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NC State Football

Dave Doeren: "There Was A Lot Of Improvement From Week One To Week Two"

September 12, 2022

NC State head coach Dave Doeren met with the media to recap the win over Charleston Southern and preview the upcoming home game against Texas Tech.

NOTE: Click the video above to watch the interview.  Below is a collection of quotes from Doeren.

Opening Statement...
Hope everybody's doing well. Like to start out just thanking the fans and students, parents recruits, everyone that came to our home opener and appreciate those of you that didn't let a little rain drive you outta your seats. That was awesome to see.

It was good to be home and it was great to have some of our former players there as well. Seeing Emeka [Emezie] and Kelvin [Harmon] on the sideline was pretty awesome. Just to catch up with those guys. As far as the game, interesting week in college football, I think a lot of people probably wish they would've won by one. This past week makes our first game feel a little bit better, seeing some of the teams go down in week two, but it's good to be 2-0.

I thought as far as our team and our staff, there was a lot of improvement from week one to week two. I think everyone took to heart, the respective areas of emphasis and really worked hard to put their improvement on film. I think the guys really worked, challenged them to bring their goals to life and put action behind what they're talking about to practice a little bit differently to really increase our cardio at practice, not with the number of plays, but how hard we're playing, how far we're running and to earn the plays that you wanna make on Saturday in practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. I felt like that happened. 

We played complimentary football. It was good to see that again. We got to play a lot of players in... there were 83 guys that played in the game for us, which may or may not be a record, but it's a lot. And it was fun to see some of those guys that serve as walk-ons that maybe don’t get a lot of reps in games, get out there and make plays. That was awesome for them and good to get some other players in there that were evaluating still and it's good for their development.

I thought we blocked and tackled better, which you heard me my press conference last week. That was kind of the biggest area, disappointment when we're two fundamentals of football, and guys took that to heart. We finished drives in the red zone. We were four for four on offense.

The thing that you forget is this team has a lot of guys that missed spring ball... so some of 'em were playing their first game for almost a year on the calendar. When I say some, there was seven or eight of them in that boat. So I don't say that as an excuse. I say that as a point of emphasis that this team has to improve every week because we missed a lot of time on the field with several players and regardless how many snaps you have, there's a timeline that you have to go through to improve. You have to see things on film, you have to, yes, knock rust off, but more just to compete at that level against competitive players where it's live.

You're gonna see a lot of growth if we take that to heart, so it's a team that has to improve weekend and week out.

We used our first week as an opportunity to learn and grow. We have to do the same this week and to fuel the meeting rooms and the practice fields with detailed goals and a formulated action plan to get better.  I think individual improvement, individual development increases our ability to collectively improve as a team. And the good thing is there was 83 guys that got visual for their resume and your film as your resume as a player. Now they know what they gotta work on.

Positives on offense. I think we strained more. I thought offensively, we worked hard to get a body on a body, not just in the box, but on the perimeter. You guys saw, see a lot of guys playing with effort in the run game. We were a hundred percent, as I mentioned in the red zone. We're four for four... second week in a row, not giving up a sack in protection. I thought our running backs were productive, not just running the football, but in the screen game, catching the football dropback game. Jordan Houston had a nice down the field catch for a touchdown.  

It was good to see Devin Leary just back to being himself and playing ball, running the show, making plays buying time in the pocket, extending plays. He played a really good football game and what we expect to see. I thought it was good to see Chris Toudle make that play in the end zone for him and his confidence.

Negatives, we had four penalties on offense. Two of 'em were pre-snap in the red zone. We had one turnover, Del was straining for extra yards and lost the ball, and that possession ended up being a field goal with the defense holding them.  We dropped four passes that we thought were catchable. So those are all things we gotta do better.

On defense, we had three takeaways Tyler Baker-Williams had a forced fumble and a interception.  Then Jalen Fraser got the ricochet interception of Jordan Poole.  I thought we played well in the run game... it was a different offense than we expected.There was a lot of empty. So,  we did stop the run, they were not trying to run the ball a lot, but we did take that away.

I thought we got off blocks better. Especially at corner, you could see there was a lot of perimeter screens that had to get off blocks and tackle, and it was good to see that.  I thought Derrek Pitts did a really nice job there. Teshaun Smith did a nice job there.

