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NC State Football

Robert Anae: "There Are Pieces In Place"

February 28, 2023

NC State offensive coordinator Robert Anae is excited to get to work with the offense this spring.  He discussed the quarterbacks and much more recently with the media.

NOTE: Click the video above to watch the interview.

I've been asking a bunch of questions about Brennan Armstrong, so I guess you're the right guy to ask about just what are his strengths as a quarterback, do you feel like? And obviously, he knows your system, so that'll be a big head start for him at NC State.

Oh. Well, I think Brandon in the quarterback room, if everybody stays healthy, this should be one of the top position groups in the conference, in terms of production, in terms of experience. So yeah, I think the group now, that room has a chance to really make a statement in the conference, and very excited that Brennan's going to be a part of that, and as well as the other guys we got.

What do you feel like his strengths are as a QB?

Well, my work in training and development with Brennan, we started with his legs, what he can do on the ground running the football, and that was the starting point with his recruiting. Once he got on campus, I was like, "Whoa, dang." This guy could really throw the football. And coming from a little country high school into a college offense was not easy but his credit, he's very, what's the word? A lot of grit, a lot of determination, and he learned the stuff on the run. That was not easy for him, but yeah, grit, very athletic, and turned out he could really sling the ball.

Coach, what do you think of the wide receivers you guys have? Obviously, you lose a couple, but it seems like you have some good experience coming back.

Yeah, and we're just starting down the road with developing our receiving core. Typical to the Air Raid system, we've split the workload inside, outside. As we go down the road, that's the beginning part of spring but as we go down the road, a lot of those lines will be blurred, inside versus outside receiver stuff, but we needed to have a starting point.

So a lot of experience with Coach Phillips being here, and me just being new on board, we looked at the workload and we began to divide and install and do stuff along those lines. So looking at it just initially, we're going into spring, there's not a lot of returning experience with production. That, we have our work cut out for us, but I believe there are pieces in place here that can be very fun and exciting to work with.

Coach, how will the reps, the quarterback reps, how will they be doled out come practice time?

Just in a rotational fashion, because we don't have a starter so I've allowed every one of our position coaches to monitor that and to introduce a rotation that gives us an opportunity to evaluate, and it's not just quarterbacks that way but all positions will be monitored and evaluated. So no, we don't have a starting deal but it's more of a rep, rotation type thing, so we'll be rotating based on just number of reps.

So no, we don't have a starter. Position coaches will monitor the reps and that will be how we start spring ball.

Coach, I know you're putting a system in place but I'm interested, as a play caller, once you get into game situations, are you looking at it as a system or is it more trying to get the ball to specific guys? How do you view it on game day?

To me, those are the best systems, the systems that get the ball to your best guys. And like I said, I don't really quite know who those guys are, undiscovered country here, but dang, the pieces, January and February, and I studied the bowl as well, I do believe there are pieces in place, but how those pieces work together and how they connect, we are just starting down that road.

And I just wanted to ask you, obviously you coached at Syracuse with a 3-3-5 defense opposite you. Do you feel that the two units have to mirror each other and work together? Is that something that goes into building a game plan and all those things?

Yeah, I think your best teams are complimentary, no doubt, and a lot of that has to do with the orchestration and direction of your head coach. And the little I've been in the program, oh my gosh, we have an excellent head football coach, and man, I kind of know what I'm talking about, as you can see the gray in the hair. That is how it gets pulled all together, that central focus.

And so no, it's not just one side or the other, pulling this way or that way. The best teams are guided by the best head coaches, and those things come together with the best design. And like I said, just being here the little that I have, I'm very encouraged that this can be an excellent football team.

Coach, just looking at the extreme circumstances that this offense went through last year with four quarterbacks, do you ever worry that three is not enough? You guys have already been thinking about contingency plans and things like that?

Well, I think if you've got a quality group of three quarterbacks, you hopefully don't need five or six. You're going to find a high performer in that room with those three young men. Like I said, health has got to be a part of the thing, but no, the production is there, the experience is there. Now, the longevity, Brennan's had seasons under his belt with multiple games in a season, so there is one player with that longevity part, but no, the other two kids are very capable and we look forward to great things.

Coach Gibson was asked about what it was like facing your offense, so we'll give you a chance to rebuttal. Just what was it like facing Coach Gibson's defenses and just the problems they could cause?

Oh, it's fascinating, and being able to practice against a top quality defense... No, an elite in the conference, and it's just not one year, it's been years stacked, that's a great opportunity for an offense to grow with. And so we look forward to every day in spring, every day in fall camp. As much as we can expose our offensive unit to 11 on 11 matchups with a D that's well orchestrated, well coordinated, no, that's hugely valuable. And hopefully, one day, we also can be a top performer in the conference offensively and we're able to add that same value on the other side as the defense goes against us, but like I said, right now, no, shoot, the defense is the high performer. We look forward to stepping up to that level.

What's the biggest problems the 3-3-5 creates for an offense? And then I guess Coach Gibson's been called maybe one of the gurus of that scheme.

A lot of guys dabble into 3-3-5 but very few have been able to make it elite. And I will say, man, I've worked with Tony years past and he's been working on his brand, that brand for decades so it's not something they've stumbled upon, here today, gone tomorrow. No, they've worked at it for decades, and he's got the right group in there, those assistants, and everybody's going the right way with that thing. So no, that's not an accident that they are high performers in the conference. Man, this is year eight for me in the conference, so, man, I'm just glad I'm on this side of that this match than having to sit there on the other sideline trying to figure it out.

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