TheWolfpackCentral - Full transcript: Dave Doeren's weekly press conference
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Full transcript: Dave Doeren's weekly press conference

NC State Wolfpack football head coach Dave Doeren held his weekly press conference Monday, recapping Saturday's 45-42 win over Wake Forest plus Saturday's potential game at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.

Here is the full transcript.

Opening Statement

"Excited for the team, I thought it was a great football game first of all, a back and forth game. I thought both teams showed a lot of grit. In that game, there were a lot of ups and downs for both sides and was really proud of how our team handled that. [They] constantly kept responding in tough situations.

"Recapping the game offensively, obviously scoring 45 points, we started fast in both openers, first quarter and third quarter. It was a goal of ours, an area a year ago we were not good and really worked hard on that area so it was great to see them get off to such a good start in both halves. Overall as an offense we were very physical. All the position groups, played a part in our our rushing game.

"Offensive line, seven players played and played well. The tight end group, the running backs, how they blocked and how they ran the receivers downfield. Anytime you average 5.5 yards a rush as an offense says a lot.

"I thought Bailey [Hockman] handled the situation well and completing 70 percent of his passes, getting off to a good start, throwing a lot of catchable balls, took some shots in the pocket, showed some toughness and rushed the football well for us.

"Ricky Person obviously had a standout game. All three backs played well but to rush for 100 yards, score twice with the ball and throw a touchdown, it was a great day for him.

"We only gave up one sack and Bailey did a good job managing a couple pressures. I think, first game for the five starters on the line, that that chemistry will continue to get better. It's the first time [Ikem Ekwonu] Ickey's played a full game at guard and to have Joe [Sculthorpe] on the right next to [Justin] Witt and Ickey on the left next to Tyrone [Riley] and then I thought Tim [McKay] and [Bryson] Speas came in and those seven guys will continue to get better, next to each other as they get game reps.

"Just need to continue to get the ball to our playmakers and happy we only had one penalty offensively, it was a pretty clean game that way. Obviously you'd love to take the one interception back. Things we got to get better at and obviously you'd love to close the game out on offense not giving the ball back to them.

"On defense, I think there's really two different halves for our defense. In the first half, we could not get off the field on third down, had several third down situations we could have won and didn't. Just didn't play the right coverage technique, there was no break downs, it was more of a technique thing that we've got to clean up and did.

"I thought the DBs did a nice job on the outside, our corners held up well on deep balls that were thrown at them and all four of those guys played and were tested.

"Like you expect in the first game, there were some missed tackles. Some of that is playing 90 snaps, there was some fatigue. We do need to rotate more in games like that. I think at safety and nickel we could have rotated and got a few more guys in.

"Linebacking core, we played several guys. I thought Drake Thomas, who was our defensive player of the game, was very consistent, very productive. Payton Wilson made a bunch of plays and has some things he's got to clean up as well but played with tremendous effort. It was great to see Levi Jones have success, came in and rotated on our first down-second down package and then made an impact as a pass rusher on third down.

"Daniel Joseph and Alim [McNeill] both had standout games on our front. It was good to see Jaylon Scott and Calvin Hart get in and make some plays for us at linebacker as well.

"I guess the best thing, defensively, in the second half, we shored up our third down defense. We had two fourth down stops in the fourth quarter to finish the game. We did force three opportunities for takeaways and got one of them. They were aggressive. To get six sacks and have 18 plays in the backfield as a defense is good.

"We've got to clean up the edges, there was times with the slow ride mesh that their offense has that our guys tried to play too many responsibilities. They were in their gap and then they'd jump into someone else's and the ball would eventually get to it or cut back to it. So just some discipline things that we got to do, which we'll clean up.

"Special teams, really happy for Chris Dunn to break the school record like he did for consecutive PATs and made his only field goal attempt. Every point matters, when you win by three every single point matters.

"I thought our field position, I think we were plus-12 overall when you look at field position on special teams and that was great to see. We need to improve our tackling on our punt coverage. We had several guys down there that just didn't get the guy down. So areas that we got to work on and now prepare for Virginia Tech who is a very experienced team.

"They have nine starters back on offense, eight on defense and all three specialists return for them, so a very experienced team. A team that's been in 27 straight bowl games. Obviously, having two of their former coaches here, we know their personnel, just don't know who's going to play with what they've been dealing with. We'll have to feel that out once we get into the game. They're a physical team, they're a blue collar team, a very proud football team and we look forward to competing against them and going up there and playing a game in a great stadium, a great environment.

