If you can squeeze five years of emotion into five minutes, Dave Doeren tried.
The N.C. State coach danced in the visiting locker room with his players after their 27-21 win at No. 12 Florida State on Saturday afternoon. He found senior safety Shawn Boone and gave the senior safety a big hug, too.
Then, just when the players had settled in and were quiet, Doeren jumped up with his fists clenched and the veins in his neck ready to pop, and let it all out.
The color of Doeren’s face nearly matched his shirt.
“It was as red as I don’t know what,” senior Jaylen Samuels said. “He couldn’t even believe it.”
The signature win over what has been one of the ACC’s best teams has been a long time coming for Doeren, who had only nine ACC wins before Saturday.
It’s one thing to beat Furman, it’s another to take out Florida State. And, fair enough, the Seminoles were ripe for the taking with quarterback Deondre Francois out for the year with a knee injury and Hurricane Irma turning their September schedule into an unexpected hiatus.
But, for once, it was the other team with the dumb mistakes (11 penalties) and a missed “gimme” field goal. N.C. State did what it could not so many times before under Doeren – take care of business.
“After four years and all of the disappointments that we’ve had, to finally get this one on the road, it’s a big win for our program,” Samuels said.
Big win for the program and Doeren. Earlier in the 2000s, Chuck Amato and Tom O’Brien regularly delivered a random upset of FSU to Wolfpack fans. Amato’s penultimate team won here in 2005. O’Brien beat the Noles in 2010 and ’12.
When Doeren was hired in 2013, it was to build a consistent winner, not for the one-off miracle. Strides have been made along that front – just compare what happened on the same field here to the result in 2013 (a 49-17 loss) – but the won-loss record hasn’t kept pace.
In his fifth year, and with an 0-9 record against the top 25 before Saturday, Doeren needed a big win, especially after the season-opening stumble against South Carolina. Doeren needed his own moment to show it could be done on his watch.
A win like Saturday means you don’t have to say, “Look what we could be.” You beat a ranked FSU team on the road and you can say, “Look at what we did.”
Not that Doeren was willing to talk about what the win meant to him after the game. He spoke about his players’ emotions and what this win means for the ACC race.
“You want to be in the conversation at the end of the year in this league and to do that you have to win games like today,” Doeren said.
Doeren didn’t have to put into words what the win meant on a personal level. The picture of him in front of his team, fists clenched and veins pulsing, said it all.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio