FINLEY EMERGES AT SIGNAL-CALLER
Word started to leak out late Wednesday night that Ryan Finley would get the start and the redshirt sophomore certainly didn't disappoint.
He finished with 174 yards on 17-of-21 passing while tossing two touchdowns, and no interceptions. He seized control at the position and received praise from his head coach following the game.
"He has command," Dave Doeren said of Finley after the game. "He's not nervous at all. I thought he looked really comfortable... he threw it exactly where Eli wanted him to with exception to a couple of plays.
"The things Eli stressed, you could see come out when he played, and that's what I wanted to see."
Finley was efficient and did a great job of distributing the ball to his playmakers. He believes that's simply his role.
"I'm just a game manager out there, honestly," Finley stated after the game. "I'm just trying to get them the ball."
With a rivalry game looming at East Carolina, it was critical that Finley or McClendon emerge at quarterback and No. 15 did just that.
"I'm excited to get the first win," said Finley. "It's exciting to get to work and get ready for ECU."
WELCOME BACK MATT
NC State has to be glad to have Matt Dayes back, and he didn't disappoint.
The senior tailback rushed for a game-high 138 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, and he added two receptions for 18 yards.
"It was a great feeling," said Dayes. "I should have had three [touchdowns], but things happen on the goalline. It was fun out there; I had fun playing with my teammates so I'm excited to play next week."
"He averaged six yards a carry," added Doeren. "He caught the ball well and looked quick. He was explosive."
In fact, Doeren would have liked to see Dayes, who was playing in the no-huddle, uptempo system for the first time, get even more touches.
"The biggest thing is conditioning right now," Doeren stated. "I would love to see him play a little more. It was good to get other guys in the game, I'm not saying that, but he got tired. I think playing at that tempo, it just takes time."
NC State really leaned on Dayes in the third quarter, and that was by design.
"One drive we ran the same play about all the way down the field," said Samuels. "We just ran the ball. I know coach Drink came out in the second half and was like we're going to run the football until they stop it, basically."
"Matt's one of the best players I've ever been around," added senior center Joe Scelfo. "He makes cuts, sets your blocks up, it's something I've never played with. I'm glad he's on my team, and he's a great guy too... a good leader. He's an all-around good guy."
ALL HANDS ON DECK
NC State has plenty of options, and Eli Drinkwitz did a very good job of getting them all involved. 11 different receivers caught passes and eight different rushers totaled carries on the night, with the majority of those coming from key contributors.
"I thought the receivers really blocked in space, and we were efficient in the passing game. We took where it was... it was good to see a bunch of those guys touch the ball."
One of those guys was junior fullback/tight end Jaylen Samuels, who totaled three touchdowns on ten offensive touches.
"I think we did pretty good coming out with the fast-paced tempo," said Samuels. "We had a lot of good playcalls."
A major reason NC State was able to spread it around so well was because of how efficient the Pack was on the ground.
"We wanted to pound the rock and get those guys going up front," said Finley. "I thought they did a really good job. When you have backs like Matt, Jay Sam, Reggie and those guys, you just want to get the ball in space and get them going downhill."
WHAT ABOUT THE DEFENSE?
It was a mixed bag for the defense, and a big reason was due to poor penalties that extended a couple of drives. Those penalties really seemed to irk Doeren, especially an unsportsmanlike call on Kentavius Street for removing his helmet after a sack.
"I'm disappointed in the penalties, really disappointed," said Doeren. "Particularly some of the stupid stuff. Taking a helmet off after we get a big play, act like you've been there before. Stuff that we have to get fixed and will get fixed this week."
Senior captain Bradley Chubb totaled four tackles and seemed pleased with the unit's play.
"Our main goal was to eliminate the big plays, and we focused on that today," he said. "We did it for the most part.
"As a defense I feel like we played pretty good. We played fast and hard, and all together we were a brotherhood... some things we have to take off the film, some of the penalties we had today."
With that being said, NC State yielded just 168 yards and 14 points to an offensive unit that returned nine starters from a prolific season.
"Defensively, other than the first drive of each half, I thought they played really well," said Doeren. "Overall, if you look at the body of work, we had two interceptions and held them to 168 yards and 14 points. They were averaging a lot more than that as an offense."
* True freshmen Kelvin Harmon and Thad Moss received the first action of their career, and they caught two passes each. Moss looked comfortable in space and was physical at the point of attack... he stood out as a blocker. Harmon could become the Wolfpack's vertical/red zone threat. He had a nice 29-yard grab in the 4th quarter to set up Johnny Frasier's touchdown run.
* Jerod Fernandez and Josh Jones recorded interceptions for the Wolfpack.
* NC State was 10-of-15 on 3rd down while William & Mary was just 1-of-8.
* Dave Doeren stresses balance, and the Wolfpack offense rushed for 259 yards and passed for 262.
* NC State was stuffed on a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-goal from the one in the third quarter, and apparently it was an adjusted call by Finley. Doeren obviously didn't agree with it.
"He ran a sneak on fourth-and-one which he shouldn't have done," said Doeren. "That was not the play called. Turn around and hand the ball off to your tailback. I know he was trying to make a play. That's what I like about this team right now; there are guys eager to make plays, and they are not bashful about it."
Finley agreed after the game.
"I might of got a little greedy," he said, smiling. "I probably should have just handed the ball to Matt Dayes on that one."
* Matt Dayes doesn't say a lot, but when asked about the Wolfpack's offensive system he gave a few words to the media.
"I'm very comfortable with it," he said. "I was kind of skeptical about it at first, but I really enjoy it and I love playing in it. It's a lot of fun."