Friday Night Lights: Pack Hosts #11 Miami
RALEIGH, N.C. – Rest, recovery, self evaluation. Those were just some of the key elements of the N.C. State Wolfpack’s much-needed bye week last weekend.
With four of the final five games of the 2020 season taking place inside the friendly confines of Carter-Finley Stadium, the Pack starts its season-ending stretch with a Friday Night showdown against #11 Miami, the fourth ranked foe in the first seven games of 2020.
The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m., and will be televised on ESPN.
After NC State opened the season with six straight contests, four on the road, the Pack had its lone bye week of the season last weekend.
“For us it was a really good week of reflection, a chance after six straight weeks to self scout, first of all, where we started and really digging into our own film,” said NC State head coach Dave Doeren. “Giving us time to study offensively — personnel, plays efficiency, on plays formations, tendencies, back sets, tight ends, wide receivers, all the different things — and get some rest and recovery and be able to reset.
“On defense. same thing; you studying yourself. How you’re defending formations, where are you having problems, what guys are doing well.”
The NC State coaches were looking back to its 4-2 start to the season. A perfect 2-0 at home, and an even 2-2 split in road contests through the first half of the season.
“The players were awesome about where they needed to get better,” said Doeren. “We (also) had enough time, really for the coaches and the players, to hit the reset.
“I think the whole team, and program, took this opportunity to really sit back and kind of hit reset. Look at (it as a) five-games season here to finish, with four of five at home.”
Much has been talked about, and will continued to be discussed here on out, about the Pack’s quarterback room.
Both Bailey Hockman and Devin Leary have made three starts this season, and after sustaining an injury against Duke in the last home contest, Leary will be out of action for the foreseeable future.
“We’re excited for Bailey,” said Doeren. “I thought he really did a great job coming in the game, and playing at the end of last week’s game (at UNC). Ben [Finley] will continue to develop and get reps. I’m glad we were able to get him some game reps.
“But it’s Bailey’s opportunity and he’s been through a lot. I know he’s excited to lead the football team, and he’ll do a great job for us.”
Despite those changes at the signal caller spot, NC State has seen great improvement in its passing numbers from last year.
The Pack’s passing offense ranked 67th in the NCAA in 2019, averaging 229.1 yards per game. That ranking is up to 31st this season, and 261.0 yards through the air per game.
Last time out at UNC, the Pack’s 358 yards passing were the most for a Pack team since the 2018 regular season finale against East Carolina (421).
The Pack will welcome in its highest ranked opponent of the season, as #11 Miami makes their first trip to Raleigh since 2016. The Hurricanes are off to a 5-1 start, with their lone loss at #1 Clemson back on Oct. 10.
“Really excited to play Miami, I think they’re really good football team,” said Doeren.
“I think their coaches do a really good job schematically, and offensively they’re super up tempo, so you got to be ready for that defensively. They’ve got electric returners and, obviously, Coach [Manny] Diaz has done a nice job there.”
The Pack will be facing Miami for the first time since 2016. This will be only the sixth time the two teams have met as ACC foes, as Miami joined the conference in 2004.
The teams have split the last two contests held in Raleigh, the Hurricanes won 27-13 in 2016, while the Pack took a 38-28 victory in 2008.
The Pack has started the 2020 home schedule with a pair of wins, defeating in-state foes Wake Forest (45-42) and then Duke (31-20). Starting with the Miami contest, NC State will play four of its final five games of the season at Carter-Finley Stadium.
“To know that four of five of your finishing games are at home, it puts you in a pretty good place mentally to have a great finish,” said Doeren.
“Now we got to go get it done. That’s where we’re going to have to do a great job here of playing to the best of our ability and guys staying focused and not letting one game affect the next.”
In his eight seasons at the helm of the Wolfpack, Doeren has posted a 12-6 record in home games played at night, including 3-2 in non-Saturday night games.
“I think it gives our guys a chance to finish very strong,” said Doeren. “Obviously, Miami is going to be a tough opponent coming in and we’re excited about that challenge.”
**********NC State (4-2) vs. #11 Miami (5-1)**********
Date Friday, Nov. 6
Time 7:30 p.m.
Location Raleigh, N.C.
Stadium Carter-Finley Stadium
Radio in NC Wolfpack Sports Network
National Radio Tunein, Sirius 81, XM 81
Live Stats GoPack.com
Social Media Twitter: @PackFootball | Instagram: PackFootball