PP DIGITAL: Clemson Preview
NC State Game Notes
THE TEXTILE BOWL
For the past 35 years (since 1981), the series between NC State and Clemson has been dubbed the Textile Bowl, as that industry has a major economic impact on both states and both universities boast renowned textile colleges.
NC State's College of Textiles produces more than half of the textile graduates in the nation each year. The North Carolina textile manufacturers donate money to NC State's scholarship fund every year in honor of the Wolfpack's MVP from the game.
PACK LOOKS TO END STREAK
Heading into Saturday's contest, No. 3 Clemson has won 44 consecutive games over teams not ranked by the Associated Press. The last loss by the Tigers to an unranked team was to the Wolfpack in 2011.
The Wolfpack celebrated its Homecoming that season with a 37-13 victory over the seventh-ranked Tigers, exploding for 27 unanswered points in the second quarter.
The defense forced four turnovers and tallied six sacks in the game.
PACK GAINS LEAD, POSTS POINTS VS TOP 10
Clemson will mark the third top 10 team that NC State has faced in the past 2-1/2 seasons. The Tigers were ranked No. 3 last year when they won in Raleigh and the Pack faced top-ranked Florida State in 2014.
In each of those games, Dave Doeren's squad scored 41 points. Unfortunately, each of those opponents scored 56 points.
Last year's game against the Tigers boasted five lead changes (all before halftime), with the Wolfpack jumping out to an early lead and the teams each scoring a pair of TDs in the first quarter. QB Jacoby Brissett (now with the New England Patriots) threw for three scores and no INTs, while Clemson's Deshaun Watson threw for five scores.
In 2014, the Wolfpack opened up with a 24-7 lead over the No. 1 Seminoles and was within four points entering the fourth quarter before falling 41-56.
NC State enters game 6 ranked fifth in the ACC - 44th in the FBS - in total offense with 444.4 yards per game. That number is despite gaining only 198 total yards while playing in driving rain and wind in the win over Notre Dame.
NC State has posted over 500 yards in total offense in three of five games in 2016. In 2015, the Wolfpack gained 500+ yards just three times the entire season, did so just twice in 2014 and just once in 2013. The Wolfpack has had more 500-yard offense games in entire seasons that this year's five-game total just twice: 2012 (four) and 2003 (five).
Prior to this season under new offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz, the Pack had never posted 500+ yard outputs in three of its first four games. The most was two of the first four in 1998.
It was only fitting that on a day that a hurricane sharing his name wreaked havoc on the state, Matthew Dayes would post his ninth career 100-yard rushing game. Dayes managed an impressive 5.5 yards on his 23 carries, gaining 126 total yards, including the longest offensive play of the day - a 28-yard run - and the second-longest - a 23-yard run that set up a first-quarter field goal. He was also the leading receiver with 3 catches for 14 yards.
Dayes ranks 3rd in the ACC and 16th in the FBS in rushing this week (112.6 ypg). An impressive 47% (266 of 563) of his rushing yards have come from yards after contact in 2016.
Dayes became the 13th player in NC State history to go over the 2,000-yard mark in game 3 vs. ODU. He now boast 2,253 career rushing yards - the 11th best mark in school history. He has tallied 3,528 career all-purpose yards (9th in school history) and his 5.7 yards-per-rush mark is the best ever for a Pack runner.
Dayes hadn't played a game in 306 days before this year's season opener due to a season-ending foot injury suffered last season against Clemson (10/31/15). He has now posted 100-yard rushing games in 9 of his last 12-1/2 outings (he was injured in the first half of game 8 last season).
His 27 career rushing touchdowns is the fifth-best mark ever for a Pack runner. In terms of overall scoring, he is tied for fourth with Wolfpack Hall of Famer 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).
STOPPING THE RUN
NC State has been outstanding stopping the run in 2016, allowing just 91 ground yards per game. That mark leads the ACC and ranks 8th in the FBS.
Three Wolfpack opponents (William & Mary, Wake Forest and Notre Dame) posted rushing totals less than 70 yards, while the highest total this season has just been 148 yards by ECU.
The opposition has scored just five rushing touchdowns this season (three by ECU) and none in the last two games.
The 2015 Wolfpack set a school record for fewest turnovers, losing the ball on an interception or fumble just 13 times. This season, the Pack is continuing that stingy pattern, with just five turnovers in five games (t1st in ACC, t10th in the FBS).
Ryan Finley is the only starting QB in the ACC who has not thrown an interception this season and the Pack starter has also not lost a fumble in 2016.
The six interceptions thrown by quarterback Jacoby Brissett (now with the New England Patriots) last season tied as the second-lowest mark since 1953, while the seven fumbles lost in 2015 was also one of the lowest marks in school history.
Since 1953, only seven Wolfpack squads have posted single-digit totals in both interceptions and fumbles lost. In the past 48 years (since 1967), only four teams have accomplished that mark, and two of those squads were coached by Dave Doeren.
With a .695 completion percentage, first-year Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley is one of the most accurate throwers in the FBS so far in 2016. He ranks 2nd in the ACC and 8th in the FBS in completion percentage.
That accuracy mark was even higher before a 5-12 outing against Notre Dame in Hurricane Matthew and he led the nation during the first month of the 2016 season.
The Phoenix, Az., native has 128 pass attempts this season and has thrown for nine touchdowns with no interceptions. In the last 37 seasons (dating back to Tol Avery in 1980), no other Wolfpack QB has attempted more passes before throwing his first interception as a starter at NC State. Finley boasts a 161.31 passing efficiency mark - the 2nd-best in the ACC and 13th in the FBS. That mark would rank as the 2nd-best single-season mark in school history (only to Philip Rivers) if the season ended today.
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 his first game with 3-3 passing).
QUOTABLES: Dave Doeren
Proud of our players and our coaches for the work and preparation they had last week, our players for finding a way to win on a really sloppy field, sloppy conditions and tough, but fun at the same time. I thought it was a really, really good performance.
Defensively getting the ball back for us four times. Offensively controlling the ball and running the clock in the periods where we didn't have the wind. Basically playing in a 30-mile-an-hour wind with the rain in your face, that was a huge deal.
The special teams play, to get us a touchdown on special teams with Pharaoh and Dexter. Just great to be in a game like that, find a way to win. Now to have three wins in a row, get to go play the best team in our conference right now, a team that has a tremendous coaching staff, tremendous personnel and a great environment.
Looking forward to the opportunity, a chance to go on the road here and continue to try to get our best foot forward and get better as a football team.
I know last year in the Clemson game, one of the things that kept you guys close for so long was the ability to get some explosive plays downfield. Against a defense like that, that makes life difficult for you, how crucial is it that you're able to get some of those plays against Clemson?
Well, it helped last year. I think they're a better defense this year than they were last year. They gave up a lot of big plays against a lot of people last year. So did we. I think both defenses have spent a lot of time in the off-season trying to shore those things up. I think you're playing in a game that has two explosive offenses.
For us, we'd love to score fast. The bottom line is that's not easy to do on their defense. We're going to play as hard as we can. Biggest thing is we have to take care of the football. Can't give them a short field. We have the best punter in the ACC.
When Matt went down in that game last year, how much did that change the complexion of what you wanted to do offensively?
Well, we were different offensively last year. A couple weeks before that, we separated with Shad Thornton. We're out with him, we're out with Matt, you're down to your third-string back, that changes your offense dramatically when you're a run-first team like we were last year. It hurt us quite a bit to lose both of those play-makers at that point in the season.
Y'all have had only one road game this season. I don't know if Ryan Finley has been in any big-time road environments. Maybe BYU. How challenging do you think that's going to be for him to face an atmosphere like that?
Well, I mean, it's a great environment. I don't care where you've played. Right now they're the third ranked team in the country. They're going to have great fan support. Obviously homecoming probably adds to it.