"New defensive coordinator, so we'll see as the game goes on if there's changes to their scheme. Obviously they ran a system under [former Va. Tech defensive coordinator] Bud [Foster] that was very successful for a long period of time and the new DC did play for him. But we do expect to see some things different, just not sure what they'll be until we get into the game. They've always been who they are, they load the box, they force you to throw the football because they've got numbers.

"They're aggressive, they play with good technique, very sound on offense, balanced offense, tempo offense, lots of formations, lots of motion, Jet schemes and read schemes on your edges with counters and powers. Quarterbacks that can run the football and throw, so it's going to be a different challenge than we had last week and one that we're looking forward to.

"Today is our off day so we'll get a chance to kind of heal up. Didn't get home, playing an eight o'clock game, until pretty late and the guys came in both sides of the ball played a lot of snaps. But kids bounced back pretty good yesterday, had good meetings with them and now just kind of getting our stuff together here as we get ready for our practice tomorrow.

"ACC football is four quarter football. We know we're going to be playing a team, we went through the same thing that we are coming out of and that will affect your conditioning. We had that in our game, so we expect to see a lot of their players rotating but I know they're not going to change who they are. They're a tough group and they're well coached."

You haven’t played Virginia Tech in a while and you don’t know who they’ll have available from their quarantine situation. How does that make it challenging to game prep?

"It's kind of like playing an opening game because they don't have film that we can watch on anything they're doing differently. Even when you don't have staff changes, you're goning to have things that you change in the offseason and you have personnel that makes you different.

"They have a transfer back that we've heard a lot of great things about in [Raheem] Blackshear that is eligible for them. They've got a transfer quarterback from Oregon, so there's going to be players on the field that we don't know how they're going to use them yet.

"So you just have to adjust, you've got to use the rules of your systems on both sides of the ball and there's going to be things we don't prepare and there's so many things that they don't prepare for because we haven't shown everything either. You just have to adjust."

You guys had a six-game ACC losing streak prior to Saturday’s win over Wake. How satisfying was it to come into the building this morning after a victory this weekend?

"I was really happy for the players and the staff. A lot went into this offseason and a lot went into everything you guys know about dealing with the crazy spring, summer and fall we've had so far.

"For all that work to come out in the game we had, how well we played at times, you want them to savor that. It's not enough to walk in there and say you guys played hard. They want to win. For them to have that feeling, obviously I love to have that feeling as well.

"I said this to the team before the game, it was their night. I wanted them to have that satisfaction and that enjoyment in the locker room afterwards. So I was very happy for them."

Is quarterback Bailey Hockman the starter on Saturday? If so, how do you manage to get Devin Leary reps with Hockman as the starter?

"We're going to need both of them. We're one injury or COVID test away from having a different player at every position. So we need our quarterbacks to be elite, whether it's Devin or whether it's Bailey.

"Proud of Bailey and what he did. Devin did practice last week and he'll practice again this week and he'll continue to get better. When that happens, I don't know but right now Bailey did some really good things in the game and will continue to be our starter until we see the Devin's in a position to play.

"It's his team right now and we're going to continue to support them both, get them both ready to help us win."

You discussed on ACC Network this morning that you hand out bottles of syrup as rewards for pancake blocks. Who’s idea was it and how many did you give out?

"We started doing that maybe two years ago. I guess we kept a good secret here for two years but it's something the O-Line takes a lot of pride in. They sign the bottles and put them up on a shelf in the room.

"It's just kind of a way to reward, what we talk about here. We talk about being tough, we talk about winning the line of scrimmage and playing physical. So it's a way to reward that.

"Not a lot, as you know, do linemen get love. So it's a way for us in our Sunday meetings after a win to give those guys that love and the whole team goes nuts about it. We're incorporating tight ends, backs, wideouts, whoever is involved in those blocks, gets that love from the staff and from their teammates. It's just something that we take pride in here is finishing blocks that way.

You brought on former longtime Virginia Tech defensive line coach Charley Wiles on our staff this offseason. How did that happen, what has he been like and have you talked to him about his emotions of playing this game Saturday?

"Charley's reputation is well known. I didn't know Charley very well, I had only met him a couple times. Obviously, we've recruited against Charley my whole time here, he's recruited the Carolinas and done a really good job in the state.

"When a move was made to bring in a new defensive line coach, we wanted someone that not only was a fit here for our players but fit what [defensive coordinator] Coach [Tony] Gibson wanted, fit what I wanted in recruiting, fit the type of person I wanted in the room. Charley was one of several people that we interviewed and it was just the right fit for the job.

"Timing was in our favor. Charley would still be there probably if he hadn't been asked to leave. We just got fortunate. Sometimes timing is everything when you're talking about hiring coaches. Sometimes you can't get a coach even though he may want to go because of his contract and we were just fortunate to find a guy like that.

