Excited to have an opportunity, like we do this week. It's homecoming weekend for us. It's Halloween. It's a sold-out game. A great team, Clemson, coming to play us in our stadium.
Our players, our coaches, our fans, everybody knows we got a great team coming in here, an opportunity to play against a great team. This environment is what you sign up for as a player and a coach.
Looking for the opportunity to play them. They've got great personnel across the board, even though young players are playing at a high level. It's going to be a tremendous challenge and opportunity for our guys.
Coming off a good win for us on the road.
Anytime you can erase a streak that you don't want in your program, that's a positive step when you're trying to build something. It had been 12 years since NC State had won at Wake. We were able to change that on Saturday.
Really good start in the football game.
Defensively other than one run I felt like we played a four-quarter game. Special teams were very strong in the game. A punt return for a touchdown. A lot of things to get better at still, a long way to go to play four quarters against a team like Clemson. Looking forward to that.
You mentioned homecoming weekend. As bloggers, writers, self-proclaimed experts, we get to sit back and talk about big games like this Clemson game where the student-athlete has the responsibility of attending classes, practice, rehabbing injuries and so forth. But with the distractions coming up this weekend, as a leader, what do you have set in place to stress the importance with your team about time management so they will be in a better position to handle the pressures of such games on game day?
It's hard because you're playing the No. 2 ranked team.
What we talk about all season is we're facing ourselves every week. It's really a faceless opponent. If we don't play the best we can play, if we go out there and beat ourselves, it doesn't matter who is on the other side, we're not going to beat them. It starts with that philosophy. It's a faceless opponent.
What you put on tape the week before, the last week, that's your résumé. You have to understand they're studying you. You have to take pride in that as a player.
We want to be a student-athlete that people look up to, act the right way, treat people with respect. Off the field, we talk about those things.
We've played in big games here before.
We've played against really good football teams here, in our stadium, Florida State last year when they were unbeaten. This isn't the first time our guys have seen a team like this. You have to play four quarters and try to block out any noise.
I'm not trying to be funny or disrespectful with this question, but do you show your team any game film or video of this Miami blowout by Clemson? Have you let them watch that game?
Yeah, we watch every game. It is what it is. Our guys know what happened down there. They know we were in this situation a year ago at Clemson. It's not like we got to show them film that they're good. Our guys know they're good. We also know that we're capable of beating anybody on any given day.
They did what they did. They did it to us a year ago. They're a fast-starting football team. We can't let one play or one quarter be the game. It's a four-quarter game. We got to play hard for 60 minutes.
Last year facing Clemson to now, just how and where have you seen quarterback Jacoby Brissett grow to where he is today? Where you've really seen him grow up?
Well, just the management of the game.
He's thrown only one interception, knock on wood. This time last year he had done worse. He held on to the ball too long at times, was careless with it in the pocket. I think he learned a lot from that. He understands this may not be a good play so let me get to the next one.
A lot of times as a quarterback you don't want to do that. You want to make every play the best play you can. It's not always realistic, if your protection breaks down or your receiver gets covered up, you got nowhere to go.
I think he learned from those things. He's definitely throwing the ball deep, better than he did a year ago, better accuracy. His underneath throws have been good. Those are the main things.
As far as on the other side, for your defense, just what you can say about the Clemson running back Wayne Gallman, what you've been able to see from him so far?
He's running with a lot more purpose and confidence. I mean, I think he was a great player a year ago, he just didn't play as confident. He's running hard. He's trying to break tackles and running through contact. He's the best back we've played this year.
Until we get Florida State, he'll probably be the best back we play.
In practice, when we play against our offense, we get to see really good backs. That's the one positive for us. Our guys have seen him in practice. He's a special player and lineman, and the receivers, they're all blocking for him.
When you study Clemson in comparison to the other teams you've played this year, what stands out? Are there things that stand out just in terms of the athletes they have, what they might do better than teams you've played already this year?
Well, their personnel is better. I mean, that stands out. They don't have weak links. There's not guys you say, Let's form this way and pick on this guy. They're a good football team with good talent.
Been there for a while, been able to recruit the guys he wants, develop guys, redshirt guys. They've got good depth.
What stands out is just how strong they are from a depth standpoint. They got a lot of receivers that play. There's a lot of playmakers.
You see freshmen coming in. (Eric) MacLain, (Deon) Cain are making plays for them on offense. Their tackles are freshmen and are playing at a high level. The talent really stands out.
You talked about keeping your team focused. What do you do in terms of seeing what Clemson did last week in keeping your team confident they can win this game?
It's really not what Clemson does. We have to do the best that we can do. We have to execute our plays, our defenses to the best of our ability. We have to play with confidence and passion. When we do that, we're a really good football team. That's what we have to do.
They have who they have. They're going to call the plays they are going to call. If you go out there 11 strong, everyone does everything they can, plays with good eyes, knee bends, sheds blocks, finishes blocks, doesn't matter who you're playing, you're going to play well.
We've always said it starts with us. It's no different. Clemson is a good team. They're a beatable football team if we play the best that we can, and that's what we have to do.
When you look at Clemson, your coaching career, teams you've faced, have you faced a team more balanced on offense and defense than what you're going to see this Saturday from Clemson?
You guys are making them out to be like the Green Bay Packers. They're a really good football team, but we played a lot of good football teams. We played Florida State when they won the national championship. At Wisconsin, we played Ohio State and beat them when they were undefeated and ranked number one.
They're good. They've got good players, coaches, they make plays. Like I've been saying, it's going to come down to execution, not beating ourselves and making plays.
If I've learned anything this year from watching college football, anybody can win any game.
The way they've played the last couple weeks, have you seen any weaknesses that makes you think you have an advantage?
I mean, statistically special teams we're playing really good. Those are the only stats you're going to look at and see we have an advantage. Does that mean we'll out-execute them on Saturday? That's what we have to do.
But on paper, those are the phases that you look at other than other our goal kicker, our coverage units, our return units are ranked higher. Everything else, they're really, really good. That's what it is. That's why they're the second ranked team in the country.
Your five touchdowns including the punt return were all over 50-yard plays. Ever had a team that's been that explosive in one game before?
Not since I've been here, no. I mean, at NIU we had games like that, but not since I've been here.
Was it the matchups you were able to take advantage of?
You know, I think it's a combination of things. I think we played really good in the first quarter on offense. Jacoby put the ball right on the money, receivers made catches with people on them, which we haven't done. Down-the-field routes, we've been able to do that underneath a lot.
We went up for deep balls and made plays. Matt Dayes made [plays]. I thought we executed at a high level.
If you watch our Virginia Tech game, there were a ton of runs where we were one man away from 80-yard runs. We didn't bust one of those tackles. They were nine for nine tackling our back with their safety.
This past week Matt did a great job of making that guy miss. He house-called both of them. That's what you want as a back, is a one-on-one at the second level for a touchdown.
We made a big deal with that of our line getting there, with our back finishing it, our receivers being a play-maker, and our quarterback putting it where it needs to be.
We've played pretty good in the return game. That wasn't unexpected. We've done that in a bunch of games, not to the end zone, but we've had a lot of really positive returns.