Dave Doeren sees a battle of strength vs. strength against Boston College
Boston College comes out of its bye week second in the ACC in rushing yards per game at 253.2. NC State also leads the league in run defense, holding opponents to 66.7 yards a contest.
BC has allowed only three sacks this year thus far, and they were for just 13 lost yards. The Eagles have given up the fewest sacks allowed per game and the fewest sack yardage of any team in the ACC. NC State's defense on the other hand, after back-to-back games with eight sacks, is one off conference leaders Virginia and Pitt for the most sacks and trails only the Panthers in sack yardage.
The Eagles are the second-least penalized team in the ACC in yards per game. Nobody has drawn more penalty yardage per contest from its opponent in the conference than NC State.
Boston College is tied for the most interceptions in the league with Clemson, while NC State is in a three-way tie for the fewest picks thrown. Overall, BC is fourth in the ACC for most turnovers gained, just two off leader Syracuse, while NCSU is tied with the Eagles, ironically, for fewest turnovers lost.
NC State head coach Dave Doeren acknowledged Monday during his weekly press conference playing Saturday at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass., is an awful lot of good-on-good.
“Our guys know,” Doeren said. “We respect them up front. We know it's a battle. This is one of those old-school games in the trenches.
“There's no doubt, when you look at it. They're good at running the football. We've been good at stopping the run. They're good at protecting their quarterback. We've been good at getting to the quarterback. … They're really good at taking the football away. We've been good at protecting it.
“There's a lot of things at play in this football game where you have strength-on-strength. This will be a really good opportunity for us to challenge our guys.”
Boston College confirmed that its starting quarterback, Anthony Brown, has been lost for the season with a leg injury that he sustained in a loss at Louisville on Oct. 5, the last game the Eagles played. He will be replaced by redshirt sophomore Dennis Grosel, who went 9-of-24 passing for 111 yards and three touchdowns with one interception in relief of Brown against the Cardinals.
The series history indicates that should not matter much. These two teams have traditionally played close, down-to-the-wire games. Since joining the ACC in 2005, six of the 14 games played between the two were decided by a touchdown or less, including the last three.
“In the past, it's two teams that don't beat themselves a whole lot,” Doeren noted. “If you look at us and them, we're turnover-margin teams that really care about that. You look at the penalties, and we're usually in the top three with them for least-penalized teams.
“We’re physical teams that can run the football and that put a lot of stock into stopping the run. I just think you've got a similar mindset between the two teams.”
NC State enters this game 4-2 overall and 1-1 in the ACC after its 16-10 home win over Syracuse on Thursday. Doeren believes his team is capable of competing every week, but the margin for error is small.
“With what we're dealing with, with the age of our team, the injuries to our team, I think every week if we can just not beat us and get better, we'll have a chance to win every game,” Doeren said. “Like I told the team after the Florida State game, the only team on our schedule I'm worried about is us. And I think that's true.
“All I know is if we beat ourselves, we've got no chance. None. So that's where our focus has to be, and getting these guys that are now in game seven to play like veteran players.”
You can listen to Doeren's complete Monday press conference below, or read the full transcript here.
NC State Football Tidbits From Monday's Press Conference
• NC State listed junior cornerback Chris Ingram as a starter on the depth chart, but Doeren cautioned that he still has not received final word on the apparent knee injury he suffered near the end of the first half against Syracuse.
• Redshirt freshman quarterback Devin Leary completed a 23-yard pass against Syracuse in his one series of action, and Doeren believes he should have had a second completion, but it was dropped by freshman receiver Keyon Lesane. Leary did well enough to potentially continue getting live action, Doeren said, while redshirt sophomore Bailey Hockman maintains the starting role.
“[Leary] had a teachable moment where he tried to be superhuman almost on a play,” the head coach recalled. “Sometimes you got to just recognize the defense did enough and just run and get what you can get, or throw it away. But it gives us a chance to continue to get him some reps and help him develop and be ready in case he's needed there.
“I thought Bailey did some really good things. If you asked Bailey, he'll tell you he didn't play well. I thought he played better than he did the week before. And that's what you want out of both of those [quarterbacks], improvement, and I think we got that.”
• Doeren was pleased with how well true freshman Ikem Ekwonu did in his first career start at left tackle.
“Had a pancake on the first play of the game which was a drop-back pass,” the coach stated. “He handled it. I think there's some things obviously all five of those guys have to do better, but his first start playing against the level of players … [from] Syracuse. I mean, that's the best, [in] my opinion, all the way across the board with their rotation. Their front is really good.”