NC State 40 Louisiana Tech 14 – what happened on Saturday?

Of course, the big news of the day was (1) that the Wolfpack looked absolutely fantastic in the first quarter with quarterback, Brandon Mitchell leading the offense, and (2) Brandon Mitchell’s broken foot and injury report that indicates he will miss at least 4 to 6 weeks after having surgery on his foot. (Link to WRAL story)

The other big news of the day was the strong play of the true freshmen wearing red and white. All told, Coach Doeren used ELEVEN TRUE FRESHMEN on Saturday. (Anyone want to discuss the stable of ‘talent’ that the last coaching staff left behind?) The impact of the freshmen were felt from the game’s first pass when a new #1, Marques Valdes-Scantling caught a 26 yard pass from Brandon Mitchell and took it up the sidelines into Louisiana Tech territory. MVS ultimately led the Wolfpack with 87 yards receiving.

True freshman, Matt Dayes became just the third NC State player in history to three or more touchdowns in a game while generating 84 yards on the ground on 17 carries. Dayes and Tony Creecy‘s running helped State to 542 yards of total offense, which was the most in a season opener since racking up 592 yards vs. Western Carolina in 1990 – in the heart of Dick Sheridan’s program. Louisiana Tech finished with 321 total yards but was crushed in time of possession 19 minutes to 41 minutes for State – a key component to any game played at a high pace in such heat.

The News & Observer highlighted the play of the freshmen in this good piece.

“They’re 18-year-old true freshmen and they’re playing like they’re fourth-year seniors,” quarterback Pete Thomas said.

They were two of 11 true freshmen who played Saturday in their first college game. Doeren made no secret in training camp he would go young and see what he had on the roster.

That was evident when Valdes-Scantling split wide on the first play, instead of senior Quintin Payton or junior Bryan Underwood.”

Although some negative-nellies may choose to criticize Wolfpackers for not returning to the stadium in the second half, I choose to focus on the fact that more than 54,000 fans showed up for a 12:30pm game on the last holiday weekend of the summer. Coach Doeren choose to express appreciation for the support as well in this article from the N&O that focused more on his role on Saturday.

Doeren might as well get used to this sort of thing. Wolfpack fans, meanwhile, will not find it difficult to get used to what they saw on the field in N.C. State’s 40-14 win over Louisiana Tech – 542 yards of offense, a defense that forced four turnovers and an early killer instinct on both sides of the ball that stunned the Bulldogs.

It was a two-way street, with Doeren equally impressed by the Wolfpack fans and Carter-Finley atmosphere.

“I walked into the coaches’ locker room today and said, ‘If these guys don’t play sky-high today, we’ve got issues,’ because it was a great environment coming up to the stadium,” Doeren said. “I knew they’d play their butts off. This is why they came here.”

Despite massive turnover in both coaches and players, Louisiana Tech was no pushover, and Skip Holtz has more material to work with there than he did his first year at East Carolina while sorting through the wreckage John Thompson left behind. Given that, the professionalism of N.C. State’s performance, particularly given all the change Doeren has wrought, should not be underestimated.

Joe Ovies gave the Pack a solid B+ grade for the day. I think that is spot on.

This is where the Summer of Indecision will pay nice dividends for State. Both Thomas and Mitchell had been seeing essentially equal reps in camp, so the surrounding personnel is just as familiar with the guy who started number two on this morning’s depth chart.

Another surprise? The debut of Matt Dayes. The tailback had been highly touted for his performances in preseason camp. Some finish their freshman season with three touchdowns, Dayes finished the afternoon with three. One might expect a frosh, who just found the endzone thrice in his first time in a college uniform, might be a little exciteable after the fact. Not Dayes, who straight-faced his postgame interviews, to the point where some media even joked with him that he could lighten up and smile a little. That’s a great sign of maturity from a 13th grader, who expects himself to succeed.

[snip]

The lesser-discussed half during the offseason, the defense, came up clutch. Louisiana Tech converted only 2-of-10 third down attempts and the Pack thwarted two red zone drives with a couple of fumble recoveries, including one by Darryl Cato-Bishop in the endzone. Total yardage was close at the stat sheet at one point, but the Pack ended up outgoing the Bulldogs by more than 200 yards.

Granted, this might not have been the Louisiana Tech of yesteryear, so we might not find out the true measure of State until three weeks when Clemson comes to town. However, all things considered, the Doeren-era starts strongly in Raleigh. The performance wasn’t perfect, i.e., settling for four field goals, inability to stretch the field vertically, but does any team ever play spotless? I bet Paul Johnson is finding something to pick apart right now, and he opened the season with a 70-0 W. So, if we’re giving grades, the Wolfpack earn a solid B+.

