The grass isn’t always greener in the SEC.
North Carolina State offensive coordinator Matt Canada was among three finalists to replace Mike Bajakian as the Tennessee Volunteers next offensive player-caller.
ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reported that Canada pulled his name out of consideration Thursday.
The reason behind Canada’s decision was simple. North Carolina State decided to extend a new contract, according to SI.com’s Pete Thamel.
With Canada out of the conversation, the Volunteers will likely concentrate on three candidates to become their next offensive coordinator. A report surfaced earlier Thursday that UCLA’s Noel Mazzone, USC’s Clay Helton and former Michigan coordinator Mike DeBord interviewed for the position.
Scout.com’s UCLA affiliate, Bruin Report Online, reported Mazzone didn’t interview with the Volunteers, though.
If the latter report is correct then Helton and DeBord remain in consideration. Helton is the likely the favorite since DeBord hasn’t been on the sidelines for two years nor called plays since 2006.
North Carolina State, meanwhile, retains an innovative play-caller. During his two seasons with the Wolfpack, Canada’s offense averages 406.12 yards per game.
A year ago, North Carolina State’s decision to hire Dave Doeren didn’t reflect favorably on the university. A year later and Doeren helped orchestrate the second biggest turnaround in major college football this season.
With the 34-27 victory over the UCF Knights in the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl, the Wolfpack finished 8-5 overall, which is a five-game improvement in the win column for Doeren.
The improvement came naturally for a young and improving roster. Only six seniors started on both sides of the ball. Meanwhile, the young players stepped up, particularly during the bowl game.
Quarterback Jacoby Brissett, a Florida transfer, strung together an outstanding performance against the Knights. The junior was 15-of-26 passing for 262 yards and a touchdown. The quarterback carried the team to a 17-10 halftime lead before the running game took over in the second half.
Both junior Shadrach Thornton and sophomore Matt Dayes finished the opening half with less rushing yards (29) than Brissett. Yet the duo exploded in the second half courtesy of a strong run-blocking effort by North Carolina State’s offensive line.
Wolfpack offensive coordinator Matt Canada repeatedly called inside zone runs to gash UCF’s stout defense. The Knights entered the bowl game with the fifth-ranked rush defense. Thornton and Dayes, however, shredded George O’Leary‘s defense with 174 total yards including a pair of touchdowns from the sophomore.
Despite the loss, UCF continues to prove its one of the best programs among the Group of Five conferences. The Knights finished 9-5 overall. It’s the fourth time in five years that O’Leary led the program to at least nine wins.
But the spotlight will shine on Doeren Friday due to the tremendous job he orchestrated this season with a program that wasn’t expected to compete at a high level.
The coach will now be expected to take the program to yet another level next season, and it’ll be possible to do so with a seasoned Brissett behind center and a talented stable of running backs.
North Carolina State quarterback Jacoby Brissett was nearly perfect through two quarters of play in the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl. As a result, the Wolfpack established a 17-10 lead over the UCF Knights with the two teams preparing for the second half of play.
Brissett was 10-of-12 passing for 197 yards and a touchdown. He was elusive in the pocket, extended plays and placed plenty of stress on UCF’s defense due to his ability to run the football if needed. The quarterback led the Wolfpack with 29 rushing yards.
The only mistake Brissett made came at the end of the half when he took a sack while the Wolfpack was in scoring position. North Carolina State had an opportunity to extend the lead by two scores and receive the kickoff in the second half, but the sack forced the clock to run out for halftime.
UCF’s Justin Holman hasn’t been quite as good, but he’s been solid and created a few big plays in the first half. The sophomore was 11-of-19 passing for 118 yards and a touchdown. The UCF signal-caller didn’t make any key mistakes, and his team remains within striking distance.
Holman needs help, though. George O’Leary‘s offense is predicated on establishing the run, which allows the quarterback to strike down field. North Carolina State’s defense held the Knights’ rushing attack to 3.7 yards per carry. UCF needs to stay ahead of the chains to keep pressure of its quarterback and put him in the best position to succeed.
Brissett, on the other hand, needs to get his offense into the end zone. North Carolina State drove the ball inside the 30-yard line on its final two drives. Those drives resulted in only three points.
Despite an impressive first half performance, Brissett will need to continue his current level of play for the Wolfpack to secure its first bowl victory under head coach Dave Doeren.
The North Carolina State Wolfpack is giving the No. 1 Florida State Seminoles everything they can handle and then some.
North Carolina State senior quarterback Jacoby Brissett was stellar through two quarters of play as the Wolfpack leads Florida State 24-21 at halftime.
A year ago, Florida State pounded North Carolina State by a score of 49-17. The Seminoles led 42-0 at halftime. North Carolina State’s quarterback last year, Brandon Mitchell, was awful. Mitchell was 17-of-33 passing with a pair of interceptions and generally overwhelmed by Florida State’s talented defense.
Brissett’s play in the first half was the complete opposite of Mitchell’s.
This year’s starter is 14-of-20 passing for 214 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It’s been Brissett’s ability as both a passer and runner which baffled Florida State early in the contest. Brissett’s second touchdown pass was a thing of beauty and will go down as one of the best plays of the college football season (see: below).
Brissett was matched by Florida State’s Jameis Winston. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner returned this week after being suspended for last week’s game. Winston continues to play at a high level. The sophomore was 14-of-21 passing for 210 yards and two touchdowns.
These two quarterbacks will be expected to play at high level in the second half for their team to capture a victory.
Although, momentum built in Florida State’s favor in the second quarter. North Carolina State jumped out to an early 24-7 lead in the first quarter before Winston and the Seminoles came roaring back.
The Wolfpack needs to regain the intensity it had to start the game, while Florida State overcame the early emotion and looked more like the best team in college football during the second quarter.