One thing I like about Ryan, he's very smart, he's very poised. He knows where to go with the football. He's a guy that can get himself into a rhythm pretty quickly.
What he has been for the entire season, except for the Notre Dame game, where nobody could throw a ball, he's been very efficient. He just needs to be himself. He doesn't need to try to do any more than that. Just manage the game and the plays will be there for him.
Have you ever been involved in a game where the weather conditions were as adverse as they were last week against Notre Dame?
One other time. Played in the national championship game when I was at Montana against Georgia Southern in a game like that. It was very sloppy, very similar. It's tough. It's really hard to run your systems. There's a lot of balls on the ground. Just got to find a way to win.
Clemson has so many weapons on offense. Is trying to take away explosive plays and making the Tigers go on 10-plus play drives the best way?
You can't give them explosive plays. Shoot, they scored five touchdowns in 12 snaps last week. You can't live that way. They're outscoring their opponents 69-6 in the first quarter. They're out of the gate fast and explosive, tremendously talented. You can have them defended. Their guys are good players.
We've got to make plays when we're there like we have, we have to tackle well, make them earn what they get. Can't give them anything.
When you watch Clemson's defense on film, what jumps out at you?
First of all, their personnel is really good. They're aggressive in what they do schematically. Coach Venables has always been that way. Gives you a lot of things from a look standpoint, coverage shell, different pressures, does a nice job of moving things. It can look like this, they'll move, you have something else. He's good with that.
There's no weak links. There's 11 guys that are really, really good players that play hard and play in a good system.
Going into this game, you're undefeated in the ACC, tied for the lead in the ACC Atlantic, is that something you use as motivation going into this game?
No, it's not. I mean, there's so much of this season left, it's not the playoffs yet. This is our next game. All we're trying to do is be better than we were last week. That's all we're talking about. I'm not going to make this into something it isn't because there's a lot of football left in this season.
What do you think are the things your team needs to do to be at its best on Saturday and have a chance?
We got to be what we are. We got to be a balanced offense. We got to be able to run the football when we want to. We have to be explosive when the plays are there. We can't have a guy open and miss him. One shot, one kill mentality. If it's there, we got to take advantage of it.
Defensively we have to leverage the ball well. We've got to get turnovers for our offense. We call them takeaways, but you got to get the ball back. When you're on the road in a hostile environment, field position is critical. Getting takeaways defensively, not turning it over offensively, winning special teams, those are the things that will keep us in this game and give us a chance to win it in the fourth.
Take a look at Matt Dayes, what he's been able to do, the conditions to throw the ball weren't great this past week. He's had over a hundred yards on the ground. Your expectations of him going into the season and then obviously seeing that he has been everything that he's supposed to be from the outside looking in?
Yeah, Matt is a special player. He's a hard worker. He's a guy that prepares the right way. His linemen and tight ends play hard for him. They deserve some credit on that, as well.
He is what we thought he would be as far as his senior year. He's kind of picked up where he left off going into halftime at the Clemson game. He's a quick, explosive guy that has good vision and a really good skill set from a receiving standpoint and route running. He can do a lot of different things.
He's so quiet, don't understand how competitive he is. He is an uber competitive guy.
Going into this game, so much focus and publicity is on Clemson, what they can do. To look to your team, have that critical eye, what are you seeing from the team at this point at 4-1 that you feel are your best points and some of those areas that you're working on?
I think we've learned how to practice and understand the value of practice. We learned a tough lesson this year. We had a bad week of practice, we had a bad game. I think our guys as a team have bought into the process of what they have to do to be the best them, be the best team, just working every week really hard on finding the little things that we can improve, put on or take off the film to be a better version of ourselves the next week.
As I told them, in college football, if you play as well as you can play, don't beat yourself, there isn't anybody on your schedule that's unbeatable. Everybody else wants to talk about who we play, but it's more about how we play.
NC State Depth Chart
NOTE: *- Indicates a player has redshirted a season.
|2016 NC State Depth Chart|