AUDIO: Dave Doeren Press Conference
Starting with last week, proud of our players and our coaches. I thought we played a really hard game. I thought we coached and prepared our guys very well, and they executed in a lot of ways, and it was a tremendous football game. I thought we were really physical on defense, and it was just hard hitting, best tackling pursuit. Just a lot of really positive things. To get four takeaways, and they weren't just where they dropped a snap. I mean, we earned them. They were hard hits. They were good tackles. Two goal line stands.
We limited an explosive offense, so they had yards, but they didn't have explosive plays, and a lot of that was tackling, and I thought we ran the ball extremely well.
Offensively, we had some explosive plays that helped us in field position. At the end of the game, had two great drives. A 16-play drive, 16-play drive, where we overcame two drops in the red zone, and two penalties, and still were able to manufacture a touchdown there, and then to get the ball back, with six minutes plus on the clock, and drive down to set up a win. Couldn't ask for more against a great defense that they have.
Obviously, you'd love to say at the end of a game like that, that you get to enjoy, and savor the victory. We didn't get to do that, but at the end of the day, you can look back on the game. We only got ten points, and five red zone opportunities, and in those opportunities, we had seven penalties, two drops, and three missed field goal opportunities in the red zone, and both teams really, I thought red zone defense on both sides of the ball, was very good. Obviously, for us to have two goal line stands, and they had zero points in two of their drives down there. For us to get ten, that was the difference in the game.
At the end of the day, you want to say that you gave yourself a chance to win, and we did, and found a way to get it done, and that's kind of where we go from here. Kind of like in the Notre Dame game, we found a way to win in that game, and the standard is that we're going to be in those games, and we're going to find a way to win now, and so that's where we go from here. I thought our guys played hard. I thought they played tough, and I thought they played together, and I thought they did that for the duration of the game, and they had to overcome a lot of adversity, and hung in there, and stuck together, and same thing with our staff. I thought it was great.
Now we get to move onto another top ten team, and that gets eight days, just like Clemson did, to prepare for us, and get to play them on the road, so a great challenge in front of us, with tremendous Louisville football team, that had their chance to be undefeated, and they're playing so good on offense. It's statistically 52 points a game, and 627 yards a game, and the quarterback, Lamar Jackson, is playing at a tremendous level. People are there with two and three guys on him at times, and he's getting out of it, and it's like Michael Vick.
I mean, the guy is just unbelievable back there, athletically, and Coach Petrino is a good play caller. Has good personnel, big offensive line. James Quick, and Jamari Staples at receiver, are both averaging over 17 yards a catch a piece, and their tight end, number 18, Cole, is really playing well for them also in the passing game. Defensively, we can't lick our wounds. We played a really good game. We got to get back to it, and it's going to be a really, really good week of preparation on the defensive side of the ball for their offense.
Looking at their defense, they're very active. Coach Grantham is a very good football coach. Very sound. Gives you a lot of things to look at. I think they're similar to Clemson in some ways, with their coverage packages, but different in how they pressure, and they are quick twitch up front. I think, 99, James Hearns, is one of the better defensive linemen in the ACC. Really active, tough. Plays hard. His counterpart, Fields, is a quick twitch rush in, that also is disruptive. Their defensive tackle, number 14, Drew Bailey, we recruited here, and I really liked him out of junior college, and he's playing well. He's a quick twitch inside guy. Secondary, I think their corner, North Carolina native, Jaire Alexander, is really playing good ball for them. Back there making plays. Good return man, and then they have a physical linebacker that has made plays for years, and then Kelsey, and then the Georgia transfer at safety, Josh Harvey-Clemmons, a 6'5" safety that they use in the box, that's their leading tackler.
They're only giving up 17 points a game, and they're scoring 52, so we got a chance to go down there and play a really good team. Top 17. Our players are excited about the opportunity, and as much as it hurts to not get what you want out of a game, we know that we can't dwell on that. Our identity is moving forward, and we're not going to focus on what we don't have. We're going to focus on what we do, and we have an opportunity to go play a really good football team, and get back on the field tomorrow, and have a great practice, and get our first and second down game plans installed, and do everything we can to play a four quarter football game, or more, if that's what it comes to.
Do you think the players Sunday... how would they react... move on?
Yeah, they were angry. Disappointed. Mad. All the things you'd expect them to be, but they were really good about wanting to move forward, and I think that's ... They wish that we were playing that next game that day. I mean, they wanted to go play again, and that's the thing. I was ... They knew how close we were, and they knew that there were plays that we could have made, and I thought all of them did a good job, talking about things they could have all done, and wanting to move forward to our next game on the schedule, which is Louisville.
Really proud of their ability to move forward there.
How was Kyle Bambard?
He's like you would be. No one feels worse than Kyle, I can tell you that. He cares so much about our football team, and made that exact kick on Thursday.
We do a script on Thursday, like everyone, special teams, and the game-winning kick. Exact same kick, middle of the field, thirty-some yard field goal. Nailed it right down the middle, so I mean, it didn't go through. I told him, he's going to have his chance to redeem himself, and he's just got to stay positive, and work on what he can work on to get it right, and the players will be behind you.
It's where it was at, but we're not going to point fingers at a player, or a coach, or anybody else. There's a lot of plays in the game, and that was one of them.
