N.C. State needs one more win to qualify for a bowl game.
Given the Wolfpack’s 3-9 record last year, junior safety Hakim Jones said getting to bowl eligibility would be a step in the right direction.
“Six doubles our win total from last year,” Jones said. “That’s a big improvement.”
Freshman receiver Bo Hines took the math one step further on Monday. N.C. State (5-5, 1-5 ACC) still has games against Wake Forest, North Carolina and a potential bowl game.
“There’s still a possibility that we can win eight games this year,” Hines said. “That’s a big turnaround from winning three last year. We’re definitely on the right track.”
Staying on the right track and getting in the right mindset for Wake Forest (2-7, 0-5) means forgetting last Saturday’s 56-23 wipeout against Georgia Tech.
Jones said one thing the team has consistently been able to do this season is put a loss behind them and come back with a positive attitude the next game.
“It was a pretty tough loss, as the scoreboard said, but we’ve always come back and been very good at correcting our mistakes,” Jones said.
Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren noted it was the mistakes – three turnovers and nine dropped passes – that cost his team against Georgia Tech.
“We had three turnovers in 90 seconds, which is really hard to do,” said Doeren, noting the bizarre sequence in the first half from Saturday’s game when the Wolfpack ran 25 straight plays on offense.
N.C. State is 4-1 this season when it has fewer turnovers than its opponent. In its five wins, it has a plus-11 turnover margin, compared with a minus-4 margin in its five losses.
“The biggest thing is just not beating ourselves,” Doeren said.
The dropped passes have not been as big of a problem this season. Doeren said three of the nine drops against Georgia Tech were when a player was diving for the ball but got his hands on the ball.
“We’re at five wins, which is improvement from where we were. To take the next step to be a bowl-type team, you have to make plays when people are all over you,” Doeren said.
Wake Forest will be N.C. State’s final home game of the season. The Wolfpack will get its second open date before finishing the regular season at North Carolina on Nov. 29.
Doeren said he wants to send the seniors out with a win in their last home game. It has been the seniors who have kept the players positive after some difficult spots, Doeren said. He singled out the leadership of running back Tony Creecy, defensive tackle Thomas Teal and defensive end Art Norman on Monday.
“That’s one thing I will say, they play hard,” Doeren said. “We need to play smarter at times and we need to finish plays better at times, but we stick together. The leadership has been strong from our senior class.”