Coaches Corner Recap With Todd Stroud

Today's "Coaches Corner" at Hi-Five featured defensive line coach Todd Stroud.

- With the Wolfpack's defense ranked #1 in the nation, coach Stroud attributed it to a couple of things: the hiring of defensive coordinator Reggie Herring, and NC State returing a core of players with a lot of ability.

Herring has brought enthusiasm and a great plan to the defensive side of the ball. The players they returned were very talented but just young. Mario Williams has progressed, John McCargo has returned, and the progression of Tank Tyler and Manny Lawson has led to the success. The improvement has been fun to watch for the defensive staff, and they welcome the entire defensive line back next season.

- One fan remarked that coach Stroud looked to be too small to be a defensive line coach. Stroud replied that he played for Chuck Amato at Florida State, and coach Amato was his position coach. Coach Stroud was a 270 pound nose guard during his playing days at Florida State.

- The next question centered around the problems NC State had with Florida State on the first two drives of the second half. Coach Stroud said the Seminoles gained 90 yards on those first two drives, leading to scores. The big play was when FSU caught the Wolfpack in a fire zone blitz, and 6'7 290 pound defensive end Mario Williams was matched up with running back Lorenzo Booker, one of the league's fastest players. Mario did a solid job covering Booker, but you can't expect him to stay with Booker on a deep route, but he can defend him well in the flats.

The encouraging news for the Wolfpack defense was that the Seminoles finished the half with 83 total yards of offense in the second half. Therefore, after the first two drives, NC State held Florida State to -7 yards of total offense.

- After moving to defensive line coach from strength coach this offseason, coach Stroud said the teaching transition hasn't been hard. The tough part has been the mental aspect because as the strength coach he was like a father figure. But, as a coach he's had to correct players a lot more and everything's not rosy all of the time. That's been the hardest adjustment for him because your persona changes. "What it comes down to is just being yourself," coach Stroud said.

- The Wolfpack will practice today and work on recruiting Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. "We're not in a contact period yet, but I'm going into the Orlando, Tampa, and Sarasota areas," coach Stroud said. "I'm probably recruiting 12 kids down there, and I'm going to get into the high schools, check on their academics, talk with their coaches about official visits, and get a chance to evaluate some playoff games. That's what we're doing this week. We'll be stretched out all the way from New Jersey down to Miami. Taking a look at all of them."

- The team will take this week to get focused on academics, watch film on East Carolina, and get healthy. Derek Morris is expected to be back, and Marcus Stone is going to be able to play. Tramain Hall's been banged up with a tight lower back, but he'll be able to play. The Wolfpack hopes to have Richard Washington back, but offensive linemen Leroy Harris and Jed Paulsen will not be able to play.

On the defensive side, the Wolfpack has been fortunate to have no major injuries.

- Coach Stroud said one of the biggest disadvantages in not going to a bowl game is having those extra two weeks of practice for all the players.

When talking about the freshmen on the defensive line, he began by raving about red-shirt Gerard Miller. "We think he's going to be a fabulous football player... we really do," coach Stroud said. "He's got his body weight up to about 288 pounds, and he's going to be an inside player for us." Miller, recruited as a defensive end, will play tackle at NC State and is doing very well academically.

"Another young man we're excited about is John Bedics," coach Stroud said. "Academically he's a very strong kid, and he's very smart. I can easily see John finishing the year at 280 pounds and moving inside to help us at defensive tackle." Bedics hails from Pennsylvania and also played defensive end in high school.

"Lemarte McGhee is a huge individual," coach Stroud said. "He's just huge. He weighs about 307 pounds and is about 6'6. He's a real tough kid, and he's going to get a look on either side of the ball. He could end up helping us fill a void on the other side of the ball. It certainly doesn't look like he's going to be a defensive end right now."

"Also another of our signees was Willie Young, and he's now qualified," coach Stroud said. "He's going to be here in January, and we're going to throw him in the mix at defensive end. He potentially can help us at linebacker too. We're just going to see how that works out."

Finally coach Stroud talked about standout freshman Demario Pressley, the nation's #1 defensive tackle prospect from a year ago who is currently on the two-deep depth chart. "He's been phenominal," coach Stroud said. "He's one of the best freshmen that I've ever had the chance to coach. As a true freshman he just needs to get bigger and stronger. He's going to be great for us."

Coach Stroud remarked that when he was at Florida State and before the recruiting restrictions they would sign 25 linemen. If you ran under a 5.0 flat you'd play defense and over a 5.0 flat you'd play offense.

- One fan asked if there was any thought given to kicking off to begin the second half. Coach Stroud said it looked like it would have been a great idea, but if you kick off and they return it for a touchdown, that's not good either. Also, you want to give the offense confidence and by doing that it could have made the offense feel that the staff didn't have confidence in them.

- The next question was if Manny Lawson will be moved back to linebacker next year with the losses of two seniors at outside linebacker. "Absolutely not," coach Stroud said. "He moved down for a reason, and he wasn't real natural at linebacker."

- At linebacker, coach Stroud hinted at some surprises. "We're going to be fine at linebacker," he said. "We've got a couple of surprise players that I think you'll be excited about in the future."

Coach Stroud mentioned that linebacker is a priority on the recruiting trail, and they are targeting some great linebacker prospects.

- Another fan asked about Maurice Charles and why he hasn't been playing as much. "Maurice is a good player, and he's played very well for us this year," coach Stroud said. "We've had some conflict with him, and we're dealing with an internal matter right now. That's all I can say about it.

"He's going to be back with us this spring, and we're just dealing with a matter. He's with us right now."

- When questioned about the problem with hamstring pulls, coach Stroud used Wolfpack standout T.A. McLendon as an example. McLendon's had problems with hamstring pulls throughout his career, and it's because his quad-hamstring ratio is not intact. Hamstrings pull because of the imbalances in your body, and McLendon is so powerful in his quadricep that his hamstring isn't strong enough to handle the power.

Coach Stroud said it's a very tough injury because mentally it is hard to play without worrying about pulling the hamstring again.

- Next year NC State will probably play Marcus Hudson and A.J. Davis at cornerback. Coach Stroud talked about how proud he was of the progress Hudson's made in the classroom after missing a year on the gridiron. At safety they feel Miguel Scott, J.J. Jones, and Garland Heath will contribute. The Wolfpack hopes to land two cornerbacks and one safety in the upcoming recruiting class.

-The biggest weakness on the Wolfpack is the depth along the offensive line. "No question [about it]," coach Stroud said. "That's a focus in recruiting. We're going to take eight or nine linemen this year. We're hoping a couple of them will be mature enough to help us out."

Those were some of the notes from today's "Coaches Corner" with defensive line coach Todd Stroud.

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