We definitely tackled better. We went from 26 to nine missed tackles and, and that's what a lot of the starters out too, so good to see. We had nine, three outs, a fourth down stop. We had no pre-snap penalties, and I thought we played tighter coverage.  We gave the blitz as a chance to get home. We defended some deep balls.

Negatives, we lost contain on a pressure that would've been a sack and that's something we've gotta stop, especially with who we're playing this week. We had a DPI that we could have avoided Aydan grabbed a guy when he didn't need to.

On special teams, it's good to see Chris Dunn go 2-for-2.  Colin Smith really kicked off well for us, and that's a weapon to have when he's doing that.  It obviously eliminates a phase of the game for the other team. I thought our punt coverage was elite,  Daryl Jones, Chris Smith, and Sean Brown covered punts very well. I think we can do a better job with our hang time still there. I thought our punt return game was really solid.  if Thayer had two really big returns and then Jaylen Coit got in and had a good return himself.

The guys were playing smart.  There's so many opportunities on punt return and kickoff return for guys to clip and you see our guys using good technique and making smart decisions at the moment of truth. So that's great to see their football IQ and their trainings paying off.

We will be wearing our all black uniforms this week. So excited. I know players are excited about that and we need a rockus crowd.  We need our 12th man to be here and to be fired up, and we're playing a really good football team in Texas tech,a very veteran team.

I looked at their defensive depth chart, first thing this morning.  First thing you see is they got 10 guys that are either seniors or grad transfers. It's a very old group on defense.  

Starting with their staff,  Joey McGuire, their head coach is a very good friend. When I was coaching at Kansas, he was a first time head coach at Cedar Hill high school in Dallas, and I signed his first division one player there, Marcus Herford, who's now a coach. He was a great young man and I got to know Joey very well.  He became a state championship coach there and then moved his way up the profession.  He has done a great job as a college coach was excited to see him get to be a head coach at tech.

I remember eating pregame meal with his team. He had the best chicken fried steak and gravy you've ever had... before the game I was crushing that with him. So he's a good, good dude.

He'll have his team ready to play.  They're coming off a double OT win against a ranked Houston team and battled in that game. So it was an emotional win for them as well.  They beat Mississippi State in their bowl game last year, who, as we know, we didn't play well against, and they beat them convincingly. A lot of that team is back

I look at them their team that has a chip on their shoulder,  often times some of the other schools in Texas maybe not get the notoriety of Texas and Texas A&M, and I think those kids play the chip on their shoulder there because of that.

I have a lot of respect for Texas Tech, always have. 10 starters back on defense that are all older kids, like I mentioned, they're very long, they've recruited long guys. They're defensive front's got really tall, defensive ends. The linebackers are very athletic. They run well, their corners are long.  Tim Deyruter, a veteran d. coordinator,  hired him from Oregon. He's been a head coach, brings a lot of different looks and pressures and does a lot of man-to-man coverage. 

Offensively they're up tempo, they're spread, typical formations that you see, but they have very long, rangy outside receivers. Their quarterback can run and has a great arm.  You'll see him throw deep out routes to the field from the far hash and does it with ease and can make plays on his feet...  won the game with his feet on his scramble last week.

As for the health of our roster, we will have Payton back and expect to have Shy Battle back as well.

Did want to follow up on coach Beck being upstairs, kind of what were your conversations like in review after the game?
Yeah, no, he liked it.  Felt like he could see it it'll be something we continue. It was a positive, I think all the way around.

Over the last 20 hours, your name's been mentioned as a possible replacement for Scott Frost at Nebraska. Is that a position you're interested in?
Dude, it's week three of the season, man. I'm so fired up to coach my team this week. So no, I'm so excited about playing at home and coaching the Wolf ack. It's not the first time that names have been on lists. So, it is what it is when you talk about that, but I can't wait to get ready for this game.

This is a big one for us and a big season and a great group of guys. So that's where my head and my heart is.

Coach, Texas tech has done a great job in the red zone this year. They are six for eight and then five for eight for scoring touchdowns. How does, how do you take a defensive approach to try and stop them and put some more pressure on that offense to try and halt their their momentum?
We'll get into all that in the gameplan,  the redzone is tight spaces... you gotta have a body on a body and coverage. It's what you would expect.

In week one, they weren't really challenged a whole lot, and in this past week, that was a back and forth game. So you can't get really too much into stats, I don't think after two weeks.  It takes time to really kind of balance out what you are, but,  I think just in general, when you face a team with an athletic quarterback, that's always a major factor as you get closer and closer to the goal line.

Dave, does this team matchup with anybody in the ACC?
I think so.  I think there's a lot of teams that have similar styles. We play Florida State, Louisville, Clemson.It's spread offense, big receivers, up tempo... defensive line is multiple. So,  you can't really compare 'em anyway to one, one particular team, but body types and style of play, very similar to a lot of the teams we'll face in the league.

You guys have played some really, really tough teams this year already on non-schedule. Do you like that?
 I think it  gets you ready for what's coming. I think you have to do a good job picking the right teams to play non-conference wise. I've always felt like and this one's a little unique, usually we'll try to play team in our recruiting area, that's, non-conference.

It's just not as easy as you think to find games,  sometimes you can't. So, we were able to find a team similar to us. I think there's a lot of in these schools, when you look at,  just the way that they play and the the chip on the shoulder, their fans... if you've ever been to Lubbock for a game, they have an awesome game day.

It's a good team to play. I just think in general, from a model of scheduling, probably if you study it, it's gonna be more regional teams. If we can make it that way, just from a recruiting standpoint for parents to be able to travel when you go on the road and all those things.

Dave, it looks like you guys made a concerted effort to get Anthony Smith and Julian Grays snaps early. Was that by design coming out of ECU or maybe gain flow for this specific game?
No, I wanted them to play more in ECU game.  I was disappointed they didn't.

Like I told you guys last week, sometimes as position coaches,you stick with what's more comfortable. To me, those are two names of guys, there's others that other positions that, they don't have to play as much as the older guys, but they need to play enough to develop and grow, because they're very talented. We need to keep getting those guys in the game, because the more they play, the better they're gonna get

I think that confidence in your nerves change,  as you're used to being out there. So those are two guys that we look at in the receiver room is guys, that will be the future of that position as we move forward down the road,  and we Thayer Thomas and we lose Devin Carter, familiar faces.

You're gonna have your younger group. You're seeing Porter on the field a little bit more as we go 10 personnel, but that younger group of receivers, Jalen Coit is another one, got in the game and made some plays.

It helps to play them, not just in mop-up duty so that if there's an injury, they're not nervous going in the game at Clemson, you know? So that's something that I believe in and we just need to do a good job as coaches and I need to make sure I'm on top of that with them to get those kids in the game.

I don't know what the rep count is,  but there's just gotta be a rotation where they're showing up in their  in each half.

Are those two or three guys can they help you this year as well?
Yeah. I think all, all those guys are guys that we're excited about.  I mean we have good players in that room. So,  I think we're excited about who's in front of him too.  Daryl Jones is playing good football for us right now. Thayer’s playing really good football for us.  We have a lot of respect for what Devon Carter has done and the plays that he can make.

So it's nice to have a rotation.  I would equate it to some of the basketball teams that I used to watch growing up. The five guys would go out and the five would come in and they would just keep playing and wear the other team down, you know? If you have a rotation at a position where you can do that, it's helpful, because your guys can play faster when they're fresh.

You don't always have that luxury, you know? So there's gonna be things that certain players do better than others and we're gonna use 'em for that, but in general you want to have a rotation where you can get guys in and out of the game and keep 'em fresh, just like you see us doing it running back and on the defensive line and, and some in the secondary too.

Malik Dunlap played for you a few years.  What do you remember about the way he helped your program and what were the reasons for him leaving to go to Texas Tech?
Yeah. I'm not gonna speak on that.  I'm happy for Malik. I'm glad he's having success. As a young man, we really enjoyed having in our program and, and he made a decision to leave and he's having success where he is at. So I think that's great for him.

Coach, you mentioned last year  sort of some frustrations with the amount of night games that you had, but are you excited to kind of have these back-to-back games, have this atmosphere,  so you guys can get ready for what will probably be a prime time game against Clemson in a couple weeks?
I think playing at night is great. I love it. Playing at night eight of nine games, particularly when you're traveling and getting home at four in the morning or five in the morning, that's a different conversation. 

So I asked the ACC to be cognizant of that for player health and really for coach health. We're working on short hours to become shorter and that's not good for your mental health. It's not good for your physical health. I think there just needs to be a balance.  Hey, this team just played three in a row at night. Let's put 'em on at three 30, if they're a marquee game.

But in general I love what it does for the fans.  How they get into that, and it's good for recruiting because people have time to get to your games and our players like playing under the lights.

There's a lot of positives, but the over and over and over and over part of it, particularly after road games just needs to be monitored by the leagues or by the television network. Whoever's pulling the trigger on that needs to keep the health of the student athletes and coaches in mind.

What do you change when you go from an opponent like Charleston Southern preparing for them and then preparing for a Big 12 opponent like Texas Tech?
Well last week there's just an embarrassing bunch of film to look at, which made you want to do things differently as a player.

They didn't like how they looked on film. They knew that they needed to prepare in a different way. I challenged them to do that, and they did and they liked the results. So when that happens, you talk about it like, “Hey, let's study the last seven days guys. Here's how we felt.”

We were talking about yesterday. Now seven days prior to yesterday, we felt really bad sitting in our seats in here about what we put on film and how we coached. And then look what we did. We took that information. We came up with a different plan. We went to work, we had a very, very aggressive Tuesday guys ran all over the place. They were fatigued after did it again on a shorter practice, but same intensity on Wednesday and look at the results. The guys played better, and so they know that and obviously they know the competition goes up with Texas Tech. That's going to kind of handle it on its own from that standpoint, but the process of what we did is discussed. It is studied. The kids do understand the why behind it and they understand the reward that comes from it, and so I think it'll just kind of help itself as we go forward.

Dave, I wanted to ask you about penalties. What are those sessions like specific to penalties when you're going through film study and saying this was a bad penalty, you talked about pre snaps, all those things that go into that. Like how do you really drill that message home when you're watching film?
It's conversation.  One of the things I do is, is show him why we call it the formula, but how we won the game, and so you go through the areas and penalties is the one of the areas.  We have focus penalties. Those are your pre-snap things that you just mentioned. So we'll talk about it. All right. We had in this game, we had two off sides on the off, excuse me on the offense. So here's the two players, their names are up there on the PowerPoint. Both of these penalties were the red zone that can have a negative effect on scoring. You took us from first and 10 to first and 15. We had another one on a fourth and four on a punt where a guy false started, but we actually got them to jump off sides, and if had we not flinched, we would've got a first down.

So we discuss what happens in those situations. And then you go to the next one. During the play combat penalties is what I call it, we had these penalties, we had a DPI. Sometimes I'll tell 'em like, Hey, that was good coverage. You know that doesn't get called very often. I wouldn't change anything. The ref just saw it a different way. Sometimes I'll tell 'em in this case you can't grab a guy.  We flat grabbed the guy and we didn't need to,  there were three holding penalties called I thought two of 'em were calls that never get made.  So I'm not gonna spend a lot of time on stuff like that, but on the other one, our hands are outside and we're jerking a guy that's different.  You're gonna discuss the technique behind that penalty.

Then we even discuss penalties that weren't called that we thought probably should have been called.  Hey, we had a play where we picked a guy up and threw him down, seen that called. We gotta learn from that. We got away with one right there.

It's just an education of here's what happened in the game. Here's what we can take from these moments. And then you go to the next phase, here's the red zone. Here's what happened. Here's third down. Here's what happened. Wo just spending time on not just celebrating that we got pancakes and handing out bottles of syrup, but also teaching from the game so that we can learn and get better as we move forward.

Have you given much talk to, to the potential 12-game playoff and what that might look like?
Yeah. I'm excited about the access. There's so many questions that I have just because I've been in the playoffs twice as the FCS coach and how long those seasons were. We played 16 games one year and 15, the other, and it's 31 games in two years that we played.  How it impacts the academic schedule, what happens to bowl games? What happens to our...  we're scheduled out as you guys know, until like 2030,  so like what happens to some of those games?

