Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke is confident.
His confidence, however, may have given N.C. State’s defense, No. 2 overall in the ACC, some bulletin-board material.
Van Dyke, who has taken over for injured quarterback D’Eriq King, met with the media this week and told the group flat out “I don’t think they can stop us.”
Stopping teams hasn’t been an issue for the Wolfpack defense. The unit is the top-ranked scoring defense in the conference, holding teams to 294.7 yards of offense per game. They have surrendered just 14.3 points.
Van Dyke, who started the last two games in place of King, gave props to the N.C. State defense, but in the same breath might have given some extra motivation.
“Yeah, NC State has a great defense,” Van Dyke told reporters. “What are they? Like top something in the country, top whatever ... I mean, that doesn’t matter. They’re still the same guys we played last year. We put up 44 points last year on them. They have different types of wrinkles on defense. We feel really confident.”
Last year in Raleigh, the Hurricanes came away with a 44-41 victory and racked up 620 yards of total offense. King was responsible for 535 of those.
Van Dyke didn’t play in that game and is coming off a 264-yard passing performance in a loss at UNC last week. He also threw three interceptions in that game. N.C. State leads the ACC in interceptions (8) and is the No. 4 passing defense in the league.
Naturally, Van Dyke’s video made its rounds through the Wolfpack locker room Tuesday night. On Wednesday, N.C. State defenders met with the media.
“That’s interesting,” Wolfpack defensive end Daniel Joseph. “Last year was last year. It may be the same guys, but I know this team is pissed off for greatness. For us, it’s a matter of handling what we have to handle. Doesn’t matter what anyone says, or thinks or does. If we handle what we need to handle and control what we can control, we got it.”
N.C. State’s defense has handled plenty this season. That side of the ball came up clutch late in games versus Clemson in two overtimes and Louisiana Tech. In their other three wins, the opposing teams only scored a total of 14 points. Only one team, the Clemson, has rushed for a touchdown against N.C. State this season. When it comes to the passing game, Joseph and company have just been disruptive.
“I feel like it starts at practice,” defensive end Savion Jackson said. “I know it’s a cliche, practice how you play, but definitely just going hard in practice. Just going 100%. We take pride in getting tackles for loss and sacks. So more sacks in the future and plays made, definitely.”
Miami is averaging 32.3 points per game, the best scoring conference team N.C. State has faced all season. Van Dyke is averaging 184 yards through the air. He won’t be the only problem the Wolfpack have to worry about Saturday, but his comments will make him stand out. Jackson said the video was played several times in the locker room, but it’s not something they’ll harp on or spend a lot of time worrying about.
“It just gives us that task that we need to handle,” Jackson said. “We need to complete this mission sort of thing. As a defense, it gives us exactly what we want, we want to be tested by every team.”