QUOTABLES: Dave Doeren
Looking forward to playing our first game of the season. It's been a great fall camp for our players. At this point you're 15 spring practices and 29 fall practices added up, and you're around 43 to 44 practices without a game. The guys are ready to get on the field and the coaches are ready to see them play.
Thankful to be at home and in a sold-out atmosphere, and appreciative to our fans for that. Looking forward to getting back in Carter-Finley.
Had a great recruiting class a year ago. Some of those kids will play, and just having a chance to see them in their first college games, and some of the guys that redshirted that have been in the program a couple years have developed into guys that get their first college reps.
It's exciting, and you can see it in their faces. As a coach to get out there and hope that the jitters don't hurt us too much and have an athletic team coming to town in Troy that has nine starters back.
Neal Brown, the head coach, also calling the plays, a really good offensive coordinator, and puts up a lot of points, runs an up tempo system, so it'll be a great challenge for our defense in the opener.
Defensively they lost quite a bit off their roster but have a very experienced play caller in Coach Koenning. I'm not sure exactly schematically what we'll see, but try to prepare the guys for a lot of different looks. Looking forward to the opportunity.
To look at the quarterback position
going into the season, just what you can say
about Jacoby (Brissett). I know he's grown a
lot over his time there, but if there's anything
else that he's been able to add to his game or
anything that sticks out to you from the fall?
Yeah, I mean, he's in a great place right now mentally. I think last year was his first year as a starter, so this time last year he was pretty nervous, and he just looks like a guy that's played a lot of football, knows the system, very dependable and consistent and worked a lot in the off-season on his play action game and has done a really nice job in fall camp with those throws.
Looking forward to his senior year. I think any time you have a returning starter at the senior quarterback, it's exciting for your offense.
I talked about the recruiting class
finally getting some reps and getting out there.
Who were some of those guys that you've
really keyed in on that are going to get an
opportunity this season to be something really
special for NC State?
Well, in the most immediate class, Nyheim Hines will play, be a starter for us in our efforts at the slot. He's had a great fall camp. Will Richardson was a redshirt a year ago, a redshirt freshman, now will start at right tackle, and so those two guys will play offensively.
Defensively, Darian Roseboro is going to play quite a bit on our defensive line, and excited to see him out there, and it's great to have Monty Nelson back, who redshirted last year, had some injuries. Excited for his return.
And then we have three brand new kicker, snapper and punter, Kyle Bambard is our kicker, and excited to see him; AJ Cole and Tyler Griffiths are our snapper and punter. Those will probably be the freshest faces, and then at running back, Reggie Gallaspy, we're planning on playing him, as well.
With Dayes filling in for (Shadrach Thornton, can you go more into the Pack's depth at that position at running back?
Yeah, Matt will play the majority of the snaps, and Dakwa Nichols, Reggie Gallaspy, and then Jaylen Samuels, those will be the four primary ball carriers in the game, and then we have the luxury of really all four of those guys getting significant snaps in the last week. We feel like they're all ready. They're all a little different from each other and they're all versatile guys that can play in space or play downhill.
Excited for Matt, though. I think he's had a really good camp, and for him to be able to get the majority of the carries, it'll be a good day for him.
With Vic Koenning as the defensive
coordinator, is there any familiarity from when
you faced him when he was at North Carolina,
and how do you prepare for Coach Neal Brown
that kind of likes to sling it around air-raid
Yeah, well, as far as Vic, we know what he did at UNC. We also know he's got different personnel, and there's some things he probably wishes he would have done at UNC maybe that I don't know if he wasn't allowed to do or couldn't do because of personnel.
But when he was at Clemson and Kansas State, we know there's other things that he's got in his packages. We've played a lot against our own defense, and in this league, played some of the coverage concepts that we don't run that they ran at UNC. So that's kind of how we prepared. But we expect to see some of the same and some different from him, and that's kind of what you get in every opening game.
As far as playing Neal, he does a great job on offense. We expect a lot of quick passes, a lot of run-pass type plays where there are screens with the run game based on numbers and the quick game that he has, the crossing routes and the hitches and the outs and things where the O-line doesn't have to protect him very long. I don't think anybody when you play them up a level wants to play drop-back pass football. It's just not what he's going to want to do.
