AUDIO: Dave Doeren Press Conference
The preparation of routine now that goes into getting ready for an opponent, and with that just going into what we were talking about here with William and Mary. It's always fun to coach against somebody like coach Laycock, the guy's got 240 wins. It's an honor to be in a game against the head coach like that. Obviously he's done things the right way, or he wouldn't still be there. His name is on the stadium. Last year they were a very good football team.
On offense they return nine starters, and averaged 30 points a game with that crew. Definitely going to be a good offense that we see on Thursday night. The quarterback, like most good offenses, leads the way for them. A three year starter, Steve Cluley, all conference running back Kendall Anderson, all conference receiver, and kick returner, and special teams player of the year in their league, number 11.
We've got three red shirt seniors and two redshirt junior o-linemen, and a tight end that's second team all conference. Very experienced and well decorated offense. Offensive coordinator for them has been around for a long time. Coach Rodgers who's a veteran, NFL, been at Virginia Tech, Syracuse, really good football coach, Notre Dame. They got a good guy calling offensive plays for them over there as well.
Defensively, they lost quite a few players. We've got four guys back that were starters. Last year they forced 25 turnovers on the season, which was top 20 in their division, and probably the most decorated player, Tre Reed. Schematically, it's a good game to play for us, because they do a lot. They're a four down and three down team. Offensively, we've got to be able to block both fronts. Not a big pressure team. They'll play a variety of coverages and do a good job disguising what we're going to see.
Special teams has three all conference players, the returner I already mentioned, and their punter and kicker. We definitely have a very good football team coming in here. They've played well in these kind of games, so we look forward to that. With our team, that's really where our focus has been. Not that we don't talk about our opponent, we do, but I always feel like in the first game, the teach you're coaching is the opponent too.
You've got to make sure that those guys handle the first game well, and you don't beat yourself. I think that happens a lot in opening games, you see sloppy play at times on special teams or ball security. Guys getting too excited in their first game, and losing focus. They're not handling the situation. Last year we had a lot of new players on defense. This year it's probably flipped with the offense. We look forward to seeing how our guys handle their first game. I'm excited about the leadership of our team and how they've handled our players throughout camp. Now we get to see them take those guys into game week.
With that, personnel wise, on offense I know it's already been written that we're playing both quarterbacks. All three of the guys we're excited about. I think that's the big thing to take out of this conversation. Jacobi Meyers didn't go through a lot of camp because of an ankle. As he came back and showed how athletic he is, we're playing him at receiver as well, and he's done a great job of playing both positions. I think that will help him, big picture wise, learn the quarterback position as well. Both Jalan and Ryan have done a nice job.
As you look at the body of work over camp, and that's really what we look at, is how many times they were moving the ball, not just in a setting where, say, it's going to be first down and 10, and then it's going to be second and five, and then it's going to be third and three, no matter what happens. We're looking at moving the ball, completion rates, touchdown to interception, how many scoring drives, critical decisions, how they handle two minute clock management, all those things that go into it. Both of them have done a really good job of making mistakes, learning from their mistakes, and getting back, and working the next day to get better. That's why we've decided to play them both.
I'm excited to watch them both play. I think that's kind of where I'm at. I need to see what game day does to these two guys. That's the thing. Jalan obviously hasn't had a lot of game day play, and Ryan really hasn't either. He got hurt pretty early in their season last year, and missed all the rest of their season, didn't go through spring ball. Both these guys need game day. We need to see them on game day, and they'll both play. We're excited, and all the offensive players feel the same way, to get them out there. It'll be great to see what they do with it.
I've seen some guys, Jacobi Brissett's a great example, he was maybe as good a game day competitor as I've been around at quarterback. That guy thrived on game day. The bigger the game, the better he played most of the time. I want to see what it does to some guys. Some guys get bigger on game day, some guys don't. It'll be their first opportunity to do that. As a coach, have I been in a lot of these? No, but I've been in a couple, and game day usually sorts it out. We'll see how many reps, and how it's going.
Eli is the one that has the greatest feel on what's going to happen with those guys. We'll be looking hard at in between series, and how this guys doing, and what his eyes look like, and how the guys are responding to him on the field.
