With a win Thursday, N.C. State coach Dave Doeren had some free time this past Saturday to watch four of the six opponents left on the schedule.
Since Boston College, this week’s opponent, wasn’t one of the ACC teams in action, Doeren decided it was best to focus on the task at hand and not look ahead.
“Like I told the team after the Florida State game, the only team on our schedule I’m worried about is us,” Doeren said on Monday at his weekly press conference.
The two main reasons for that, Doeren said, are the lack of experience by his team and the number of key injuries. Ten of the expected starters for Saturday’s trip to Boston College (3-3, 1-2 ACC) are either freshman or sophomores.
On the injury front, N.C. State (4-2, 1-1) already has had three starters on offense and backup cornerback Taiyon Palmer ruled out for the season.
Cornerback Nick McCloud (knee), running back Ricky Person (ankle) and right tackle Justin Witt (undisclosed) were missing from the depth chart on Monday, which is usually a sign they will not play against the Eagles on Saturday (noon, Fox Sports Carolinas).
The cornerback situation is particularly tenuous. McCloud, the team’s top corner, has been out since the season-opener. Junior Chris Ingram, who started the first six games, suffered an apparent leg injury in the second quarter of the 16-10 win over Syracuse this past Thursday. Ingram was listed as a starter on the depth chart on Monday but Doeren said Ingram’s status could change.
“He hasn’t been ruled out yet but we’ll see where we end up,” Doeren said.
With the top three corners out in the second half against Syracuse, N.C. State went with a combination of senior Kishawn Miller, sophomore Teshaun Smith and redshirt freshman Malik Dunlap.
N.C. State’s defense was able to regularly pressure Syracuse quarterback Tommy DeVito, and sack him eight times, but DeVito did throw for 300 yards and complete 74.3 of his passes (29 of 39).
Not that Boston College (3-3, 1-2) is going to throw a pity party for N.C. State’s injuries. The Eagles lost quarterback Anthony Brown for the season with a knee injury in their 41-39 loss at Louisville on Sept. 28.
Redshirt sophomore Dennis Grosel will get his first collegiate start on Saturday. He replaced Brown in the second quarter at Louisville and completed 9 of 24 passes for 111 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. He also ran for 47 yards.
The Eagles have also played the first six games without junior linebacker Isaiah McDuffie (knee), who was second on the team with 85 tackles last season.
The Eagles’ rebuilt defense has struggled this season giving up 32.0 points per game to Bowl Subdivision opponents. They gave up 664 yards in the loss to Louisville and rank No. 121 in the country total defense (476.2 yards per game).
“If you watch our defense right now, we’re a little bit of a roller-coaster ride,” BC coach Steve Addazio said during his weekly press conference on Monday, according to the school’s web site. “What we have to learn to do is handle adversity. We make a lot of mistakes right now and we have to learn how to grow up and handle that.”
Of the teams left on N.C. State’s schedule, defense was at a premium this past Saturday. No. 3 Clemson was only one of the future Wolfpack opponents who played on Saturday to give up fewer than 40 points. Georgia Tech, Louisville and Wake Forest all struggled to get stops, not that Doeren was watching.
“All I know is if we beat ourselves, we’ve got no chance,” Doeren said. “None. So that’s where our focus has to be in getting these guys that are now in Game 7 to play like veteran players.”