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NC State Football

Dave Doeren: "It's Bigger Than Wins and Losses"

November 14, 2022

NC State head coach Dave Doeren met with the media via Zoom to discuss the recent loss to Boston College, the upcoming matchup versus Louisville, and the tragedy at the University of Virginia.

NOTE: Click on the video in the player above to watch Doeren’s press conference.

On the shooting at the University of Virginia Sunday night...

I’d like to start just by saying, as a program in the ACC and a program in general, I want to send out our thoughts and prayers to the UVa community, to our colleagues, to their students, student-athletes, and their families. It’s terrible news and a tragedy. Football and coaching is a brotherhood, and we definitely are here alongside them, support them, and suffer with them. It doesn’t feel like we should be talking about football with what’s going on up there. It’s tough. It’s a really, really challenging situation for their school, and there’s hateful people and a lot of evil out there. I hope everybody can pray for them and help them through this.

Opening Statement

With that, I guess I’ll talk about our game we just had: a tough loss to say the least. It was a really hard one to swallow. In general, it’s kind of two separate halves when you look at how it went down, but we started fast, scoring 14 points in the first quarter which is what we wanted to do to try to get out on a team that had a young quarterback. After those two drives, we had a hard time scoring. There's a variety of reasons for that. Usually, drives end because of lack of execution, penalties creating tough down-and-distances to call plays, or because some players on their side of the ball made some good plays, and I think we had all of those things happen. The best thing Boston College was defensively was a third down defense. They were very good, and we presented that to them a lot, and that’s hard with a freshman quarterback to be in third-and-extra-long. I thought our defense did a good job of keeping us in the game and battling. We held them to minus-four yards rushing. We turned the ball over three times in the second half before the final play, and on all three of those turnovers, we responded by not allowing points on defense, and that’s a tremendous response by those guys. I thought they pressured the quarterback, and in a game like that, it came down to the final drive. Fourth-and-seven, they get in the red zone, and we practiced the play they ran all week. Drake Thomas made the play in practice all week, he knew the play that was coming, and I thought he made a terrific play. He timed it well. He broke on the football. He had both hands extended. I thought he beat the receiver to the spot. He did everything that we could [ask] him to do. I’m really proud of him for making that play. At the end of that play, we should have been out there on offense, kneeling the ball down for the win, but that’s not how it ended. It is what it is which makes it hard to swallow. Like I told my team after the game, I hurt for our senior class that they didn’t get the satisfaction of that. When you’re playing with a freshman quarterback, you’re missing several players with injuries, it comes down to one play in the game, you have a great player like Drake, and he makes the play, that’s how you should win. You can call it an ugly win; I’ll take it all day long, but we didn’t get it, so it’s back to the drawing board. Time to get ready for another one. I love our players. I love how they compete. Can we do things better? Can we coach better? Can we play better? Can we make fewer mistakes? Of course we can. That’ll be our emphasis moving forward. I thought our special teams were terrific. Caden Noonkester continues to impress us as a punter. Keyon Lesane and Darryl Jones as gunners on those units, Keyon forced a fumble and created a huge play. Our defense also had two takeaways with great interceptions. Chris Dunn set a record in the ACC, being perfect again in a game. Give Boston College credit; Zay Flowers is a special football player. He’s electric. Obviously, we knew where he was, and he still made plays. They battled back, so you have to give them credit for that. On to our next game with Louisville, they’ve won four of their last five. We get to come down there and play on Senior Day against them, and it’s really two similar, aggressive defenses head to head. They’ve forced a lot of turnovers. They forced eight against Wake [Forest]. They bring a lot of pressure. They’re coached well. They’re aggressive, and they have good players. On offense, Scott [Satterfield] has always been a balanced offense coach. He has a good run game, a lot of outside zone, play actions, nakeds, and has a couple of trick plays. He has very good personnel in the backfield. His tailbacks are hard runners. He has a variety of guys at the receiver position: big, small, fast… Their tight ends are good players and experienced players, and his O-line is athletic. We look forward to another talented team and a chance to compete, and a road game at that. I look forward to that opportunity with our players with these two games here in 11 or 12 days, whatever that is. We’ve got a lot on our plate, and in light of what’s going on regionally in our conference, it’s hard to focus on it, to be honest. There’s a lot going on right now, but that’s the world we’re in.

On addressing the Virginia incident to the players…

I won’t have them today. Today is our day off. I will have them in the morning, and we will discuss it. Like everything that happens, I’ll be transparent, talk from my heart, and let them talk from theirs, and we’ll be in it together.

