Mark Richt has seen a few good teams in his coaching career and the Miami coach is convinced N.C. State is a good team.
Richt, who was a longtime head coach at Georgia and assistant at Florida State before going back to his alma mater this season, couldn’t have been more complimentary to the Wolfpack after his team’s 27-13 win on Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium.
“I thought they were one of the best teams we’ve played — really and truly,” Richt said. “Like I told the team last night, I said the more I watch their tape, the better they are.”
N.C. State (5-6) has had several close calls this season but hasn’t found a way to win many close games. Richt said N.C. State was “very physical” and “very well-coached.”
The Wolfpack lost to Clemson in overtime, after missing a 33-yard field goal at the end of regulation, and lost at home to Florida State, after dropping a late interception that would have sealed a win.
Richt noted both of those plays in his post-game comments on Saturday.
“They’re the type of team that could’ve beaten just about anybody on their schedule,” Richt said. “And for whatever reason, this play or that play – I saw the dropped interception against Florida State. That ends the game, if they catch that ball, you know? Chip-shot field goal to win the game against Clemson. It’s just that close between winning and losing.”
Instead of being 5-5 headed in Saturday’s game, N.C. State could have been 7-3, Richt said.
“So they were in position to win those games,” Richt said. “They just didn’t get it done but they’re a very good team and a very well-coached team.”
N.C. State had a few more of those plays in Saturday’s loss to Miami. Sophomore receiver Stephen Louis dropped a touchdown pass in the end zone at the end of the second quarter that would have given N.C. State a 7-3 lead. The Wolfpack settled for a field goal instead.
Quarterback Ryan Finley threw an interception in the end zone on third down on N.C. State’s first drive of the third quarter when the Wolfpack could have tied the game at 10 or at least got another field goal.
After N.C. State made it 17-10 early in the fourth quarter, and got a stop from its defense, senior receiver Bra’Lon Cherry dropped a punt at his own 16-yard line at 14:42 in the fourth quarter. Miami was able to turn the mistake into three points.
While Richt sung N.C. State’s praises, Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren had a familiar refrain after the loss.
“We had a chance to win today and didn’t make enough plays when we needed to,” Doeren said. “We just didn’t play well enough to win.”
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio