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NC State Football

Dave Doeren: "I'm Very Proud Of This Football Team"

November 22, 2020

NC State’s defense and special teams came up huge in a 15-14 win over No. 21 Liberty at Carter-Finley Stadium Saturday. The Wolfpack improved to 6-3 on the year thanks to a safety from Isaiah Moore, blocked field goal from Vi Jones and picks from Aydan White and Isaac Duffy. The run game also had a big night, led by Ricky Person and Bam Knight. 

Head coach Dave Doeren spoke to the media following the big win; here’s a full breakdown of everything he had to say: 

Opening statement

It was a heck of a football game. I’m really proud of our guys for just finding another way to win. The defense obviously was really, really good tonight with the three takeaways, fourth-down stop and blocked field goal to win it. They carried us. It was awesome to see those kids rise up against a really good Liberty offense, an offense that was averaging 500 yards and 49 points per game. To hold them to 14 points and 279 yards was pretty epic. It was a great performance by that side of the football. 

So I’m really proud of those kids. I’m proud of Aydan White, first career interception. Isaac Duffy-Webb comes in and gets an interception filling in for [Tanner Ingle] when Tanner got ejected. We had to overcome ourselves, 14 penalties which obviously we can’t have. I’ve got to get that fixed and kids have to be more mature. There were a lot of costly ones as well but we found a way to win.

We’ve got to get better, obviously, offensively, than we were tonight. That hasn’t been an issue this year. I know those guys will take that to heart, but tonight it’s about celebrating the win and knocking off a top-25 team that had two ACC wins coming into that game. They were playing for a lot tonight. For us to get bowl eligible in a game like that and find a way to win, I’m very proud of this football team and this coaching staff. 

You always talk about complementary football. Is this one of the best all-around performances from your defense and special teams to pick up the slack? 

I think our goal tonight was to get the ball back for our offense and make their defense have to beat us. You guys saw how they control the clock and so we knew that by going three and out or having takeaways, as we call them on defense, that we could run the football. I thought we would score more points than we did. But special teams needed to be great. Bailey had a great punt. We were able to flip the field and pin them, which resulted in a safety by Isaiah Moore, which was a huge play in the game, obviously, too, to win by one. The safety was part of that victory, and that was a huge play, field-position wise. So our defense and special teams won, and that’s two thirds of the game. That’s how it goes. We knew that we needed to do that tonight with our special teams. Trent Gill had a huge punt at the end of the game, as well, to flip the field. 

How big is it to have a true freshman like Aydan White come in and make a game-changing play like that? 

Aydan’s been playing well since fall camp. He’s a young man that has really good talent. He’s a three-time state champion in the hurdles. He’s very athletic. He’s a guy that you’d love to redshirt in a normal year and put weight on, but with our situation at corner it’s just been developing him. [Malik Dunlap] has struggled the last couple weeks. So we felt like getting Aydan in the game in our dime package was something that would help us. Aydan had three interceptions in practice on Thursday. So he showed us he was ready. We gave him the opportunity and he made a play. It was a huge play in the game. 

Was the field goal block a play design or was that just Vi Jones making a great individual play? And what is it about him and blocking kicks? 

Levi deserves credit for making that play. All of our field goals on defense are block attempts. That particular one was a max block where we had two jumpers behind our guys that were rushing the interior and exterior. So Levi aligned between the goal posts and he said it hit him in the elbow as he came up and hugged me after the game. But he’s long, he’s athletic, he’s got a knack for it. That’s his third block of the year so kudos to him. That’s a huge play in the game, obviously a game winner.

You’ve talked all year about the resiliency of this team, was tonight the most they’ve shown all year?

I’m just so proud of these guys. Everything that’s come at them, they’ve responded. People have doubted this football team all year. For us to sit here with six wins and two top-25 wins, says a lot about them. I’m very proud of them. I think any time we see adversity in our program, we look at it as an opportunity, an opportunity to grow. An opportunity to prove people wrong. We carry a big chip on our shoulder. Tonight, I think the guys flipped it where it was the defense’s turn to win the game and I’m very proud of them. 

Looking from afar, it seemed like the game had a tension to it. Do you think your guys felt that? Did that contribute to some of the penalties?

I don’t know. We’ll have to talk tomorrow. I don’t know why we’re jumping offsides on defense. We’re literally yelling, with no crowd, at the guys on the sideline, “hard count.” We yell, “dojo”, which means don’t jump offsides. Everybody’s screaming it. So for us to do that multiple times, there’s no excuse. It’s absolute poor discipline and immature. We’ve got to get that fixed. Every game, we should be chippy. We should be carrying an edge every game. Tonight, their team was playing for a lot. They’re playing for a chance to try and elevate their program into the top 20. And be one of those teams that’s in the conversation. So they were playing extremely hard and so were we. But that’s not an excuse. There’s no way we should be jumping offsides or false starting. To me, those are mental penalties that are inexcusable. 

Do you think this is a win that elevates your program? 

I do. I think we’ve gone on the road and beaten a top-20 team. We’ve now beaten one at home that had two ACC wins. To be sitting here with six wins, and I don’t understand how teams are ranked with one game or two games. To me, I think that’s ridiculous. We have six quality wins, five quality conference wins and a top-25 win. So hopefully the people will look at that. Obviously, we’re bowl eligible, and beating another team in the top 25 should help us when it comes down to those decisions. But we’re doing our part to finish strong, and hopefully we’ll continue that as we get into these next two.

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