We expect to see a lot of quick game, a lot of tempo, and to simulate it, we've got two sets of receivers that sprint through the line when the play is over so we've got a fresh batch every snap for the defense to have to go against. We've been able to play pretty well against the tempo teams we've faced, so that part of it is not like we haven't seen an up-tempo team before.
We all know about Jacoby and what
he did last year and the fact that he's the guy,
but do you have any plans to work in
somebody else just to give yourself an option
there at quarterback?
No. Jalan (McClendon) is ready to play if something happens where Jacoby needs a break, then Jalan will play. If we get up enough and we feel like Jalan can finish the game, then Jalan will play. But we don't have a rotation set to get him in there. We practice hard and he gets a lot of good reps against our starting defense in practice.
So that's the preparation that he's been getting. I just don't think that's -- that's not my style on game day to rotate quarterbacks. I'd rather let the guy that's earned the job carry the team and get the other guy in there when you have a situation that allows it.
Do you do anything -- Jacoby
scrambles so much, sometimes takes some
tough hits. Do you do anything to try to avoid
contact with him?
Well, we talk to him about it, and he's actually learned how to slide better and spent some time with Coach (Elliott) Avent in training camp learning how to slide. He actually did that, spent about 20 minutes on a crash pad sliding with our baseball coach.
But he understands you only get so many hits as a player. He's got to be smart. He's got to learn how to not take hits, and he's also a big guy. I think he's a lot more sturdy than people probably understand. But we're not going to put any needed hits on him, and when he gets out of the pocket and does his own thing, he just has to be smart and understand what's going on around him, and I think he's learned the hard way a couple times on that.
Any certain area you're most
looking to learn about your team in this
There's a lot of areas. There's a lot of guys that haven't played and just want to see how they react to game day. Game 1 is a real test for a lot of players, and there's a lot of improvement that takes place after game 1. You just hope that there's not a significant drop-off from what you've seen in the practice and scrimmages that allowed them to get playing time.
NC State Game Notes
From the minute the 2015 Wolfpack squad arrived back on campus in January to begin the spring semester, its motto has been "Raise the Bar."
Even though the Wolfpack showed a five-game improvement in the win column - a mark that ranked second in the Power 5 conferences and tied for fifth among all Division I programs, qualified for and won a bowl game, and defeated both in-state rivals that it played (Wake Forest and UNC), Dave Doeren's third NC State squad was determined not to rest on its laurels.
Instead, the head coach has encouraged his charges to "Raise the Bar" - their expectations for themselves individually and for the team as a whole.
WHAT A RUSH!
The Wolfpack rushed for 204.5 yards per game in 2014, the school's best mark since 1992 and the 12th-best mark in school history. Over the last three games, the Pack averaged 312 rushing yards. In terms of yards per carry, the 5.2 average marked a school record and three different runners with over 50 carries averaged more than five yards per attempt.
For the first time since 1973, three different Pack players rushed for 500+ yards: Shadrach Thornton (907), Matt Dayes (573) and Jacoby Brissett (529). All three of those players, as well as three of five starters on the offensive line that paved the way for that success, are returning in 2015.
MAN ON A MISSION
The Wolfpack's success at sending quarterbacks into the NFL has been well documented. NC State was the only school with three alums starting in the NFL last season and Wolfpack alums hold two of the top four highest guaranteed salaries in the NFL. Don't be surprised if the legend of QBU grows a bit after the 2015 season.
Senior Jacoby Brissett is the latest in that storied line of great quarterbacks to wear the red and white. Although he's only played for one season, he already ranks eighth in school history in career passing touchdowns (23) and fifth in percentage (.597). He set a school record for rushing by a quarterback last season with 529 yards.
Brissett's head coach calls him a "man on a mission." He put himself through two-a-day workouts all summer, working individually on techique and footwork in the mornings and then with the team in the afternoons. A true leader, Brissett wrote each member of the offense notes prior to each game last season and he is rumored to leave baked items for his offensive linemen each week.
The bad news? Last season's team was so young that freshmen and redshirt freshmen played in a combined 235 games and made 52 starts.
