Positives And Negatives
One of the first questions for the head coaches focused on the strengths and weaknesses of their teams, and Doeren began by stating how critical it is to now be in his second year at NC State.
"As far as the pluses for our team, just being in the second season with the guys and having the repetition and consistency and terminology," he stated. "Knowing the routine... just having that feeling everyday that everybody around you, they know you and how you work and around you of how to work and what we're trying to accomplish in building a program."
Doeren does seem pleased with the experience he is returning.
"I feel great about some of the returners we do have," he said. "We do have seven returning starters, and we know who our starting quarterback is going into fall camp, which is different from a year ago.
"I feel good about the return of some of our offensive linemen, which is key for any ballclub. Staying healthy at that position will be critical. We were able to get a sixth year for Rob Crisp and having him and Tyson [Chandler] back at offensive tackle... Joe Thuney, having him inside to protect Jacoby, that's key for us and any coach, to have that offensive line that you want.
"Defensively I feel a lot better about the depth we have. We have a 10-man rotation on our defensive line, and we didn't have that a year ago. That's really important playing against today's offenses. We also have three four-year starters at the specialist positions... which is a unique and great situation to have."
With that experience comes youth.
"Weaknesses, 71% of our ballclub is freshmen or sophomores," said Doeren. "We actually have 51 players who are either true freshmen or redshirt freshmen on our roster. Helping those young men develop and mature early will be key to our season."
NC State will begin the year with four nonconferece games before opening ACC play at home against Florida State and on the road at Clemson. Doeren isn't going to let those two ACC games take extra meaning.
"We don't let any one game define it," he said. "Obviously to open the ACC with those two great opponents, our players will be excited. There isn't a competitor on our team who wouldn't want to play great competition.
"It's our job as coaches to get them ready to play, and it's theirs to be ready to play. I know each one of us will be ready to get them on that stage."
Playoff System A Good Thing?
The NCAA has started a playoff system with four teams lining up to compete for the title at the end of the season. Coach Doeren is a fan of the change.
"I'm excited about it," he said. "Having coached 1-AA football before at Miami and being in the playoffs, there are teams at the end of the season who play for it. There was no indecision of who had the trophy."
Doeren also admitted there are concerns.
"I know whatever number you put out there some teams will be left out," he said. "I do think there are some student-welfare issues as they continue to add games. I know that's something we can talk about when and if that comes up.
"I look forward to watching and being a part of that system."
In one of the toss-up questions, coach Doeren talked about teaching his wife the game of football and the balance of coaching and being a father.
"My wife is a little farm girl from Iowa so we had to teach her about the game," he said. "She came back from one of our spring scrimmages and said there are 22 guys out there that are desperately in need of rest. There are 60,000 people out there desperately in need of exercise in your stadium. She didn't know what was going on.
"The biggest question you usually get as a husband and as a coach is, 'when are you coming home to take the load off.' We have three kids and one of them is at Driver's Ed. today so I'm kind of worried about that right now [laughing]. When you all are driving home, if you see a Driver's Ed. car flying around, that's my son. Just be nice to him, alright?"
The Power Five
There will be a vote later this year regarding autonomy and power five leagues being able to do more for their teams than smaller conferences.
Doeren shared his thoughts on the topic.
"I think there are a lot of things unknown for us right now," he said. "There are conversations, rumors, and speculation, but I do think there are opportunities for schools in those situations to do some things that they are fiscally able to do that in the past when you're serving however many teams there were that voted... certain things couldn't happen.
"It does allow for some opportunities to do some things for our student-athletes that we probably couldn't in our old system, but there are a lot of unknowns. I'm sure there will be a ton of conversation."
One of the questions from Don Shea to the coaches was to tell a secret talent that they have. Doeren talked about his passion for fly fishing.
"Fly fishing, that to me would be the No. 1 thing that I really love to do," he said. "I don't know if it's a secret, but it's definitely something I enjoy to do outside of the game."
Doeren talked about winning a title at Northern Illinois.
"Just because it means a little more... winning a championship at Northern [Illinois] before I came here," said Doeren. "It hadn't been done in 28 years, and it was a special moment for that program and those players. Just helping them get to that point and being a part of that."
The helmets were auctioned off in this order: Duke, NC State, North Carolina, ECU, and North Carolina Central.
It was the largest turnout ever for the event, as over 500 fans attended.