Camp O'Brien: Defensive Backs Progressing

Starting spots are still up in the air for the Wolfpack secondary, as a few young players have stepped up their game and entered the equation with just over two weeks left before the season opener.

"It's a dogfight for who is going to start on September 1st and that's what you want as a coach," defensive backs coach Mike Reed said. "Guys are starting to play more sound technique football which is what we preach. I can't complain."

Reed said the adjustment to playing some zone has been overblown, and that the team will mix and match defenses as necessary through the course of the game. Head coach Tom O'Brien echoed those sentiments last week when asked about the defenses progression.

"All you guys talk about how we are going to run a bunch of zone, but we are going to play everything," Reed said. "That's the beauty of our defense – you don't know what we are going to play. We aren't going to change much from last year as far as playing man, but we are going to throw some zone in there. Teams are going to have to really study us. That's what you want as a defense."

Despite not having any designated starting unit yet, Reed said there have been some guys who are clear leaders on the field.

"You've got Miguel Scott who's got game experience who's probably my most vocal guy out there," Reed said. "He's more comfortable because of that game experience. Then you have DuJuan Morgan who's playing well."

Scott, a senior safety, has played more snaps than any other player on the Pack roster and recorded 68 tackles last year as a starter. He also started as a sophomore and has played extensively on special teams his entire career at NC State. Morgan, a red-shirt junior, doesn't have quite the same game experience as Scott but was an integral part of last season's defense. The safety was fourth on the team in tackles with 82 stops as a sophomore.

But the upper class men aren't the only players that have caught Reed's eye in the early going. Reed mentioned Javon Walker, a redshirt freshman out of South Dade High School in Florida. A versatile athlete that played defensive end in high school, Walker left his mark on the Red/White game this spring with two interceptions and has continued to impress the coaching staff this fall.

"Young kids like Javon Walker have stepped to the plate and have done a superb job." Reed said. "The rookie – Justin Byers."

Byers, a true freshman from Vance High School in Charlotte, grabbed some attention last season when he won Defensive MVP honors at the Shrine Bowl. Byers suffered an injury his junior year of high school which caused some teams to back off, but he has shown no ill effects so far.

"He was a guy that was slated to come in and play safety, he has grasped the defense and now is playing at safety and corner," Reed said. "It's a testament to his learning ability that he has learned what he's supposed to do. He needs to detail his work a little but for the most part he is playing very good football."

O'Brien no closer to naming starter

Head coach Tom O'Brien doesn't appear any closer to naming a starting quarterback as Daniel Evans, Harrison Beck and Justin Burke continue to battle it out. The coach said that the first two scrimmages of the fall haven't clarified the situation, but he expects that the next two scrimmages will bring him close to a decision.

"We have two more scrimmage opportunities. [Friday] is a situation scrimmage, so its a good scrimmage for quarterbacks because they are going to have to be in the mode of making decisions in critical. We'll play the next scrimmage as kind of half a game, half a scrimmage."

"I think those two will solidify the situation for us."

If the first two scrimmages are any indication, it looks like Evans has the lead for the job. The redshirt junior has gone 13-for-22 for 127 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the first two scrimmage games. But even if O'Brien decides on a starter after next Tuesday's scrimmage, don't expect to hear an announcement until the week of the Central Florida game.

"I'm not going to name him until next Monday or whatever but we'll have an idea after the next couple of scrimmages," O'Brien said.

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