Yeah, excited to get back into league play, coming off of our bye week, and had a good week, first looking at ourselves and then getting a few practices in on Wake and having a few days to get some recovery in, as well.
Had a good practice today, and I know our fans did a great job last week coming out and expect to have a good crowd here with our friends and family weekend that we're hosting.
Look forward to playing a really good Wake Forest team, and Coach Clawson and his staff do a great job, and their players are playing well. They're fundamentally sound. They do a good job defensively stopping the run and taking the ball away, and offensively controlling the clock. I think their offensive line is much improved, and got a bunch of different kids running the football that run hard for them.
Going to be a good football game on Saturday. Looking forward to it.
I wanted to ask you to talk about Wake's defense; it seems like that's where they've made the biggest strides, at least statistically. They're 20th in the nation in scoring defense, the 5-0 turnover margin last week really was the difference in the Indiana game. Can you talk about what they do on defense that presents problems?
Yeah, they've been good on defense the whole time they've been there. It's just the difference to me is on offense now they're controlling the ball. I think at times last year, they got worn down defensively because they didn't score a lot of points and they had a lot of three-and-outs. They're controlling the ball more on offense, and they're in the top five in time of possession in our league. That helps your defense.
Defensively they're playing a lot of the same guys, although they've added a few pieces. I think their young safety, No. 3, is really playing good for them. But they're bigger, they're making more plays with their front. You see guys getting to the quarterback and forcing poor throws, and they're capitalizing on it on the back end. If you're able to do what they've done in turnover margin, especially last week being 5-0 on the positive side of it, that's a good way to win games. We've got to do a great job protecting the football and creating our own takeaways.
Can you comment on what you see on film of Duke Ejiofor?
Yeah, the defensive end? Yeah, he's an experienced player. They move him around on 3rd down and get him different matchups and create one-on-ones for him.
He's long. He's a smart football player. You can tell that they do a good job teaching tendencies and different things, and there's times where he's up the field and times where he's playing base fundamental football, squeezing blocks and reducing, restricting lanes. He's got long arms. But like our D-line, he's been in their system and he's been in their weight room and he's been coached the same way for three years now, so you can just see the progress that he's made.
You've got a lot of Charlotte guys on your roster and a lot in your starting lineup. Are there any characteristics that those guys, kids from Charlotte, that make them attractive prospects that they share, and how competitive is that area becoming recruiting just in the time you've been at NC State?
Well, first of all, it's a great area to recruit. There's a lot of really good high school coaches there. There's multiple talented teams, so the competition that they're playing against there is good, and a lot of those kids grow up in the Pop Warner leagues competing against each other, so there's good rivalries there.
We've been able -- coach Eddie Faulkner recruits Charlotte and has done a nice job building bridges for us there, and it's kind of something that's built with teammates, as well. We've had success getting some guys that know each other and want to play together. That's helped our football team for sure.
Talk about playing against a Wake Forest squad that's 4-0; what makes them different this year?
Well, like I just said, they're moving the ball on offense. Their run game offensively, they're averaging over four yards a carry. They're sustaining drives and scoring points. I think they've been good on defense for the last three years. They have better depth than they've had. Their quarterback play has been improved all year, as well, whether they were rotating the two guys or just playing Wolford, I think. They've all played better, and you'd expect them to in the third year.
And talk about three keys for you guys to pull out a win Saturday at home.
It starts with turnover margin for us. We have to do a great job creating takeaways on defense and protecting the football with our ball carriers, playing as smart as we can from a penalty standpoint, not letting that be a factor in the game, and then just executing our game plan. You know, I think that's something that when we don't beat ourselves and put ourselves in position to make plays, we've been really good, and we've got to be able to be consistent that way.
It appears that John Wolford will be their starting quarterback again this week. How is it to prepare for him as opposed to Kendall Hinton who's a really good runner?
Yeah, I think Wolford runs better than people give him credit. He was banged up a bit last year and he seems healthy. He definitely made some plays on his feet Saturday for them against Indiana. Hinton has the same offensive system that Wolford does, it's just he pulls the ball down and runs it a little bit more. A lot of their plays are read play. Almost every single run they're reading an end or they're reading a backer or they're reading a safety. There are some RPOs involved with Wolford, run pass option type plays, but that's what their offense is, and if you allow him to be a ball carrier how you're playing the edges, he will be.
The things that Wolford has been able to do this season, is that mainly because he's just been healthy and this is an indication of what --
I think there's a lot of things that go into it. I mean, health is one of them. I think his O-line is protecting him better. I think their run game is better, and when you can run the football your quarterbacks are going to be better because they're not standing in one place getting beat up on. They have a lot more balance in their offense right now.