Obviously they're both going up and down the field, then it makes it really more difficult if they're not. We'll see how it works out. I'm excited to see Matt Dayes play. I think that's the one thing all through camp, he's looked great.
Reggie Gallaspy's back, and really had a good practice yesterday. I'm excited to see him healthy again. Johnny Frazier is much more mature than he was a year ago, not that he was a immature guy you didn't like being around, he was just from a small town and it was a lot different. I think now he's learned a lot, and he's still got a lot to learn, but he's a lot better than he was a year ago.
Thad Moss is a freshman that we're excited to get out on the field and see what he can do, the same with Kelvin Harmon. Those two guys offensively you'll see. Kelvin is maybe one of the most consistent guys we've had at that position. Him and Bra'lon Cherry have have been really consistent throughout camp. With that, I'll open it up for any questions.
Given the skillset with Ryan and Jalen are really similar, is this something where you'll give them a series, as opposed to alternating calling play by play?
That's what we prefer to do, is go by series. Obviously, if one guy has a 14-play drive, maybe he's getting tired, or whatever, but we would prefer to go by series.
How will you go about making decisions, as far as who goes out there first? Both are going to play, but is it just going to be ...
It's not a coin toss.
It's really close, to be honest with you. All we're doing is we're going to go through, like I said, all of those drives that we've had. There's been over 20 of them in camp where we put the ball down and said "let's go."
There's nothing scripted. Who led the most scoring drives, who had the best completion rate, who threw the fewest interceptions, the most touchdowns. It's really who is the most productive guy in those 20 drives. All he's going to get is the first drive. After that, we're going to rotate the guys, and we're going to see where it goes from there.
It's early. You guys know how long this season is. I truly believe we're going to need both of these guys to be ready to play. It's a long year, we're playing some really good football teams, and we can't just, like we did last year, let the guy play, and if we're up by 30 we put the other guy in.
We got to get two guys ready, we really do.
From more of a big picture standpoint, you made some changes last off season. I don't think I'm putting words in your mouth you were disappointed in 7-6. These months later, how do you feel about those changes that ... How do you feel about where you are, entering your fourth year?
I feel really good entering year four. I need to lose a little weight, maybe, but I'm excited.
The changes I made were changes I thought that had to be made. They're never easy. You guys have had to do those kind of things. It's not a fun moment, but you do it because you believe that's what best for the future of your team and your staff. I can honestly say that I feel like I did the right thing. Not that I look back and doubt myself, but it's exciting to see the progress that we've made in the places where I felt like we needed to take the next step. The guys that were here before did everything they could, and did a great job.
It wasn't really this guy's not good enough, it's just I wanted to be different in the scenarios. We needed different people to do that, so that's where it went. On the strength and conditioning aspect, we're a totally different team when it comes to just how Thunder approaches things, and having Tim with him. You got two totally different people that work really well together, offsetting each other. It's really fun to see that dynamic, and they work well. Our training staff, and our nutrition staff.
Eli obviously, he's got a challenge in front of him like all offensive coordinators do in your first year of putting the pieces together. The nice thing for him, he's got some weapons around him to use, and I look forward to seeing how he does that. It's been fun. I was just watching what he's doing with the different guys, and how versatile some of these players are, and what his thoughts are on how to get them the ball.
Coach, you don't have any seniors on your two deep, but you don't have any freshmen either. Is that a pretty good trade off? Do you like the depth that you've built?
Say that again.
You don't have any seniors on your two deep.
Offense, or defense, or total?
Yeah, Monty Nelson's a senior.
You don't have any freshmen as well. Is that a good trade off?
Well, I wish I had 20 seniors, you know?
A year from now we're going to have 20 seniors. We're getting to the point now, people are like, "Why are you redshirting so and so?" Because we can. I mean that's where we're getting to now. That's a pretty nice place to get to. You want to be able to redshirt guys, unless they're just so physically mature, or mentally mature that you don't have to, which this year right now there's only a handful of guys.
There's four freshmen that will play in the game: Nick McCloud, Tray Meadows, Kelvin Harmon, and Thad Moss, and the plan is to redshirt everyone else, barring injuries.