There's a lot of questions, but we haven't gotten to that. We're trying to win our third game right now. That's kind of where my head is, but those are things that came up.  I am excited that the conference champions from the Power Five leagues get an automatic berth and that's good,  There's access for teams to get in and we'll see where it goes.

In a new system, you could lose a game like that and still come back and, and have a team that's really going well at the end of the season... make some noise in a playoff.
Yeah, you could.

Obviously the non-conference games won't count your conference championship as far as getting there that way, but there could be a lot of change.

There's been a lot of changes in the last 24 months to college football period, and so wouldn't be a surprise to see a lot more in the next 12,  as we move forward with this, just to get the answers that we're all kind of looking for.

You mentioned Payton coming back,  how big is that for the defense a against,  playing against this kind of opponent?
Well, first I'm excited for him, you know he feels really good. He's in a good space gives us another really good athlete to play, spread offense with and one that's excited to go out there and play with his teammates and that misses playing football, you know?

So the rotation, as I've been talking about a little better, beause Jaylon Scott's playing really good. We'll be able to play Payton and play Jaylon and Jaylon can take some reps off of multiple guys because he is cross trained to play multiple positions and it's good to get Betty some more reps to help Isaiah.

It's good to get Jayland Parker some reps to help Drake... all those things. It's a long season, there's a lot of plays. We didn't have to play a lot in this past game, but in this next one, they're a team that tries to snap it as many times as they can. So we gotta have that rotation and have him painting back in the depth chart helps us there.

Demie mentioned that he didn't get a lot of offers from Power Five schools. What did you guys see in him that maybe some of the others didn't when you were recruiting him?
Well, I don't know what the others didn't see.  We saw a really good football player... tough, guy that could see, has vision, accelerates quickly, catches the ball well, physical... yards after contact, all the things you see now.

That was a weird time and I'm not saying he might have had a lot more if coaches were allowed to be out in schools, you just never know, but that was a different time in recruiting.  We weren't allowed to go out on the road. All these things were done on video and through zoom calls and yeah... that was very, very challenging year of recruiting.

We're fortunate to have another great player from state of New Jersey come down and join us. because if you look at the season so far, you have Jasiah blocking a puntfor a touchdown, Demei, doing what he's doing, Devin Leary doing what he's doing. That's been a state that's been good to us.

Curious your reaction to the App. State win, and the Big Fourur teams, you guys included, are combined, I think 9-0 with five road wins... your thoughts on kind of the way the start for the football in this state at this at FBS level?
Well, one I'm super happy for Sean Clark and his staff. I know those coaches there. They're awesome guys, man, and my oldest son, Jacob, goes to App State. He was so excited during that game. So I think it's awesome.What an upset win for them and couldn't have happened to a better group of people, really tremendous amount of respect and love for that staff, and that experience my son's had there as a student has been very, very positive... so great for Boone and that community.

As far as the league and the state and all that, we're always cheering for people to do well in our conference. It's great that are going on the road and getting the job done was happy for coach Elko. I know that was a big win for them at Duke getting Northwestern. That game for him was a big win.

Coach Clawson got a good win against a coach that used to work for him in Clark Lea.  I know those are always challenging when you're playing guys that are head coaches that used to work for you. So I'm glad to see that the league is doing well on the road and the teams in the state are doing well on the road.

Travali Price recovered a fumble, nearly had a strip sack... through two games, he's a freshman playing for you.  Can you evaluate his skillset?
Yeah. Travali plays really hard.

That's the one thing that no matter what, when you watch his film, he is straining. He's one of these guys that you never have to talk about effort with, and I love that about him.

Not surprised that he made a play on the quarterback. He's probably been one of the better speed pass rushers we've had in training camp and losing Daniel Joseph, who was a good pass rusher for us, losing Levi Jones, who was a good pass rusher for us, it's great to see Travali taking on that role because we need that.  

Where are we gonna get that pass rush from? It's a question we have and so having him out there. Getting Payton back will be helpful as well, and Jayland Parker did some good things. Jordan Poole did some good things rushing.

We just gotta keep working those guys, but Travali will get better and better.  The more he plays and starts understanding how the flow of the game is, he's gonna get better and better. He has a good career in front of him. He just has to keep working.

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