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Dave Doeren’s Weekly Press Conference Before Clemson: BULLETED

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NC State Head Football Coach Dave Doeren met with the media yesterday for his weekly press conference prior to the Wolfpack’s Top-10 matchup against #5 Clemson this Saturday. You can watch it here, or check out a breakdown of what he had to say below.

Opening Statement

  • Against UConn, really proud of our team…played really hard…were prepared.
  • We challenged our guys throughout the week to be in the moment…to work on us…not overlook an opponent…not let our guard down…be present and own the opportunity.
  • Our team showed maturity, which was something that we needed to do.
  • Our Texas Tech win looks even more impressive now, seeing what they did.
    • Congrats to Coach McGuire on his win over Texas.
  • From an offensive standpoint, we started fast.
    • I don’t know if you can start faster than that…great throw from Devin Leary to Thayer Thomas.
  • One of the goals we had was to be better after the catch, better after contact…wanted more yards after contact, yards after catches.
  • Devin Carter answered that, Thayer Thomas, Keyon Lesane, Demie Sumo-Karngbaye.
    • Michael Allen and Delbert Mimms got in the mix there, so it was a lot of guys who took that to heart.
  • Devin Leary played fast…made quick decisions, distributed the ball. He was accurate.
    • He obviously had one that he would like to have back there which was a turnover before the half. He’ll learn from that.
  • It’s nice when you don’t have to punt.
    • I don’t know if I’ve had a game like that as the head coach, so that was really nice to be able to end every possession without having to punt the football.
  • One thing we did a great job of was manage 3rd downs.
    • We had manageable down-and-distances which means you did well on 1st and 2nd, but that’s your down-and-distance management.
    • When you do that the right way, it makes coach Tim Beck’s job easier, and the kids performed better in 3rd-and-1, 3rd-and-2, and 3rd-and-3.
  • Negatively [Offensively], we had some penalties: 2 pre-snap on guys and 1 on our staff…12 men on the field trying to substitute a guy out, and we didn’t get that done in a fast enough fashion for the officials.
    • We had 2 sacks we probably could have avoided with throwaways, and we had 2 drops that were probably catchable.
  • Defensively, we had 8 3-and-outs and 2 4th-down stops.
    • We stopped the run.
    • They had 0 explosive plays in their pass game, and I thought we tackled well with the 1’s and 2’s.
  • It got sloppy at the end of the game where we put in a bunch of young guys, and they looked like they were young guys.
    • It was good to get them that game experience, but the product wasn’t very good. That’s something that they’ll learn a lot from and hopefully be better for the next time they get out there.
  • On special teams, Chris Dunn continues to be very, very good for us, and I was happy with Collin Smith with his kickoffs.
    • It was nice for him to get in and play a little bit as our kicker, too. He had a nice field goal and kicked off well.
  • Our punt return scheme could have blocked better for Thayer.
    • We had 1 opportunity, and I feel like we need to do a better job there.
  • The fake field goal, I’ll take the credit for that.
    • UConn did a nice job. It wasn’t what we thought we were going to get. It wasn’t what they showed us. They did a nice job of not rushing off the edge that they had been the entire game. Kudos to them for that.
  • As far as this week, I’m excited for the game. It’s a great matchup against a very talented group with an experienced, talented staff.
  • I’ve got great respect for Coach Dabo Swinney and his program. We look forward to playing a great team.
  • It’s 2 Top-10 teams competing on a national stage, and that’s why we do this.
  • The kids have worked hard. The staff has worked hard, and we expected to be in this position. We expected to be 4-0 going to Clemson.
  • We’ll continue to focus on us. I think the path that has gotten us here is the path that we’ll continue to stay on.
    • It’s individual and collective improvement through great practice, great meetings, and taking care of business.
  • We will focus on our opponent and know those guys, but more importantly, we need to know what we need to get better at and get it done.
  • We’re playing at a great venue. It’s the longest home winning streak in college football. We know the crowd will be into it. It’ll be loud.
  • When you talk about them, it starts with their defensive front.
    • They’re really, really talented…great rotation on the D-line. They’re skilled and big.
    • They’ve done a nice job of recruiting those types of guys, developing them, and coaching them, and they put them in positions to be successful.
  • At linebacker, Trenton Simpson, is a really good football player.
    • He’s a sideline-to-sideline guy and a really, really good player.
  • They’ve played a lot of guys in the secondary.
    • I know they’ve had some injuries there.
    • They have good length at corner. You can see that they’re not doing a ton of things.
  • They’re probably less multiple than they’ve been, and guys are playing hard.
  • They just had a tough game against Wake Forest, but I have a lot of respect for Mike Reed and I know he’ll have his guys ready.
  • Offensively, their Offensive Line has stayed healthy.
    • They’ve played the same five guys in all four games.
    • They’re better than they were a year ago.
  • Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei is maybe the most improved part of their offense.
    • He’s playing with more poise…he’s accurate…definitely giving his guys a chance on deep balls.
  • His receivers, he’s got 2 guys who are long and making plays for him.
    • Beaux Collins has gotten 4 touchdowns.
  • Not surprising to see Will Shipley playing the way that he is.
    • I have great respect for Will. He’s competitive, he’s talented, and he’s got a lot of great spirit and demeanor.

