Going back to our game at Syracuse, I was really proud of our players and coaches. After going on the road and getting a good team win I thought both sides really helped each other in the game. The offense, controlling the clock the way they did, 41 minutes time of possession and establishing the run game but also being explosive in the pass game with Nyheim having a deep ball, Kelvin having a deep ball, some of the things we were able to do there.
Our screen game with Bra'lon having some good runs after the catch, Matt hitting his seventh 100-yard game and three touchdowns in the run game and Ryan having another 300-yard passing game. I thought he really showed some toughness in the pocket, took some hits and made some really good throws on third down. Some guys made some tough catches for him.,. Nyheim and Bra'lon both.
Defensively, anytime you can hold someone to one yard per carry, have two sudden-change stops, one of them a key stop there after the blocked punt. I thought that we really played well in the fourth quarter pressuring their quarterback.
It's an offense, it's hard to get to their quarterback... so the coverage tightened as we hoped it would late in the game and we finished.
I think that's the big thing. Anytime you go on the road and play a game you've got to be able to stop the run. You've got to build a ... Manage the clock against a team like that and our guys did that. It was great to get a win and feel good yesterday. Feel good in the locker room after the game and get back on track.
Coming into this week a very important week for our football team with it being our Senior Week, last home game at Carter Finley, fourteen really special guys Bra'lon Cherry, Niles Clark, Matt Dayes, Clark Eyers, Ben Grazen, Connor Haskins, Bryce Kennedy, Monty Nelson, Joe Scelfo, Josh Sessoms, Josh Taylor, Jack Tocho, John Tu'uta and Dravious Wright. Guys that have been here the whole time I have that have worked really hard. That are really really good people.
As a coach to me it always has meant a lot just going back to even when I was a player I remember my last game in college and almost every snap of it, and I want to send these kids out the right way. It's a great challenge to do that against a very good Miami football team.
We ask our fans to please come and support our seniors and their families and give them that ... That opportunity as they come out on the field to feel Carter-Finley and be able to share that moment with them. It's a very emotional moment as a player to have that kind of closure in your playing career to know that you'll never play in that stadium again.
I think it's emotional. It's personal. It's special and I know our fans will be there to support them and I ask them to be there to do that.
For our parents of our seniors thank you for all you've done throughout it and I know it's a special week for your sons and so as coaches we've talked with our team and asked them the same thing. To play with everything they have. The coaches, everything we have, to give our players the best chance they can to win in this football game and for our guys to play the way they know they're capable.
Talking about Miami, they're a very explosive athletic team as you would expect them to be. I think Coach Richt and his staff have done a really nice job. They're playing some young players on defense but they're really playing well. Second in the conference in scoring defense and they're multiple. They bring a lot of pressures. They do a lot with the guys they have and Coach Diaz we know is a very good defensive coach.
Offensively they're not doing a ton, but they're doing it really well and scoring a lot of points and they're second to last in the league in time of possession but they're scoring over 30 points a game so you know they're explosive if you're doing that. If you're scoring that many points and not having the ball very long. You're scoring quickly.
They are playing with some tempo which we've seen a lot this year. Brad Kaaya, obviously he's one of the better throwing quarterbacks in the ACC and he has good weapons. Their tailbacks I think are outstanding players. Their tight ends are both athletic. They've got a bunch of different receivers as Miami always does.
Defensively it's one of the better defensive fronts depth wise. They rotate a lot of guys and they're very productive when they do it. They're very young at linebacker but those guys have been playing every game this season so they've got eleven games or ten games under their belt there at that position and their corner, Corn Elder I think is a great player. He's their leading tackler as a corner and makes a lot of plays in the backfield. When they play cover two he's involved in the run game so look forward to the opportunity to play against a really good football team, well coached football team and a special day for our players.
How much do you address bowl eligibility with that being within reach?
You really don't have to bring it up. I think the guys know. Obviously it's a chance to get bowl eligible this week. We've got two more opportunities to do that and we've been talking about that for a long time so it's really more about our seniors.
You scored four touchdowns in five red zone trips. What do you attribute the success there to?
Execution, being able to get on the edge and take advantage of some looks and block it the right way. Should have had five you know I was disappointed in the turnover down there but really a lot of the times when you look at what happens down there whether it's offensively or defensively you have to execute on both sides of the ball at a high level to score touchdowns in the red zone.
The windows are tighter to throw the football so being able to run it, we haven't been as good up the middle down there so to be able to get on the perimeter some, which we did at times helped us and the schemes that I thought we ran were beneficial to our players down there.