You mentioned some of their staggering numbers on offense... did you pick up anything or watch the Duke game to figure out a way to slow them, Jackson down?
Yeah, maybe some rotten chicken at the meal Friday night would be good. Salmonella. He's a really good player. I mean, Duke did a good job, but he still made some crazy plays on Duke. I mean, he did. There was a play where he went this way, and then this way, and then this way, and spun back out. I mean, he's going to do that. It's what he does.
He's really good. You just got to limit how many times he can do it.He's got 15 passing touchdowns, and 15 rushing touchdowns in 6 games. Pretty impressive.
You mentioned the standard is now to be in those kind of games. As painful as it was, was that important for this program?
I don't think so. Winning that game would be an important moment. Losing that game just is a reminder of how close you are. I don't take any solace in losing. Period. I'm not going to do that.
What did you think has been your overall best area of defensive improvement since ECU?
Leverage and tackling, probably those two things. We lost leverage for guys that we trying to play their gap, and then jump in someone else's gap, and then the ball would go through. Know what I mean? That happened multiple times in the ECU game. I think it's just fundamentals. Responsibility of not trying to do too much. Just do what you can do, and trust the guy next to you.
Our problem was not scheme against ECU. It was execution, and I think there was a lot of things that happen in a game when you don't play well. You know you got to change this, change that. No. We just need to do what we do better, and do it the way we did it in practice leading up to that game. That's how it always is.
How important is it that defensive line remains solid against a team like Louisville?
Yeah, I mean, you have to be gap sound. You have to be drive, quarterback, pitch, in some cases, or bubble, or screen, or whatever the heck going on out there, and sometimes it's an RPO, with a slant, or a down the field throw off of a run, so anytime you play a form of the option, which is what this is, they're reading players.
You have to be extremely disciplined, and then you got to tackle, and you got to leverage tackle, so that if you miss him, you miss him back to your pursuit, and that's what this kid does so well. He gets outside of the leverage a lot, and then he's fast enough to run away from everybody.
Depending on the choice, but do you prefer to have this type of challenge the week after such a tough game?
I don't know. I mean, I want to go win is what I want to go do, so I mean, whoever they put there, we're going to play them. They didn't ask me, so that's how it is.
The procedural penalties... the false starts, sas that the environment? Was that Clemson moving around? Because if your Bobby Petrino and you're sitting here going, "Well, if Clemson did it, I'm going to do it.
I think first of all, it's focus, because we practiced. I mean, you couldn't hear in our indoor when we practiced, and we showed all those looks, and we used the same mechanics that we used in the game, and we're not going to say we didn't have problems. There were guys that, at times, would jump off sides, but it wasn't like that, so some of it's focus.
Some of it's your nerves maybe. I don't think it's anything that Clemson did. I mean, they stemmed their front. We knew that. They did that on film before we played them, and we practiced them stemming their front, so it's just getting through that, and Louisville did the same thing at Clemson. I mean, it's hard there. We didn't do it at all in the second half.
I mean, it was all in the first quarter almost, so unfortunately, we had to go through that. I know our players were upset at themselves about it, because it was something that we worked hard at.
Does that detract from the effort of the offensive line? You have those two driver, a lot of that is on the outside line?
I think as an offense, those guys would be the first ones to stand up, and I know they did that yesterday. A lot of those guys were talking about things they could have done better, and things they're going to do better.
Like I said, I mean, we moved the ball at will into the red zone, and get down there, we'd have a chop block penalty, or a false start penalty. Seven of them in the red zone. I mean, that's hard to score when that's going on, and there's a facemask penalty that didn't get called that would have been big for us too, on third and nineteen. That would have put it first and goal, inside the ten.
Jay Sam's long screen that we got, the illegal cut, which was illegal. That would have put us inside the ten. I mean, those were two red zone opportunities that we don't get to talk about now, so to me, when you're playing a game like that, I call them moments of truth, or opportunistic moments.
We got to capitalize on those moments. We can't beat ourselves there. We didn't, obviously, beat ourselves with a no call on the face mask, but you need some of those things to go your way in a game like that, and it just didn't. We had the one chop block penalty, which we got to coach better, and then you got to hope that they can see a deal like that, at the point of attack.
Every school has fans that are going to be upset after a loss, not just NC State, but when the fans say things like they have to Bambard, and they do say things like that, what's your take on that? What's your reaction to that?
Yeah, I think I would just ask them to pretend that he's their son for a minute. He's a kid that's trying to do the best that he can, that cares deeply about our football team, and it wasn't intentional.
It was something we all wished was different, but to be negative like that to a kid, in my opinion, is ... I don't get it. I don't get it. Hide behind your Twitter account, and say stuff about kids like that. I don't get it, but that's the world we're living in right now.
Jay Sam said you guys didn't watch the game back as a team?
We didn't, no. A lot of the guys, yeah. A lot of the guys had watched it, obviously, playing early, and there were several plays that we were watching to make sure we fix certain things, but to sit there and go through the entire thing, we felt like the best thing was to move forward, and correct the things we needed to correct, but not dwell on something like that, because we played as hard as we could, and put ourselves in an opportunity where we could have won, and needed to fix the little things that we needed to talk about, and we did that, and moved right on to the next team.
Can you remember a time in your four years of doing that?
Not here, but I have done that before, yeah.