KEYS TO THE GAMENC STATE OFFENSE VS BOSTON COLLEGE DEFENSE
Create Big Plays
NC State's facing Boston College without Matt Dayes so expect the running game to have a substantial drop-off against arguably the top defense in the country.
So, what does the offense need to do? Find ways to generate easy scoring opportunities because they likely won't be able to grind out drives against the Eagles.
The good news for NC State is since the bye week they've been an offense that's generated big scoring plays. NC State scored six touchdowns of 28 yards or longer versus Wake Forest and Clemson, and you know that's a focal point against Boston College.
Look for the Wolfpack's offense to try and be a quick-strike offense on Saturday because very few teams have had a lot of success grinding away at BC's defensive front.
Limit The Mistakes
Boston College is one of the worst teams in the country offensively. In fact, they might have the worst offense of any team in a Power 5 Conference.
What does that have to do with NC State's offense? Well, the Wolfpack's offense can't help out Boston College's offense. NC State has to find a way to limit mistakes and turnovers against BC so they don't give a suspect offense great field position or easy scoring opportunities.
Boston College has forced nine interceptions and recovered six fumbles this season... it's an opportunistic group.
Jacoby Brissett and the Wolfpack offense must find a way to balance creating big plays with taking care of the football.
Being explosive relies on the offense remaining aggressive, and NC State must do that.
Jacoby Brissett has played with more aggression and the offense has prospered. After scoring just 13 points against Virginia Tech and Louisville, Brissett's group totale 35 points and 41 points in the last two games. The difference has been opening up things for Brissett.
Prior to those two games he hadn't attempted more than 28 passes in a season. He attempted 34 and 41 passes respectively versus Wake Forest and Clemson. That aggression led to five passing touchdowns and zero interceptions.
It's really simple for NC State. If they beat Boston College it's going to be because they were successful through the air. Few teams run on the Eagles, especially with their third-string tailback.NC STATE DEFENSE VS BOSTON COLLEGE OFFENSE
DEFEND THE QUARTERBACK
Boston College is rotating quarterbacks after starter Darius Wade was lost for the season with a leg injury, so for NC State's it's another week of not knowing for sure who will be under center for the opposition.
Three freshmen, Troy Flutie is the passer, Jeff Smith is the runner, and John Fadule is the recruited walk-on who performed admirably last week against Virginia Tech. Fadule, who seems to be a dual-threat, will likely get the start, but Boston College head coach Steve Addazio hasn't confirmed that to be the case.
What NC State needs to do is be aware of which quarterback is in, his particular strengths, and look to limit what he does well.
BC has struggled offensively all year and every offense starts with the quarterback. If NC State can limit his effectiveness, whoever it is, they will have a good chance at leaving town with a victory.
TAKE AWAY THE RUN
With Boston College it always starts with stuffing the ground game.
The Eagles want to pound away, control the clock, and win with their defense. NC State must stop the run. That has to be priority No. 1. BC lost leading rusher Jon Hilliman early in the season and have used a committee at the position with speedster Myles Willis leading the way. However, the group has struggled in recent weeks, totaling 61 yards on 65 carries in the last two games.
NC State knows they must stop the running game... they've talked about it all week.
If the Wolfpack can eliminate the running game it would put even more pressure on BC's quarterbacks and passing game, which won't be a good thing for the home team.
LIMIT BIG PLAYS
Boston College will likely open up conservative and not try to give the game away early... just grind away, but State can't allow that to happen. They must establish control right away and they have to prevent big scoring plays for the Eagles because they haven't had much sucess at all at sustaining drives this year.
Chances are BC's going to try and hit some big plays after seeing the success Clemson had last week. Trick plays, deep bombs, reverses... State has to be prepared for anything.
If NC State can limit big plays they will likely earn their second ACC win of the season.
QUOTABLES: Dave Doeren
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.
NC State Game Notes
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Two weeks ago, the Wolfpack won at Wake Forest for the first time since 2001. This week, Dave Doeren's squad will travel to another site that has not been friendly to the Wolfpack over the years: Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
In seven road games versus Boston College, NC State has gained victory just once - a 12-7 win in 1937. Since the Eagles joined the ACC in 2005, the Pack has posted an 0-5 mark at Alumni Stadium, and a 3-2 mark at Carter-Finley Stadium.