How significant it is to have his team in the Top-10 for the 1st time in 20 years

  • It’s not for me. It’s significant for our team. It’s for our university and our alumni. It’s great.
  • We’ve worked really hard to move ourselves up in the national footprint of this sport. It’s taken a lot of time, blood, sweat, tears, and commitment from a lot of people.
  • I know that it’s not a stationary spot either. You go up and down based on your performance, but you still have to get to that spot, and we’ve worked hard to get there.
  • We’re going to embrace the opportunity being there.
  • We know a lot comes with it, so I think it’s something to celebrate for sure.
  • It’s not something to say ‘we’ve arrived,’ yet because the rankings at the end of the season matter a lot more than they do at the end of the 4th week, but 20 years is a long time. I think it’s something that should be noted.
  • I think it’s something that people should be excited about. I’m proud of our players. 3 years ago, we were 4-8. These guys have worked really hard to get our football team where it is right now

Preparing for inclement weather due to Hurricane 

  • We’re going to have to have wet balls.
  • I’ve been through the hurricane situation before.
  • I hope we don’t have to play in something like the Notre Dame game in 2016. That was nuts.
  • We’ll be prepared if it is raining.
  • Hopefully, it won’t be one of those things that has devastation that comes with it either.
    • Sometimes, these things fizzle out. Sometimes, they get pretty strong, so we’ll just have to see where it goes.
  • We’ll plan for the worst and hope for the best.
  • We do have to have plans on travel. If we can’t fly, then how are we going to get there?

3rd Down against Clemson

  • 3rd down on both sides of the ball is going to be a huge thing.
  • Last year, when we won this game, we had roughly 42 minutes of time of possession, and that’s because we were successful on defense on 3rd down, and we were successful on offense on 3rd down.
    • Those things lead to time of possession which is a big deal when you are playing an explosive offense like Clemson’s.
  • Giving yourself favorable down-and-distances on both sides of the ball.
    • It’s trying to get them behind the chains and us trying to keep ourselves from being behind the chains.

Running tempo vs. UCONN

  • We did mix it up a little bit more.
  • Some of that is just a game flow thing for Coach Beck, too.
    • When he sees the defense is tired and he wants to step on them that way, then he’ll do that.
  • Some of it is our defense.
    • If we’re playing a lot of snaps, we’ve got to be smart.
    • You don’t want to go out there and run tempo for 3 plays and go 3-and-out when your defense is tired.
    • It’s complementary football.
  • We’ve been basically going 3-and-out, 3-and-out, 3-and-out on defense. They were rested.
    • Tim knew he could play at whatever tempo he wanted.

Has Demie Sumo exceeded expectations?

  • No, I think he’s right where I’d hoped he was going to be.
  • You’ve heard me talk about it for a year, so I don’t need to repeat it all.
    • Until you get into live games, you don’t know.
  • This is what I thought we would have watching him and how he played in practice.
  • He’s very talented…hard to tackle…good vision…patient…can catch…tough.
  • He’s in a good spot. We’ve just got to keep him growing. He’s still learning. Each week, he gets a little bit better.

