Doeren: "We Know How Close We Are"

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State head coach Dave Doeren met with the media to discuss the upcoming game against Florida State.

PRESS CONFERENCE: Dave Doeren (.mp3 File)

Opening Statement:
Getting ready for a very good Florida State football team that's coming off a tough loss against Clemson. We have military appreciation game this week which is really something to me. It means a lot. As a dad, my father served in the Navy. My father-in-law served in the Army. All my grandparents were in the military. There's several players on our team and this state being what it is military wise to be able to honor them this week means a lot to our program.

I'm hoping for great crowd with being a night game against a great opponent with Florida State. They're offensively, they always have been very explosive. Dalvin Cook is a fantastic player and picked up where we left up last year. Runs hard, can cut, sees things, catches the ball well, finishes runs, hard to tackle.

Francois has gotten better and better as the years gone on. He's completing over 60% of his passes and 11 touchdowns, four interceptions, has great weapons like they always do. At Florida State their receiver is Rudolph. I don't know if Wilson's full go or not. Whitfield and their tight end is playing well. Defensively a lot of man coverage, a lot of press. With one safety, or two safety, or no safety's back and acted D line. I think Walker and Nnadi are really good.

They have a corner in McFadden that leads the nation in interceptions for them with six interceptions... long. They always have a really good cover corner. Their linebackers and DBs have had some injuries and you see a lot of different guys playing but they all play fast. The best you can say about them probably right now is their plus seven in turnover margins, so they've done a nice job taking care of the football and getting it back defensively.

It will be a great challenge for us. With four games left to play and the first one being against a great opponent, that's where our focus is in trying to find a way to get a win on the board and get back to where we were and that all starts with execution and accountability, and that's what we're going to spend a lot of time working on this week. We're close and you don't get plays back. That's the bottom line in college football.

We know how close we are to being where we want to be, but at the same time we're not there. We just go to stay on course and stay with the process of getting better and working at it, and taking our mistakes off of film, and taking advantage of opportunities that we have left. 

One of the first things you said Saturday was you had to get back to basics... great, I get that. But is it much more complex than you need to block better than you have to last two games?
Talking about in the run game, or in the pass game, or just in general?

Your defenses were fine. You can’t block. You can’t run. Is it just that simple that you have to block better?
I think fundamentally we’ve got to go do a lot of things. It’s not just inside, like if you throw a screen outside and we get blown up, that’s blocking as well. I think we can play harder. I do think that that was a good front, and I promise you there’s nobody more disappointed than our line coach and own line when it comes to not being able to run the ball effectively.

But I also think we didn’t give the run game an opportunity. I do think you have to stay with it, and that’s something we’ve talked about. Being balanced is also about balanced opportunity. We have to understand, like in the Clemson game we ran the ball well.

Well the first five times we ran the ball, we averaged one yard a carry. Then the next one was a big run, and then we had another one, and then another one. As a lineman you get better as the game goes on, a feeling how those blocks are going to be. I think that’s something we’ve got to continue to understand.

We’re throwing the ball well. When you get behind you want to all of sudden, you’ve got to score. You’ve got to score. We’ve just got to be patient.

The fundamentals of football always start with blocking and tackling. Always do. If you play well, usually those two things are happening.

Last couple of games, turnovers have been a little bit more prevalent. I think it’s eight in the last three games. What do you think when you look at the film? What do you see what’s causing that and what do you have to do correct it?
The two interceptions we threw Saturday, one of them was a beautiful pass to Matt. It went through his hands and bounced up and they made a heck of a play. That to me is different than throwing a pick into coverage. That was a really nice throw. The last one, we just didn’t communicate well to each other on the play. Steph was supposed to run a fade on the goal line right there, and him and Ryan were on the wrong page.

I agree with you. We can’t turn the football over. We have to do everything we can as a football team because of the margin for error we have to be positive in the turnover margin. That’s the number one reason you win and lose games in pro football and in college football. The second thing we have to do is be opportunistic and not beat ourselves with penalties.

Those two things and we’re winning.

Getting back to the offensive line, you made a switch I think in the second half, Terronne took Will out. What were you trying to go forward there?
Will was sick and missed time and just didn’t feel like he was himself in the game. Tyrone had practiced well, and so we were giving him an opportunity to play because he had practiced more. Just felt like because Will was struggling at that point in the game with a couple things.

That we’d see what Big T can do. He didn’t play to the best of his ability either. We struggled with their front. That’s why that change happened during the game. I know that as we move forward here, we’ll see where we’re at. We haven’t practiced yet this week but that was where we were last week.

Will was sick?
No going into the week. He was seek from the Sunday after the Clemson game until the Thursday of game week last week.

How happy are you with the deep passes? You got a lot more than just seems like, there were more options in terms of deep passing options.
That’s been an improvement. We definitely have more explosive plays down the field in the passing game. If we can be balanced in the run game and have that, then we’ll have what we’re looking for and I think that’s where we were going into the Notre Dame game, and that’s where we’ve got to try to back to, is the balance of it.

We had it in the Clemson game too. We moved the ball effectively in Clemson, but we got down the red zone and we have penalties that would back us out of the red zone.

That’s exactly what we want to be though. Just to be able to run it down the field and be able to run the ball.

