Q&A with Manny Diaz

Read on to see everything defensive coordinator Manny Diaz is saying as the Canes prepare to finish up spring practice.

Manny Diaz, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach
On the defensive line…
“Yeah, [senior defensive lineman] Chad [Thomas] has been highly productive, making a lot of plays, a lot of disruptive plays in the backfield. [Senior defensive lineman] Trent Harris is doing what Trent Harris does. He always seems to fill up the stat sheet with a lot of positive things for the defense. Heady guy and is always going to be where he is supposed to be. Then you have [sophomore defensive lineman] Joe Jackson and [redshirt junior defensive lineman Demetrius Jackson]. Joe, you know, flashes with his potential but there is so much more to it. Still, the way that the game is today you have to earn the right to rush the passer. And you do that by being where you are supposed to be to stop the run on first and second down. And the way that the game has changed, defensive end a lot of the times it turns into a linebacker position, because they start reading those guys with the quarterback run game. And you have to be aware of what types of blocks are coming. And sometimes that just takes at bats for Joe and [freshman defensive lineman] Jonathan Garvin would be the same way. That is where, again, DJax and his experience and his size helps in that regards. But from a coaching perspective, anytime in my history when you think you’ve got a lot of depth somewhere, you never know until once you get to the season. Because we felt that way this time last year. And then all of the sudden we are at Virginia Tech and we are scrambling to find a defense. We have [senior defensive lineman] Anthony Moten lining up at defensive end. Again, we are in a situation where we are trying to gather as many guys that can help us win at every position. So that we can overcome the natural adversity that occurs during a season.” 

 

On redshirt junior linebacker Darrion Owens…
“D.O. is a big man. He is sturdy. He can set a hard edge. He is a hard guy to block, a hard guy for pulling offensive lineman to deal with sometimes. He knows his assignments, understands his jobs. He has a good feel for those type things. I still think he is still getting more confident in his ability to move and run. Now the next step to really be the guy at WILL linebacker is you got to have that ability to make a play. The flair for the dramatic. And that is where he is still learning to just really, I guess sometimes the term is to trust yourself and just let yourself go. And you have heard me say that before about [sophomore linebacker Michael] Pinckney. Pinckney has an amazing innate ability to just believe in what he sees, trust himself and not overcomplicate the game and let it go. Again, we feel like we at least now have the ability to be able to roll a couple guys in that spot and then when we get back in August, potentially have some more depth there, as well.”

 

On making progress in tackling from the start of spring…

“It’s interesting because I think that was our huge priority last spring and last fall. I mean, tackling is what we do first. I would argue that we actually probably tackled worse in scrimmage two then we did in scrimmage one. But going back on film and looking at some of the plays, sometimes you got to tip your hat. You know, [junior running back] Mark Walton is a hard guy to tackle. [Sophomore running back] Travis Homer, a couple times we didn’t tackle him and you watch film and the guy’s 24 inches off the ground. A great low center of gravity, there is not a whole lot to hit. But there were some things that fundamentally that we don’t do, plays that we don’t put on the tape. Where guys start zig-zagging on our defense. Things that we don’t tolerate. The [modus operandi] never changed. Our best tacklers will play and especially in the secondary where we have the least amount of experience, so that has always been job description No. 1.”

 

On junior defensive back Sheldrick Redwine…
“Right now I feel like he is one of our 11 best football players. I think he plays, even on Saturday our practice slots Tuesday, the last time we had shoulder pads on. He is enjoying the physical side of the football game. I think he’s got the most bite. Any time you make a man go backwards against his will that is a bite. I think he might lead the safety room in bites. You would say, well can he handle the physical transition from going from playing on the edge of the field to in the middle of the park. And he seems to enjoy that the most. I am happy for what he has done. But as you mentioned, we don’t play this weekend and we don’t play until September so we will figure it out between now and then who starts.”


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