Value of experienced players going against Clemson

  • You need guys like that linebacking group in particular, some of the D-linemen, our receivers Thayer and Carter.
  • We’ve got a lot of guys that have played football. That’s good.
    • They’ve been in big games. They’ve won big games.
  • They bring a calmness to the locker room. They’re talking the right way.
  • These are things they believe, and they can talk to their teammates and show good leadership.
  • They can be calm in the midst of a storm and get guys to settle down if they need to.
  • That experience is something that I value a lot because I’ve had teams that were the opposite.
  • You’ve just got to, when you have it, ride the wave with it.

Biggest game in his tenure…in program history

  • I don’t know. I’ll let you guys figure that out. I haven’t studied 35 years of games, so I don’t want to speak out of turn on that.
  • In my 10 years, I would say probably so.
  • As far as the history, that’s a long time. I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes with that answer.

Handling the hype

  • Enjoy the moment, enjoy the stage, and enjoy the opportunity that’s in front of you, but that’s now what this week is about.
  • This week’s about winning a game, and how do you win a game?
    • By having the best Tuesday practice of the season, and then getting the right food in your body, getting treatment, going to class, getting rest, and having a great Wednesday.
    • We have to stack things on top of each other all week.
  • We need to win the game way before the game is played with our players and our staff.
    • That’s what we’re focusing on, and don’t spend your time on your phone reading about how great the game is going to be.
    • Let’s focus on watching film. Let’s focus on 1st down, 2nd down, 3rd down and red zone, all the things that we have to be good at.
    • Let’s focus on the game plan.
  • The guys understand that there are a lot of things that can get you distracted in a week like this.
    • We’re trying not to look at it as that.

Has Thayer Thomas’ career exceeded expectations?

  • There’s no way I could have sat there in that game and told you that he was going to have the career he has had.
  • I thought he’d be a good player. I knew he would help us. I had no idea.
  • At that time, he weighed like 150 pounds. You couldn’t have predicted what he is now.
  • You have to give Thayer the credit. The guy is the hardest working player on this football team.
  • He does everything right off the field. He spends so much time on his body. He was just in the training room now.
  • He’s always doing things to be in peak condition. He eats right. He sleeps right.
  • He watches extra film. He practices as hard as any guy in that locker room, if not harder.
  • It’s not a surprise that he’s successful when you think about all the things he does right.
  • I’m glad he came back because I think he’s really putting an exclamation point on what was already a good career right now.
  • He’s blue collar, man. He works. He’s a grinder. He’s an overachiever, and he’s talented.
  • He’s definitely an incredible representative of the DNA of our program.

Preparation for Notre Dame in 2016 in Hurricane weather

  • We prepared for if we weren’t gonna be able to throw a pass, thinking, “How were we gonna win?” We talked about things like that.
  • We practiced with wet balls.
  • We’re just going to have to do similarly to be ready for that and those conditions.
  • I hope it’s not like that. That was terrible.
    • We were standing in water that was calf-deep on the sideline with sideways rain.

Value of watching last year’s game vs. Clemson with all their new coaches

  • Yeah, I watched last year’s game.
  • Offensively, it’s the same.
    • Coach Brandon Streeter is very similar to what they were.
    • Their personnel is very similar on offense, so you can look at last year’s game on that side of the ball.
  • Defensively, I think they’ve changed more than they have offensively, but player-wise, it helps to go back and see who gave us problems and how they attacked us.
    • I know they’re going to study that as well, so it’s an important piece, but you do have to base more of it on the 4 games this year when you are looking at the defense.

Importance of getting Shyheim Battle back vs. UCONN

  • We wanted to get him back in there. It was good to see him.
  • He had a great 4th-down stop when he came in.
  • We had a rotation with all 4 corners.
  • We only played 42 snaps on defense.
  • Those guys all played 20-something each. It was good to get them all in there.
  • Teshaun Smith got some good reps in that game as well. I think that’s a healthy rotation for us.

