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Coming off a massive 45-0 win against South Florida, NC State head coach Dave Doeren has his sights set on a much tougher opponent in Starkville coming up.
Doeren acknowledged that his Wolfpack team played a disciplined game last weekend, only committing three penalties in the entire game. That same level of focus will be needed in a very noisy, hostile Davis Wade Stadium against Mississippi State.
“[It’s the] first time in a while that we will be preparing for crowd noise,” Doeren said. “The cowbells will be in full effect, I know. We look forward to that. We look forward to the pageantry and the noise, fanfare and everything that goes into it. It’s going to be awesome. I have great respect for Mississippi State’s program. I have for a long time. They are a blue-collar, tough group. They’re very similar, passionate and tough. I like what they’re about. I have always respected how they play.”
The Bulldogs may be known for their offensive-minded coach Mike Leach, but Doeren made sure to complement the defense, too, when giving his thoughts.
“Defensively they are very aggressive,” he said. “They are like us in a 3-3-5 alignment, but there is a lot of line of scrimmage movement, lots of stunts and lots of blitzes. We’ve got to be able to handle their style of play upfront and stay ahead of the chains. They are not a team that you want to give long yardage too. They do a lot of good stuff. You want to try and stay ahead of the chains, which we were able to do last week.”
To win the game, though, the Wolfpack will have to perform well defensively against the Air Raid offense that Leach created years ago. The Wolfpack secondary, especially, will be tested both mentally and physically due to the speed of the game.
“[State’s offense] will definitely test our depth and our conditioning. There’s going to be a lot of running in the back end this week. We’ll need to rotate when we need to.”
Doeren continued: “I am sure it will be hot there at night. Maybe not as hot, but it will be a warm night in Mississippi. We will have to take advantage of our depth. I am glad we got to play so many of those guys last week.”
Doeren also took the time to break down Leach’s offense a bit more in-depth.
“They are very good at what they do,” he said. “They don’t do a ton. There’s not a ton of formations. There is really good understanding of spacing and timing in their offense and doing things after the catch with it. You have to be able to tackle in space.”
FanDuel Sportsbook currently lists the Wolfpack as a sharp (-1.5) favorite. The line surely reflects Mississippi State’s poor performance last weekend against LA Tech, a game which they barely edged out by one point late. Not often will you get a SEC home team catching points against a non-conference opponent, so the Bulldogs may worth a look here.
The game kicks off at 4:00PM ET this Saturday from Starkville.