Dayes, Samuels climbing their way up NC State record book

Wolfpack playmakers passing over huge names in school history with touchdown totals

The North State Journal—The North State Journal
N.C. State running back Matthew Dayes (21) celebrates during the Wolfpack's 10-3 win over Notre Dame on Saturday

RALEIGH — After spending the end of last season without Matt Dayes, NC State’s 1-2 punch of Dayes and Jaylen Samuels is clearly back this year.The two players alone accounted for nearly half of the Wolfpack’s touchdowns through the first six games of the season. With Dayes rushing for four scores and Samuels totaling seven, it’s easy to see why the Pack’s offense runs through the powerful pair of playmakers.This season is one thing for Dayes and Samuels, but they are also slowly becoming two of the best scoring threats in NC State history. With his rushing score against Clemson, Dayes moved into fourth all-time with 34 total touchdowns.Who did he pass? None other than Torry Holt.While Dayes hasn’t scored as often as he did last season — it’s hard to match 12 touchdowns in seven games — he has still been a terror out of the backfield. The senior tailback has totaled more than 115 yards in each game this season with an average of 5.8 yards per touch.NC State RB Matt Dayes is one of the most underrated players in the country.— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) October 15, 2016
Matthew Dayes and Elijah Hood. The state of North Carolina has some good RBs.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) October 20, 2016
How under-appreciated is NC State's Matt Dayes? Check his numbers vs. some of nation's elite RBs…— David Hale (@DavidHaleESPN) October 10, 2016
His 111.5 rushing yards per game also ranks third in the ACC, behind only Lamar Jackson and Dalvin Cook. Oh, and his 5.6 yards per attempt over his career currently ranks first all-time in NC State history.Dave Doeren’s message to Dayes this season? Even with a loaded backfield, this is his time to shine.”[Matt Dayes] is a senior. I told him, ‘It’s your ball. Go run for us,'” Doeren said.In one less year, Samuels is only nine touchdowns off Dayes’ pace with 25 touchdowns of his own. That’s tied for seventh all-time after putting together the third-best scoring season in 2015 with 16 touchdowns — tying himself with Holt’s 1997 mark.Samuels hasn’t scored a touchdown in the last two games against Notre Dame and Clemson, but is still touching paydirt on every 6.7 touches this year. That’s a slightly higher clip than 2015, where he scored on every 7.6 touches.With new offensive coordinator Eli Drinkwitz at the helm, Samuels’ role hasn’t changed much. Any position he’s playing on the field, whether it’s running back, tight end or wide receiver, Samuels is excelling and finding ways to score.”I’m being split out more this year, as a wide receiver,” Samuels said. “I had eight catches last game. It was in the game plan. I’m just doing what the coaches are telling me to do. Coach Drink is finding new ways to get me the ball, running or catching it.”Despite dropping the contest against Clemson due to a missed chip shot field goal with seconds remaining in regulation, the Pack came away with respectability. Knocking off Notre Dame and nearly coming away with a win in Death Valley will do that for a team.The road doesn’t get any easier going forward, however. After Louisville on Saturday, NC State plays three ranked teams in the final five games to close out the season. With Florida State and Miami coming to Raleigh, State’s unblemished record at home in 2016 could play a huge role.”I definitely feel like the team realizes that we can compete with just about anybody in the country and we have just got to believe that,” Dayes said after the Clemson loss. “We are a great offense and defense. We have just got to finish.”Whether the ball is in Dayes’ or Samuels’ hands to close out drives, NC State knows it can finish in the end zone. With half the season remaining, both players will also finish near the top of the NC State record book.