Growth of Clemson QB D.J. Uiagalelei

  • He’s endured a lot of criticism.
  • His completion rate is up.
  • He’s throwing good deep balls.
    • A lot of times a year ago, he was overthrowing guys, and now guys have chances to make plays.
  • You can see that his chemistry is good with his receivers. He’s throwing them deep. He’s throwing back-shoulder to guys, and his guys are making better plays for him, too.
    • That’s part of this that gets lost sometimes. Quarterbacks take the heat, but there’s guys dropping passes all over the field that could have changed the game. That changes the quarterback, too.
  • A lot has been said about his body transformation.
    • Until I’m right there with him, it will be hard for me to comment on that, but they say that he’s lost weight, and he’s more mobile.
  • He’s playing good. He’s got people hanging all over him.
  • That 2-point play last week was a huge play that he made.
    • There was a play in the Georgia Tech game on 3rd down that was in a similar situation.
    • He finds the back and shovels it to him with people hanging all over him. It was a critical play in that game that kind of busted the game open.

Matthew is Co-Owner of Pack Insider. He writes for all sports, with a focus on football and recruiting, and is in charge of business strategy. He is an NC State alum who majored in business. Matthew is also the lead pastor of The Point Church in Cary, NC.

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NC State Football

NC State’s Dylan McMahon was One of the Best Offensive Linemen at the NFL Combine

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NC State’s Dylan McMahon participated in the 2024 NFL Combine yesterday with the rest of the Offensive Linemen, and I don’t care where he is currently projected in mock drafts…McMahon was one of the best big fellas at the Combine.

McMahon ranked in the Top-10 in 4 of the 5 events, and in the Top-5 in 3 of them.

3-Cone – 7.26 seconds (2nd)
Shuttle – 4.33 seconds (2nd)
Broad Jump – 9’7″ (4th)
Vertical – 33.0″ (8th)
40 Yard Dash – 5.10 seconds (20)

Heading into yesterday’s activities, 28 Offensive Linemen had recorded a 4.47 second Shuttle Run since 2010. 24 of them went on to be drafted. All 24 of them went on to start 84% of their NFL games.

Yesterday, 6 Offensive Linemen joined the club, and McMahon was one of them.

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NC State Football

New Jersey Numbers to Get to Know on the NC State Football Roster

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There are a lot of new numbers with different last names above them on NC State’s Football roster. Whether it’s new players or players changing their jersey numbers, check out the new numbers on the NC State Football roster.

Changed Numbers

RS JR WR Jakolbe Baldwin – 32 –> 84

SR LB – Devon Betty – 26 –> 8

SO CB Brandon Cisse – 25 –> 2

RS JR WR Dacari Collins – 86 –> 4

RS SR DE Red Hibbler – 47 –> 4

RS JR RB Jordan Poole – 33 –> 3

SO RB Kendrick Raphael – 20 –> 0

New Player Numbers

FR WR Terrell Anderson – 80

FR QB Cedrick Bailey – 16

FR CB Jivan Baly – 22

FR S Brody Barnhardt – 29

FR DE Chase Bond – 92

FR CB Jimmar Boston – 21

FR NIC Asaad Brown Jr. – 26

SR CB Corey Coley – 6

RS FR NIC Tamarcus Cooley – 15

SR C Zeke Correll – 56

RS JR TE Dante Daniels – 87

RS SO OL Val Erickson – 54

JR WR Wesley Grimes – 6

FR WR Keenan Jackson – 82

JR TE Justin Joly – 15

FR RB Isiah Jones – 26

FR LB Cannon Lewis – 33

JR CB Devon Marshall – 16

FR OL Robby Martin – 50

SR QB Grayson McCall – 2

FR OL Trent Mitchell – 60

FR LB Joshua Ofor – 28

RS FR WR Noah Rogers – 5

FR RB Duke Scott – 24

RS FR RB Hollywood Smothers – 20

SR RB Jordan Waters – 7

FR LB Zane Williams – 35

JR LB Wyatt Wright – 25

FR WR Christian Zachary – 83

 

 

 

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NC State’s Brandon Cisse is Embracing the Competition for the Starting Job

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With Shyheim Battle headed to the NFL Draft, there is a starting Cornerback position open in NC State’s defense.

