Well, we've got a very productive camp. I think this football team is certainly excited about the opportunity to play. I understand that Western Carolina will be excited to come over to Raleigh. Coach Wagner will have his team ready to play. Should be a great night of football and look forward to the 6:00 kickoff.
Like many others, I was surprised by the decision of Dean Haynes as your number one running back on the depth chart. If you could tell us how long you were considering this decision, how long you had him practicing at this position, and what led up to deciding to put him first on the depth chart.
Well, it started last year when he played scout team for us, played offense on the scout team, playing quarterback and running back. He was very impressive doing those things.
Certainly our main focus after last year was the secondary. We started him out over there. There was a time in spring practice when I contemplated doing it. But I thought the first thing we had to do is make sure we shored up the secondary before we shored up our running backs because we had some options there.
After our third scrimmage this pre-season, looking at our options in the secondary were much brighter and had more options to play guys there, but was not satisfied with the way the running back situation was going. So we moved him there. He's had two and a half weeks of practice there since. We've been in camp for a month now prior to game week. He's had probably 12 practices, which is almost a whole spring practice to get ready to play the game.
Certainly I'm going to be excited as everybody else to see how he performs. But he's done an excellent job in scrimmage opportunities we gave him and practice to this point.
Is there a chance we may see many running backs on Saturday?
You're going to see him and Mustafa Greene, the true freshman that came in and had an excellent camp, done a nice job, and then we'll go from there.
Coach, wanted to see if you could tell me, first of all, who the number three running back is, if you've decided that yet. The other thing, in terms of playing an opener against an FCS opponent, that's the first time you've done it, what differences, if any, that makes.
Right now Curtis Underwood will be the third running back. Opening, it doesn't matter who the opening game is. As I've said before, you know, it's important to us that anybody that has 'Carolina' in their name is a big and unique game for North Carolina State.
You only have 12 opportunities to play a game. This is the first of 12. You only get one chance at a first impression. I think a lot of people are looking forward to coming and seeing Nate Irving go back on the field for the first time after missing a full year. I know they're excited about Russell Wilson coming back from baseball, want to see what his progress is. Certainly I guess all the questions about the running backs, everybody wants to see that.
There's a lot of guys that have to get out there and prove their first time around. It just so happens that we play Western Carolina in the opener.
I know Russell Wilson brings so much dynamic to the quarterback position. In preparing for the future, do you have any set plan for getting Mike Glennon or some of the other quarterbacks prepared in getting playing time this season?
Yes, certainly, we intend to get Michael Glennon in the game. He's going in the game at Saturday night. We haven't decided at what juncture that will be. We decided to give him some work on Saturday night. Each week we'll determine what his contribution will be dependent upon what we think we have to do to win a football game.
But he certainly needs to get in the game. We think he got close to a hundred snaps last year. Like to keep continuing to work him in because he's got to be ready to go at a moment's notice.
Wanted to check and see what have you seen on film out of Coach Wagner and his teams? What have you prepared for looking at Western Carolina?
He's done a nice job in his first two years. Coming into his third year, from reading everything we can read, they've created some depth and situations going into the third year. You know, they like to get the ball to the tailback. They like the spread offense, a lot of one-back stuff, motions, shifting guys around, things like that. We're concerned with getting ourselves lined up on the defensive side of the football.
Looking at their chart up front, we know that on the defensive side they moved the big body to play over the tight end, a 285-pound guy, four down linemen scheme with three linebackers. They bring pressure. We're going to have to be very concerned with that, especially with our young running backs.
Certainly impressed with the two safeties. They're really good players. They put them in position to make a lot of plays for them on defense.
Tom, how would you describe Dean's (Haynes) running style? What does he bring to the backfield?
I think he's a slasher. He's pretty decisive when he makes his cut. He gets his foot in the ground, heads towards the goal line. That's what we like. He's been very good holding on to the football. He's a tough individual. He can bounce off tackles, break tackles. If he gets a chance, we're going to find out if he can run away from anybody.
What are you looking for from Russell Wilson this year? What are the ways that he can improve what's already been a terrific career to this point?
Well, we look for him to have a great year and consistency. I think he progressed as the year went on. He finally played every game last year. There was a progression he had to go through, what every quarterback goes through. He's finally played not extensively the first year because of injury, but extensively last year. I look for him to be a much better decision maker and deliver the ball.
He's got some good targets to throw to. He's got an all-ACC tight end and quality receivers on the outside. If we can give him enough protection, we look for him to have a tremendous season this year.
What did you tell about the baseball experience he had? Did it help him in any way?
You know, I think anytime you can play a sport and play it at a high level, certainly it helps you in terms of athletics and competition and mindset. He's the eternal optimist. He's always felt that way. One time we texted this summer, I think. He was not really down, but we were talking about hitting the ball. He was saying this one way or the other.
I said, Keep grinding, keep grinding. He said, That's what I always do. I think all those things help you because you're in situations all the time when you're in competition, you're competing. The higher level you compete at, the better competitor you become.