In the second half of our two-part Q and A with Henderson, a number of topics are touched, including the direction of the N.C. State program under Dave Doeren and their efforts on the recruiting trail.
How different is the energy around the program now with Dave Doeren?
Henderson: I think you probably would agree. Almost any kind of a coaching change, that first-year, generally, the energy is going to be really good. Since I've been covering State, I've had to cover three different head coaches now for football. I think the difference would be, with these guys, it's such a young staff, you kind of get the sense that the energy is genuine. I think they have one coach on that staff that is over 41. Two or three that are 35 and younger. When you have that many young guys, it can't help but be kind of an energetic, players' style mentality around. That's kind of been the case here. You go out the practice, music is playing, [and] everybody is real loose. It's a drastic difference between Tom O'Brien and his staff.
Other than what you said, what's the biggest difference between this staff and the previous one?
Henderson: The biggest is just the schematic change offensively. This is the more new age approach that you're now seeing in college football. It's the way, I think, that you have to go these days. Tom O'Brien and his guys were kind of in that pro-style mindset. This staff is more no-huddle -- they really are a no-huddle, spread offensive system that's based on lining up quickly, getting a play in quickly, running a play as fast as you can -- that type of approach, very little substitution. That's kind of the biggest difference. They're just going to that new age offense that you're seeing in college football. It's going to be interesting to see how it'll play out during the course of the season.
It seems they've been very aggressive on the recruiting trail, what's been the philosophy in with that? Just being aggressive, is that it?
Henderson: It goes back to what I kind of first mentioned. They feel like these kids can relate to them. Their approach is get as many guys on campus as we can and let them feel the energy that we have as a staff, see the players and let them get a sense of it as well from the players. They've been real aggressive on social media. They've been doing the hashtag thing and constant tweeting. All the coaches have Twitter accounts, very active. They're kind of mantra for this class is #PACK14. That's the thing they go by. They're constantly pushing #PACK14 and really stressing that on Twitter. Honestly, I think it kind of helped them out. I think recruits noticed that. That's kind of paid off. I know, at one point, they were in the top 20 nationally with Scout…they're on the fringe. They're waiting on four or five other kids. They're on the fringe of potentially having a top 20 to top 25 class, which will be a really good statement in the first year.
When was the last time State had a class that was top 20 or top 25? Has it been a while?
Henderson: Probably, the last class that was in that range I think would be Tom O'Brien's first class. He had a class where he brought in Mike Glennon, R.J. Mattes, Terrell Manning, those three guys were kind of the headliners. Two of them went on to be NFL players. That was a fringe top 25 to top 30 class. To me, the difference with this staff, they've had more success out of state. I think O'Brien kind of hit on a year where he was able to land four or five top 10 instate kids [for] a variety of different circumstances.
Given what happened last time these two teams met in Raleigh and Clemson's current ranking, how juiced up are N.C. State fans for this game?
Henderson: They're, obviously, really excited about it. A lot of them take the approach -- Clemson is the heavy favorite. I don't think any are expecting an N.C. State win. The last couple of times they've played on Thursday night at home. Last year, they beat Florida State. They were No. 3 in the country. The way I would put it -- I don't think State is going to beat Clemson. I'm not saying I'm going to predict it. I've seen worse N.C. State teams beat teams just as strong [as Clemson]. On Thursday night games, upsets tend to kind of happen on those types of nights. That's normally when they will happen, so I think the fan base is eager for the game. It's also going to be their first real test. Clemson has already played a Georgia. N.C. State's played a D-1AA team and a mid-level non-BCS team. They haven't really been truly test. Coach Doeren kind of mentioned it [Monday], he was talking about how, either way, they're kind of excited about it, because it's going to be a litmus test for the team. You're going to really get a sense of where they stand for the season. I think the fans kind of look at it more from that standpoint. Regardless of the outcome, you want to get a sense of where you're strong and where you're weak. Against a team like Clemson, I think you'll see that.
Getting to know the Pack, part two
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