"He's doing great things with our young men. He's a cultivator of chemistry in that room. Those guys play hard for him and I know he does everything he can to help them.

"Now as far as emotions, he said this game is about the kids. Obviously, for a coach, it's going to be something that you want. For him to go back into that stadium, it's probably going to be emotional for him but I think he'll tell you that the game is all about our guys and that's where his focus will be.

How does his personality fit with the staff and the locker room?

"He's a lot of fun. I mean he's a guy that keeps the room alive. If things get tight, he's got a one-liner or a joke. He knows how to make people laugh and keep things where they need to be. It's been a great addition here for our staff for sure."

Going back to the 0-line. Now that you've had a chance to go back and look at it, being able to see it on film. Just how impressed were you with all five of the guys that you have out there on the field, particularly your five stars out there?

“It was a good first game for them. They played fast, I thought they communicated well, Grant Gibson, he ID a lot of things for us in the pass and run game, and he was spot on most of the game.

“I thought Joe [Sculthorpe] played like you'd expect Joe to play. He's very consistent, he's physical. He plays with his hands, he's square, it's good to see Justin Witt and Tyrone [Riley] out there together. It's been something we were hoping to have last year and didn't because of Tyrone's injury.

“It's a good group and I think, Ickey [Ekwonu] brings a lot of fire to that group. He's very physical. It starts and doesn't finish the whole game. He's trying to knock people on the ground. That's what he does and he brings a lot of juice to that room.”

Did he did he earn two bottles for that first block that he had?

“He got five for the game.”

Drake Thomas had a great game for you on Saturday. What makes him the player that he is. Do you think that some schools might have backed off of him because of his height possibly and what do you see a future wise for the kid from just down the road?

“First of all, he's tough, and he's got great vision. I think linebackers have to be able to see things their peripheral vision has to be really, really good. You might be staring at one thing and different colors are going to go across. and linebacker vision is different. You've got to be able to see three things at once really in the flow keys that happen.

“Drake just got that instincts and vision. He's a good tackler, he plays hard. He does not get tired, he's got great stamina. He's trained himself well.

“As far as height goes I think there's a lot of measurables in football and sometimes you're right on the money, sometimes you're not. There's exceptions, and he's one of those guys that maybe not be as tall or long as other players but he outplays them because he's fast, he's physically strong, he's tough.

“And he can play all three spots in our defense so he's very versatile for us at Sam Mike and will.”

Quarterback is a position where guys, often transfer. What was your conversations like with Bailey Hockman to kind of keep him coming back this year because he obviously it turned out to be an asset for you?

“There's a lot of private conversations you have a players. I knew coming out of the year that he was disappointed. We sat down and talked about the things that he's thinking and what he wants to do. He made it very clear from the get that he wants to get better and he wants to be here, and he was going to do everything he can to show us that he can play.

“I just said, ‘Do everything you can continue to get better and when your opportunity comes cash it in.’ You got to give the kid credit. He's been through transferring already, and I don't think he wants to live that life again unless he has to. He's bought into what we do here. He's been a valuable asset to all the quarterbacks even when he wasn't the guy. I thought he was a good teammate with those guys in the room and that's the thing that coach Beck and coach Prosser … it's a team game.

“You may not be the guy today, but you will be eventually if you handle all your situations right and to his credit, he's done that. I think Devin is now doing that the same way, and that's what you want. Every kid wants to be the guy. I think some of them understand the value of just continuing to learn and grow and get better.”

Did Bailey seem more relaxed to you than at any point last season i.e. he's not looking over his shoulder wondering if you're going to take him out?

“I think for all those guys that transfer their first semester is hard, and you don't know your teammates yet. Everything is new to you. You don't that just familiarity with the coaching staff. You weren't recruited with anyone on the team so you don't have a recruiting class it's kind of your boys, and it was hard for Ryan [Finley when he first got here too. His year two was much different socially for him.

“Bailey's now got his circle friends, guys that he hangs out with and he's a lot more comfortable, so I think that's a natural thing when it kids transfer in. As a coaching staff, you have to do a lot to try to help them through that.”

Start the year off at home, and COVID changed a lot of things. What are you kind of expecting in terms of anticipating changes going on the road.

“First COVID road trip, so you're taking eight buses instead of flying. We're spreading out the team. You're wearing a mask on a bus for four hours. You get to your hotel, and really each hotel is different based on how big the rooms are and how many players you're allowed to have in a room at one time.

“We'll continue to do same thing we did here, use the social distancing rules that we have to have to keep our guys where they need to be testing wise.”

Coach Fuente said this morning, ‘I hope we are able to play.’ I'm sure that doesn't affect how you plan and how you perceive the rest of the week. Is that one of those lingering thoughts in the back of your head though throughout this whole point is that at any given moment, the other shoe may drop.

