Happy Halloween to everybody. I hope everybody has their trick-or-treat plans ready for
tonight and all that good stuff.
We’re excited about getting back on the road this week. We’ve got a big challenge with NC
State. This is a really, really good football team. That’s why it’s come down to these two
teams [in the division] in November. You’ve got two teams that are well-positioned to try to
win the division, so it’s exciting to be a part of this type of games. This is playoff
football…that’s what it really comes down to. It’ll be a big challenge heading up there.
I’ve been really impressed with this football team. The biggest thing that jumps out at you
is the [amount of] veterans. They have them…they have 21 starters back, and 19 of them
are graduates, seniors or redshirt juniors. That is very rare in college football.
It’s a very experienced, well-coached and talented football team. The two losses that
they’ve had, they just had some critical errors. They had an interception return for a
touchdown at Notre Dame last week on a play they thought they had a free play. They
thought Notre Dame was offside. But there was no call.
But this is a team that’s really capable of playing with anybody…there’s no question.
They’re physical in the trenches on both sides, and it’s definitely the best defensive line
we’ve played. All four of their starters are NFL guys, and they really play seven or eight
guys, so they’ve got a lot of depth. They’re very active at backer…they force the issue and
play downhill. They’ve got good experience on the back end.
Offensively, up front, every single one of them is back, and they really understand their
scheme. They do a great job of creating distortion in the defensive line with their stretch
zone scheme. They do a great job of presentation…very seldom do they just line up and run
There’s always some type of motion or shift. It’s just a bunch of smart guys that know what
they’re doing, and when you have a veteran team like that, you get to another level of
nuance within a system. That’s where they are right now, offensively. They’ve got a bunch
of good skill…[Kelvin Harmon], [Stephen Louis], [Jakobi Meyers]…all of those receivers are
big and strong and can play.
[Nyheim Hines] is special…he is electric. [Reggie] Gallaspy, the other running back, is
downhill…he came into the game at Notre Dame and I thought ran really hard and tough.
[Jaylen Samuels] is one of the best players to probably come through this conference. He’s
an all-around instinctual, versatile football player. He does it all…he plays tailback, tight
end, receiver, he’s a returner…he does everything. [Hines] is a returner, and he took one to
the house up there against us a couple of years ago.
There are just really good players all around this quarterback ( Ryan Finley) , who I think
is an outstanding player. I think they’ve only got four turnovers all year, but he’s done a
great job of taking care of the football. He can make all of the throws…deep throws to the
far sideline, to the field from the opposite hash. He throws a nice deep ball.
They’ve had 51 screens so far this year (by his count) , so you’ve got to defeat blocks, and
the ball is going in the air, so it comes down to matchups. Then they’re very physical in the
run game…they’ve got all the RPOs and play actions, boots, swaps and all that stuff. They do
a very good job of keeping you off-balance.
They’re averaging 36 runs and 36 passes a game, so they’ve got a very good balance there.
They’re just a really good football team all the way around. It should be a great matchup. I
think we’ve got a good team, and it’s going to be a heck of a game up there in Raleigh on
Coach, you did so much self-evaluating and self-scouting after the Syracuse loss, and I
know Syracuse also played out of their minds that night, but is there one or two main
areas that you really feel you improved upon in those two weeks off?
Just our mindset. That’s the biggest thing. We had to make sure we were locked in and had
the right mentality going into it. We just got back to some of our core values, and I thought
we did a good job of playing off of some of the tendencies. Some tendencies are very good,
and we played off of those things during the course of the game. We got the ball back down
the field a little bit more, and we got hit on some of them, but there were a lot of things
coming out of that game that I thought we did a good job of.
You had just four penalties [against Georgia Tech], so you cut down from the
That was not (120 yards in penalties at Syracuse) characteristic of us. We were obviously
very poor up at Syracuse…you’re not going to win any games when you have 120 yards
going backwards…over a football field, that’s a long day at the office, and that’s what it was.
We played with more discipline, and again, outside of the fumble by [Travis] Etienne…and
with as many passes as we threw , in that situation, we did a pretty good job of taking
care of the ball. And we didn’t have any sacks in 33 passes.
Who’s one underrated player on NC State who maybe hasn’t gotten the limelight or
hasn’t gotten the attention, but can really make an impact on Saturday?
I don’t really see any of them as being underrated in my eyes, because they’re all really
good. I think their receivers are really good players. I think that [Jakobi Meyers] doesn’t
have as many catches as [Nyheim Hines] and [Kelvin Harmon], but he’s a third-down guy.
He’s been a very critical third-down player for them. So I’d say him offensively, and
defensively, the first four get a lot of the talk, but they’ve got a lot of depth up there, and a
lot of those guys that can play. I think that [Airius Moore] is a very active football player,
but I don’t know if I’d call him underrated. They’re a good team all the way around, top to
With the way they move around [Jaylen] Samuels, how hard is it for a defense to get a
bead on him?
It’s hard, because they’re just very creative with him. He’s the guy. They’re not coming out
of the game without him touching the ball. If they were to just line the guy up in one spot,
and that’s where he is, it would be much easier, but if they have to put him at tailback,
they’re going to make sure you can’t touch him.
Then they’re going to line him up and motion him all over the place. You’re not going to
take his touches away, but you’ve got to do a great job of knowing where he is and
understand how they use him and what they like to do with him from different formations.
It’s a lot of preparation and a lot of study to get ready to defend him. They use him every
which way you can think of… the play-action game, the swap boots…they’ll line him up as
an off tight end. They’ve been running stretch, and here comes the stretch boot, and he’s in
the flat on you.
It’s just getting the ball in his hands. He’s great in space. He breaks tackles…he’s strong.
He’s a 220-something pound guy. He’s got excellent ball skills and does a great job with the
ball in his hands after the catch. They’ll screen it to him, hand it to him, throw it down the
field to him…they’re going to make sure he has his opportunities, and you’ve got to make
sure you’ve got a good plan, understand what you’re doing and execute your plan.Reply