QA: Dave Doeren on ACC teleconference
NC State head coach Dave Doeren spoke for over 13 minutes on the ACC spring football media teleconference Wednesday afternoon. Everything the coach had to say is below:
It was a good spring, we got a lot accomplished. I was really pleased with how hard our guys practiced and took the momentum from the end of our season, winning four of the last five games. We entered the offseason with a lot of good energy, good confidence.
Guys learned, as a young team, the dos and don'ts of preparation and saw the results, how we played at the end of the year. It was fun to be the head coach this spring, there was just a lot of competition at various positions and with the way Jacoby [Brissett] and Jalan [McClendon] threw the ball around.
We had several players we held out, just being banged up like we were after the bowl game. We were trying to get David J. Grinnage and several defensive linemen healthy so a lot of young guys were able to take part in the drill work.
We saw great strides on the offensive line. Tyler Jones at left tackle had a great spring and got a lot better for us. Will Richardson got better and better as we went. It's good to have our inside three back — Quinton Schooley, Joe Thuney and Tony Adams are very veteran, good players with good chemistry. They're playing well together. Alex Barr returns, the guy has three years of experience on the O-line and is very motivated to have a great senior year.
Out at receiver, Bra'Lon Cherry had a really good finish to his spring. He was a little banged up at the beginning, but he finished really strong. It was great to have Gavin Locklear back, he had an injury last season in the summer. He's one of the best leaders in the receiver room and did a nice job being a constant presence for the quarterback position.
We moved a young man over to receiver named Elliott Davis from DB. He did a nice job and was probably the most explosive player. Jumichael Ramos probably made the most big plays in the position group.
At running back, [we have] Matt Dayes and Shadrach Thornton, and we have a freshman that's here already, Reggie Gallaspy. They had nice springs for us.
On defense, we have a lot of players back with experience. We counted the other day there are nine different guys in our secondary, if you include our nickels, that played for us last year, and three linebackers and five or six defensive linemen. We're excited — even though we're young, we're experienced. We have experienced sophomore and junior classes.
Probably the biggest question mark going into the fall would just be the production at the kicker and punter position because we lost such veteran players there, two four-year starters. The kids competed hard this spring and I was impressed with them, but it's going to be about game day for that position.
The spring game here was tremendous, we had a great crowd. A lot of people here supported not only the football team, but the Kay Yow Spring Game raised over $16,000. I'm very thankful for that and I look forward to a good summer.
You brought up Jacoby and Jalan, what can you say about each of them individually and how they looked this spring?
They looked great, both of them can make every throw. They're very competitive. Jalan is going through a kind of learning curve that we saw Jacoby in two springs ago — how to manage the clock, how to take care of the huddle and, when we want to go fast, how to operate. He has tremendous leadership skills, is very competitive and super coachable. It's fun watching him progress through the spring.
Jacoby, on the other side of it, has turned in to such a great manager of what we do. He's very consistent, doesn't have a lot of change in his personality whether it's a good play or bad play, he just keeps playing. We're excited to have both of those guys in the quarterback room.
Is Jacoby the guy for you or is Jalan someone who can fight his way in to get an opportunity?
Jacoby is our starting quarterback, there's no doubt. He's a senior, played his butt off as a junior and I'm excited for him. But I'm also excited to have a guy that is as good as Jalan behind him. You can look at Ohio State and see how important your next quarterback is. For them, it was the next and the next.
We're not going to enter the season with a controversy or anything like that. We're just excited about the quality of both of our guys. We hope that we can get Jalan some great minutes and get him ready to be the guy in case that would happen.
How did defensive end Darian Roseboro acclimate himself as a freshman who graduated early from high school?
I just met with him today and had a great conversation. He's grown up a lot. I'm really glad he was able to come in early. He has such a great family and I knew home sickness would be an issue. It was and I'm glad he didn't have to go through that during the fall semester. He got over that pretty quickly and has really acclimated.
He took a lot of reps with the starting defense because Mike Rose was out this spring with an injury. He was a benefactor of a ton of repetitions and I know it made him so much better. He made two great plays in the spring game so I'm excited about Darian.
Now it's just a matter of getting in shape so that he can play the way he wants to play every snap. The conditioning factor is just completely different on the high school level.
He played all over in high school, including offense. Is there any thought to do that with him at your level?