With your seniors, you'd love to have. If I look at, for example, William and Mary's depth, they're almost all redshirt seniors or redshirt juniors, but there's not very many guys that are not like that. That's one more year of growing up. We sat in here and looked at our players that are our captains right now, and none of those captains redshirted. I wish I had every one of those guys one more year. They all had to play earlier probably than you would like to have played them, but that's where we were at depth wise. To now say, "man, if I had Bradley Chubb for one extra season," you know, he's gone up from 225 to 280. I only get him for one more year after this.
That's the beauty of building your program.
You can play some guys early, get them through some rough patches. They grow, and mature, they become really good leaders, and then you start adding those depth guys behind them and developing them.
We're now at the point, and not by choice, but we've had some pretty key guys injured that you guys know about, Germaine Pratt and Jumichael Ramos, if they had played early and not saved their redshirt year. Now, they're going to get to come back for that fifth year and have that extra year, which I'm thankful for them, for two reasons. One, it helps them graduate on time, and two, just that year of growing up. I don't know, if you asked Jacoby Brissett when he transferred here from Florida that year, he said it was a great year for him developmentally.
What's the plan with Connor, and Kyle from game to game? Are you going to alternate both guys , use them in special situations?
Both of them with kick, and so will Jackson be our kickoff be our kickoff guys. I guess you'd say we have three guys kicking. Both of them will kick. Similar to quarterback, both of them did great. They were over 80% on camp, on their makes. We did a lot of live rush situations. We'll get them both in the game and see how they handle game day.
Do you have it where one does more of longer kicks, or are they kind of in a similar ...
They're pretty similar. Kyle kicks the ball pretty high. Connor's got a really straight ball, it doesn't move a lot. I guess if you had to go out there and go for distance, Kyle might have him just by a little bit. They've both made over 50 yard kicks on live rushes in camp, so I feel pretty good about their range.
Is there something you wish that you had known when you were hired, that you know now?
Yeah. Maybe a different time we'll talk about that. There's so many things, you know what I mean? We'll get somewhere, and it's just kind of what you'd expect. You expect a lot of the unexpected, I think, when you take a job, particularly when it's a job where I hadn't lived here before, you know what I mean. There's going to be things. I didn't know the traffic was going to be this bad in Raleigh. It took so long to drive three miles sometimes. It's things like that. It's nothing major, nothing that would've changed how I felt about where I'm at. It's just little things. We have year round schools here.
We have to figure that out. We got three kids. You got year round school, you got this, you got that. There's all kinds of stuff that goes on within the state. From a program standpoint, you're never going to know the roster. They can tell you whatever they want to tell you. You're not going to know it until you're in the locker room. What we've rebuilt, I feel really good about where it's going. We'll continue to build the depth where we need to. I think that's the biggest thing. You can't predict what happens from an injury standpoint on a roster. You kind of see what it looks like. When I got here, there was a bunch of offensive linemen that couldn't play anymore. They got hurt, left the program, and this and that. That's been probably about a major, major project in getting enough players in that spot. We're finally there numbers wise, and now it's just developing...
Do you prefer what you have in your situation now, this season, where you don't have maybe, well, two quarterbacks, I don't really know, but you don't have a guy ...
We have three.
You got three.
You keep saying that, but a kid playing receiver, I don't know you can play him both. To refer to this situation where you are now, where people are selling you pretty low here, your expectations. Particularly compared to last year, are fairly low. Do you prefer this situation where you surprise many people, or would you prefer to be looked at like maybe last year where this could be a team that could be reckoned with?
You know, I don't really pay attention to what you guys think about me. I don't. I think we look at our team, and my job is to get the most out of them, period. If we get there, like last year I don't think we did. If we do this year, if my expectations are higher or lower than yours, then that's what they are. Our players got to show up and work, our players got to show up and coach, and we got to win as many games as we can, period. That's how it works.
It's hard to wax poetic about a stadium, or building, or something like this, but it's 50 years of Carter-Finley. Can you just talk about the complex that you have, that you had when you arrived into a practice facility, game day atmosphere, all of those things, what it's like for you as a coach to be here?
