Dave Doeren, NC State will prepare for inclement weather
Who would have thought after NC State beat Notre Dame 10-3 in a game that was almost comical due to the affects of Hurricane Matthew in 2016 that the Wolfpack would be facing a similar situation with another marquee non-conference opponent coming to town just two years later.
West Virginia, ranked No. 14 in the Associated Press poll and No. 15 by the coaches, is scheduled to play at Carter-Finley Stadium Saturday. Hurricane Florence, which strengthened to a Category 4 storm in the Atlantic and could make landfall on the North Carolina coast Thursday evening, will have a lot to say about that.
Head coach Dave Doeren of NC State sent his prayers during Monday’s press conference to those about to be impacted.
“I’m not certain how it’s going to impact us or game day or any of that,” Doeren said. “We are expecting to play and proceeding and planning like we will until somebody says we won’t. That’s really the best we can do in this situation.”
During his team meeting Sunday, Doeren warned his team that forecasts can be often-changing.
“There is going to be talk about this all week, and then it could be sunny and not even touch us or it could be horrible … whatever it is we have to be ready and let whatever it is not impact us,” the coach said. “… [If] all we are going to do is talk about the rain then it’s hot, then that’s a problem.
“If we get it, we’ll have a plan — a monsoon plan I guess you can call it — and do the best we can do in the conditions and try to take care of the football. It was a unique challenge two years ago. It’s hard to imagine playing in that again, but if we do our guys will definitely have an experience like that to relate to.”
One definite for the Pack this week will be wet football drills. Two years ago against Notre Dame, NC State over-exaggerated it, noted Doeren, to center Joe Scelfo, and the effort paid off when Scelfo did not have a bad snap in the game.
Doeren is partial in his preference to having some rain in the area this week, but if needed they will get buckets of water and hoses out to soak the footballs. The team also had a little bit of practice in the conditions when it played its annual spring game on a chilly, wet and breezy afternoon last April.
“Ryan [Finley] did throw well in the rain in the spring game, so for him mentally that was probably a big deal. … It was cold that day too so that was good for him,” Doeren said.
Finley, the sixth-year senior quarterback, will be at the center of attention this week with the pairing against Mountaineers’ fifth-year senior QB Will Grier. They are considered two of the top potential NFL Draft picks next spring, and Grier has been touted as a top Heisman Trophy contender.
Doeren is paying no attention to that storyline however.
“Who he’s facing has zero impact on what he has to do,” Doeren said. “I think if he’s worried about the other quarterback he’s not going to be doing his job.”
What will impact NC State is the Mountaineers, who the coach noted is ranked 14th “for a reason.” Doeren recorded WVU's season-opening 40-14 win over Tennnessee in Charlotte and watched it shortly after.
“I think they looked really good,” Doeren admitted, adding he was impressed with the team’s speed.
A wet turf though could neutralize some of that speed and turn it into a running contest. NC State knocked off the Irish two years ago because the Wolfpack was better at running in the rain. Matthew Dayes rushed for 126 yards and backup quarterback Jalan McClendon gave a boost by rushing for 56 yards.
On a day where the two teams combined for 95 passing yards, NC State outgaining Notre Dame 157-59 on the ground was part of the difference in the game.
However, through two games this season NC State is still searching for its running game.
“They have run the ball well this year,” Doeren said of his team's week-three foe. “We are just not there yet. I thought our offensive line came off the ball better last week, we did miss some combination schemes that we need to clean up. We’re struggling a little bit at the tight end position. Hopefully [redshirt sophomore] Dylan Autenrieth should be able to play this week.
“That’ll help us a lot.”
An running game that needs to be improved is one reason why Doeren is not content with the 2-0 record at the moment.
“I think we’re a work in progress still,” Doeren said. “I’m happy that we’re 2-0 and that we’ve scored a lot of touchdowns. A lot of new guys are getting the ball, but we’re still seeing what people can do in positions. … There’s a lot of improvement still for this football team in front of us.”
• Fifth-year senior receiver Stephen Louis will go through the concussion protocol this week.
Redshirt junior receiver Jakobi Meyers and freshman running back Ricky Person Jr. both missed the Georgia State contest. When asked about them, Doeren only answered, “They’re doing great.”
• Doeren said that the team West Virginia most compares favorably to, on offense, in the ACC is Syracuse.
“Syracuse is similar with the splits at receiver and they still run the ball,” he explained. “They run the quarterback more at Syracuse, but similar in style and tempo.”
• Doeren was asked about the flyover done before every NC State game and noted it’s a reminder of his humble beginnings in the industry.
“Twenty years ago I was living in the basement of an apartment complex next to a 7-Eleven making $300 a month or whatever, now I get planes flying over my head at a football game, it’s pretty cool,” he said.