STRIKING A BALANCE, SEASON 2
NC State fielded the most balanced offense in the FBS last season, rushing for 204.5 yards per game and gaining 204.0 passing yards per contest. With 5,311 yards of total offense, the difference between the rush and the pass was just seven yards (2,659 rushing, 2,652 passing).
This season, the Wolfpack is once again one of the most balanced squads in the FBS, averaging 202.6 rushing yards and 206.9 passing yards per game (1,621 rushing yards, 1,655 passing).
Here's a look at the most balanced teams (for teams with more than 1,600 rushing and passing yards for the season):
The Wolfpack has averaged 11.6 points in the first quarter this season, outscoring its oppponents 93-37 in that frame.
In the past two contests, the Wolfpack has scored 41 total points in the first quarter.
MANY HAPPY RETURNS
One area where the Wolfpack has shown vast improvement in 2015 is in the return game.
Heading into game 9, NC State boasts a 15.0 yard punt return average - a mark which would be the second-highest in school history and the best mark since the 1967 season if the season ended today.
The Wolfpack's kickoff return average of 28.6 yards per return would rank as the best in school history.
Junior Bra'Lon Cherry currently ranks second in the ACC and 8th in the FBS in punt return average with a 15.5 mark, while freshman Nyheim Hines ranks second in the ACC, 10th in the FBS, in kickoff returns list at 30.1 yards per return.
PUNT OF NO RETURN
NC State has been very stingy when it comes to punt returns in 2015. The Wolfpack has allowed just 10 returns for a total of 10 yards this season. That 1.0 yard per return average ranks 4th in the FBS and leads the ACC.
Of NC State's 38 punts on the season, only 10 have been returned (26.3 percent). Of those 10 punts returns, only two have been for positive games (10 yards by South Alabama and 5 yards by Wake Forest). The other eight punt returns against the Pack have either been for no gain or for negative yardage.
One of senior quarterback Jacoby Brissett's strengths is not forcing passes that would result in a turnover. In fact, during Brissett's short two-year NC State career he owns two of the top-8 interception-free streaks in ACC history.
For his NC State career, Brissett has thrown just six interceptions in his 593 attempts - a rate of just 1 INT for every 99 pass attempts. By comparison, in Dave Doeren's first season at NC State in 2013, Pack QBs threw 14 INTs in 426 attempts (1 INT per 30 attempts).
A season after having just five INTs for the entire season, Brissett has an even better rate in 2015. Eight games into his final campaign, he has thrown just one pick in his 223 pass attempts.
In 2015, 73 FBS quarterbacks have attempted at least 200 passes. Of those, only four have thrown just one interception (none are INT free):
|Dak Prescott||Mississippi State||260||1|
|Jacoby Brissett||NC State||223||1|
|Everett Golson||Florida State||207||1|
NC State ranks 4th in the FBS in fewest turnovers this season - with a paltry five for the season. The Wolfpack has thrown just one interception and has lost four fumbles.
On the flip side, the Wolfpack ranks 118th in turnovers gained in 2015. NC State's defense has picked off four passes and although it has forced 16 fumbles, has only recovered three of them.
Senior defensive end Mike Rose is currently the ACC leader in sacks with 7.5, the 10th-best mark in the FBS. He had three crucial sacks in the win over Wake Forest - with all three coming on third down plays. That mark is tied as the fifth-best mark in school history (he also had three in the win over Syracuse last season).
The Bednarik Award candidate has now recorded a tackle for loss in 15 straight games dating back to last season. Over that span, Rose has 21 tackles for loss for 107 yards.
Rose has 29.5 career tackles for loss - the No. 17 mark in school history, while his 14.5 sacks ranks 13th.
TIGHT END TIME
Against Clemson, Wolfpack tight ends pulled in 15 of the team's 24 receptions. TE/FB Jaylen Samuels led the team with 8 grabs, while TE David J. Grinnage had the most receptions of his career - 7 - for 82 yards and a touchdown.
NC State Depth Chart
NOTE: *- Indicates a player has redshirted a season.
|2015 NC State Depth Chart|