I still get goosebumps when I get off the bus on game day here. The walk of champions here, and seeing all of the red when you come down the street, on the parking lots, and they run up to the fence, or they run up to the sidewalk, I get goosebumps every time. Every time we get into the locker room, I usually have one of my sons with me, and I'm like it doesn't get any better than that, and I mean that. It's an awesome environment here on game day. The improvements that have been made facility wise here have been extremely helpful. That was the one thing when I met with Debbie Yow, when she interviewed me, I said are the resources going to meet the expectations? That's important.
If were being asked to finish somewhere in the league, or somewhere in the nation, to keep our jobs, which is what we're doing, then I'm not going to have 13th in facilities and third in expectations. She said no, we're going to fight and scratch to get the best facilities we can get, and they've done that, and we continue to do that. I'm really blessed with her commitment, and Bobby Percell, and Chancellor Woodson, and everybody's commitment to continuing to help our facility projects. Our locker room's really nice, if you haven't been down there it's phenomenal. It was just finished, and we're working hard to get into another project pretty soon. The best thing that we can do at Carter-Finley stadium is put a great team on the field, and play as hard as we can, and hope that everybody wants to be in there with us the entire time, going crazy, and that's what we're going to try to do.
The players certainly seem to have latched onto the idea that they have the opportunity to prove people wrong. Do you like that you have been able to watch your players use something that you may not care about to their advantage, and is this the edgiest team that you've had in your time here because of that?
I think I have a chip on my shoulder. I always have, and I always will, because I came from 1AA, non scholarship football, you know what I mean? Nobody's every thought anything about me, because I didn't come from somewhere big, you know? There are some guys that play division one football, and then they get a division 1 GA job, and everyone remembers watching them play, and then they get promoted, that wasn't my path. To me, that's the greatest thing you can do in life, is proving people wrong. I love that, but I don't take your articles, and pin them on my wall, and say "I can't wait to prove Joe wrong." That's not what I do. That's how I'm wired.
Whatever you say, you said, that's your job. My job is to try to be the best that I can be. I think for a kid, yeah, having a chip on your shoulder is a big deal, and I think our guys do. Like I told them, we didn't play well last year, but last year's older. Everyone is saying our schedule is this, and the odds of doing this and this. Whatever they say, they say. If we show up and do what we can do, the best that we can do it, then we can make people think a certain way about us, that's what we got to try to do.
How much more excited are you this year to play on a Thursday night, given all the changes you've had this off season? Is the excitement level, do you feel that it's ...
To be honest, I feel the same way that I felt when I coached my first game ever. These kids, and these coaches, and our staffs have worked really, really hard to get this team ready to play, and we want to get on the field and see where we're at. That's the excitement part of it, it's just all right. We did everything we do to put us where we think it put us. You know it won't. There will be areas where you weren't as good as you thought, and there will be some other areas that will be really good.
Our offensive linemen have been going against a very good d-line every day, every day. Now, I'm excited to see those guys because it's different. I'm just telling you, when you're blocking some of those kids up front right now, it's every snap.
It's watching Joe Scelfo and BJ Hill all fall camp was fun to watch. That was a battle. We'll see what we come out like, and then like everyone says, you make the biggest jump in week two, we'll see about that. I want to see where we're short and where we're not. Until you really play, you don't know that. We got one in the back there.
Putting our expectations aside, even Debbie, when she says you're not coaching for your job or anything like that. My guess though is for you, you're trying to prove that you're better than 7-6, or even better than 8-5, that you are the guy from Northern Illinois who won 11 games, took a team to the Orange Bowl. Is that an accurate description of some of your motivation here, from where you are?
Yeah. I came to NC State because I want to be the best coach they've ever had. That's why I came here. I haven't done that yet, so I'll continue to do that. There hasn't been a lot of double digit win teams here. I did it twice at Northern, as you mentioned. We did it several times when I was an assistant at other schools. Can I do that here? We're going to find out, that's why I'm here. I came here to try to help them do something that hadn't been done.
At Northern, it hadn't been done in 28 years, and we did it. It's been over 35 I think now. Can we do it? I don't know, but that's why I'm here. That's what I'm going to try to do. Until they tell me I don't get to do it anymore, I'm going to do it as hard as I can.
Until you win the ACC championship.