No. 11 Miami begins stretch drive at N.C. State
Coming off an open weekend on the schedule, there’s a good feeling about what No. 11 Miami has accomplished so far.
But there’s much more work to be done for the Hurricanes, beginning against host North Carolina State on Friday night at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C.
“We feel good to be at this part of the season and to be at 5-1,” Miami coach Manny Diaz said. “It promises to be an exciting and challenging stretch run.”
The Hurricanes (5-1, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) recovered from a loss at top-ranked Clemson for home victories against Pittsburgh and Virginia before enjoying a bye week.
NC State (4-2, 4-2) also had an off week and is trying to get back in the groove after its three-game winning streak was snapped on Oct. 24 against then-No. 14 North Carolina. This will mark the Wolfpack’s fourth game against a ranked opponent.
“We had enough time for the coaches and the players to hit the reset,” NC State coach Dave Doeren said.
Miami quarterback D’Eriq King, a transfer from Houston, averages 283.7 yards in total offense per game. He has thrown for 11 touchdowns with four interceptions, and rushed for 301 yards and two more scores.
“A large part of it is because of D’Eriq,” Diaz said of the team’s success. “I think every week our players believe we have a chance to win because he’s our quarterback.”
King said: “It’s November. A lot of memories [are] to be made in November.”
Diaz is a former NC State assistant coach, spending six seasons under ex-coach Chuck Amato from 2000-05.
The Wolfpack departed its last game on the wrong side of a 48-21 result to the rival Tar Heels along with lots of bodies that needed to recover physically.
“I think the most important thing in defeat is how you respond,” Doeren said. “I think that’s something this football team takes a lot of pride in. We’ve handled a lot of adversity this year, and this team has stuck together through all of it. I don’t expect it to be any different moving forward.”
NC State running back Ricky Person Jr. is expected to be in action after sustaining a concussion at North Carolina.
The biggest question looming for NC State could come at quarterback, where junior Bailey Hockman has started in place of injured Devin Leary. Even with Leary likely out for the rest of the season following surgery for a broken leg, Hockman’s status is challenged because of the potential of true freshman Ben Finley.
“It’s Bailey’s opportunity,” Doeren said. “He has been through a lot. I know he’s excited to lead the football team and he’ll do a great job for us.”
Finley, the younger brother of former Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley, showed moments of promise in relief during the North Carolina game. Finley threw a touchdown pass and was intercepted twice, though one of the pick-offs was a pass that was bobbled by a receiver in the end zone before it was snatched by a North Carolina defender.
The Wolfpack were not shy about having Finley throw the ball. He was in the game for 33 snaps, completing 13 of 20 passes.
In four games this season, including one start, Hockman is completing 58.6 percent of his throws for 531 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. He’s been sacked seven times.
NC State’s 3-3-5 defensive alignment could be a new wrinkle for the Hurricanes to attack.
“It’s different,” King said. “They do a good job of kind of disguising what they’re in.”
Miami and NC State haven’t played since 2016. The teams have met only five times in ACC play. Only one NC State player ever appeared in a game against Miami.
This will be the sixth outing in seven games that the Hurricanes are in a primetime kickoff slot.
For Miami, this begins a stretch of three road games in a four-game span. NC State, meanwhile, will be in the first outing of a season-ending span that consists of four home matchups in five games.
–Field Level Media