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October 12, 2013
Locker room notebook: Syracuse at NC State
Two for Tocho
Head coach Dave Doeren noted that there were a few positives from the game and the biggest has to be true freshman cornerback Jack Tocho, who made his starting debut Saturday and snared a pair of interceptions.
Tocho, who served as the team's nickel back earlier this season, took senior Dontae Johnson's usual place on the edge when his elder teammate moved back to safety in place of an injured Jarvis Byrd. He tallied three tackles and pulled down two interceptions, which he returned for 50 yards, in the first half. However, he sprained the A.C. joint in his shoulder and could not play in the second half.
Due to the injury, Tocho was not available to the media after the game, but Johnson said the defensive backs knew the rookie was capable of big things.
"It was great coverage by the kid," Johnson said. "He came in this week and prepared to play. I took him under my wing a little bit this week and coached him up at corner. He listens really well and he's a great kid; I expect phenomenal things from the kid in the future and it showed today. I'm really proud of the way he put together two great quarters. Unfortunately, he was unable to help us in the long run, but he put together two great quarters for us and it's just a positive for the defensive backs.
"He's a great player, that's why he was blessed with the opportunity to start this week and he took advantage of his opportunities."
By the end of the game, NC State was without eight players who have started games this season and that doesn't include starting fullback Logan Winkles, who was lost for the year in preseason camp with an ACL injury.
It's the walking wounded, but the Pack aren't looking for excuses.
"It's tough, but like Coach said, the next man has to be ready to come in and make plays," Johnson said.
"The guys we have, we are going to coach as hard as we can and they've got to play as hard as they can," Doeren added. "Would I like to have every player in the lineup? Absolutely, but I don't get a complain about that. I've got to coach who is there, and we will. The trainers are doing everything they can to get the rest of them back to us."
Tocho and Thomas, two of the players who left Saturday's game with injuries, are expected to be ready to go when the Pack plays next against Florida State in two weeks. Tocho sprained the A.C. joint in his shoulder, while Thomas had an injury to his non-throwing shoulder after he landed on it awkwardly. Doeren said the quarterback's X-rays were negative and should be ready to go in a few days.
The coach also seemed confident that Mitchell would be good to go against the Seminoles. He admitted that the transfer signal caller, "wasn't close," to playing this week, but returning against Florida State would be eight weeks since his injury.
"I could've played him and put him at risk, and I'm not going to do that," he said. "Standing there, he can throw really good, but I can still tell he's not himself when he's going to have to run. We've shown this year that our quarterbacks are going to have to scramble at times and I didn't want to put him in that position until I know for sure he's safe and I think he will be by the next game. They told us six to eight weeks, and this was week six, so we're at the beginning of when they predicted he would be ready."
Fourth quarter was the difference
Syracuse led 10-7 entering the final frame of the game, and State even tied it up early in the fourth quarter. However, the Orange responded with two touchdown runs to put the score out of reach. The visiting team finished with 362 yards and three touchdowns on the ground - 134 yards and a pair of touchdowns came in the fourth.
"For three quarters, it was a back-and-forth defensive game. I thought both of us did a very good job, then in the fourth quarter, they broke us in the run game," Doeren said. "That was the difference, we just didn't stop the run in the fourth quarter.
"Syracuse was better in the fourth quarter running the football, and we weren't as good at stopping the run like we had been. Our goal was to make their quarterback have to throw to beat us, and we didn't do that."
The defense knew that 'Cuse would run the ball, but they were disappointed in how the game ended.
"They're a running team, that's what they do and they did what they do best," redshirt sophomore defensive end Mike Rose said. "They didn't try to pass the ball and when they did, they didn't have much success, so they stuck to what they're good at.
"They wanted it. At the end of the day, they wanted the win more than we did, that's the only way you can explain the running touchdowns in the fourth quarter. That's a big concern and that's definitely something we need to address in the locker room."
N.C. State NEWS