9/14/04: Coaches Corner Recap with Chuck Amato

This week's "Coaches Corner" at Hi-Five featured Head Coach Chuck Amato and here are some highlights from today's event.

Amato was introduced to a roaring applause from the large crowd at Hi-Five, and he discussed his program and the upcoming Ohio State game.

One fan asked Amato about new defensive coordinator Reggie Herring and his approach to hitting in practice. Amato responded, "what [Reggie] didn't know is that the head coach planned on hitting in practice too." He said that he wanted Herring when he first arrived at NC State and is thrilled to now have him on his staff because he's an extension of himself.

When asked if the hitting caused some of the injuries, Amato said, "not at all." He expanded on that by saying the hitting in practice allows his players to compete even more.

"We've got competition in practice," he said. "We've got guys who are first-team today and second-team tomorrow because other guys got promoted over them. If we can get that at every position, then it will be easy."

Regarding injuries, Amato pointed out that red-shirt freshman Kalani Heppe practiced some yesterday and is coming along nicely. Right tackle Derek Morris is in a situation where the team is taking a wait-and-see approach. Left tackle Chris Colmer sounds like he'll be good to go for Ohio State.

"Colmer's fine," Amato said. "He played an awful lot of snaps but has to get in shape."

One question centered around if the Wolfpack would try to get T.A. McLendon, Bobby Washington, and Darrell Blackman in the backfield at the same time. Amato replied with his normal humor.

"Yea, we're going to the wishbone," he joked. "I wasn't suppose to let that out of the bag but we're going to the wishbone. I would have considered it a while back if we could play twelve guys."

"And there's another one," he added. "Don't leave #20 out because nobody said T.A.'s playing yet. #20's pretty salty out there. When he hits the line everyone goes that way."

Amato seemed impressed with Ohio State's young quarterback, Justin Zwick.

"He did an outstanding job," he said. "After the first game it looked like they would go back and forth between him and the second-string quarterback. But, during the first half he had three touchdowns and he had over 320 yards [passing] in the game. I think he's a real good thrower."

Amato was also asked if the game would be officiated by Big Ten or ACC officials.

"Yes, we are going to have Big Ten officials," he said. "That might be to our advantage... to have Big Ten officials."

Freshman Bobby Washington also was addressed by Amato, who talked about his talented freshman tailback.

"Bobby is very, very talented. I remember when he was a sophomore in high school and was probably one of the top three or four kids in the city of Miami. He's a really good kid too."

One fan pointed out to Amato that junior tight end T.J. Williams had zero receptions against Richmond.

"T.J. has got to touch the football," Amato said. "I just told the offensive coaches the Sunday after the Richmond game that T.J. had no receptions. I said, 'if it happens again we need another defensive end.' He's 6'4 260 pounds and runs about a 4.55. Oh, they got the message."

Hurricane Ivan is closing in on the Gulf coast and some projections have it on target to hit North Carolina this weekend. One question for Amato was the impact it could have in the game.

"We really can't worry about that," he said. "We talked about what we need to do in a downpour. As long as it rains on their side of the field we're fine. If we were playing up in Columbus, Ohio it would probably rain on our side of the field when we have the football."

A question about his young receivers: John Dunlap, Jamesley Jean, and DaJuan Morgan really got Amato's attention.

"Dunlap was a linebacker and receiver in high school. He's a wide receiver in a linebacker's body," Amato said. "He can really run and he's going to be a good player. I told the strength coach to make sure he weighs 245 pounds when we start spring practice because we may need another linebacker. But, I think he's got an outstanding future at wide receiver."

"Jamesley Jean we just moved to outside from tight end," he added. "He runs good and he's got good hands so we're trying to get him in the mix. DaJuan Morgan is an outstanding wide receiver prospect who can run really fast. I think we've got some good young players out there."

Before ending the luncheon, Amato expressed his appreciation for the Wolfpack fans and gave a hint that the Carter-Finley expansion may not be over just yet.

"I can't express how much excitement you people bring to our players," Amato said. "I talk about you constantly."

"When I got here we had an ugly looking press box, and we knocked that down," he added. "Now this press box is 117,000 square feet, and it's too big for this stadium. There's only one way we can rectify it."

Happy to talk with fans and boosters after dealing with the media's questions over the past few weeks, Amato mentioned that the crowd at Hi-Five was an easy one.

"This is an easy group," he joked. "Maybe it's the food they ate. Do you need a drink? Drinks on the house!"

Next Tuesday, offensive line coach Mike Barry will be the guest at Hi-Five's "Coaches Corner."

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