Sophomore Brandon Cisse believes competition brings out the best in everyone, and he recognizes it’s his time to step up.

“This year I have a lot more confidence. I trust my skillset a lot more. Stepping into a bigger role. Competing for the starting job,” said Cisse. “Everyday knowing my talent. This year, the biggest step is football IQ, knowing everyone’s job, and not just mine. I think that’s the biggest strength of my game.”

Earlier this week, Wolfpack Defensive Coordinator Tony Gibson said there is competition for starting roles all across the NC State defense, and one of those spots is at Cornerback across from Aydan White.

On Tuesday, when the media was allowed to view the first hour of practice, Cisse was running with the 1’s opposite of White. Now, who is running with the 1’s on the opening day of Spring Practice isn’t necessarily an accurate projection of who the staff thinks will start come September. I would expect that Maryland transfer Corey Coley is competing hard with Cisse for the job, but he just recently arrived on campus, and is new to the Wolfpacks defensive scheme.

With that being said, Gibson also mentioned that Cisse had 2 picks in 1-on-1’s one day this week.

“The good thing with Brandon (Cisse), is he’s very very smart. He played in our Dime package a year ago. He transitioned to Nickel sometimes midweek during practice. We felt good if we needed to use him in a game there,” said Gibson. “He’s very smart. He’s football savvy. He can play Corner. He can play Nickel. He can do a lot of things for us. The first two days watching him, he had a couple of picks in 1-on-1’s yesterday. Expecting big things out of him.”

As a prominent feature of the Wolfpack’s Dime package in 2023, Cisse played 148 snaps as a True Freshman, which speaks of how highly the coaches thought of him.

When asked this week if he was ever nervous about possibly being the next man up last season, from his perspective, he wouldn’t have flinched.

“I was never nervous. I was ready to step into that role,” said Cisse. “I was learning from those guys, but it wasn’t going to be a big change if I had to go in. I was confident in my game. I knew what I was capable of.”

Cisse knows he is in a competition for the starting job, but he is embracing the competition.

“Competition brings the best out of everybody. Everyday you don’t want to come in and have a bad day,” said Cisse. “Everyday you want to come and put your best play on tape. If you don’t want to play Coach Gibson’s brand of football, then you don’t want to play here.”

 

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With Players Transferring Back Home, Juice Vereen Believes NC State Has Something Special

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When players like Noah Rogers, Hollywood Smothers and Tamarcus Cooley transferred to NC State this offseason, from Ohio State, Oklahoma and Maryland respectively, according to Wolfpack Sophomore Tight End Juice Vereen, the 2023 recruiting class that was supposed to be, is now a reality.

“That was supposed to be the recruiting class in 2023 the first time. Noah (Rogers), Hollywood (Smothers), all these boys,” said Vereen. “To see them coming back, we’ve got something special…really, really special going on now. We’re looking to bring it all back.”

Despite the fact that these players from the state of North Carolina were spread out across the United States, the bond that was built over the years of high school didn’t waiver.

“I was always wanting to play with those boys. Now that I get to play with them, it feels special. We’ve all been bonded since high school. When everybody split their ways, we didn’t stop our communication,” said Vereen. “Now that they’re back, we are as tight as ever again. The bond never broke. Ever. I’m glad those boys came back and realized where home was.”

Rogers played for Rolesville, Smothers played for West Charlotte, and Vereen played for Havelock, but the best players across the state of North Carolina build relationships despite the distance.

“We all got connected through visits. Camps can do it too. I’ve been on camps with multiple of these players…Noah, Hollywood, Lex. Coming up here watching games together, sitting beside each other, getting to know each other a lot,” said Vereen. “That helped us out, leading to these boys making the decision to come back home. We pretty much knew they were going to after their Freshman seasons.”

One of the key components of a football team is the relationship the players share off the field, and according to Vereen, the players from the 2023 class are as tight as ever.

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