The good news? The sophomore class is an extremely experienced one. Eight probable starters for 2015 are sophomores and the depth chart is riddled with players from that class.
DOING IT ALL
Senior Jacoby Brissett is the only returning quarterback in the Power 5 conferences who compiled 2,000 passing yards, 300 rushing yards and 20 passing TDs while throwing five or less interceptions last season.
Two others accomplished that feat in 2014: Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariotta of Oregon and Brett Hundley of UCLA. In the previous five seasons, only eight P5 QBs have matched those numbers.
GETTING IT DOEREN
Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren has enjoyed great success during his four seasons as a head coach. In his two years at Northern Illinois, he posted more wins than any coach in the nation with the exception of Alabama's Nick Saban.
A 2012 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year finalist, Doeren has averaged 8.5 wins per season as a head coach, the fifth-best mark in the ACC.
WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH...
... Dave Doeren gets going. The Wolfpack's head coach is the active leader among Power 5 teams for wins in games decided by four points or less. Doeren posts a 7-2 (.778) mark in those games in his four-year head coaching career.
He's posted a 13-4 (.765) mark in one-possession games.
SHORT ON SENIORS
Only 10% of the Wolfpack's 2015 roster is made up of seniors. In fact, NC State fields its fewest amount of players in their final year of eligibility (11) since the 2004 campaign (11).
Dave Doeren's squad has the second-smallest senior class in the ACC for 2015.
A hallmark of the 2014 NC State football team was its youth, as the Wolfpack fielded one of the nation's youngest teams. Dave Doeren's second PACK squad posted the second-highest number of freshmen on its fall camp roster in the nation (52) and his 33 upperclassmen marked the lowest number since 1995.
Last year, 70% of the squad consisted of freshmen and sophomores. That mark is even higher for 2015, with 72% of the team made up of underclassmen.
This year's team boasts experience to go along with that youth - as there are 15 more sophomores and juniors on the team.
ALL ABOUT MATT DAYES
Junior running back Matt Dayes does it all for the Wolfpack. Last season, he was one of just three players nationally with more than 300 yards rushing, receiving and in returns (Jamal Morrow of Washington St. & Temple's Jahad Thomas were the others).
Dayes led the Wolfpack with both 1,278 all-purpose yards and 13 touchdowns and won team Offensive MVP honors.
He is the ONLY player nationally to reach those marks and also boast five or more touchdowns rushing and receiving.
SHIFTING THE LINE
The Wolfpack offensive line has not only been effective (204.5 rushing yards per game last season), but versatile. During the preseason, even though the majority of the starting lineup was set early in camp, you never knew from day to day where the various starters might be lined up.
Senior Joe Thuney is the most versatile member of the line, having started at four different spots (12 games at LT, 7 at LG, 1 at RT, 1 at RG) and playing all five spots on the line (he was in at center in the Wolfpack's 2012 upset of No. 3 Florida State). Alex Barr has started four games at LG and 14 at RG in his career, and Tony Adams, who has started nine games at right guard is also the Wolfpack's backup center.
The 2015 squad will field the most experienced defensive secondary in the conference in terms of career games started, with all four starters returning (five if you count the nickel spot).
The Wolfpack's safeties and corners have collectively started 83 career contests while playing in 126 combined games. Despite that experience, only two of the returning starters, free safety Hakim Jones and corner Juston Burris, are in their final year of eligibility.
In Dave Doeren's two seasons as head coach at NC State, 24 true freshmen have seen action for the Wolfpack. And that action hasn't just been as role players or on special teams.
In 2013, 11 true freshmen combined to start 18 games. Last season, 13 true freshmen combined to make 32 starts. That 50 total starts by true freshmen in the last two seasons!
This season, true freshman Nyheim Hines is listed as a starter at wide receiver, while NC State's starting punter, placekicker and long snapper are all true freshmen.
One of the deepest units on the squad in 2015 is the defensive line. And it better be! Line coach Ryan Nielsen uses frequent substitutions along the front, looking for quality reps rather than quantity. In 2014, all 11 defensive linemen who saw action played over 100 snaps for the season.
