Coaches Corner Recap with Noel Mazzone

This week's "Coaches Corner" at Hi-Five featured Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone.

Here are some of the key notes that Coach Mazzone discussed with the Wolfpack fans in attendance at Hi-Five today.

- Coach Mazzone began by saying how great a job coach Amato does with recognizing the flow in a game and how to manage it. He said if NC State loses a game 13-3, Coach Amato may tell the defense that they didn't do a good enough job, and if they lose a game in 30-24, he may say the offense didn't do enough to help the defense out. Coach Amato does a great job in this area.

- He also talked about how the offense has progressed, and that eight quarters ago he was a little worried, especially going into halftime of the Wake Forest game. Now, NC State has their starting quarterback: Jay Davis. The offensive coordinator said Davis is no longer concerned with consequences and is focusing on possessions. He's been playing great, and the offense is really coming around.

- Coach Mazzone feels so confident in the offense that he said he wishes he could have the Ohio State game back. He saThe team is real comfortable with its current offensive philosophy: a strong running game and play-action passing. Davis is very comfortable with play-action and it really fits his strengths.

- Coach Mazzone made it a point to say that he wants to score as many points as possible and doesn't like field goals. He wants touchdowns. Against Maryland, the only way for the Terps to get back in the game was if the offense had a critical interception or fumble, so they called the game accordingly. He mentioned that in the third quarter the team played probably a bit too conservative, and they chose to open it up some in the fourth quarter.

- Entering the Maryland game, NC State was leading the league in red zone conversions according to Coach Mazzone. He said now they have dropped, and they have to get even better with teams like Miami, Florida State, and Clemson on the schedule. They need to start scoring more touchdowns and kicking less field goals.

- One fan asked about the struggles of John Deraney with short field goals, and Coach Mazzone said that he's not an expert with kickers. However, he did joke that he was trying to give John plenty of game-time reps against Maryland, hence the high number of field goal attempts. On a serious note, he said Deraney's done a great job handling all three duties and the offense needs to start letting him kick less field goals and more extra points.

- An interesting stat that the Wolfpack offensive staff tracks is a rule known as the "12% rule." They take the total of turnovers, penalties, drops, and sacks and divide that number by the amount of plays. If the result is less than 12%, teams win 90% of the time. Coach Mazzone said the staff went back and tracked last year's stats and every game they lost the number was above 12% and in every game except one that they won the number was below 12%.

- One fan asked if Darrell Blackman will be more involved in the passing game, as he showed terrific receiving skills against Maryland. Coach Mazzone responded that it's an interesting point and something the staff is definitely exploring. He said that Miami plays a ton of man coverage so the Wolfpack may look to get their running backs matched up on linebackers in the passing game.

- The offensive coordinator said that the running game's progressing, but the young guys are still learning to gain any yards when they can. At times, they want to try and turn every run into a huge gain but that can result in negative plays. T.A. does a great job of punching it up the middle when he can't get the big gain and taking the three-yard gain. Second and seven is much better than second and 12. It just makes everything much easier.

- Another fan asked why it seems there has been a large number of delay of game penalties this year, and Coach Mazzone says that it's partially Jay's fault and partially his fault. Sometimes Davis goes to the sideline for the play, and then it's the coach's fault. When the play is signaled in and there's a delay, that's Jay's fault. It's something they are working to correct.

- Maryland defensive end Shawn Merriman had a great game against NC State, particularly playing the reverse. The Terps used him as a standup 'five technique' and those are harder to run the reverse against because they are not playing with their hand on the ground. They can see the whole field, the revere man in motion, and read the fake better. The staff probably should have done a better job calling the reverses and handoffs against Maryland, according to Coach Mazzone.

- When talking about the Hurricanes, Coach Mazzone said they have the Manny Lawson's and Mario Williams' on defense, but he's confident that the Wolfpack offense faces those type of players on defense everyday in practice. He said Miami's the same Miami that fans have seen the past 15 to 20 years and that they are a great team.

- Coach Mazzone mentioned that having College GameDay and playing Miami on national television is great exposure for the program and the city of Raleigh. It is also going to help in recruiting. Recruits know that with NC State's schedule, if they come to see the Wolfpack play, they know it's going to be against a very good team.

Those were some of the key notes from Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone's luncheon at Hi-Five.

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