I guess you’re aware that Florida State had this Showtime series about the hard knocks kind of thing, behind the scenes. I’m kind of curious. Do you guys, when you scouting, you’re going play and you know what you’re scouting film, do you look at anything like too, to see if there’s anything you could pick up from a team that opens the doors like that?
It still comes down to the film and I’ve seen them. It’s not something game week where I’m going to go back and DVR all those episodes. I saw some of them in the summer, and Notre Dame had a similar deal. I like watching, just personally, to see different things that schools are doing in training camp, because I never get to go to a training camp other than ours. It’s to see how they’re doing, what they’re doing, and how he’s handling practice.

I like seeing all that stuff. Same thing with the NFL camps, but very rarely because they’re edited by their staff, is there going to be something that can help us beat them, from an x’s and o’s standpoint.

Just to follow up on that, do you see yourself doing a show like that if there was an opportunity like being that open? To be in a show don’t want to do it because of revealing how they do their operations.
I think if you’re involved in the editing part of it, it’s good for your program. I do. If it’s wide open then that’s, at times, not the best thing for your players either.

What's your confidence level at this point that you can fix your running game? Get that going again.
Yes, it’s very fixable. Part of it too, we just played some really good defenses, and that’s part of it.

I promise you this, Dwayne Ledford and those kids will do everything they can, and I feel very confident in his ability and their ability to get where we want it.

When you see a team coming in like FSU is coming, what is added to the opportunity that this team has?
I don’t know how they’re going to handle it, so I can’t really guess. Are they inspired by it, or are they flat by it, I don’t know. We have to control our team right now and do everything we can with them to be ready to play.

All I can do is assume we’re going to get the very best team that he has. That’s what we’ve gotten every time we played them. They’re a good football team, and he’s a good coach and they’ve got good players.

When we talked to you last week everyone was, you and both your players said that something needs to be done better to get past the losses. What was done Saturday night in respect to that?
Saturday night we didn’t do anything with them. They went home. Yesterday we met and watched the film and talked, and I’ve met today even more to captains. There’s some things that it comes down to just the accountability of doing your job every play and owning the fact that I have to do my job as well as I can on play 70, just like I did on play five. We’re the kind of team right now where play 70, if it’s not right, that’s going to be the play that hurt us.

You can turn on film. It's crazy, and you’ll see a team bust a coverage and there’s a guy running down the field wide open and they sack the quarterback. On our game that doesn’t happen right now. That’s just how football is for us right now. We have to be right on. Our margin for error is very little and our guys know that. We’ve got to execute, and that’s really the premium is execution.

How do you get that? You talk about it. You work at it. You make sure that you’re teaching it and going through all the little fine details with them and helping them by being positive with them.

Are you past the point of it being positive that you guys are still in the game at play 70, or is play 70 costing what it cost? At this point if they don’t realize how big of a deal or how much of an opportunity it is, they never will? Or do you still try and draw an emphasis to that?
No, we all know that we’re a handful of plays away from being seven and one. We know that. Whether it was a play we could have made, or a penalty that we had, or a penalty that whatever. We’re close. I think that’s the bottom line, right? So you say to yourself, “All right what do you got to do to get past being close?” We’ve got to execute. We’ve got to make the play when the play is there to be made, and we can’t hurt ourselves, if we make the play by beating a formation or having a penalty. We can’t do those things, and that’s really where we’re at.

Are you concerned about guys hanging on to the past, what’s happened the last couple weeks? You can talk about the plays but they’re human and how do you address that?
I think realistically you have to be concerned about everything in your program. You have to. I talk to our coaches. I’ve talked to our players. I’ve talked to our leaders. We have four games left and we’re going to make those four games into whatever we want. We’re going to out and have great preparation. We’re going to prepare the right way, and we’re going to coach the right way, and our kids are going to play hard. I do know that. Is there not a sting because you could be this? Yes, there’s always going to be that. I can’t erase that but we can get them to be forward thinking, and I think that’s where our approach is right now. We’re not looking back. We have to look ahead.

Did you come up with any clarity through Jay Samuels lack of targets?
He was out there a lot watching the film. There was a couple of plays were we did throw him the ball and couldn’t get it to him. One on fourth and run where we had a rush in Brian’s face and he threw it low. He was in the slot. They were playing man to man on him, just like they were on a lot of people. Nyheim got six catches, and some of the other games Nyheim had one and he had eight. I think that’s just what Ryan saw. He saw him open and not him.

Can we design some more plays to hand him the ball or things like that?  Yes, I could answer we can, but that’s why in that game, he just didn’t see him as open as the other guys. There was two times he tried to throw the ball to him and he couldn’t. One was because of the pass rush. He just didn’t block the guy off the edge one time.

Talk a little bit about you can’t think three targets out of 41.
When you say targets, you’re saying the ball thrown to him but there’s plays called for him where he’s not open, and that’s also something that doesn’t get, as part of it. We drew the play up to get him the ball but he wasn’t open, so you don’t throw it to him. He’s the number read in progression.

I can’t do anything about that if he’s not open. You go to the next guy, and then you go to the next guy. That’s a one, two, three read and then you scramble or you throw it away.

Your impressions of night games in Carter-Finley Stadium. Did that help?
Yes, it’s a great atmosphere. It’s special, especially with the military appreciation aspect of it. That’s always made it even more special. I know our fans like the night games, and it gives them an opportunity to have a good day tailgating, and not being rushed to getting out of here. Set up the way they want to set up. The students will be rowdy. It’s always been awesome here at night.

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