Coach Dave Doeren's Duke Game Review

Brett Friedlander

NC State football coach Dave Doeren has had a chance to review the video of Saturday's 31-20 win agaisnt Duke and while he was happy with the result and the resilience it took to earn it, he was anything but pleased with the way the Wolfpack played in the first half.

He's also concerned about his team's worsening injury situation, especially at quarterback, where starter Devin Leary will likely miss the rest of the season with a broken fibula. 

Here's what Doeren had to say about the game and the quarterback situation during his regular weekly media conference on Monday ...

"I’m proud of the team on how we battled back. Obviously we got off to a bad start momentum-wise, giving up a blocked punt -- operation time was good, but we need to do a better job formationally. It was a nice job by Duke in that situation to stem in their front, putting us in a situation where we had a short edge. I thought coach (Todd) Goebbel adjusted as the game went on and did some good things to clean that up.

"I’m really impressed with the way we played complementary football. We had to overcome ourselves in this game. Not to take anything away from Duke, but when you have eight penalties for 106 yards in the first half, turn the ball over twice in the first quarter, it’s tough. In the second half we didn't have penalties. We just played football. It’s amazing what happens when you don’t beat yourself. Those are immature things by a young football team that we’ve got to learn from and learn from now.

"I think it’s great for them to be able to see the difference in the product when they are making the decisions that they are coached to make. They blocked a punt for a touchdown and we matched them. We blocked a punt for a touchdown. We had three turnovers. We matched them with three takeaways on defense. So our guys responded to the situations that they were in and I think that says a lot about the resiliency of this team.

"I can’t say enough about the guys that stepped into their roles, not just in this game but throughout the year. We’ve had a lot of that, whether it was a targeting ejection or an injury. In this particular game, Isaac Duffy performed really well. He graded out at 91 percent and had no mistakes, had two tackles on third down. Devan Boykin came in and had a pass breakup in the end zone. Bryson Speas continues to play multiple positions on the offensive line. Dylan McMahon played the most he’s played this year on the offensive line.

"Those guys are battling. Are they playing perfect? No, but we talk about next man up mentality and I think what I’m most proud of is that the next man up is performing like the guy was in front of him in most cases. That along with the team rallying around those guys and guys taking advantage of their opportunity.

"Sometimes you’ll have a guy as a backup that may not be playing as much as he wants, and he’s not going to prepare the same way. He doesn’t have the same intensity in his preparation or his practice. We’re not doing that. I told the team that I like practice right now because the ones are competing, the twos are competing, our scout team is competing. 

"That’s allowing us to have the situations that we are on game day, where all of a sudden a guy’s name is called and each week it has been a different player that didn’t expect to have the reps he got that was ready to play. That’s been fun as a coach just to see.

"Positives on offense: I thought we made some really good contact catches in this game. Devin (Leary) gave guys a chance and they made the plays. We were very efficient on third down. When you combine our third and fourth downs together, we were 50%. We were 100% scoring in the red zone and I thought we played our most physical football in the fourth quarter. 

"I thought there was a lot of straining, a lot of competing on the O-line, tight end and running back group. We were very physical, and I like seeing that, as you know.

"Negatives: Turning the ball over three times is going to put you in a very difficult situation. It’s hard to win games doing that. So, we have to do a better job with the fundamentals. (We had) two fumbles. Devin had the ball low on the sack fumble. He’s got to be able to pull the ball up as a quarterback when you’re in traffic and take care of it, and then Bam (Knight) has got to put two hands on the football when he’s got all those guys hitting him. 

"The three penalties on offense were critical penalties. All three of them were third down or fourth down plays that would have been first downs that we then had to redo the third down and then had to punt. All three were drive stoppers.

"Obviously the injury to Devin is tough to him and us. I hate that for a young man that’s worked so hard and has played so well. The positive news is that he’ll have a normal, healthy recovery. It’s nothing that will haunt him from an injury standpoint, but it will probably keep him out of the regular season. But we’ll see how fast he can heal. 

"I know Bailey (Hockman) and Ben (Finley) and Ty [Evans) are excited about their opportunity. They’ll work hard with coach (Tim) Beck to help us be ready to win games. That’s what it is all about; maximizing your opportunity and the guys around you helping to the best of their ability.

On defense, we held their running backs to 1.2 yards per carry. That was a goal going into the game. We thought their two backs were the strength of their offense. We were really good on third down. We were 75 percent efficient on third down as a defense. I thought coach (Tony) Gibson did a nice job of mixing different things up. 

"We played different drop-eight coverages, we rushed four, we rushed five, we rushed six. The goal-line stand, for the third time this season, I think shows the resiliency and toughness, and really the detail. It’s not just being tough. They run a bootleg and both guys are completely covered in the route, and Levi (Jones) does a phenomenal job tackling the quarterback in space on a boot.

"There were three takeaways and the one in the red zone by Payton (Wilson), our first interception of the game was a big momentum play. We only gave up three explosive plays, none in the pass game, which is really hard to do in college football right now. Two of the explosive runs were quarterback keeps that shouldn’t have been there. It was a poor job discipline wise by two of our players on those two runs. We had a blitz on one and Tanner (Ingle) just chased the ball instead of playing technique. The other one, C.J. Hart didn’t do his job. So, things that are correctable.

"Obviously losing a third player on the season for targeting is coaching. We’ve got to do a better job. Our players have got to understand the strike zone. They’ve got to play with their eyes up. They’ve got to understand that they can’t launch, they can’t lead with the crown of their helmet. It has to get fixed, and that is something that we will get fixed. 

"It’s obviously something that they are doing to protect football players. I thought the defensive penalty on Payton was immature on his part on the sideline. That hurt us. These are things that we’ve got to correct.

"Our special teams were kind of mixed in this game. There was some really bad and some really good. Obviously, you can’t give up a blocked punt for a touchdown and give up four penalties on special teams. Those things are atrocious. But, we responded.

"We had some good kickoff returns. We had a blocked punt for a touchdown. I thought our kickoff coverage was outstanding. I thought Chris Dunn made a clutch field goal at the end of the game to make it a two-score game. So, there’s some good things.

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