Pack Pride Q&A: Dontae Johnson

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Pack Pride talks with NC State senior cornerback Dontae Johnson about spring practice.

Pack Pride talks with NC State senior cornerback Dontae Johnson about spring practice.

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What should we expect on Saturday at the spring game?
It should be a great atmosphere. I feel like there is going to be a lot of deep balls just because they haven't really been throwing them in practice.

I feel like there's going to be a lot of excitement to try and get the fans riled up for this year.

Is the defense ahead of the offense, or is the offense ahead of the defense?
Defense is ahead of the offense... always.

How has the defense picked things up?
I still feel like there is a learning curve for most of us, but I'm actually surprised at how quick some of the younger guys, as well as the older guys, have picked up the terminology.

Jarvis Byrd mentioned that Niles Clark has had a good spring. What have you seen from Niles?
Niles has been a consistent player, technique-wise and everything. He can cover... he can flat-out cover. I knew this from last year.

Coach came in and asked me who else would I feel comfortable playing with, and I said Niles Clark because I know what he does out there at corner.

He's a competitor. He doesn't like receivers to catch balls, and he's going to try and make a play when he can.

How are Niles and Marchez Coates progressing behind you and Juston Burris?
They are doing a lot, especially learning on the fly... being thrown into a new system.

They are doing a great job.

Has the excitement carried over?
Absolutely. I think a lot of the guys are excited to be back on the football field.. try to keep learning and getting better with the terminology and plays.

A lot of guys are competitors so they want to get back out there.

NC State was a blitz-heavy team under coach Archer and coach Tenuta. Will you be the same under coach Huxtable or is it too early to tell?
It's too early. From talking to coach Hux, we don't have half the playbook in. We just have the simple stuff and base checks, so we want to perfect our base packages and base defense first before we get into the complicated stuff.

Jarvis Byrd is now starting at safety and coach Doeren said he'll spend a lot of time defending slot receivers, something you've done in the past. How do you think he will do there, and do you have any advice for him?
I feel like he's going to be ready to go. Jarvis is a great competitor. Wherever you put him at he's going to try and compete and prove he's better than other players.

If he has any questions for me I'll help him and answer any questions, but I feel like he's ready. He's a senior, and he understands his opportunity is running out just like mine is.

Will his experience at cornerback help him?
Absolutely. People will sleep on him playing corner his whole life before he was moved to safety. Him being at safety and coming down on the slot receivers will help out our team tremendously.

What has it been like going against the offense?
It's actually more challenging trying to understand and read our keys... make proper checks before the ball is snapped. After the ball is snapped it's fire, it's go-time.

We have to make sure our alignment is proper, technique is great. It teaches you to be real detailed.

Does it seem like more offenses are going to the spread, no-huddle attack?
Absolutely. More teams are using the spread offense because there are athletes everywhere on the field. It's hard to try and pick one. They try to get all the athletes on field to make plays.

Going against this tempo in practice is really going to help us for the season.


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