RALEIGH — As the NC State football team danced triumphantly off the field at Doak Campbell Stadium following Saturday’s upset of Florida State, defensive tackle B.J. Hill shouted out a reminder to his celebrating teammates.
“We ain’t done yet,” he said.
They’re words worth noting since all too often in the past, the emotional high of beating the Seminoles or fellow ACC Atlantic heavyweight Clemson have been followed in rapid succession by an equally monumental letdown.
The most recent example of this came in 2012, when the Wolfpack offset the positive effects of a nationally televised victory against Florida State by losing its next home game — on homecoming, no less — to a Virginia team that finished 2-6 in the ACC and 4-8 overall.
It was a loss that marked the beginning of the end of Tom O’Brien’s coaching tenure at State.
Although no one associated with this year’s team was around for that disappointing turn of events, coach Dave Doeren and his players are well aware of the history they’ll try not to repeat Saturday when they take on Syracuse at Carter-Finley Stadium.
“I feel like it’s understood, but it’s definitely talked about,” star defensive end Bradley Chubb said Wednesday. “Coach Doeren tries to remind us and we try to remind ourselves everyday, too, that if we want to be the great team we talk about, we can’t let this one slip.”
Syracuse heads into its ACC opener at 2-2, with one of those losses coming two weeks ago against Middle Tennessee State.
That result is one reason why some are looking at Saturday’s matchup as a potential trap game for the Wolfpack, especially with another highly anticipated divisional showdown against Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and Louisville coming up the following Thursday night.
But Doeren isn’t among them.
“People brought that up to me already and I don’t look at it that way,” he said Monday at his regular weekly press conference. “I’m watching Syracuse on film. They’re a really good football team.”
Syracuse presents a particular challenge because of the up-tempo offense brought in by second-year coach Dino Babers. The Orange averages 87 snaps per game and will test the Wolfpack’s conditioning.
But after staying strong for the entire 60 minutes in the Florida heat and humidity last Saturday, Hill is confident he and his teammates will be up to the task.
“Their offense, the tempo of their offense is pretty fast, so we have to condition the best we can and be ready for it.,” Hill said. “Our strength coach (Dantonio Burnette) did a really good job with us over the summer, pushing us to be in the best condition we can be.”
While State’s physical fitness might not be in question, its mental preparation won’t be known until after kickoff Saturday.
Based on the way his team has practiced this week, Hill said there’s little chance his team will get caught suffering from the post-Florida State hangover that has been the Wolfpack’s downfall in the past.
“We’ve moved on to the next week,” he said. “We’ve got Syracuse this week and that’s our focus.”
It’s a focus that began to take hold even before the Wolfpack got back to campus. But that doesn’t mean Doeren was adverse to a little celebration before moving on.
Beating the Seminoles in Tallahassee is just too big a deal not to savor just a little.
“A lot of guys in the locker room were talking about the next game already,” Doeren said of Saturday’s postgame scene. “I cautioned them there too. I said guys just take 24 hours and soak this one in and we will quickly turn the page because you do need to feel the success of a win like that. I think they all did.”