RALEIGH, N.C. — The Deacs dug themselves a 17-0 first-quarter hole from which they were never able to recover.
The North Carolina State Wolfpack (3-1, 1-0) passed for 177 yards to gain an early advantage in a 33-16 victory over Wake Forest (4-1, 1-1) at Carter-Finley Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson addressed the media after the first Demon Deac defeat of the season.
On getting two yards on 4th-and-3, with a chance to make it a one-score game
Clawson: “Those plays make me sick. You never want to catch a ball short of a first down on third or fourth down. They were in man coverage and that was one of those quick slants. You have to get yards after the catch. Those are the plays that make you sick, because there’s no point in throwing a two-yard ball on 4th-and-3. We had to fall forward and get that extra yard, but we didn’t do it.”
On NC State immediately answering with a touchdown
Clawson: “Yeah. That’s the game right there. If you go in there and score, even a field goal, it’s a one-score game. It goes from you’re driving to make it a one-score game, to they score and make it a three-score game. At that point, with six minutes left, we weren’t going to score three times so we put Kyle (Kearns) in to make sure we have John (Wolford) for next week.”
On Tabari Hines big game
Clawson: “When Tabari plays with confidence and plays with an edge, he’s a good player. I think part of it that we haven’t thrown the ball a lot. We’ve run the ball a lot. They were defending us in a way that he had a good matchup. When they bracket us, we’re going to run the ball. When they give us single coverage, we’re going to throw it. That’s the nature of the slot. If they remove two guys, you have good run numbers, if they remove one then you’ve got a good matchup. He won his matchup today and made some good plays. Hopefully that’s something to build on for our passing game. I thought Cortez (Lewis) played well. Tabari, Cortez, Chucky (Wade) — those are three veteran guys, but they’re all sophomores. Scotty (Washington) and Steven (Claude) — as those guys grow up, they will have to be our go-to guys, and they stepped up and made plays today. That will help us moving forward.”
On what he things he learned about his team in the loss
Clawson: “I don’t know if I learned this about our team, but our team competes. Whether it was falling down 7-0 at Duke, 7-0 at Indiana, or 17-0 here, our guys always battle back and they always play. I thought there was almost too much emotion to start the game. Our guys were talking more than they should. They were yapping more. We’re going to play in other big games in front of other big crowds. We have to be who we are. I like who we our. Our kids play hard, they play the right way. We have to play within ourselves and be who we are and not try to be somebody else because it’s a bigger crowd or a bigger stage.”
On John Wolford’s play (Dan Collins made assertion that he didn’t look sharp)
Clawson: “I thought he played really well, Dan. It’s not like he could set his feet. He was making a lot of off-balance throws. We became one-dimensional and they were pinning their ears back. Did he miss some throws? Yeah, but anytime you throw it 41 times — he completed almost 60 percent of his throws. You’d say if John doesn’t play the way he does, we’re probably not in the game. I thought he avoided sacks, converted that one 3rd-and-16 with his feet. Was he perfect? No. Did he miss some throws? A handful. I thought overall he played well. He dropped more balls today that probably all year.”
On being able to play Duke and IU, but not NC State
Clawson: “They are one of the most gifted teams we play every year. They have a huge defensive line, good linebackers, and active secondary. On offensive they have skill on skill on skill, and now they have a quarterback. They did last year too. It’s two good quarterbacks in a row for them. They’re a good team. They’re probably a little bit ahead of us now, but I thought our guys competed hard. I thought this was a game we probably had to win the turnover battle, get a kickoff return for a touchdown. On special teams, I thought the return game really hurt us today. Three times we started with the ball inside the 10 yard line because of mishandled kicks or fumbling it. That was embarrassing that we didn’t handle kickoffs at all. We’re not good enough to start drives inside the 10 yard line. I’m not sure anybody is, but we’re certainly not.”
On Josh Harris and Phil Haynes
Clawson: “He (Haynes) could have gone back in. He was cleared, but then it was a three-score game. Why risk anything? We play seven straight games. I think N.C. State will tell you there’s a benefit to having a bye week. He (Harris) sprained his ankle and we’ll see what happens.”
On when the NC State penalties piled up if there was a sense they had the chance to come back all the way
Clawson: “Yes. I think when we had the ball on their side of the ball down 10 in the 4th quarter, 1st-and-10 — that was our opportunity to get right back in that game. You convert the 4th down and score a touchdown there, who knows? It’s a three-point game at home when they’ve given up a big lead. Things get tight. We didn’t convert and they’re playing with a two-score lead and can play loose and take shots. They drove it right down the field.”
On if there are concerns with how the team will respond to the first loss
Clawson: “Internally, there’s always. . . The good thing is we didn’t experience failure until the fifth game. That’s a positive. Tomorrow will be the first Sunday where we’ve lost. We can’t have guys hanging their heads. We have a big game next Saturday with Syracuse coming to town. It will be a very good football game, and they are going up and down the field scoring in bunches against everybody. We don’t have time to feel sorry about ourselves.”