Doeren: "We're Really Focusing On Ourselves"

NC State head coach Dave Doeren met with the media on the ACC's weekly teleconference.

Opening Statement:
Disappointed, obviously, in the results in our game at Virginia Tech. As a head coach, take ownership for where we're at. We're a 4-2 team that needs to play better and will and excited about the opportunity to spend some time with these guys this week reviewing our first weeks of the season with our staff, with our players, looking at everything we do and working hard to get better, and I have total confidence that we will.

I think we're a team that has made some immature mistakes, and obviously, when you get in a game where you start fast and have a letdown, you always hate that. As a coach, you always go back and look at everything, and everything we do always will start and end with me. So I look forward to the challenge ahead of us here.

The guys had a really good attitude at practice today. So next week we'll get on to Wake. Right now we're really focusing on ourselves.

To look at the evolution of Jaylen Samuels as an offensive weapon, just what you can say about what he's really grown to be going into this bye week and what you've been able to see from him so far.
He's playing with confidence, for one. He's got an interesting skill set. He's one of the few guys I've coached that looks normal and comfortable playing at receiver, at tight end, and at running back. There's a lot we can do with him.

You know, we try to be careful on giving him too many things mentally because we don't want him to play slow. He's been able to handle everything we've given him. He's definitely one of our most important players on offense, and we've got to keep finding different ways to use him.

I just wanted to ask you about the defense. There have been four games this year where you haven't had a take-away on defense. Can you talk about the importance of that? And obviously, the last two, you haven't gotten one. How much does that hurt or help a defense not -- I mean, obviously, it hurts not to -- 
It's a killer. Yeah, it's a killer. It's something that we stress, we work on every day.

In my opinion, we've got to tackle better. We've got to get better pass rush for those things to come, whether it's four-man rush or blitz. We've got to have tighter coverage to give our pass rush -- all of it ties together.

When you're tackling, when you're getting people to the football, putting hats on the ball, then you're going to create fumbles. When you're hitting the quarterback a lot and now he's a little bit off with his timing, now you're going to get ticks.

When you're in tighter coverage and got to hold the ball, now you're going to get picks and sack forced fumbles. Here's a lot of reasons we have it, we spend a lot of time talking about it, and we've got to continue work on getting them. But it's a game changer any time you can get the ball back for your offense.

With the off week this week, how much time do you spend on fundamentals going back to raw things, and when do you start looking ahead to Wake Forest?
All we did this weekend as coaches was watch this season. I had a laundry list of things that we've got to work on fundamentally. So when we went out on the field yesterday, we didn't even talk about Wake Forest.

All we did was work on things we need to get better at, whether it was a fundamental thing, whether it was a scheme thing, round up, the leverage of the football, eye violation that we're continuing to see. That's what we did.

Wecleaned up a lot of things. We spent a lot of time on our fundamentals today, just a little bit of both.

The first bit of practice, we went against each other so we could get some speed of the game and worked on our base fundamentals and individual, worked on our turnovers on defense and our ball security on offense. And then the last 40 minutes, we started our Wake prep, just to get a little head start on some of the things they've done that we haven't seen yet.

We're working both every day. The bye week is very important. We've made cut-ups of every player that's played significant time, all of his good plays, all of his bad plays, and sit down and watch them together. Here's what you've got to do better. Here's how we're going to do it. Here's the plan, and let's go get better.

That's one thing we did a really good job of last year and try to take the same approach, focusing on the things we've got to get better at.

Have the problems the last two games been more physical? Or have they been more mental? Or is it kind of a combination of the two?
I think it's more mental. To me, it's all about execution and being disciplined for four quarters. We started fast in both of those games. We've had a very poor second quarter. We've fought back in the third.

Defensively, we haven't given up a touchdown in the fourth quarter until Friday. That's the first time we've been scored on. So we finished well most of the time on defense, 5 out of 6 games.

But it's, to me, defensive and offensive football, it's taking it one play at a time, never letting your foot off the gas, understanding that every play is the most important play, and we haven't been able to do that in the last two weeks.

So that's what our focus is is staying on task and being disciplined and always being physical. That's the number one thing in the game.

Understanding that you can't pick when you get your bye week, but is it fortunate for you guys that this is where it fell considering the things you need to work on and being able to reach that?
I think it's a good time

. We've had injuries on our offensive line for six weeks. It's hard to practice. We need to get our big guys healthy. So this is a pretty opportune moment for the O-line to get healthy and for the rest of the team to kind of reset and fix some things that we definitely need to fix.

One of the things you mentioned you wanted to fix was eye violations. What are those exactly? And how do you fix them?
Discipline. What an eye violation is you're supposed to read your key. If I'm supposed to read the number two receiver, that's where my eyes are. They're not in the backfield. If I'm the defensive end and I'm supposed to leverage the ball and stay outside the tight end and keep on his pad, that's what I do.

We do that nine times out of ten, but the one time we do, we lose leverage on the ball and give up a play we can't give up.

It's all about discipline. We have a young football team, and they need to be more disciplined, and it's my job to get them there as the head coach.

That's all we're working on now, one play at a time, staying on task, not thinking about two plays or what happened the last play, thinking about the next play, doing the call, getting my responsibility, and playing with great energy and effort.

Is that the kind of thing that young players would be more prone to than your more experienced guys?
Yeah, I think so. You get fatigued or the momentum changes, and now you start trying to do someone else's job instead of yours, and you give up a play. I think that's an experience that older plays are going to have a problem probably when they were younger that they learned from.

It happens, but we can't use that as an excuse. I told the players, we're not going to let that be an excuse. We're playing. We've got to play. Everybody's got their issues with injuries and depth and youth. We've got to focus better. We've got to try to find as many ways as possible to create those environments at practice so they can do it.

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