Coach Doeren is a great guy. I was there when Coach OB was there. We were kind of a middle-of-the-run team. We needed a little something to push us over the edge. The next year we went 3-9. Nobody really believed in him.
I mean, that's honesty. This past year we got a better quarterback and things changed. People started believing in the system and they started believing that we can play with any team out there.
There's a real feeling of optimism and promise around this team. How much difference does that make when you take the practice field in the fall that you can have the belief you can make a big splash?
We hung in there with Florida State. If we could cut that game off at halftime, we could have won the game. A lot of people felt like that. As long as we can strive to be better, compete for the Atlantic, why not?
I think we should compete for the Atlantic, not just be the third or fourth team in the Atlantic.
The majority of your tackles for loss last season came inside the ACC. Playing up for those games, what can you say about those opponents, how you feel you've done overall?
I have 15. I could have got 20. Me and my coach looked at the film. When I was playing ODU, those other schools, I didn't put in the same effort I put in against Florida State, Syracuse, Clemson, Wake, all those teams.
If I would have put in the same effort and consistency against those smaller schools, there's no telling where my limit could have been. You have to play every game the same. I think that's what NC State could do better. If we played every game the same, we'd be a much better team.
You mentioned 3-9. The season you had last year, as well. How much momentum do you think you have as a program not only on the field, but in your fan base and recruiting as well based on what you did last year?
I mean, we just got in a big stable of running backs recruiting-wise. I think we're a program on the rise. I mean, a lot of people want to be part of the Wolfpack. It's a good time in Raleigh.
If we won the ACC championship, Raleigh would shut down for a little while. People want to be in Raleigh. It's an exciting time right now.
What are your personal markers either to get better, to be a contributor? Do you look at it week-to-week, game-to-game, one-third of the season by one-third of the season?
I'll take every game one game at a time. But I do want to say this: I want to go into Virginia Tech 4-0. That's the first goal. I want to start ACC play right and win against Louisville.
You're among the best in the league at tackles for loss and forcing turnovers. What is your philosophy within the scheme of your defense in the big or little games at trying to create havoc?
I think sometimes you just got to blitz. It was that simple. We didn't blitz a lot those first couple games. A couple blitzes we put in, it just worked. People weren't ready for us. A lot of teams underestimate you when you lose a lot of games.
I think it just took a little more effort on my part just to make it happen.
I sprained my wrist fighting with Annabelle, my SID (smiling).
Camp is going to open up in a couple of weeks, 25 or 30 days. First one or two days in camp, what needs to happen?
Everybody just has to come to play. A lot of guys, they say, Oh, fall camp, I don't want to do it. You got to treat the first two days like you treat the last couple days.
It's two-a-days, hard work. Once it's over, you feel a feeling of relief.
Are the State players aware the last time NC State won the ACC championship?
I'm going to take a guess and say '76.
It was '79. Is that something y'all talk about or think about, that long stretch?
Yeah, uhm, when the first coaching staff was here, they talked about it a lot. This coaching staff, this is the time, this is the best time we have.
Florida State, they're down right now. Who knows who their quarterback is. Clemson is on the rise, too. But we're on the rise also, so...
You seem to be a bit of a jokester. Is that your role in the locker room? Is that a role you fulfill to keep people loose?
Jacoby is a little stiff, but great person (smiling). He's a humble leader. He's real calm under pressure. Everybody loves him. He's just the quarterback. He's cool. That's it, the quarterback.
Me, I play on the defensive line. I play with a bunch of 300-pound guys. We're always laughing and joking around. That's what we do.