Turnovers and penalties plagued the offensive attack early in the year, then inexperience and inaccuracy at the quarterback position stymied the Pack on that side of the ball later on. The result was a unit that scored just over 20 points per game, committed 24 turnovers, averaged just 3.4 yards per rushing attempt, gave up 28 sacks and converted just 25 percent (42-165) of its third downs.
With a full year in Raleigh under his belt, Trestman is ready to take the next step with the Wolfpack. He talked with Pack Pride about some of the challenges he and State face in 2006.
How is the quarterback position shaping up and what improvements would you like to see from Marcus Stone?
"He knows this offense very, very well, and I sense that [redshirt sophomore] Daniel [Evans] is not far behind, but he's just not experienced. And [true freshman] Justin Burke is in here learning form the other guys. We're much farther along in terms of where we were a year ago.
"The biggest thing for Marcus is we need to get better at our deep dropback passing game. We have to become a much more proficient football team in that regard, and we've been working diligently to do that. We know what are strengths are; we can run the football and be proficient. But we want to be respected as a team that can do everything. We want to be a running team, a proficient dropback team, an action team and a movement team. The dropback part has to improve, and he knows that and he knows that there is a big difference between doing it in practice and doing it in games. But he is so much farther along than he was a year ago, and it will be real interesting to see if there's some real jumps made in training camp."
With redshirt freshman Mike Greco transferring out, will it be nearly impossible to avoid a redshirt season for Justin Burke? What will your expectations be of him?
"No, I don't think it's impossible. He's got the ability to learn this and quickly, but it's a major step coming from where he was and going in at the quarterback position. Hopefully, that won't have to happen. Marcus is 5-1 as our quarterback, and if we can win five of every six games when he is at quarterback, we're going to be a very successful program, and that's where we want to be. The biggest thing is we've learned how not to lose games, and the next thing from an offensive standpoint is learning how to win and be proactive.
"I saw Justin on film and saw him play in the [Kentucky state] championship game. He's versatile; he can line up under center or in the gun, and he has a lot of ability. He has to be respected as a runner; he's not a great runner, but he has enough mobility to move around and make plays, and he can throw on the move, to the left and right. He's a very bright guy.
"The No. 1 thing I saw in him was his ability not to turn the ball over, and that's not something he did in high school. He had minimal turnovers, and statistically, he just did an unbelievable job. His plus-ratio of touchdowns and interceptions was something like 62 to four—and that's hard to do even in seven-on-seven [drills]."
NC State is loaded at the tailback spot with sophomores Andre Brown and Toney Baker, plus redshirt freshman Jamelle Eugene. What is the challenge in getting the ball to so many qualified running backs and where would you like to see improvement from these youngsters?
"That's not a challenge, that's a luxury. You can't have too many good players at any position, so I'm not worried. We'll give the ball to the guys that deserve to get the ball, and we'll do it the best we can. We've got a bunch of key elements, with three good backs and a number of receivers we want to get the ball to. So I see that as more of a luxury than a challenge.
"I would say that the No. 1 thing for anyone to play that position at a high level is to protect the passer. That's where they said it themselves; that's where they can improve. In my experience in the NFL, some of the best running backs in history have been the best pass protectors, because they knew it was important. They didn't want to come off the field in passing situations; they wanted to stay on the field. So it is a matter of understanding, technically and schematically, what the responsibilities are as a pass protector. That's No. 1.
"We have gifted running backs, and they all have good hands. Each one of our backs is very good pass receiver, and we will certainly use them in that way."
Speaking of luxuries, your depth at tailback allowed you to move Darrell Blackman to wide receiver and senior Reggie Davis to linebacker. Is that a reflection on the potential of Jamelle Eugene and what type of player is he?
"Even without Jamelle, Darrell is one of our highly skilled players, and we had to find a way to get him his touches. He was not going to get them by being a third-team back, so he went from being a third-team back to a first-team wide receiver. He'll get a number of opportunities throughout the game, whether as a pass receiver or running with the football. You saw in the spring game that we'll find ways to get the ball in his hands, and he deserves it. He's one of our best players.
"We'll do what we can do to get Jamelle in there and get him some touches. He'll be able to back up a number of positions, and in some regards, he could replace Darrell if something were to happen to Darrell. He's one of the top people that we would want to get the ball to. I'm not saying he'll be a wide receiver, but he can replace that position in some capacity, and we'll do things to get him out there."
How do you feel about Pay Meyer's addition to the offensive coaching staff and what do you expect from the offensive line?
"Pat's going to do a great job. He knows these players better than anybody because he's been around them more as a strength and conditioning coach. He's very bright and he was around this offense last year, so it wasn't new to him when he took over the position. So he knows the system and the terminology, and the relationship we have is very, very good, which is so critical for me from a coordinator position. Pat is going to develop chemistry for our guys—especially our younger guys. We have to develop some young players, because we're not going to be real deep.
"But the future looks really, really good for our offensive line, and the present looks really good if we can stay healthy and together. The five or six guys who will play a lot play well together and really understand the calls and how to be in the right position.
"Down the road, we're going to be very, very good on the offensive line. We have some really good young talent, but with all linemen, it takes developmental time."