NC State freshman Nyheim Hines had been close to breaking a kickoff return for a touchdown a couple of times this season. It finally happened last weekend against No. 3 Clemson in Carter-Finley Stadium.
"Finally is the word to use," said Hines, laughing. "Players make plays when it matters, and they wree the No. 3 team in the nation. I was just trying to do what I needed to do to give my team a spark."
"I saw on film leading up to the game that everyone was overpursuing so I knew a hole would open up. Once I saw the kicker I knew it was over."
Hines has powered a kick return game that ranks fifth nationally (28.6 yards per return). Hines has been outstanding, averaging 30.1 yards per return, the second best average in the ACC, and his 601 return yards leads the conference.
"We have meetings, and they do the extra work," Hines said of his blockers. "I have to do my part and show hat I'm someone worth blocking for. It's like a trust thing. They have to trust I can break it, and they block as hard as they can so I can try to take it to the house."
Offensively, Hines has become more involved as well. His snaps the last three games are up, and he is becoming more of a threat in the receiving game. The Wolfpack's scored 35 and 41 points respectively in the last two games after totaling 26 in the losses against Louisville and Virginia Tech.
The performance against Clemson's tough defense gives the group added confidence.
"We played great but not great enough," said Hines. "Talent is only an issue when one team gives less effort so we try to out-efffort everybody. We feel if we give the most effort we'll win, but that didn't happen on Saturday. We played great on offense, but great wasn't enough."
The next test is even tougher, as the Wolfpack faces Boston College, arguably the nation's best defense, on the road.
"They have the best defense in the country," Hines said. "I know their front seven causes havoc, and their safety is an impact player. We've been looking over them on film and trying to find ways to exploit them."
What the Wolfpack has been able to do is generate explosive plays offensively, and it's led to points on the scoreboard. It sounds like that has been a major focal point for the unit.
"Teams go for big plays," said Hines. "Every game is a heavyweight fight. You hit them with punches, and they hit you back. You want to hit them with a punch, and you have to throw a haymaker.. the big play. Every game comes down to about three plays that are or aren't made, and those plays determine the win."
NC State is 3-1 on the road this season, and they'll be looking to secure their second conference win at Boston College. What is the mindset like for the Wolfpack?
"We're road warriors," said Hines. "That's what coach Doeren always tells us. One of our team goals is to win at Wake Forest and Boson College, and we have one checked off.
"This is big for us. I've heard that no one on our team has been up there and won. It's big for our team.. we're trying to go up there and raise the bar."