32 touches (12 rushes, 20 receptions) in 2015. In the season opener, he scored three touchdowns in just four carries.

For his career, Samuels averages 10.7 yards every time he touches the ball. He currently leads the Wolfpack in receptions with 20, a mark which ties for sixth in the ACC.

NC State Depth Chart

NOTE: *- Indicates a player has redshirted a season.

2015 NC State Depth Chart
12 Jacoby Brissett 6-4/235 Sr.*
2 Jalan McClendon 6-5/212 Fr.*
21 Matt Dayes 5-9/203 Jr.
10 Shadrach Thornton 6-1/210 Sr.
27 Dakwa Nichols 5-9/195 So.*
25 Reggie Gallaspy II 5-11/212 Fr.
28 Jaylen Samuels 5-11/236 So.
36 Max Stoffer 6-1/230 Fr.*
"X" - Split End
85 Jumichael Ramos 6-2/200 Jr.
87 Maurice Trowell 5-11/191 Fr.*
84 Freddie Simmons 6-3/176 Fr.
"Z" - Flanker
15 Johnathan Alston OR 6-0/203 Jr.
13 Bra'Lon Cherry 5-11/191 So.
83 Vernon Grier 5-10/180 Fr.
"S" - Slot
7 Nyheim Hines 5-9/190 Fr.
30 Gavin Locklear 5-10/186 So.*
34 Ben Grazen 5-9/190 So.*
Tight End
86 David Grinnage 6-5/265 Jr.*
89 Cole Cook 6-6/250 So.
89 Benson Browne 6-6/255 Sr.*
Left Tackle
54 Joe Thuney 6-5/295 Sr.*
74 Emanuel McGirt Jr. 6-6/295 Fr.
Left Guard
53 Tyler Jones 6-3/300 Fr.*
65 Garrett Bradbury 6-3/285 Fr.*
60 Quinton Schooley 6-4/298 Sr.
70 Terronne Prescod 6-5/338 Fr.*
Right Guard
50 Tony Adams 6-2/300 So.
56 Bryce Kennedy 6-3/305 Jr.*
Right Tackle
66 Will Richardson 6-6/303 Fr.*
53 Tyler Jones 6-3/300 Fr.*
55 Daris Workman 6-5/295 Jr.

Special Teams
Place Kicker
92 Kyle Bambard 5-8/190 Fr.
97 Jackson Maples 5-10/195 Fr.*
Kickoff Specialist
97 Jackson Maples 5-10/195 Fr.*
90 A.J. Cole III 6-4/238 Fr.
47 Will Stephenson 6-3/195 Jr.*
Long Snapper
57 Tyler Griffiths 6-2/237 Fr.
52 Ben Garnett 6-0/238 Jr.*
Kick Returner
21 Matt Dayes 5-9/203 Jr.
7 Nyheim Hines 5-9/190 Fr.
Punt Returner
13 Bra'Lon Cherry 5-11/191 Jr.
7 Nyheim Hines 5-9/190 Fr.
Defensive End
90 Mike Rose 6-3/270 Sr.*
45 Darian Roseboro 6-4/287 Fr.
92 Emmanuel Olenga 6-4/251 Fr.
Defensive Tackle
35 Kentavius Street OR 6-2/290 So.
93 Justin Jones 6-2/300 So.
43 Coult Culler 6-5/280 Fr.*
Defensive Tackle
98 B.J. Hill 6-4/300 So.
94 Monty Nelson 6-2/310 Jr.
91 Eurndraus Bryant 6-1/350 Fr.
Defensive End
49 Bradley Chubb 6-4/260 So.
87 Pharoah McKever 6-6/260 So.*
39 James Smith-Williams 6-4/220 Fr.
Weakside Linebacker
58 Airius Moore 6-0/232 So.
46 Ernie Robinson III OR 6-1/229 Jr.*
32 Riley Nicholson 6-0/229 Fr.
Middle Linebacker
4 Jerod Fernandez 6-0/231 So.*
42 M.J. Salahuddin OR 6-2/227 Jr.*
44 Ford Howell 6-1/240 So.*
Right Cornerback
11 Juston Burris 6-1/207 Sr.*
6 Niles Clark 5-11/186 Jr.*
Free Safety
1 Hakim Jones 6-2/205 Sr.*
31 Germaine Pratt 6-3/234 So.
Strong Safety
2 Josh Jones 6-2/215 So.*
24 Shawn Boone 5-10/194 So.
8 Dravious Wright 5-10/208 Jr.
10 Freddie Phillips 6-1/200 Fr.
Left Cornerback
20 Mike Stevens OR 5-11/190 So.
29 Jack Tocho 6-0/198 Jr.

Thanks to NC State Athletics for much of the information in this preview.

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