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NC State Football

Dave Doeren: 'The curse is broken, NC State fans'

September 25, 2021

NC State head coach Dave Doeren picked up the biggest win of his Wolfpack career Saturday, beating No. 9 Clemson for the first win over the Tigers in his tenure and NC State’s first since 2011. 

Doeren spoke to the media after the win, here’s a full breakdown of everything he had to say: 

Opening statement

A heck of a ball game and I’m so proud of our players and the way that they played tonight. I don’t think that the scoreboard was indicative of how we played. I thought we controlled the ball along the line of scrimmage, didn’t flinch, really proud of them. The curse is broken, NC State fans, finally. I’ve been here nine years and seen a lot of crazy stuff. And people have talked about it and didn’t believe it, but I’ve got to tell you, I think it was real, and it’s not there anymore. So we can move on now and be happy about that. 

I thought our quarterback was incredible, Devin Leary, just the way he manages the game and how tough he is, just the way he manages the game and makes clutch throws, and Devin Carter made a clutch catch, Emeka Emezie, the defense, time and time again made stops. I’m just super proud of these young men, it’s been a journey. And that’s a really good football team that’s had their adversity this year. [Dabo Swiney] and his staff, his team, they played hard and coached well. It was a great football game. 

I have to give God the glory here and be so thankful and blessed for what we have with these players and their leadership, and what he’s given me with this staff. So it’s a great team win, and I’m very thankful and looking forward to celebrating this win tonight. 

You talked about Devin’s play already, was it the game plan to give him plays underneath?

We thought we’d have to RPO them quite a bit. They do a lot on defense and instead of dropping back and letting those guys blitz, running the ball and if they don’t honor what we’re doing on the perimeter, throw it out there and let those kids make plays. And Devin, that was the game plan. Different plays had different reads. He did a great job throughout the game, and coach [Tim Beck], changing up who he was reading and what he was doing and what he was looking at, whether it was a backer or safety. And it wore them down. They couldn’t do what they wanted to do on defense. They had some things, we were trying to hide signals in the huddle early on and it just cost us. It sounded great, just didn’t work out, so we went back to doing what we normally do. But look at [Emeka Emezie] 14 catches, and Ricky Person, [Zonovan Knight], the way the O-Line battled and played, that’s a good front. 

Would you call this the biggest win of your tenure?

I would. I think it’s put us in a position, not only because they’re a top 10 team and it’s our first ACC game of the year, and the number of times that we’ve had a chance to beat them and couldn’t. The number of times they’ve been in the playoff, National Championship game, that’s a great football program that we just beat. I have the ultimate respect. I think you guys make a lot of this thing between me and Dabo, which doesn’t exist. I have the ultimate respect for him and their staff and their team. It means a lot. He’s made me a better coach. We’ve tried hard to catch up to them, and we’ve developed our guys and we’ve built an edge to us because of them. We wanted to beat them for a long time. We’ve had chances to beat them, and we didn’t. We didn’t make the plays. We made the plays tonight.  

According to Technician, the student newspaper, students have already gathered at the Bell Tower. What did it mean to you to give the student body something that important? 

Light it red, Chancellor Woodson. Light it red and leave it on all night. I hope they have a lot of fun. I hope they have a great night. They deserve to party like that. I hope they all stay safe, but that’s what this is all about. If they could rip the goalposts down, walk them down there and lean them up against the Bell Tower, that’d be even better. It’s an awesome thing, man, when you light it red like that. 

Was it a feeling of relief for you after the last play of the game?

When I saw the ball sail a little bit wide right, and coach [Tony Gibson] was on the headset and said ‘That’s it boys, and all of the sudden you see flashes and players running out, man, it’s a great feeling. I’m just so happy for the school, for the program and for the fanbase. They’ve wanted this for a long time, and I’ve wanted to give it to them. Not that I gave it to them, we gave it to them, and I’m very happy for the Wolfpack nation tonight. 

When was the last time you were on the field for a field-storming situation?

I don’t know if I can answer that. I know we had a few at Wisconsin. At Kansas I think they stormed the field every time that we won. They actually did. One year we won four games and they ripped the goal posts down every time. It hasn’t happened here. I’m glad it did. I’m glad security let the fans down there. It’s awesome. That’s how it should be. That’s college football, man. That’s what it’s all about. 

What were some of those ‘big-boy plays’ that separated you from Clemson?

Emeka’s catch was a big-boy play, for sure. Defensively, a couple of the sacks we made were incredible plays. Drake’s interception. We had to make a couple special, special plays, and we did. The guys that you think should make them, Devin Carter and Emeka, made them. Devin Leary put the ball where it needed to be and allowed those kids to make plays. I’m proud of our O-line. They don’t get a lot of credit. They battled. That’s a really good defensive line, and they gave Devin time back there to do what he needed to do. They deserve a lot of credit, too. We had 96 plays to their 49. That’s pretty incredible. 

Could you address how the team handled adversity tonight and how much did having a full  house help them overcome that?

I should have said that in my opening statement, so thank you for that. Our fans were awesome. They were awesome. It was an incredible environment. They were incredible. They helped us tonight, there’s no question. Thank you to our fans, our students, the families of our players, coach’s wives, boosters, donors, you name it. Thank you guys. We didn’t flinch. I think that’s the easiest way to say it. We missed three field goals. Those are all hard things. Chris will bounce back. Offensively, you have the ball that much and don’t get as many points as you want. Some teams say, ‘Oh, here we go again.’ Our guys just say, ‘Keep playing. Put the ball down. Next play is the play where we are going to win the game.’ That’s how we approached it. The maturity kicked in. We stopped helping them in the second half with penalties. That was a big part of why they played with us in the first half. I think we had nine penalties in the first half and two in the second. That was a big part of what we did in the second half. That’s a mature thing. The guys in the locker room at halftime knew it, they owned it and they came out and played their butts off. 


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