With all of the good things that happened in Raleigh on Saturday, leave it to ESPN and Heather Dinich to completely ignore the positives and de-prioritize the Doeren storyline and the strong play on both sides of the ball against a mid-major opponent for laughable storylines like Georgia Tech’s defense against Elon and a no-name receiver from Wake Forest who evidently can play real well against Presbyterian. Really?

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48 Responses to NC State 40 Louisiana Tech 14 – what happened on Saturday?

  1. LRM 09/01/2013 at 9:22 AM #

    It was hot.

    And lots of noise clutter. They’re pumping WAY too much noise into C-F past couple seasons. It really diminishes the atmosphere.

    Areas where we need to improve but I think a lot of us were pleasantly surprised by the opener. Almost every game I watched last night you can find many areas where improvement is needed — that’s just typical week one.

  2. Wulfpack 09/01/2013 at 9:43 AM #

    Very impressive opening game. The injury hurts but we will be ok. No comment on the talent situation – that is evident. Doeren will change that quickly.

  3. BJD95 09/01/2013 at 9:46 AM #

    Kudos to DD for focusing on the positive (fan support wise) and showing appreciation for the customers/stockholders. You catch more flies with honey, and it’s a refreshing change from the scolding schoolmarm model.

    I hate to hear that even MORE noise is being pumped in. When I had season tickets, I almost always left the game half-deaf and with a ringing headache (not from crowd noise or a hangover, either). I dunno whether this psychology is universal, but it didn’t “pump me up” – it made me sullen, cranky, and quiet.

    There are already numerous factors in favor of watching on tv (weather, financial, traffic), we really need to focus on how to make things as inviting as possible. Otherwise you will only be left with students and those who can’t imagine life without tailgating.

  4. Pack85EE 09/01/2013 at 10:04 AM #

    How about the job by Sade, 4 for 4 EP, 4 for 4 FG, 8 of 9 (estimate, I lost count) touch backs, most out of endzone!

  5. BJD95 09/01/2013 at 10:24 AM #

    Good call – Sade was flawless. Except for the 20 yarder from dead center (weird), almost every FG was within a few inches of straight down the middle.

    We also punted great in the first half

  6. Greywolf 09/01/2013 at 10:39 AM #

    “I walked into the coaches’ locker room today and said, ‘If these guys don’t play sky-high today, we’ve got issues,’ because it was a great environment coming up to the stadium,”

    ‘coming up to the stadium’ refers to the Walk of Champions that CTC put in. Pictures in the gallery in the N&O show Doeren hugging and kissing his wife with his son right there also. (That was no kiss on the cheek either.)

    This occurs some 2.5 hours before the game and it would be great if lots of tailgaters lined ‘the walk’ while the food was cooking. Doeren seemed to think it makes a difference to how his players come out of the tunnel ready to rock. Having seen some of the low to no energy starts before, I have to wonder what the hell was being said in the locker room before the game.

    Do you think it makes a difference to a freshman starting his first game to have your head coach take you off to the side for a few words of encouragement before you go out on the field? Can’t imagine TOB doing that. Of course TOB’s not here anymore either.

    About the stadium being half empty at the end, if the older folks were like me, they had to get in the shade or risk suffering serious heat problems. I should have left instead of stick it out standing in the shade. I was sick when I got home and after a cool shower, took a 3 and a half hour ‘nap.’ My wife helped me get my clothes off, brought me water and something to eat to take an Aleve with. Let’s not look to criticize everything we see without knowing what may be the source of it.

  7. rtpack24 09/01/2013 at 10:39 AM #

    I thought for a first game under an entire new staff we were very well coached and played hard throughout the game. Dixon will be playing on Sundays. I think with Mitchell healthy we will be able to compete with almost everyone on our schedule. We played yesterday without 4 of our best players. Copeland, AJ, Thorton, and Mitchell. Hopefully we come out next week with equal exicement. Anyone at the game that was dissatisfied with the music email Debbie Yow, she does listen to the fanbase.

  8. PoppaJohn 09/01/2013 at 10:40 AM #

    Agree with the previous posters, the kicking game was outstanding. We anticipated they would be good and it is now paying off. The concept of not allowing the opposition the chance to return a kickoff – crazy!
    All the rest was suspect due to the level of competition. I hope La Tech is better than we think.
    However Dayes and Creasy looked good carrying the ball. Shad will add to that. It’s scary that a frosh was our best receiver. Again, I hope it was a sign of how good he is, versus how bad the others are – but we saw them last year, and it wasn’t pretty.

    Looks like our weak link is going to be the O-line, and keeping them healthy will be the key to any kind of success this year.