The depth has a potential down side, however, as there are five freshmen (four true, one redshirt) and five sophomores among the 12 players listed on the depth chart. In other words, 83% of the unit is made up of underclassmen.
COMING UP ROSE-Y
Graduate defensive end Mike Rose spent a lot of time in the opponent's backfield last season, tallying 15 tackles for loss. That mark ranked third in the ACC and was the 11th-best single season mark in school history.
Only one returning league defender had more stops behind the line last season than Rose. Of his 15 TFLs, 11 were against league foes.
FENCE 'EM IN
On the day he was introduced as NC State's head coach in December of 2012, head coach Dave Doeren said it was "upsetting" to see "all the great players from the state of North Carolina" starring for other programs.
"We will fight for every kid who we think belongs here," Doeren said then. "If we don't get one, it's not going to be for a lack of effort."
A look at his first two full signing classes (2014 & 2015) shows that Doeren has kept that promise, as the Wolfpack has signed some of the top players in North Carolina each year.
In February, The Pack signed 12 players from North Carolina, including four of the top eight rated players in the state (all four of whom were ranked in the top-300 nationally). Those 12 signees were also ranked in the top-five of their position group in the state, including eight in the top-three.
In 2014, Doeren and his staff signed 16 North Carolina players. Five of those young men were ranked as the top player at their position in the state, while seven overall were ranked among NC's top-25 players.
Wolfpack Nation has shown its excitement and support once again as 2015 season tickets and mini-packs are sold out. NC State fans purchased the second-highest number of season tickets in program history - 35,065 - with over 3,000 new season tickets being sold. Wolfpack fans have shown their loyalty to the tune of a 96 percent renewal rate.
NC State Depth Chart
NOTE: *- Indicates a player has redshirted a season.
2015 NC State Depth Chart Offense Quarterback 12 Jacoby Brissett 6-4/235 Sr.*
2 Jalan McClendon 6-5/212 Fr.*
Reggie Gallaspy II
"X" - Split End 85
84 Freddie Simmons 6-3/176 Fr. "Z" - Flanker 15
Johnathan Alston OR
13 Bra'Lon Cherry 5-11/191 So. 80 Elliott Davis OR 6-1/185 Fr.* 83
"S" - Slot 7 Nyheim Hines 5-9/190 Fr. 30 Gavin Locklear 5-10/186 So.* 34 Ben Grazen 5-9/190 So.* Tight End 86
6-5/265 Jr.* 89
6-6/250 So. 89
6-6/255 Sr.* Left Tackle 54
Joe Thuney 6-5/295 Sr.* 74
Emanuel McGirt Jr. 6-6/295 Fr. Left Guard 71
Alex Barr 6-8/318 Sr.* 65
Garrett Bradbury 6-3/285 Fr.* Center 60
Terronne Prescod 6-5/338 Fr.* Right Guard 50
Tony Adams 6-2/300 So. 56
Bryce Kennedy 6-3/305 Jr.* Right Tackle 66
Tyler Jones 6-3/300 Fr.*
Special Teams Place Kicker 92 Kyle Bambard 5-8/190 Fr. 97 Jackson Maples 5-10/195 Fr.* Punter 90 A.J. Cole III 6-4/238 Fr. 47 Will Stephenson 6-3/195 Jr.* Long Snapper 57 Tyler Griffiths 6-2/237 Fr. 52 Ben Garnett 6-0/238 Jr.* Kick Returner 21
7 Nyheim Hines 5-9/190 Fr. Punt Returner 13 Bra'Lon Cherry 5-11/191 Jr. 7 Nyheim Hines 5-9/190 Fr. Defense Defensive End 90
Defensive Tackle 35
Defensive Tackle 98
Defensive End 49
Weakside Linebacker 58
Ernie Robinson III OR
Middle Linebacker 4
M.J. Salahuddin OR
Right Cornerback 11
Free Safety 1
6-2/205 Sr.* 31
6-3/234 So. Strong Safety 2
6-2/215 So.* 24
Left Cornerback 29
NOTE: *- Indicates a player has redshirted a season.
Thanks to NC State and Troy Athletics for much of the information in this preview.