GAMEDAY: NC State vs. Wake Forest

NC State (2-1) returns to action today at 3:30 pm against Wake Forest in Carter-Finley Stadium. The game can be viewed on RSN.

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Wake Forest Links

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NC State Game Notes

The Wolfpack will open conference play versus the team that is has faced more times that any other In the history of NC State football. Saturday's game will mark the 110th meeting between the two squads, with NC State holding a 65-38-6 advantage. The Pack has won 14 of the last 15 meetings with Wake at Carter-Finley Stadium, with the only home loss since 1984 coming in 2006. Overall at home, State has posted a  43-21-5 mark.

The Wolfpack and the Deacons have held serve on their home fields over the last 20 years.  Dating back to the 1997 season, the home team in the series is 17-3.

Prior to last season's 35-17 win in Winston-Salem, the Pack had lost six games in a row played on the Deacons' home field, posting a 2-8 mark in the last 20 seasons on the road.  In Carter-Finley, the Wolfpack has posted a 9-1 mark against WFU in the past 20 years.

In the history of NC State football, which first kicked off in 1892, the Wolfpack has posted 90 40-point scoring games, with 69 of those coming since the advent of the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1953.

In the 3-1/3 seasons that Dave Doeren has been head coach of the Wolfpack, NC State has scored 40 or more points 13 times. So although he's been NC State's head coach for just 5% of the time the ACC has been in existence, his teams have accounted for 19% of the 40-point games.

One Wolfpack starter has been pretty bored in 2016. Punter A.J. Cole has only been called on to kick six times in the last three games.   That's the fewest number of punts to start the season in NC State history. In 2014, the Pack punted seven times in the first three contests, while the 1974 squad punted eight times in the first three games of the season.

Cole has definitely made the most of his opportunities, however, as he currently leads the ACC with a 46.6 yard average.   The Pack ranks third in the FBS in net punting, as the opponent has not returned one of those six kicks.

In 2015, the opponent's punt return yardage was the lowest in school history (52) and the Wolfpack ranked eighth in the FBS in punt return defense. The Wolfpack has ranked in the top five in the ACC in kickoff return defense each of the past two seasons.

Since the beginning of the 2014 season, NC State has been efficient in turning trips to the red zone into trips to the end zone.

In 2013, Dave Doeren's first year as head coach, the Pack struggled in the red zone, ranking 123rd in the FBS a TD in only 17 of its 39 (43.6%) red zone trips. Each of the last two seasons that figure went up dramatically, as NC State ranked fourth nationally in 2014 (73.1%) and 10th last season (72.2%).

So far in 2016, that percentage is even higher. NC State has found the red zone 19 times in the first three games, and has come away with 16 touchdowns. In the Pack's 49-22 win over Old Dominion, NC State was a perfect 7-for-7 in scoring a TD when reaching the red zone.

Year Red Zone Trips TDs TD% NCAA Rank
2016 19 16 84.2% 11th
2015 54 39 72.2% 10th
2014 52 38 73.1% 4th
2013 39 17 43.6% 123rd

With a .763 completion percentage, first-year Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley is the most accurate thrower in the FBS so far in 2016. He is one of just two ACC QBs who has not thrown an interception this season.

The Phoenix, Az., native has 80 pass attempts this season and has thrown for six touchdowns with no interceptions.  In the last 37 seasons (dating back to Tol Avery in 1980), only one Wolfpack QB has attempted more passes before throwing his first interception as a starter at NC State: Philip Rivers.

Finley, a redshirt sophomore, who started three games at Boise State in 2015, completed 17 of 21 pass attempts for an .809 mark in the season opener - the best completion percentage for a Wolfpack quarterback in his debut as NC State's starter dating all the way back to 1971 (with the exception of Brandon Mitchell in 2013, who broke his foot after opening 3-3).  His two touchdown throws in that contest tied with Erik Kramer as the second-highest tally for a starting debut in the past 45 years (Jacoby Brissett and Philip Rivers each threw for three scores in their first game as State's starter).

QB First start Att. before ast INT Game w/ 1st INT
Philip Rivers 2000 99 2
Ryan Finley 2016 80 (Ongoing) NA
Jose Laureano 1995 77 3
Tim Esposito 1983 60 3
Terry Harvey 1991 57 3

The Wolfpack has posted the best third-down conversion mark in the ACC in the first quarter of its schedule.   NC State has converted 21 of 37 third down attempts for a .568 mark - the third-best in the FBS.

The Wolfpack ranks 12th in the FBS in tackles for loss with an average of 9.3 per game in 2016.  That's the third-best mark in the ACC.  

With 28 total stops behind the line of scrimmage, the Wolfpack has gotten off to a much faster start in terms of getting in the opponent's backfield - doubling the total from the first three games of 2015.  NC State tallied just 14 TFLs in the first three games last season and in 2014, managed 13 in the first three games.

He may not have won the starting quarterback job, but that doesn't mean that redshirt sophomore Jalan McClendon can't score touchdowns. In the win against Old Dominion, McClendon was in for exactly one snap in each of the first three quarters.  Here's a look at those results:

1st quarter - 3&G - 1 yard TD rush
2nd quarter - 2&G - 3 yard TD rush
3rd quarter - 3&G - 3 yard TD pass to Thaddeus Moss

McClendon played QB in the last two series of the 4th quarter (10 more snaps), completing 2-3 passes.

