Coach Dave Doeren Postgame Press Conference

Brett Friedlander

NC State overcame an eight-day shutdown of its preseason camp, multiple quarantines and the postponement of its scheduled season opener to get to Saturday's game against Wake Forest at Carter-Finley Stadium.

But that's not the only obstacles the Wolfpack faced against the Deacons.

Led by substitute quarterback Bailey Hockman, the running of Ricky Person Jr., Zonovan Knight and Jordan Houston, and a defense that stood firm when the team needed it most, State also withstood a dramatic momentum shift and a fourth quarter deficit to come away with a thrilling 45-42 victory.

Here's what coach Dave Doeren said about it afterward:

"First, I’m just super proud of the resiliency of our team. They just kept fighting. They had a lot of fun tonight. It’s been a long time coming to play. I thought they started fast in the opening quarter, started fast in the third and had to overcome some adversity. But I’m proud of them. 

"I thought we were physical rushing the football the way that we did. It was a major point of emphasis with coach Beck, coach Garrison and the whole offense. Kids took pride in that, and I think that helps us tremendously attitude-wise in the way that we want to do.

"Other than the one interception, which was a big play for them, we took care of the football. I’m disappointed in some of the penalties that we had. We’ve got to get that cleaned up. Credit goes to Wake. They’re a resilient group as well and they battled back. They played hard. They’ve got some good players on that football team.

"Individually, Ricky Person, I thought, really all our backs ran the football well. But Ricky had two touchdowns and threw a touchdown. Bailey did some really good things in that game. 

"On defense, there’s a lot of stuff we’ve got to get better. We gave up the edges of our defense way too much tonight and it wasn’t by design. Guys were not functioning the way that we need them to. We need to get that fixed. But I am proud of the way they finished the game, back-to-back fourth down stops. They were put in some tough situations and the pass rush didn’t get tired, it only got better. The coverage didn’t get tired, it only got better.

There’s a lot to work on, but we’ll take the win. It’s great to be 1-0, and we look forward to celebrating that tonight.

What went into the decision to start Hockman instead of scheduled QB1 Devin Leary?

"When we hit our first week in camp, whenever the students came back, we had that eight-day break. Somewhere in the middle of that, Devin had to quarantine. He ended up being gone from here for almost 20 days. 

"He came back as our starter but just was not there. He had some rust and was really just kind of a victim of circumstance, to be honest. We tried to get him back for the game. He’s practicing, getting better, but 20 days, however many practices that was, (we) just didn’t feel like he was sharp enough and we weren’t putting him in the best place to be out there as the starter. Hopefully we’ll get him back into where he needs to be, because he was having a good camp prior to that. I feel bad for him.

Bailey took advantage of an opportunity, and I thought he played really well. So I’m happy for Bailey and I know Devin will bounce back."

Payton Wilson had a big game but wasn't on the field late in the game. do you have an update on his status?

"Payton plays so hard and it’s not a serious thing at all. I think he was dehydrated. They tried to IV him at halftime and he was just lightheaded. He kept wanting to go back in, (but) two plays later he’s out. So we just pulled him. The trainers just said he didn’t have enough juice left."

How big was Wilson's performance before he went out?

"He plays his heart out. He had a touchdown-saving tackle on punt coverage, too. The kid just gives you everything he’s got. He loves the game; he loves his team and we love him. He’s a great young man. He’s just going to keep getting better. Hopefully we’ll get him healthy here quick, but I’m really proud of the effort he gave tonight."

How important was it to have a three-back rotation that allows each of them to keep their legs fresh?

"I think it causes problems for a defense, too. They have different styles when they run the football. So those backs are hitting holes in different ways, they have different vision, they see things a little bit different. Keeping them fresh is going to keep them healthy longer, too. Bailey ran the ball well, too. He had 42 yards rushing. It’s really good to be able to do that. It’s been awhile since we ran the football that effectively."

How would you evaluate the performance of the offensive line?

"Overall, that’s one of the better defensive fronts we’ll probably play. As you guys know, there’s a lot of reps banked on that defensive line for Wake Forest. So the guys held and did a nice job. There were some physical blocks, some really physical blocks by the guys." 

How does Hockman's performance affect your decision on next week's starting quarterback?

"I'm going to enjoy the win tonight and you guys (in the media) can talk about that one."

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