N.C. State coach Dave Doeren was in no mood to recap a big 28-21 win over North Carolina on Friday, much less the Wolfpack’s regular season.
“Questions?” Doeren said Friday after his team’s second win in Chapel Hill in as many tries. “I’m ready to go home and have some fun, so you guys make it quick.”
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In that spirit, a quick rundown of the emotional twists of the Wolfpack’s season:
Senior Matt Dayes ran for 1,119 yards
All corners of the Triangle can appreciate the humble Dayes, who became the Wolfpack’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2002.
Dayes had eight 100-yard rushing games, including 104 against UNC despite missing the week of practice with various ankle and knee injuries.
Dayes missed five and half games last year with a toe injury or he would have had 1,000 yards in 2015. He came back with 138 yards in the first game of 2016 and didn’t look like he missed a step at all.
The defense rebounds
With many of the same players back on a defense that struggled at the end of 2015, N.C. State ranked No. 4 in the country in rush defense and in the top 35 in total defense and scoring defense.
Safety Josh Jones (team-best 106 tackles) went from a liability on defense to a standout. Defensive end Bradley Chubb (20.5 tackles for loss) emerged as one of the best pass-rushers in the ACC.
Memorable wins over Notre Dame and UNC
N.C. State went into the season with five top 25 teams on the schedule. Notre Dame and UNC didn’t stay in the rankings, but the Wolfpack topped the Irish 10-7 in a hurricane on the 50th anniversary of Carter-Finley Stadium and then closed the regular season with a 28-21 win over UNC to clinch a bowl bid.
The not-so good
Lots of yellow flags
The Wolfpack ranked No. 113, out of 128 teams, in penalty yards per game (67.1). State was flagged eight times or more in four games, including 13 in a 24-17 overtime loss to Clemson.
Red zone issues
N.C. State could get inside the opponents’ 25-yard line fairly regularly (49 times) but only scored (either touchdown or field goal) 37 times, which put it 72nd in the country in red zone conversion percentage.
N.C. State’s two kickers, Connor Haskins and Kyle Bambard, went a combined 9-of-17 with five combined missed kicks in close losses to East Carolina and Clemson.
N.C. State went 1-3 in home ACC games, with a 33-16 decision over Wake Forest on Oct. 1 as the only win. In Doeren’s four years, N.C. State’s just 3-13 in conference play at Carter-Finley Stadium.
The 21-14 loss to Boston College on Oct. 29, snapping a 12-game ACC losing streak for the Eagles, was particularly ugly.
The look ahead
N.C. State (6-6) will play in one of the ACC’s “Tier II” bowl games in Annapolis, Md., Shreveport, La. or Detroit after Christmas.