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NC State Football

Tony Gibson: "We Bring It From Everywhere"

August 24, 2023
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NC State defensive coordinator Tony Gibson met with the media as the Wolfpack prepares for its opening-week matchup versus Connecticut.

NOTE: Click on the video in the player above to watch Gibson’s interview.


On the importance of getting backups playing time...

Starting with the backers, Payton Wilson — who's played a lot of football, as we all know — is kind of the heartbeat of our defense right now. Three other guys really stepped up during fall camp. Two of those guys have played in the past. Jaylon Scott has played a lot of football. Devon Betty has played a lot of football. Caden Fordham has been a big piece of our special teams, and he's also gotten game time. Those guys have all gotten experience, and it's their time now. We're losing the production we did with Isaiah [Moore] and Drake [Thomas]. It's time for somebody else to step up. I feel really good about those four guys right now.

On getting players time in important situations...

It depends on the game, how it's going, and all of that. We're playing to win and planning to keep people off the scoreboard. We're worried about that first unit first, then see who else earns the right to play.

On the defensive line…

In all my years of coaching in this defense, I think this is the best defensive line I've ever had. As a full unit, we're deeper than we've ever been. We feel good about eight guys going in the game at any time. I really, really like where they're at. I love the leadership of Davin Vann, C.J. [Clark], Savion [Jackson], and Travali Price. Those guys have all played a lot of snaps. Our new guys — Noah Potter and Red Hibbler — and we've got Brandon [Cleveland] who has played a lot of football. Isaiah Shirley's coming on; we can use him at times [as well as] Nick Campbell. We got a lot of guys right now that we're counting on to play.

On the secondary…

With the leadership of Shy [Battle] and Aydan White — anytime you got two returning corners that've been three-year starters, I count on those guys to lead back there. They've played in big games and made big plays. Then, you go to Jakeen [Harris] — he's started a lot of games as well — and [Devan] Boykin. I like where we're at. We’ve got a lot of depth again. We've got more depth than we've ever had, guys that we can put in the game and not have to worry, change positions, or things like that.

On Cecil Powell’s health and resiliency…

He's been a kid that hasn't played football in two years. I’m very proud of where he's at. He had a great fall camp, getting back in the swing of things. Cecil’s a guy who loves to play football. I'm glad that his body's allowing him to at this time. He's running really well. He's smart. He knows our schemes. We’re looking for some big things out of him.

On NC State’s reputation as a defensive school…

Obviously, a win is a win any way we get it. If it's 50-49, that's great for the program and great for us. I won't be too happy, but a win is a win. That's our goal. Our No. 1 goal is to go out and get a win however we have to do it. I really like our offense right now with what Coach [Robert] Anae and his staff are doing. Again, we take pride in keeping people with less points on the board for us or better. That's the standard we've set over the last few years, and we're going to continue to do that.

On Wilson’s progression in blitzing…

A lot of that is built into our schemes and how we do it. Payton is a good blitzer. We install things; it's all about our timing and getting that down in practice reps. We have to keep repping things. Obviously, if you watch us, we bring it from everywhere. Whether it's our Sam, our Will, our Mike, our corners, or our safeties, we like to blitz. It depends on whose number is called. We all have to time it out the right way.

On UConn’s offense testing the defense…

UConn is a good football team. They got a lot of guys back. I just think that what they do that's unique is they get in a bunch of condensed formations; a lot of movement, motions, trying to get your eyes bad so they can run the football. They have an effective run game. Their O-line is very experienced. I think they're going to try to run the ball, get us to play more guys in the box, and then try to play action and throw it over is what I would think that they're going to do to us.

On Joseph Fagnano starting as the Huskies’ quarterback…

We've studied a bunch of film on all three of the quarterbacks. There wasn't a whole lot on [Ta'Quan Roberson]. He only got to play 11 snaps at the start of the year a year ago and got hurt. We played against [Zion Turner] last year in our place. He played the whole game. We have to study more Maine film and see how they're going to use him. I know he's familiar with their offense. [Maine’s] old head coach [Nick Charlton], I think he's now the offensive coordinator there. Obviously, he's a smart guy and can pick it up. The first game is always the hard one, right? You don't know what to expect. We're working on a lot of different things. We have to be able to adjust on the sideline to go out and play good defense throughout the game.

On his defense versus Anae’s offense…

It’s been really good. Coach Anae and I have worked together in the past, and I’ve coached against him. I really like what they do with their scheme. They get you out in space, do a lot of different things, one-on-one work where you have to make tackles. Again, it’s a lot of movement. They're going to score points and do things that we have to shut people down. I'll know a lot more here in about a week or so as to how it's going to work.

If playing a similar style of offense helps the defense prepare…

No doubt about it. We'll get some really, really good work in. I feel like our kids are comfortable with the movements, shifts, trades, and all the things that happen in the game.

If he worried about Powell never playing football again…

With a back injury, you miss two years, and it felt like we went a long time where it wasn't getting any better. He fought through it, kept rehabbing, and got strong. I’m very proud that he stuck with it because a lot of guys would walk away, and he did not. He kept fighting the fight. Right now, he's the best I've ever seen him. He’s engaged in what we're doing. He's a big part of what we do and how we do it around here. A guy with that much experience that has been around the program for a few years, it's good to get him back.

 
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