He'll be a defensive lineman. I have used d-linemen in goalline packages before and, if we get to the point where we feel like he can do that and help us win, we'll have that conversation. Right now, he's still trying to learn what side of the ball he's on and how to do all of the things we need him to do on the d-line so I think it's premature for that.
What have you seen from the defense this spring that has impressed you more than anything else?
Well, a lot of the guys are back so the chemistry, the ability to communicate with each other and know where each other are going to be [is good]. We do a lot of things offensively here, so you have to be able to adjust and make your calls all the time. You just see how well they function as a unit together now.
Last year, there were three new starters in the secondary so there were a lot of new things happening. There were new starters at other positions, too. We have a lot of guys back that have taken valuable game reps, it's just a lot more fluid.
We're also building off of what we did last year. I think we finished the season bringing a lot of different pressures and it helped our kids, we've built on that here in the offseason. The guys are excited about what they're doing, they understand what's being asked and where the strengths and weaknesses of the calls are.
You've got some holes to fill on the offensive and defensive lines, how did they look coming out of the spring?
I'm excited about our defensive line. Mike Rose is back, but so is B.J. Hill, who played in every game as a true freshman last year and started almost all of them. Kentavius Street moved to defensive tackle and had a really good spring. Bradley Chubb was probably one of the best surprises of the spring on the defensive line.
We also have a number of players that played last year and are coming back in the fall from injuries — Monty Nelson, Justin Jones and Garrett Bradbury, so we feel good about the depth. We have recruited well on that side of the ball and we have four defensive linemen coming in here in less than a month. I'm excited to get those four bodies in here too — two defensive ends that are 6-5 and 6-7, and two defensive tackles that are over 320 pounds. We're happy with the d-line.
On the offensive line, I already mentioned the three starters that are back, Alex Barr and Tyler Jones. They had really good springs. Will Richardson has got better and better. Bryce Kennedy, who we need to step up this summer, did some good things, he just needs to be more consistent. We have a junior college tackle, Daris Workman, that will be here in May and three high school tackles that will be here in June.
We're going to be a little bit younger filling those holes on the offensive line than we are on the defensive line, but we like who we have to work with.
Last time we talked was right after the spring game. Now that you had a chance to go back and watch the film, what stood out to you?
The way we took care of the ball on offense. There were a lot of snaps in that game and no turnovers. Defensively, we tackled pretty well. I thought that there were some great runs by some of the backs. Matt Dayes, Reggie and Shad had really nice runs. The quarterbacks did a nice job taking care of the football.
Defensively, I think we're stopping the run with our first defense extremely well. The second defense has to step up a little bit, but part of that is the guys that were out of the game.
You just see a bunch of guys that know the systems, that are playing within it and know what to do. They're playing fast and even some of the backup guys. Shawn Boone played with the ones the whole day and did a great job. Germaine Pratt came in and did a great job. It was fun to see some of the freshmen get out there and make plays — Reggie, Darian, James Smith-Williams, Riley Nicholson and Ford Howell. There are some young players that just got here that are out there playing and playing well.
Really what I saw was what I thought it was going to be. Offensive line-wise, I think we've got bodies on bodies. We picked up pressures pretty well. We need to work our vertical movement in the run game — displacing people and creating some bigger lanes for our backs. That's why you play those games — so that you can find the things that you've got to focus on for the summer.
Now that Pharoah McKever has had a full season on defense, how much more of a weapon can he be?
It depends on how strong he can get. He's a guy that was a role player a year ago. He was a good pass rush on third down-type guy that could do a lot of different things in our third down package. We'd like him to be a first down, second down, third down player.
When you go from receiver/quarterback/safety to defensive line, there's a huge curve when it comes to playing the run. Pass rushing, an athlete is an athlete, but in the run game, you've really got to be able to bend, be strong, handle double teams and different blocking schemes.
For Pharoah, his biggest progress is going to come from the strength. He knows that. He's just going to grind all summer, get stronger and stronger. He improved a lot in the spring, and I think that's the biggest thing. To see go from being a role player to an every down starter, it's just going to be the lower body strength.
How much weight has he gained since the end of the season?
Not too much. He's still around the same weight, he's just trying to make sure he's got the right weight — getting rid of body fat and turning everything into lean muscle. He's a big old guy, I don't even know his exact weight right now. I met with him the other day and he said he's been maintaining. It's really not going to be his weight that matters as much as his strength.