You mentioned Manny Diaz and you got to see him in the bowl game.
That's true. Yeah.
... At Mississippi State, is that ... Do you see a lot of similarities, the same things, the same schemes?
Yeah. I mean the DNA of what he did is who he is. He's an aggressive coach, does a lot of different things, a very sound coach. You know his guys play hard for him so obviously he was at Mississippi State longer so there was more volume but they're doing a lot for him being only there for one year. They're doing a lot of stuff.
Miami is plus six in turnovers...
Is this a gambling defense? What do you see on film?
They've only turned it over ten times which is unbelievable. One turnover or less per game and that to me is good as you can be on offense if you're averaging that few so they're helping their turnover margin without turning it over.
Defensively they're just, they're fast like you'd expect Miami to be. They're getting a lot of people to the ball. They're aggressive so they're creating opportunities that way but only turning it over ten times it's impressive. They've played some really good teams like we have so they're seeing some good defenses.
You mentioned you tried to get the ball on the edge inside the twenty with your running game, is that why you put Matt in at the wildcat?
No. We just felt like that was another way to create some misdirection and have some plus-one runs. We've done that throughout the year. We had a wildcat package with Matt early and then we had it with Jalan and then it's just a different look that the offensive staff came up with that they thought would be good for us and it was.
When you got hired and you had the spring recruiting some of the guys ... These seniors are some of the guys that you ended up getting or holding onto, when you think back to that time meeting those guys, convincing them to come to NC State, how crazy was it and is it a little emotional seeing them now four years later moving on?
Yeah. It is. I mean regardless of whether I recruited them or not when you're coaching a kid in his last game it's emotional and I treat our seniors no different whether I recruited them or not. They're seniors. They deserve to be treated as a senior that's put a lot of time in here. Whether I got him for two of his years or all four of his years or five of his years, he's invested those amount of years into NC State, just like NC State's invested in him.
He deserves that respect and I treat him that way and not all these guys, very few of them no matter who you are what class you're in are going to continue to play. That's just how it works so it's a special deal when we walk through that tunnel for the last time and like I said I want to have a special week for them.
I want to hug them in the locker room after the game. End with a smile on their face in knowing that they won. It means a lot to me as a coach.
Cherry, Harmon, Hines you're getting, the stat lines are good in the receiving game. You're getting plays from them. What do you like about what you're getting from your receivers?
We're getting some explosive plays from multiple guys and I think that's the one thing, Kelvin had the big one, Nyheim got behind him on third and long. Cherry's been a good run after the catch guy all year. Steph has been a guy who's caught some balls over twenty yards and done some things down the field as well. I think that's the thing you like.
You don't just have, some teams you play you're hey there's their big play guy, the rest of them we can just sit on them. Right? We've got several guys that are getting the ball down the field and making plays and that helps. In my opinion that helps a lot because the quarterback can look at match ups and pick a different guy and not have to rely on one player.
Matt's been pretty consistent in saying he's wanted to rush for a thousand yards for his linemen...
Well half his yards are after contact so Matt's just the kind of guy I don't mind people bragging about him. That's just how he is but I think once we get past that milestone a lot more will be talked about. You know what I mean but he wants to put all the kudos on his linemen and that's what a good back probably should do.
We all know how talented Matt is and some of the runs like even Saturday, they had safeties sitting there unblocked and he made them miss. It's a combination of great blocking and his instincts in being able to make people miss that gets him the yards that he has.
It would be great for Matt. It would be great for our program. It would be great for everybody involved for him to have that milestone.
Seeing you guys are number one rushing defense in the ACC right now at ninety nine yards a game.
You've got a pretty experienced offensive line. Is that kind of along the games within the game this week?
Well everything starts for us with rushing defense. We want to make them one dimensional if we can but we have to be cognizant of our match ups outside and when we can help those guys and get a guy in the middle of the field or over the top.
If Miami can run the ball, and their tailbacks are outstanding, they've got two of them. It really doesn't matter who's in the game. They're both really good. We're not going to be very good on defense if they're able to run the ball up and down the field so we have to be able to defend the run game first and we've seen a lot of good backs. Seen a lot of good run game this year and just got to do what we've done. We've played those teams well.
Obviously Florida State was probably the best we've played against, a great team in the run game to be able to do that. The challenge is big and Miami's got good offensive linemen. They're like us. They're beat up a little bit up front and so I don't know who ... Their center and their left tackle were out last week. I think their center's out for the year. I don't know how long their left tackle's out. They have decent depth with older players that have moved into those spots. It's going to be a great battle up front. It's going to be physical.