Excited about the opportunity to compete this week with a very physical Boston College team, and Steve does a great job with his guys. Both of us are dealing with different injury problems. So next man up. I'm sure they're saying the same thing, and guys are getting opportunities to play. So we're excited for the guys that were taken up there and a place that hasn't been good traditionally for State. Since 2005, it hasn't been a good place.
So for us, a chance to raise the bar in our program and try to bring home a win from their stadium. It's Senior Day, so we know it will be a great environment for them. For us, it's try to do what we did last week on offense -- not turn it over, not have penalties, be explosive. We've been able to do that now for two weeks in a row.
Defensively, we've got to be able to tackle better than we did against Clemson. They're going to stretch your gaps and pull you in different directions with misdirection and jets. We've got to leverage the ball properly and get off blocks and tackle and not give up big plays when they do decide to throw.
Expecting to see a bunch of different players probably at quarterback. We have to be ready for multiple things. That's just the way it is today in college football. There's a lot of things that happen as a defensive coach and defensive player.
Our special teams have been really good, and they need to continue to be with our return game and our coverage units. Obviously, we've had issues at the place kicking position. That's one area we need to get better at to help us down the stretch.
Just wanted to get your impression on Boston College's defense. What challenges does it present for Jacoby (Brissett)? He's managed to stay in and against pretty tough defenses. Last week was one of the toughest ones in the division. Now he's going up against one of the toughest teams for defense in the nation.
The guys play hard, first of all. They're tough. They're strong in the trenches. It's a trench game for sure. They're active at linebacker. And their defensive coordinator, Coach Brown, brings a lot of different things. So you've got to be able to adjust and use the rules of your system.
And they've been good since Steve got there. This is the best they've been, but they've been salty on the line of scrimmage every year. We know what they're going to be. Most of the time, you have an idea what you're going to get, and you've just got to be physical and take care of the football and strain and fight. It's a four quarter game.
For Jacoby, he's a tough dude. He played his butt off against Clemson, stiff-arming linebackers and trying to make plays. That's just what he is. He's super competitive. He's going to fight to the finish. I know he's excited to play another great team defensively.
As you mentioned, we've seen some. Louisville, Virginia Tech, and Clemson all play good defense. This is his fourth defense he's playing against that's very physical that has good players in it.
Can you speak to his development and his maturity from a year ago to now?
Yeah. Obviously, third year in the system, second year as a starter. Just knows the ins and outs of it extremely well, knows what Coach Canada expects him to do. He knows his teammates better. He's worked on the things that he would consider things that he needed to improve on from a year ago. He's a better game manager. He's throwing the deep ball better. He's always had the arm, but he's more accurate on the deep ball than he's ever been.
I think, as a runner, he's taken hits at times, but he's also learned how to slide and try to stay away from some of those hits when he needs to because I think that's important for him to know when he's gotten what he can get and when there's more to gain, and he's learned that.
Has his comfort level with the offense and his physical stature enabled him to feel more comfortable in the pocket?
I think it's more about trusting the protection regardless of how big you are. Whether you're 185 or 240, you don't want to stand there and get the guys running downhill knocking you on your back, right? It's more about trusting it, knowing where to go with the ball, and using your feet to slide around and knowing when it's time to bail on the protection and get what you can get.
Dave, you mentioned earlier about the kicking situation. I was wondering, do you have any other options? Is (Jackson) Maples an option, perhaps? Or is it a matter of riding it out with a freshman who needs to gain confidence?
Unfortunately -- we do have other options. It's just I don't know if they'd be better than what we're doing. Jackson is a really good leg, strong kicker, kickoff guy.
The reason that Kyle is kicking is because he showed us in practice and fall camp and spring ball that he's got better height, better operation, and he's more accurate. If you saw him in practice, we've just got to get that guy in the game, and all kickers, unfortunately, have a tough go, and he's having it in his first year. Just got to help him and support him through it.
We can't go to the waiver wires. That's not what we're going to do. He is a good kicker. Just hasn't been able to get it on the game field yet.
Is it a matter of confidence?
It is. I don't think he's nervous. I don't think it's any different than anybody that knows they can do it, goes to practice and does it, and then they get to the game, and they're just not able to translate it. You see it with free throws. You see it with golfers. Now we're seeing it with him.
He made two great kicks in the Virginia Tech game on the road in the rain. I know he can do it. Just got to get him to where it's consistent. Nobody feels worse about it than Kyle. He's working really hard to get it right.
Jaylen Samuels, we talked about him a few weeks back. Just his emergence on the ground and in the passing game, what you've seen in him?
Just more of the same, just using him in the tailback role. With what we've had happen in the backfield, we've had to use him more there. Real productive guy. The guy catches the football like a receiver, and he's one of the stronger skill players on our team. So he can run the ball well. He's got great vision. His football IQ is a perfect score. He just has great understanding of the game.
So Coach Canada and his staff, Coach Faulkner, I think, do a nice job of using him but don't give him so many things to where he can't play fast. That's the big thing. You can't load him up where he can't do what he can do and he's thinking all the time. You've got to make sure you're keeping it in his wheelhouse where he can play fast.
When you look at your defense, despite the fact that 56 points were given up to a strong Clemson team recently, just what positives you've seen overall this season from some of the areas where the team stepped up.
Saturday was deep ball. We gave up five deep balls on the same side of the field. There's a couple different guys in there. We've got to play better, whether it's a fade or a double move, and the guy that gave him up has played really well for us this year. Clemson obviously has good receivers and a good quarterback. Just got to bounce back.
Overall, I think we've done a good job in a lot of different things. We're making plays in the backfield. Our defensive line has been active. Our nose tackles and three techniques have made a lot of plays. We've been able to play a lot of different guys in the back seven and a lot of them have played well. We just need to continue to leverage the ball. I think that's been the biggest thing.
It hurt us in a couple games, the ball getting outside on some cracker plays, where they crack a backer or crack a safety, and your corner's got to show up quick. The inside-out guy has got to get off blocks. There's just some things, when you're playing with seven sophomores like we are -- and sometimes there's freshmen in there too -- that you've got to go through.
But for the most part, to be ranked in the top 20 with as many young guys as we're playing and as much as we're rotating, it's been good. Just disappointed we had the bomb go off on the one side of the field last week because we scored way more points than people thought we could against that defense. So we gave ourselves a chance to win.
A victory this Saturday would make you all Bowl eligible. I know you take it game by game, but your thoughts about that.
It's one of our goals. One of our goals is to get to a Bowl and win it. Another one of our goals is to win certain games on the road, and this is one of them. Winning at Wake and winning at BC were team goals for us this year because something that NC State hasn't had happen a lot. So we're halfway there.
This is an important game because it's something -- we're trying to raise the bar, which means play better than they have. Last year we won seven regular season games. In the last ten years, they haven't won at BC. So this would be a way to get closer to where we were a year ago on the win-loss column and bring home a win that hasn't been earned in a long time.
Coach, I just wanted to ask you, you see Clemson and Florida State every year. Florida State, when they won a National Championship two years ago. You just played Clemson. The poll comes up Tuesday night, and they're No. 1. Just your reaction to that and your evaluation. Is this Clemson team as good or better?
It's hard to say. Both those teams are really good. I think the thing that makes them similar is they both have really good quarterbacks. Florida State, Jameis (Winston) was obviously a Heisman guy. And Deshaun (Watson) is really good. He's playing really well. Both have great tailbacks and great receivers. I think Clemson's defense is playing at a really high level right now.
The special teams is probably an area that we exposed them in a little bit that I'm sure they'll work really hard on. I thought they were a really good football team all the way around.