Coach Dave Doeren Reviews Wake Forest Game

Brett Friedlander

NC State football coach Dave Doeren has had a chance to review the video of Saturday's 44-42 victory against Wake Forest at Carter-Finley Stadium and while there is still plenty of room for improvement, he liked what he saw.

Here is what Doeren had to say about the game and the Wolfpack's effort in it during his regular weekly media conference on Monday ...

"I’m excited for the team. I thought it was a great football game, back-and-forth game. Both teams showed a lot of grit in that game. There were a lot of ups and downs for both sides. I was really proud of how well our team handled that, constantly kept responding in tough situations.

"Just recapping the game, offensively, obviously we scored 45 points. We started fast in both openers, the first quarter and third quarter, which was a goal of ours. It was an area we were not good in a year ago and really worked hard on that area, sot was great to see them get off to such a good start in both halves. 

"I thought overall as an offense we were very physical. All the position groups played a part in our rushing game. The offensive line, seven players played and played well. The tight end group, the running backs, how they blocked and they ran the receivers downfield. Anytime you average 5.5 yards per rush as an offense it says a lot.

"I thought Bailey (Hockman) handled the situation well in completing 70 percent of his passes, getting off to a good start, throwing a lot of catchable balls, took some shots in the pocket, showed toughness and rushed the football well for us. Ricky Person obviously had a standout game. All three backs played well, but to rush for 100 yards, score twice with the ball and throw a touchdown is a great day for him.

"We only gave up one sack. Bailey did a good job managing a couple pressures. I think the first game for the five starters on the O-line, that chemistry will continue to get better. It’s the first time Ickey (Ekwonu) has played a full game at guard. To have Joe (Sculthorpe) on the right next to (Justin) Witt and Ikey on the left next to Tyrone [Riley], and then I thought Tim McKay and (Bryson) Speas came in and those seven guys will continue to get better next to each other as they get game reps.

"We just need to continue to get the ball to our playmakers. I’m happy we only had one penalty offensively, it was a pretty clean game that way. Obviously you’d love to take the one interception back. Those are things we’ve got to get better at, and obviously you’d love to close the game out on offense, not giving the ball back to them.

"On defense, I think it was really two different halves for our defense. In the first half, we could not get off the field on third down. We had several third down situations we could have won and didn’t, we just didn’t play the right coverage technique. 

"There were no breakdowns, it was more of the technique thing that we’ve got to clean up and did. I thought the DBs did a nice job on the outside. I thought our corners held up well on deep balls that were thrown at them. All four of those guys played and were tested. Like you’d expect in the first game, there were some missed tackles. Some of that is playing 90 snaps. There was some fatigue.

"We do need to rotate more in games like that. I think at safety and nickel we could have rotated and got a few more guys in. Linebacking corps, we played several guys. I thought Drake Thomas, who was our defensive player of the game, was very consistent and very productive. Payton Wilson made a bunch of plays and has some things to clean up as well, but played with tremendous effort. 

"It was great to see Levi Jones have success. He came in and rotated on our first down, second down package and then made an impact as a pass rusher on third down. Daniel Joseph and Alim (McNeill) both had standout games on our front. It was good to see Jaylon Scott and Calvin Hart get in and make some plays at linebacker as well.

"I guess the best thing defensively, in the second half we shored up our third-down defense. We had two fourth down stops in the fourth quarter to finish the game and we did force three opportunities for takeaways and got one of them. But they were aggressive. To get six sacks and have 18 plays in the backfield as a defense is good. We’ve got to clean up the edges. 

"There were times with the slow-ride mesh that their offense has that our guys tried to play too many responsibilities. They were in their gap, then they jump into someone else’s and the ball would initially get to it or cut back to it. There’s just some discipline things we’ve got to do that we’ll clean up.

"Special teams, I’m really happy for Chris Dunn to break the school record for consecutive PATs  and he made his only field goal attempt. Every point matters when you win by three every single point matters. 

"I thought our field posvition, I think we were plus-12 overall when you look at field position on special teams. That was great to see. We need to improve our tackling on our punt coverage. We had several guys down there that just didn’t get the guy down. Those are areas that we’ve got to work on and now prepare for Virginia Tech, who is a very experienced team."

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