  9. Alpha Wolf 09/01/2013 at 10:46 AM #

    This has come up before in the past, but it would be a great idea on games like this where it is hot and sunny to have a LOT of water coolers available for the fans. I know, it might hurt the concession sales some, but fan safety and comfort should always come first — especially for games where television has moved the starting time to the worst part of the day.

    Also, WTF with these new small cups? Is that to save on the cost of ice? I am NOT going to pay $5.50 for a soda with a ‘souvenir’ cup.

  10. PackerInRussia 09/01/2013 at 10:56 AM #

    “About the stadium being half empty at the end…”

    I thought it looked more like half full.

    Oh, and one of the most interesting Saturday story lines for me: did Cowdog ever make it to his car?

    Mr. Dayes can run. He’s got a quick first move.

  11. BJD95 09/01/2013 at 11:04 AM #

    Dayes seems to me like the classic “one cut” back that successful schemes in Denver and Houston have used. I like him a great deal.

    Couldn’t be happier with the new staff right now. Let’s just hope we can beat Richmond and Central Michigan (they looked pretty lousy yesterday) without Mitchell. Then we have a realistic shot to get bowl eligible once he comes back.

  12. Greywolf 09/01/2013 at 11:06 AM #

    About the game… We ran players in and out of the game on both sides of the ball and we were the fresher team at the end. Damn good game management.

    Shirreff ran the ‘Wildcat’. So our FB has run the ball 7 or 8 times as much as he ran it with TOB. LOL His threat of passing does make a difference. It was a run call all the way. As I saw it, Josh Taylor was the 3rd QB. This may change with Mitchell out. It will be interesting to see what happens with that. Taylor has some speed. The 2 busted plays were not his doing. Just good defense IMO. The kid did QB his team to 15-0 and ran and threw for a ridiculous number of yards. He has the same problem Russell Wilson has –too short.

    Our OL coach is making lemonade out of lemons. Our center playing guard, a second string JUCO tackle starting at center… It will be interesting to see what happens as the season continues.

    If our receivers don’t get open, Thomas sure knows how to get rid of it… 60 yd passes out of the end zone will do very nicely. ;-)

    About the players numbers… #15 was Jonathon Alston, not Manny Stocker as the stadium announcer called it. We have to use duplicates but in the past the duplicates were on opposite sides of the ball. stocker wasn’t mentioned as one of ‘his 4 QBs.’ You have to wonder if Stocker is being red-shirted this year.

  13. Greywolf 09/01/2013 at 11:24 AM #

    “About the stadium being half empty at the end…”

    ‘I thought it looked more like half full.’

    ;-) Just walking up and looking, the positive POV is that it’s half full.

    If the stadium started empty and was filling it would be half full but if it was full and emptying I’d have to say it was half empty. Of course if it were Kenan Stadium and it were 3/4 empty I’d expect to read it was half full.

  14. TLeo 09/01/2013 at 12:13 PM #

    Grey, If Keenan were 3/4 empty we would be hearing that it was capacity or standing room only crowd!

  15. bTHEredterror 09/01/2013 at 1:37 PM #

    Loved the offense, and the defense was way better than I expected. The tackles were dominant, and with the exception of a few ‘return to Archer’ missed tackle parades the linebackers and secondary were more than serviceable.
    The Mitchell injury is heartbreaking, with him we might have been able to spring one on the Tigers. Thomas will protect the ball and make good decisions but not a whole lot more. He did improve as the game wore on, and engineered some good drives.
    Dayes and MVS are special players, pumped to see how much Shad has improved as Creecy looked better. I almost had to go back to the car and touch myself after seeing all the running plays I’ve been screaming for for years.
    In fairness to the talent deficiency, while there were glaring wholes to fill, the pieces left behind have proven to be solid young men and have bought in as leaders to the Wolfpups. Key in any new program and awesome for making a smooth transition that we appear to have going. So far so good…….

  16. mak4dpak 09/01/2013 at 1:39 PM #

    Great start for DD and his staff, especially seeing that there is room for improvements, but still dominated the game. We are only gonna get better, and hope Mitchell gets back sooner than expected. We were very dominating on offense with him, until the injury.

  17. TeufelWolf 09/01/2013 at 1:40 PM #

    Okay, here are way to many observations from the being AT the game:

    Tailgating
    -Should open the parking lots earlier but we all know that.

    Video
    -Kinda lacking compared to most years. Not extremely motivating pre-game video(s).
    -Not as much fan-pics as usual either

    Audio (beyond the obvious ear-piercing cracking)
    -way too loud. I felt like they were trying to replace the lack of crowd noise with music — like trying to fabricate an exciting atmosphere. As BJD said, it is mostly counterproductive – kinda like Chinese finger cuffs.
    -don’t understand why they tried to replace “Thunderstruck”. That is an awesome post-score (us) kickoff song. “We Ready” is a good song; very motivating after the coin toss but not at every single kickoff. I see what they are trying to do but it doesn’t work. Use it more sparingly and keep “Thunderstruck” as the base-song, if you will.
    -that country song. I’m personally not a fan of country but I understand that a lot of the fans are. It was a decent mix-up but I doubt the players on the field enjoyed that particular one. But not a big deal either way.
    -If you are going to have vote-a-song-via-text then have the contest long enough (for someone who is not a teenage girl) to pull your phone out of your pocket – Geez.

