Dave Doeren Press Conference - Louisiana Tech Game
Aug 26, 2013
RALEIGH, N.C. - Coach Dave Doeren met with the media prior to the season opener against Louisiana Tech on Monday afternoon.
"Thanks for coming. Hope everybody is doing well. We are looking forward to getting the season started. I think everybody, in this building for sure, is excited for game week to be here. There was a good look in their eye yesterday. There comes a point in time on every team where you are sick of hitting your teammates. As for us as coaches, especially for us in our first year, just getting out there with them and seeing how they handle game day. Some guys play a lot better in different situations and other guys don’t. Starting to really see those pieces and how they interact.
I am excited about where our guys are right now. We have had three very good practices towards Louisiana Tech and today is our day off. We are going to focus on academics and kind of clean up the game plan for offense, defense and special teams as coaches, and we are going to get the guys back in tomorrow.
We play a team similar to us in that they have a new staff, a lot of transition, lost a lot of starters. They are one of the teams who have probably lost more starters than anybody and I think we are right there next to them. Skip Holtz is very experienced and a very good football coach. They are familiar with NC State, the players within our state and the talent level within our state. Coming from a mid-major program myself, I think I have a very good understanding in how they will approach us and this game.
When you look at Louisiana Tech over the past three years, they have beaten three BCS programs, including Illinois on the road last year, Virginia on the road last year, a close loss to A&M on the road the year before. Bottom line, their kids aren’t going to be afraid to play here, they are going to be excited to play here. They are used to travelling and playing tough games. I know what is coming and we are going to do everything we can to make our guys understand that. They are probably a little like us right now, they are relying on film from a lot of different schools and we are doing the same with their staff.
Last year, obviously we are studying the personnel on Louisiana Tech’s film and offensively they are a spread offense that averaged 87 plays a game. Tony Peterson is the offensive coordinator from Marshall and he averaged 90 plays per game at Marshall calling games. I think the top two plays per game teams are now tied together at Louisiana Tech with what they used to do and who they hired on offense. It is an offense that averaged close to 600 yards per game, they are very balanced. You look at who they have back with the addition of Texas Tech transfer Scottie Young at quarterback and they do have four new starters on the offensive line. At receiver, DJ Becks is a really good returner for them and - probably one of the best freshmen tailbacks in all of college football on their team in Kenny Dickson, 27 touchdowns and a freshman All-American - is a strength.
Defensively, they have switched to a 4-2-5 scheme. They were a 4-3 scheme a year ago. They gave up a lot of yards and didn’t play well at times I thought on defense last year. I think you can see in Coach Holtz’s interviews, you can see a big shift in how they approach defense there. They have four redshirt seniors on their defensive line. Any time you have an experienced front that is a good thing for your defense. They added several linebackers from the junior college ranks and the transfer ranks. I think there are four.
There was an article a few weeks ago that talked about how their linebackers went from a group of two strong to a group of seven strong as a position group. Having four experienced defensive linemen and seven linebackers you can count on will help them. I think the biggest question mark for them and not because of their talent, is the age of their secondary. They have one player back with veteran experience and a lot of new faces.
One thing I have seen is how invested they are on special teams. They have new starters. I think they have the best punter in all of college football for two years in row they have to replace. I know there is a battle going on there with kickers. A very veteran staff. A team that will play a lot like the Fresno State’s, Northern Illinois, Louisiana Tech chip on your shoulder, tough teams. We look forward to the challenge. We are ready to start the season, as a staff, as a team to get back into the Carter and have a game with our fans. I know there are a lot of players for us who will be playing in their first game, whether they are a freshman, a transfer, or sat out last year."
"We have talked with all of our quarterbacks about where they stand and what they need to work on. There isn’t a imaginable rep count that we are working on with those guys or first play yet, but by the end of practice Wednesday I think there will be a firm grasp on those guys' parts. I have told them, they need to be ready to be our guy when their name is called and that happens. I think they know in a 12-game season that is a good possibility."
On focus going into the game:
"I have been on it both sides now and I have a greater appreciation for the underdog role. Not from when I was there, but from other schools. Personally, being the dude that nobody recruited out of high school, you get that feeling. Coach Holtz, having been at ECU, probably knows how to motivate his players in that situation. Our focus, a lot is just on us. You have to really focus on yourself more than who you are going to play. I think if that is where our focus is and not on what other people are saying about the game than we will come out and play how we want to play. I think it is when you read into how you are supposed to do is when you are going to have problems as a football team in these types of games."
On the amount of reps the QBs split in practice:
"They both get a lot of reps in practice. That is one thing with the no huddle, they both get so many reps. Brandon [Mitchell] and Pete [Thomas] will both get similar rep counts based on how fast we get through what we script. Sometimes you get double than what you thought you would get. There is rarely a practice where you feel like you didn’t get enough work for those guys and most of the time the third guy will get some."
On CB Dontae Johnson:
"I am excited about what Dontae has done. He has had one of the best fall camps that I have seen as far as consistency. He has improved the things we talked about after the spring. Some things we thought he could do better. Mentally, I think he has done what he needs to do to get ready for his senior year. We are going to find out what our secondary is all about now that it is live. They have a lot of guys who can run after the catch, who are big play type of guys. I feel good coming out of fall camp about the amount of tackling we were able to do, but now it is time to really find out what kind of tacklers our guys really are."