On helping the team handle the loss and move forward…

Well, it’s similar. I spoke from the heart. I told them I was in a lot of pain, too. I felt for them. I felt like we were robbed in the moment as we made what I thought was a great play and still do. Human errors are going to occur. None of us are perfect. I told them that they have to accept it, flush it, and move on. The only way we can become whole again as a team is to fill the cup back up with emotion, go compete again, and win. We still have opportunities in front of us that allow us to have, albeit not the season we thought at the beginning with what we’ve dealt with, a great season here still. The guys all understand that. It’s just being honest with them, not sugarcoating anything, letting them talk as well and say how they feel. I did that with the leadership council, and I know, in their position rooms, they always talk about things that way.

On this being a good time to hit the road…

It might be. I think it’s a good time just to get back to playing whether we’re home or away. These guys just like playing together. That’s one of the messages. Let’s enjoy these next three games, these next two in 12 days. Let’s enjoy the ride. Things happen. It’s bigger that wins and losses when you talk about the brotherhood you have with each other, the time you get to spend with each other, the stories you have with each other. I don’t want to lose sight of that because of how something ended. You have to remind them of that.

On diagnosing the specifics of his statement Saturday evening that they didn’t coach well enough to win…

Well, I think I’m always going to take the blame. I’m ultimately the head of everything that happens here. Anytime you watch the game in your room, and I stay up all night after a loss asking, ‘What could I have done?,’ of course there are calls, but you don’t get that. You don’t get it in life either. You just don’t, but you can learn from it. That’s the biggest thing. ‘Hey, could we have blitzed or not blitzed? Could we have run this play instead of that play?’ Of course. There’s always those, but we don’t have the luxury of hitting rewind and having a do-over. At the end of the day, everything we did led us to one play to win it, and we made the play. We did. You guys all saw it. Could we have eliminated that from happening with fourth-and-one on the 1-yard line? Could we have gotten in the end zone? I thought we called a good play but didn’t block it well. It was a play that should have scored because we had enough blockers at the point of attack. Could we have called another play? Sure, we could have, and we still would have had to have blocked it well. Maybe we would have. Maybe we wouldn’t have. On that particular play, their nose guard won on that play, and that’s football. Sometimes, you go up and make a play, and sometimes you don’t. You can say the same thing about last year. There were some times that Emeka [Emezie] made some plays that most people probably wouldn’t have made that won games for us. If he dropped it, would it have been a bad call? No. He made the play, and at the end of it, you have to coach the guys to do the best they can, and as coaches, you do the best you can. Second-guessing yourself doesn’t make the play different. You just learn from it. ‘What else could I have done?’ We do that every week and every play whether you guys believe that or not. We really sit in here and think about everything that we do, and we’re not perfect, but these kids play really hard for us, and we’re doing everything we can to help them.

On his observations on M.J. Morris taking care of the football…

Maybe when you get a true freshman in the game that hadn’t played as much, those could have happened earlier. Maybe the fact he didn’t have a mistake like that until this game made the expectations too high. I don’t know. He tried to make a play on one of them. We’re running a read play. He saw the end. He thought he’d outrun him even though, in retrospect, I’m sure he’d say he should’ve handed it. He’s a player trying to make a play. The running back had the ball in his belly, and it didn’t get pulled out the right way, and it went right to him. On another one, he underthrew a ball. Of course he could’ve thrown a better pass there. That’s going to happen from time to time. He made some mistakes. Like I told him, ‘You’re human, too. You’re going to learn from the things that you did, and you’re going to be better because of it.’ We don’t expect him to be perfect. Anytime any player, freshman up to senior, makes a mistake, you’re going to evaluate it, and you’re going to try and help them through it. All you ask is that they learn from it.

On injury updates…

No, it’s too early to say on that.

On if he heard from the ACC regarding the Thomas penalty…

I can’t comment on any responses I get. We always send in the calls that we’re not happy with every week, and then they respond whether they thought it was a good call or a bad call. As a coach, I’m not allowed to make that public. You guys know the rules on that.

On if he considered utilizing Jack Chambers against Boston College…


On he and North Carolina’s Mack Brown lobbying the ACC to avoid playing on Black Friday to avoid conflicting with the high school playoffs…

In general, the high school coaches association in the state of North Carolina has made it very apparent that they don’t like any of our colleges playing on Friday night since that’s high school football night, and we agree with that, but that’s above our decision making. Obviously, that’s part of the television contract that we’re in, and it’d be great if it wasn’t a Friday game for those reasons. It’s one of those things that I don’t control and Mack doesn’t control. Obviously, neither of us like it, but it doesn’t matter.

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