One of the first things NC State head coach Dave Doeren said following the Pack's 26-14 loss to No. 3 Clemson last Thursday was not to let the defeat cost them another game.
The Wolfpack was back at practice Sunday, determined to put that contest in the past and focus on Central Michigan.
"When you lose a tough game like we do, the best thing for the coaches and players is to get back into preparation and go back and play another game and move past it," Doeren noted. "That's the big thing that we've been talking about a lot as a football team.
"I think we did show very good improvement from game two to game three as a team. We need to continue to do that as we get closer to closer to being all conference games."
Doeren is familiar with Central Michigan. The Chippewas were the only team to defeat Doeren in MAC action during Doeren's two seasons coaching at NIU.
Doeren knows that CMU (1-3, 0-1 MAC) is struggling with young players and have had some key injuries, but he expects his team to have a healthy respect for them.
"I don't care who we're playing, it's game-on," Doeren said. "It's the most important game we have. There will never be a dip in our intensity as a staff regardless of the opponent. The players will always get up for a big game. It's keeping them up for the ones that are not as big from a scheduling standpoint, but from a big picture standpoint this is the most important one we have right now.
"Next Sunday we need to be 3-1. The only way to get to that point is to handle our business with Central Michigan."
Thus "self-discipline" will be a often-used phrase around the Murphy Center this week.
"Each guy on the team is disciplined in their preparation, disciplined in their play and plays with great energy and execute the plan the way that they can and are capable of then we can do what we're supposed to do," Doeren said. "It's when we have a lack of discipline that we have issues on our football team."
Doeren suspects that will be important because CMU has nothing to lose Saturday, and NC State can expect to see some new wrinkles to try to catch the Pack off guard.
"We are going to have to get up for them and hopefully learn our lesson," Doeren stated. "You don't show up and turn the football over we can lose. That's what happened in week two. We really had a game where we went up and down the field and didn't get a lot of points because of turnovers. We can't have that happen this week."
• Freshman wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, second on the team with 14 catches for 201 yards, was not on the depth chart released Monday and is questionable for Saturday's game with a hamstring injury Valdes-Scantling sustained against Clemson. Classmate Jumichael Ramos, who caught a pair of passes for 23 yards against the Tigers, has taken his spot on the two-deep.
Also questionable for Saturday is fifth-year senior defensive end Darryl Cato-Bishop, who left the Clemson game and was seen on crutches on the sideline. Cato-Bishop has five tackles, three quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery this year. In his place, redshirt freshman Joe Wright and recently-converted linebacker Drew Davis, another redshirt freshman, would play more.
Doeren said that State hopes to learn more about senior left tackle Rob Crisp's status this week. Crisp missed the Clemson contest with an undisclosed injury. Redshirt sophomore corner Juston Burris will play after leaving the Clemson game in the third quarter because he was feeling "groggy."
• When the defense was flagged for an excessive amount of flags against Richmond Sept. 7, their punishment was six laps around the practice fields, or 1.5 miles, in full pads when practice was over. This week, the offense committed too many infractions for Doeren's taste, so they went through the grueling exercise.
"It takes 15 or 20 minutes," Doeren noted. "That's a lot of thinking time."
• Despite the loss, Doeren did find some positives against Clemson, especially on defense, where he was very complimentary of both the tackling and play along the line of scrimmage. Most of all, he was pleased the players competed despite not having their starting quarterback or left tackle and then not getting many breaks during the game itself.
"[Clemson] called a lucky timeout, which obviously took six points off the board, and the other play we've talked too much about it," Doeren stated. "It's hard to overcome those kind of things.
"I just felt like from the looks of being in this game I got a club of guys that fight, and they're tough, and they don't quit. That is something I think I can build a program on."