    Crowd
    -didn’t think about the heat bothering the older crowd before someone said something but I get it. Valid.
    -However, it was kinda lame to see the student section roll out at halftime and practically empty in the 3rd Qrtr. I even had a student sitting behind me in season ticket section comment on his disappointment. Oh well, what can you do but shake your head and hope they fix themselves. I’m sure the players will plead their case this week.
    -I will say that I think that everyone (fan wise) kinda let up after the initial drive/TD and 3-and-out. It’s amazing how quickly we seemed to get complacent. Again, I said “seemed to”. Maybe I was the only one who thought so.

    Mitchell – YES! Get well soon brother!
    Smith – YES! Get him the ball! I tell you, he worked his butt off yesterday.
    Sade – Hopefully they won’t drug test him – haha – Holy cow! He was so good that by halftime, the ppl around me weren’t even paying attention to his kickoffs – assuming that he would put it out off the endzone. He can be a HUGE weapon for us if he keeps kicking like that.
    -Valdes-Scantling (MVS) – how about that catch over the middle when he KNEW he was about to get hit!!!
    -Dayes – ‘nuf said – don’t want to jinx him!

    Offense
    -Good system. Good play calling. Canada definitely mixes up good plays that capitalize on the strengths of the players on the field at that moment. I like what I saw. Lots of weapons – lots of options – lots for the opposing team to plan for.

    Defense
    -DLine was impressive. TT was everywhere
    -jury still out on the LBs and backfield. However they seemed all be around the ball on a lot of plays

    Overall
    -I feel like DD will definitely get everything out of his players. I can’t say that I felt that TOB did that — look how many of his players we have playing on Sunday…
    -Players seemed to be well conditioned
    -Also worth noting, not a lot of penalties and turnovers!!!
    -Very pleased with what DD was able to put on the field yesterday.
    -Very pleased with the direction that the program is heading!

  18. eas 09/01/2013 at 1:50 PM #

    Great job for everyone yesterday. Solid performance. That being said I am worried about the QB situation. Pete didn’t look too crisp.

  19. vtpackfan 09/01/2013 at 2:05 PM #

    DJ was a bit rusty-Robbie Caldwell has a real upside, he’s just not running on instinct. I like Pittmans game a bunch. Fast with ability to close out in a flash. Not going to say anything about the other LBs who played yesterday. They tried hard, so that was good I guess.

  20. WV Wolf 09/01/2013 at 2:47 PM #

    One thing I appreciated was the use of the fullback in the offense. There were times where the FB would line up in the slot, go in motion and then clear a hole for the RB (and Dayes seems pretty good at hitting the hole). Then the FB would also get open for some passes. TOB would split the FB wide all the way at sideline which didn’t fool anyone. And when our O-line is weak an extra blocker will definitely help.

  21. choppack1 09/01/2013 at 3:01 PM #

    Not ghetto the tomb bashing… only one person in a position of power ever publicly criticized the happenings in chapel hill. It wasn’t deb yow, woodson or coach gott. It was tom o’ Brien and I will always admire the one person associated with this university with the courage to call them out.

    As for DD – it was a great opener. The team was well-prepared and played hard.

    Best debut I can recall for a wolfpack head coach.

  22. Alpha Wolf 09/01/2013 at 3:23 PM #

    Oh, and get Rashard Smith some WHITE pants. ;-)

  23. MrPlywood 09/01/2013 at 3:50 PM #

    “I almost had to go back to the car and touch myself…” – wayyyy too much information.

    “Not ghetto the tomb bashing…” ummmm… ? I’m guessing auto-correct, but I might have to make that into a T-shirt.

  24. tractor57 09/01/2013 at 4:01 PM #

    If I wanted to pick nits I could find some but overall I could not be more pleased. One thing I expect is this staff to work out many of the first game kinks.
    I honestly expected a closer game but I did not expect so many impact plays from true freshmen for the Pack.
    Guess they need to consult Textile Chemistry regarding the colorfastness of those red jerseys.

  25. blpack 09/01/2013 at 4:32 PM #

    Very good first game. MVS and Dayes will have bright futures. Lots of good things going on yesterday. Some areas to work on too. I hope we don’t open at home at noon-ish again. I think the future is bright for the PACK!

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