On how much RB Matt Dayes will contribute right away:
"A lot. You will see a lot of Matt Dayes. Not sure how many carries yet, but he is going to play. The better he plays, the more he will play. I like what Matt has done, I like the way he is preparing. I like what the coaches have done, not just for him but for Tony Creecy, in terms of the type of plays they are getting and how they are getting to their strengths. I look forward to watching that in his first game."
On fullback position:
"Ryan [Cheek] has made great progress, you can tell he has played the position before in high school. He has really good hands, physical blocker, as you can expect from a linebacker moving over there. It has helped Tyler Purvis him having Ryan, because he doesn’t have as much of a load. We are excited with what that combination can bring for us. They are versatile in size. They can move well in space, they can catch and both of them can block."
On WRs Bra’Lon Cherry and Marquez Valdez-Scanting:
"Marquez is a tall 6’3” guy who can go up and get the ball, can adjust to when the ball is up in the air, and snatches the ball confidently in his hands. He was one of the better track guys in the state of Florida last year, so he does have legitimate speed down the field. He is a competitor. Even his blocking is impressive as a freshman.
Bra’Lon is a guy you love to coach, because he is the same guy every day. He doesn’t say a lot, he works hard, he smiles. He will make a mistake here or there, but he always comes back with a positive attitude. His best days were all scrimmage days, which kind of excites you about what a game day can bring."
On Bra’Lon enrolling early:
"He has changed his body quite a lot. He is 10 to 15 pounds different from when he got here. Knowing the offense this fall allowed him to start faster. It gives us a chance from a depth standpoint to feel that he isn’t a freshman, because of the amount of reps he has taken in practice."
On pressure of a bad day for the quarterbacks:
"Well, I haven’t seen a bad day yet and that has been encouraging. Obviously, there have been some bad plays. You just coach them through it. You expect that a little bit. One thing that I have stressed is, it is not their job to win the game for us, it is their job not to lose it. They just distribute the football and make smart choices. They both have good God-given ability. They can both throw the football. They don’t need to try to make perfect throws all the time. Just throw it where Coach Canada says it should go, give them a catchable ball and not force it into bad areas. Execute the game plan. Those are the kind of things we talk about with our quarterbacks a lot, not to diminish the importance of making plays, because that is obviously what you want."
On atmosphere he is expecting at Carter Finley Stadium:
"That was a neat event. I was excited to just be apart of it, to be with the Chancellor and to see the baseball team and some of the other coaches get some recognition. I thought that was really nice thing for the University to do."
On team goals:
"Yea, we do have team goals. I met with our Leadership Council and gave them our team goals. Those are in our team meeting room and some of those guys have had the opportunity to talk to me about them. I went through them with our ball club, from academics, to community service, to games we want to win."
On amount of true freshman on the two-deep depth chart:
"They told me a week after I got the job that we would be the youngest team in the ACC. I think that is good and bad. A lot of guys who don’t know any better are just going to go hard, but there will be some game day things that will happen that have to happen for a guy to grow as a player. Unfortunately, you have to grow from those as a team. We hope to minimize that as much as we can. We will get through the bumps in the road, but I am excited what happens in time when you do that. At Kansas, we played a ton of true freshmen my first year. It was a tough year. Those were the same guys that made that team into an Orange Bowl team a few years later. That experience is what really helps a football team when you are building."
On Zach Gentry:
"He is just tough. He is missing a front tooth. He never takes a play off. He loves contact. He is never, ever, ever a guy you hear a complaint out of. He just plays defense a way a linebacker is supposed to play defense. I am not saying he is perfect, but he is tough. Those are the types of things I want our guys to be like. Having those kinds of attributes in the middle is something that makes you better."
On getting on a roll early in the season:
"That would be great. Their would be nothing better than getting on a roll. Like I said, I am looking at it like our first game and where we go from there. I think, I had a great opportunity to learn from my first year at Northern, where we didn’t start like the way I would have hopefully started. Although, the opening game was great. We were 2-3 there after five games. I learned a lot about those five games. I think I will learn a lot from game one to game two, game two to game three about who we are as a team and how we can do better. If it starts out the way you want it to start out and you get on a roll, that is fantastic, but there is a lot of unanswered questions about our personnel that we need to see in a game day atmosphere right now."
On Shadrach Thornton attitude:
"Phenomenal. I am very proud of him right now. We have seen a huge change. He is very humble, he has grown a lot. He has worked extremely hard. I am very proud of the way he has handled the situation, it has not been easy or fun. He has come to work everyday with a tremendous attitude and has been extremely supportive of his teammates."
On team GPA:
"The team was above a 2.8 for the summer terms and that helped raise our team GPA. That put us in position to have success in the fall. There isn’t anybody on the roster academically ineligible entering into the fall. Coming into it, I couldn’t say to you that was going to happen. There were a lot of guys battling to stay here and I am thankful for all of work that our players have done, our academic support staff, coaches for monitoring guys attendance and making sure guys are doing things the right way.
We did over 1,100 of team community service this summer. I ask our players to do 10 hours per player per year and they did that in one summer. I think that says a lot about the way we are approaching things here and the way they give back to a city that gives them a lot in return. That is kind of what I have talked with them about. There are 63,000 people cheering for you on game day, in your stadium. You owe it to their communities to give back and their schools. We are starting a program in the falls on Friday with our redshirt players or our injured players to get out and to elementary schools, middle schools or community hospitals. It is a partnership with Pete Roley, one of our operations guys has put together a list of local schools to read to kids. I look forward to seeing how that impacts Wake County schools in particular."