“No, I think that's just how life is right now with this, We're going to plan like we're playing a game, every week and as you've already seen from us, we had to move our original game with them back because of our situation. So we all know what the realities are of it. You just go with what you have right now.

“We have a game that's on the schedule. Nobody said we're not playing it, we're preparing to practice like we are and if things change then we'll change what we're doing.”

There was a lot of talk last week from you guys and from Ricky about everything that he went to both physically and mentally in his first couple years. You made him a captain for Saturday's game. How proud were you of the way that he stepped up with some of the big plays that he made and how good a feeling was it to see him break through and that way now that he's healthy?

“Well that's how he practiced. I think that's one biggest thing that players learn is when they practice … they usually play well. And so, Ricky got that feeling of being an entire fall camp and stay healthy and go into a game with all the prep that he had, all the reps, all the timing, and it paid off for him and he played really well.

“He was physical. He was vocal, had great energy. He executed within the scheme. And so, I was very happy for him, and success will continue for him. That’s all these guys that go through that and learn. He was playing his first two years here with very limited practice time. I mean very limited. Every week there was something he was dealing with, and those were things out of his control

“I'm happy for him that he's having the success that he is and he's definitely worked hard to deserve it.”

Going back to the question about Charlie Wiles. How much can you or will you lean on him. This week to help prepare you for what you might see at Virginia Tech.

Charlie and Brian Mitchell, our corners coach here from there, and mostly it's just things that you know about their players. Again, you can't predict what they're going to do. Things that you can get information wise, personnel, on things like that, we will.

“The tough part of it is we don't know what personnel is going to be out there, so it's helpful to I guess write up opposing scouting report, doesn't necessarily mean that's what we're going to be playing against.

“It's going to be a big game of adjusting. Who are they playing with or what are they doing with those guys? How do we need to adjust both sides of the ball? What are the things that are the same, what are the things that have changed? Our players and coaches are going to have to really be locked in on it to adjust on the fly.”

Last Thursday we asked you about, since there wouldn't be any fans you guys want to bring their own energy on the sideline. How do you think they did at home Saturday and how much they like to elevate it on the road in Virginia Tech on Saturday.

“I think they did well. I think we talked about four phases of the game: offense, defense special teams and then our team sideline. They're all a part of what we do. “I think the guys on the sideline, some of them were there for the first time and so was it the best it could be? Probably not. Was it bad? No, there was a lot of positive energy there.

“To answer your question, yeah you have to bring your own energy on the road, no matter what. I can tell you as weird as it is playing a game with no fans, once you start playing you don't even know. You’re so locked in on what you're doing.

“We’re going to rely heavily on the 80 guys that make the trip to support each other throughout the game and continue to give each other the positive feedback and energy that they need.”

Tanner Ingle going out on Saturday night, just wanted to see if there was any update on his status for this week as well.

“We're hopeful. We came out of the game with most of our team feeling really good that way. I'll meet with Justin later today. He's doing treatment with the team right now and just kind of where we're at, but so far, so good.

“Hopefully we'll get a few more guys back, too. I know we had a couple receivers that couldn't come because they were still in quarantine that are back now so hopefully we'll be able to get those guys going this week.”

Dave, I think you might have one of the youngest defenses in the country. They did allow five touchdowns Saturday, but also seemed like when the going got tough they made the stops. How do you look at that, take that in perspective in terms of yeah we have work to do but they also at times showed some resolve?

“They did. And they made a bunch of plays, and the things that weren't good are things that are correctable. I think that's the stuff that you look at. Wasn't like we were just running by our DBs like you saw last year. When our guys competed for the ball, they made plays on the ball. We weren't panicking and PI-ing guys at the moment of truth on deep balls. I thought the guys showed good body control.

“When we were tired, I mean it's a 90 play up-tempo offense, they made plays. I thought we got better as the game went on third down. It says a lot about their mental toughness and the conditioning aspect.

“There's going to be things that happen to them as first or second year players that you have to correct and then it's their job to not let the same thing happen again to them.”

Are you ready to go on record to say that Bailey Hockman will be your starter at Virginia Tech this Saturday?

“We're going get into the week and see how things go. Right now, that's our thought, but again, we’ll finish the week and, like I said, Devin is taking reps and getting better. But if we were playing tomorrow, that's what we would do.

“I think, Devin deserves that opportunity to keep getting better and practice and he will. And like I said, we've got two good quarterbacks and we just got to keep getting them better both of them, They both need to be ready to be our guy and just super happy with what Bailey did in his opportunity and look forward to helping them both this week prepare.


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