NC State seeks signature victory

Jacey Zembal, Editor
The Wolfpacker
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Ken Martin

NC State is in a prime position to pull off a signature victory at Florida State, aided in part by having nearly all of its starters back in place.

NCSU head coach Dave Doeren isn’t sure if senior cornerback Mike Stevens will start against the Seminoles at 12 p.m. Saturday, but he should rotate in with fifth-year senior Johnathan Alston. Stevens has missed the first three games with a knee injury. The lone preseason starter that is “questionable” to play is redshirt junior free safety Dexter Wright, who got hurt during the South Carolina game.

“Mike is good, but he had some muscular soreness, which you expect,” Doeren said. “From an injury standpoint, he’s completely healed. It’s just getting back into football shape. He has looked really good in practice.”

Wright hasn’t been able practice much, but Doeren said he is trending in the “right direction.” Sophomore Tim Kidd-Glass has been starting in Wright’s place.

Florida State dropped to the No. 12 ranking after falling 24-7 to Alabama on Sept. 2. FSU hasn’t played since due to Hurricane Irma, and also will be breaking in a new quarterback in freshman James Blackman.

NCSU feels it missed a golden opportunity against the Gamecocks, but an upset win over the Seminoles would more than make up for it. Doeren doesn’t want to place too much emphasis on what has happened since the opening season loss.

“It’s game four, so how much have we gotten better since the last game [49-16 win over Furman] is how we have looked at it,” Doeren said.

Doeren would be more happy for his players if they can pull off the upset against FSU. NC State last win against FSU was the 17-16 comeback victory Oct. 6, 2012.

“It isn’t about me, and I’ll be fine,” Doeren said. “I’ve been apart of signature wins as a coach, but it’s about these kids who have given us everything they’ve got for four years that are seniors that don’t get to play Florida State ever again.”

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Faith is the buzz word this week for Wolfpack football, but urgency, week one's holdover theme, could have a second act.

“All of the things that we talk about are always present,” Doeren said. “All of our core values are present all the time. This week it is about faith and trusting the plan, trusting your ability and trusting your training to go make plays that are there to make and finishing.”

Previous FSU quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Deondre Francois, who is out for the season after suffering a torn patella tendon against Alabama, both started as redshirt freshmen.

Doeren recalled the 2015 meeting when Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson got the start, but after being ineffective, the Seminoles dusted off junior Sean Maguire, who went on to throw for 231 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-17 win. The Wolfpack led 17-7 after the first quarter in that contest.

“He threw the ball all over the place,” Doeren said. “He hadn’t played in a long time. I told the defensive kids, they are going to run their offense. I know they believe in their quarterback, or they wouldn’t have recruited him.”

ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay has four FSU defensive players on his Big Board. Redshirt sophomore safety Derwin James is slotted fifth, senior defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi is No. 17, junior cornerback Tarvarus McFadden is No. 21 and junior defensive end Josh Sweat is No. 23.

James was hurt in the second game of the season last year and missed the remainder of the season.

“It was just one game, but they played him all over the place,” Doeren said. “He was lined up at nickel and he was lined up at linebacker in their dime package and he was lined up at safety in their base defense.”

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