Wide receiver Stephen Louis missed the entire 2015 campaign after undergoing surgery on each of his shoulders.  The redshirt sophomore, who had started two games as a true freshman in 2014, looks to be staging quite a comeback.

Louis, who had just one catch (4 yards) in the opener, caught three balls for 142 yards (all in the first half) in week 2 at East Carolina, including an 80 yard catch and run for a touchdown.  He was the first Pack receiver to go over 100 yards since the 2014 season opener and that yardage total was the second-highest under Dave Doeren.

Last week vs. ODU, Louis was the Pack's leading receiver with five grabs for 80 yards. He currently ranks seventh in the ACC in receiving yards with 75.3 ypg, despite having just four yards in game 1.

Senior RB Matthew Dayes became the 13th player in NC State history to go over the 2,000-yard mark in the Pack's last outing vs. ODU. Dayes' 71 rushing yards in that victory puts him at 2,002 for his career.

He now posts 3,263 career all-purpose yards, which ranks 14th in school history.

Dayes, who hadn't played a game in 306 days before the season opener, ranks fifth in the ACC and 29th in the FBS with 104 rushing yards per game.  His 6.12 yards per carry ranks 32nd nationally.  He has rushed for three TDs this season and has now posted 100-yard rushing games in seven his last 10-1/2 outings (he was injured in the first half of game 8 last season).

His 27 rushing touchdowns is the fourth-best mark ever for a Pack runner.  In terms of overall scoring, he is tied for fourth in school history (with Torry Holt) with 33 TDs.

Last season Dayes, who was named to the 2016 watch lists for the Maxwell and Doak Walker Awards, was the first State runner since 2002 to rush for 100+ yard in five straight games.  He is responsible for two of the 10 longest rushing plays in school history (85 yards vs. Wake Forest,  77 yards vs. South Alabama).

QUOTABLES: Dave Doeren

Opening Statement:
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.

NC State Depth Chart

NOTE: *- Indicates a player has redshirted a season.

2016 NC State Depth Chart
15 Ryan Finley  6-4/200 So.*
2  Jalan McClendon 6-5/212 So.*
Running Back
21 Matt Dayes 5-9/203 Sr.
27 Dakwa Nichols 5-9/195 Jr.*
4 Reggie Gallaspy II 5-11/225 So.
22 Johnny Frasier 5-10/224 Fr.
1 Jaylen Samuels 5-11/223 Jr.
86 Thaddeus Moss 6-4/247 Fr.
13 Bra'lon Cherry 5-11/191 Sr.
24 Chandler Belk 5-11/170 Fr.*
12 Stephen Louis 6-2/215 So.*
3 Kelvin Harmon 6-3/196 Fr.
7 Nyheim Hines 5-9/197 So.
8 Maurice Trowell 5-11/191 So.*
30 Gavin Locklear 5-10/186 Jr.*
48 Cole Cook 6-6/250 Jr.
41 Clark Eyers 6-5/252 Sr.*
88 Pharoah McKever 6-6/260 Jr.*
Left Tackle
53 Tyler Jones 6-3/300 So.*
74 Emanuel McGirt 6-6/295 Fr.*
Left Guard
65 Garrett Bradbury 6-3/293 So.*
56 Bryce Kennedy 6-3/305 Gr.*
66 Joseph Scelfo 6-1/300 Gr.*
59 John Tu'uta 6-3/280 Sr.*
Right Guard
50 Tony Adams 6-2/315 Jr.
70 Terronne Prescod 6-5/338 So.*
Right Tackle
54 Will Richardson 6-6/303 So.*
64 Peter Daniel 6-6/294 Jr.*
Place Kicker
92 Kyle Bambard  5-8/190 So.
33 Connor Haskins 5-8/176 Gr.*
Kickoff Specialist
92 Kyle Bambard 5-8/190 So.
90 A.J. Cole III 6-4/230 So.
Long Snapper
57 Tyler Griffiths 6-2/230 So.
Kick Returner
7 Nyheim Hines 5-9/197 So.
Punt Returner
13 Bra'Lon Cherry 5-11/191 Sr.
"F" Defensive End
35 Kentavius Street 6-2/290 Jr.
45 Darian Roseboro 6-4/285 So.
Defensive Tackle
27 Justin Jones 6-2/300 Jr.
91 Eurndraus Bryant 6-1/345 So.
Nose Tackle
98 B.J. Hill 6-4/300 Jr.
94 Monty Nelson 6-2/315 Sr.
"B" Defensive End
9 Bradley Chubb 6-4/273 Jr.
39 James Smith-Williams 6-4/220 Fr.*
Weakside Linebacker
58 Airius Moore 6-0/237 Jr.
32 Riley Nicholson 6-0/229 So.
Middle Linebacker
4 Jerod Fernandez  6-0/220 Jr.*
44 Ford Howell 6-1/240 Jr.*
8 Dravious Wright 5-10/208 Sr.
6 Niles Clark 5-11/186 Gr.*
Right Cornerback
2 Mike Stevens 5-11/190 Jr.
10 Freddie Phillips 6-1/200 So.
Free Safety
11 Josh Jones 6-2/215 Jr.*
14 Dexter Wright 6-2/232 So.*
Strong Safety
24 Shawn Boone 5-10/201 Jr.
31 Jarius Morehead 6-1/213 Fr.*
Left Cornerback
29 Jack Tocho 6-0/200 Sr.
21 Nick McCloud 6-2/175 Fr.

Thanks to NC State Athletics for contributing much of the information in this preview.


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