Doeren QA: Depth chart coming into focus
NC State head coach Dave Doeren met with the media following Tuesday's practice to discuss a number of subjects, including the current status of the depth chart, which he noted would probably be ready to release later this week.
He also noted that the goal in today's game is to find 10 defensive linemen capable of contributing, and the Pack is on their way to reaching that, thanks to an infusion of true freshmen.
Most of what the coach had to say is below:
What's the competition at the safety position been like so far?
Josh Jones came out of the spring as our No. 1 because [Jarvis] Byrd was hurt. When Byrd goes, he can help us, we're just being careful with him. We have the ability to play either one of those guys at the strong, but Josh is the starter.
At free, Hakim Jones is ahead of [Germaine] Pratt right now, but Pratt is a guy that has shown he makes plays. He just has to clean up the little things when he's in there, but he's a playmaker and he's a very good tackler.
And at the nickel spot?
It's [Tim] Buckley and Dravious [Wright]. Buckley is our No. 1, but we feel good with either one of them in the game right now. We've got good depth there.
There are a lot of the same parts on the offensive line as last year, but it's healthy and maybe in a different order this year. Is there more confidence and continuity in the group?
Yeah, we just need to get them all back, they're beat up a little bit right now. When we get them all healthy here in the next couple of days, we'll definitely feel better about them lining up where they're supposed to be lined up. Joe [Thuney] is very comfortable at left guard, and with Tony [Adams] and [Quinton] Schooley inside, those are three strong, athletic guys.
We have good length outside, whether it's Tyson [Chandler] or Alex [Barr] playing the right side and Rob [Crisp] on the left. We feel good about that rotation there.
Do you expect a significant improvement from those guys as a group?
Yeah, absolutely. The team is going to go as the o-line goes. That's how it is always. It doesn't look like that statistically, but [you see it] when you watch the film. The offensive line is responsible for a lot more than people understand. If they give Jacoby [Brissett] time, he's going to be dangerous; if they don't, it's going to be tough. He's got to have the time he needs to see the routes and let the receivers do their thing.
Is the depth chart pretty settled across the team?
It's pretty close. We'll probably announce it this week sometime.
Where is the closest competition still ongoing?
There's still some on the defensive line — the nose tackle and defensive tackle positions. He's got a pretty good rotation. Monty [Nelson] missed a ocuple of weeks with a foot sprain, but he's back and we're actually getting to see the competition there with Kenton Gibbs and B.J. Hill, and Justin Jones is back; he was out for about a week with a sprained shoulder.
I feel a lot better now that they're all practicing again. We'll play guys at that spot throughout the game.
Is there a magic number with how many you want to play in that rotation up front?
I think if he could have 10 — five inside and five outside — that'd be great.
What's your biggest concern other than health?
Just youth. The lack of experience. This will be Josh Jones' first year getting significant reps in college. He's got a lot of [experience around him] — [Jack] Tocho has played a lot, [Juston] Burris has played a lot, Hakim [Jones] has played a lot, so those guys got to help him. Buckley has played a lot of football, but he hasn't played a full game as a nickel so it's just the experience on the back end.
I feel good about the experience in the front seven.
Not knowing much about Georgia Southern, do you think they will do things to confuse your defensive front?
Game one is always kind of a crapshoot, even if you think you know, they went to clinics in the offseason, too. They ran a totally different offense at Georgia Southern last year than the one that Coach ran at Sam Houston State, where he came from.
We read the articles in the paper, and we know they're going to run spread option. What that means is you get as much as you can on video and try to show them the things they could do in case other things show up.
We play Georgia Tech later in the year, so if they decide to jump back into the offense they ran a year ago, we have that kind of stuff repped, too.
What is a realistic expectation for freshman Kentavius Street? He was obviously highly recruited?
He'll play. How well he plays will determine how much he plays. He'll be in the rotation. He's in the two-deep right now.
He's a great player, he's just learning how to use his body right now. He's a freak, the guy can do just about anything in the weight room. Throw it on the bar and he'll lift it. He's just got to learn how to play within his body and use all of those tools.
With more teams going to the spread, does that change how you recruit defensive linemen?
Well, I think you need guys that can run today. Guys have to be able to run and you have to have depth. I know in the Big Ten, you used to have six defensive linemen who rotated the whole game, but you can't live like that anymore. There's just too many snaps and too much tempo. You have to be in a different condition, even if they're bigger guys.