NC State coach Dave Doeren cited turnovers as a major weakness during the Wolfpack's 23-21 win over Richmond last Saturday.
Doeren and the Wolfpack return to action Sept. 19 against Clemson at Carter-Finley Stadium. Doeren takes a look back at the win over the Spiders, and a glance forward to facing the Tigers during his weekly ACC coaches teleconference Wednesday.
Below is a transcript of what Doeren said:
"It works out that we're 2-0. Team had to overcome a lot of adversity from losing our starting quarterback in the opener and being down and turning the ball over. Not the way we want to start a game with the turnovers we had. Richmond played really well. The guys hung in there and fought and found a way to get the ball in in the second half with two turnovers that we forced and gave our kicker a chance, and Niklas Sade has really been strong for us in the first two games. So we gave him a chance to win the game, and he did."
It's tough to say 444 yards total offense is not great, but it was kind of a step back from week one. Was that a function of their defense, the turnovers or something else at work there?
"I think we had a lot of drives that you look at the drive charts, and we had a lot of long drives that ended up with not enough points. Whether it was having to settle for a field goal or a turnover or a penalty that killed a drive, we just didn't finish drives the way we did in the first game. So it's definitely, like I said, our hat is off to Richmond.
"Their defense last year, they were number one in the nation at heir level with turnover margin, they had 24 interceptions a year ago. So we knew they'd be opportunistic, and we couldn't make mistakes. Unfortunately, we played into how they played. They just line up the right way. They play hard. They don't make any mistakes. We weren't as crisp. We, obviously, weren't as detailed as we need to be taking care of the football."
Can you evaluate how Pete Thomas did in his first full game as quarterback?
"Yeah, he played really hard. He made a lot of plays with his feet on third down. He was very accurate with the football. He made a couple mistakes. He threw the ball late over the middle that should have been intercepted and a scramble late in the game. He had a guy open and he under threw it for an interception.
"I know it's a game Pete will learn from, but I was really impressed with how he made plays with his feet and kept the chains moving for us in some pretty key times of the football game."
Coach, in your look at Clemson on film, how scary do those guys appear to be?
"They're very good. Obviously, not ranked in the Top 10 in the country without having great players and great coaches. We know we're up for a very, very good football team coming in here. I think they return more starters and lettermen than anyone in the league. So they've experience on top of talent. So we're going to have to play our best. I know our guys have excited about the challenge."
Some of the weapons they have, Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and so on, is it more of a matter of containment rather than — because stopping them, I mean, they're going to move the ball most likely. But how do you contain an offense like that and maybe so that they don't convert on every possession.
"Yeah, well, first thing you've got to do is not give up big plays. You have to contend routes and tackle well in space. We've got to shed blocks and get more people to the ball. But they are going to make plays, like you said. To win the football game, they can't be explosive plays that lead to points.
"We've got to be able to keep lining up and play and make some plays. We've got to be opportunistic on defense this week and continue to force turnovers. That is one thing we've done well for two weeks and we've got to continue to do that."
Just want to follow up, after two games, your top rusher is a freshman; your top receiver is a freshman. Is that an awkward situation or are those positions where freshmen where experience isn't as much a premium as say quarterback or linebacker or something?
"Well, I mean, when I was hired here there were only two running backs on scholarship and six receivers. We were just thin there. There were two quarterbacks. We had to recruit to fill those voids. Freshmen are playing well, they're bringing energy to the game plan, and they've made plays. It wasn't the plan to have them be in front of the other guys, it's just we're rotating a lot of people, and those guys for two weeks in a row have shown up and made plays for us. We just need them to keep coming on.
"Unfortunately, two of our fumbles were freshmen. So you kind of have to take the good with the bad early on."
"Yeah. Like I said, I'm really excited about the plays they make, but any time you turn the ball over, and both those guys had turnovers in the game, it hurts you. So we've got to learn from those mistakes and they will. They'll be better in game three than they were in game two with ball security because of that."