Dave Doeren thinks N.C. State can build off its performance in a loss to No. 3 Clemson, if the Wolfpack can get healthy and stay out of trouble.
N.C. State (5-3, 1-3 ACC) is hoping to get back three injured players – running back Matt Dayes, cornerback Jack Tocho and linebacker M.J. Salahuddin – for Saturday’s trip to Boston College (3-6, 0-6).
The Wolfpack will definitely be without right tackle Will Richardson, who was suspended indefinitely by Doeren on Sunday after a DWI arrest.
Doeren liked what he saw from his players in a 56-41 loss to the powerful Tigers.
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“Obviously we didn’t win, but we did a lot of things well,” Doeren said on Monday. “We did some things not so well in the game but I did think we played hard and never quit. There are things you can build coming off of that game.”
Any continued progress by the Wolfpack, which had its best offensive ACC outing of the season with 41 points, would be easier with Dayes in the lineup. Dayes, the team’s leading rusher (865 yards) and the ACC leader in rushing touchdowns (12), missed the second half with a toe injury.
Doeren said he did not have an update on Dayes’ status but hoped to have one before practice on Tuesday.
Without Dayes, N.C. State ran sophomore Jaylen Samuels, who ran six times for 65 yards and a touchdown. Dayes had 72 yards on nine carries in the first half.
Sophomore Dakwa Nichols and freshman Reggie Gallaspy also played in the second half against Clemson and both figure to have a larger role against the Eagles, who lead the country in rushing defense (allowing only 64.2 yards per game).
The depth at running back was a strength for N.C. State when the season began but senior Shadrach Thornton was dismissed from the team in early October and freshman Johnny Frasier suffered an ankle injury early in training camp and is redshirting.
Dayes had been carrying the load, with 134 carries – 100 more rushing attempts than any other running back.
“At the beginning of the year, everyone was asking why you need so many running backs,” Doeren said. “Now you know.”
The Wolfpack will have to juggle the offensive line without Richardson, a redshirt freshman who started the first eight games.
Redshirt freshman Tyler Jones, who started two games at left guard earlier in the season, will move to right tackle. Jones went into training camp hoping to be a starter but was beaten out by Richardson.
“We know Tyler knows what to do and we know he’s excited,” Doeren said. “This is a great chance for him ... He has wanted to be a starter.”
Tocho was injured near the end of the third quarter after a touchdown catch by Clemson’s Deon Cain. As Cain was running toward the goal line, he accidentally kicked Tocho below the chin.
Salahuddin, who was just getting back to full speed after missing last season with a knee injury, sat out Saturday’s game with a groin injury. Freshman Riley Nicholson got his first start and outside linebacker sophomore Airius Moore moved inside to replace Salahuddin.
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N.C. State at Boston College
When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Alumni Stadium, Chesnut Hill, Mass.