Pinehurst, NC – NC State head football coach Dave Doeren took questions from the media on Tuesday at the ACC Kickoff. The full transcript is below:
Q. Coach, you return a great deal of players on both offense and defense, but you lose both your punter and place kicker, two of the very best in the league. What are your thoughts about coming into the season in that vulnerable area?
COACH DOEREN: Well, we knew that was going to happen a couple years ago. We had a bunch of different types of specialists come through our camps, felt like A.J. Cole and Kyle Bambard were two really good guys, not just from a kicking standpoint, but the personalities. They were both athletic. Bambard was a quarterback also, was the Player of the Year actually in their division as a quarterback. He’s an all-around football player, competitor. We needed to find guys that were mature enough that could handle playing as a freshman because we knew we were going to lose our guys at the same time. We did it two years out. Both of those young men stayed home for a whole year and gray shirted, which means they enroll at a later date after they’ve signed their letters of intent. A.J. Cole went on missions, foreign countries, helped rebuild villages. These guys are further along than I think most freshmen would be from a maturity standpoint. They’re both talented. The thing about kicking and punting, it’s like being a golfer a little bit. You can go to the range and look like a really good golfer. You get on the tee and there’s thousands of people up and down the fairway, maybe we’re not as good a golfer anymore. We’re not going to tell how good they are until they get in games and see how they can handle the pressure of college kicking. They’re both really talented. We’re really excited about their futures. Hopefully they’ll be ready early. We have Jackson Maples who is a local, went to Pinecrest High School, who is on the roster that has a really strong leg, redshirted for us last year, did all of our scout team kicking. We’re excited about him. We signed Tyler Griffiths to come in and snap, he’s tremendous. Was a linebacker. We know he can run and tackle on our punt team, as well.
Q. How much time would you say you spend on Twitter and how do you use it to your advantage? What is the red light?
COACH DOEREN: Okay, you’re talking about per day time on Twitter?
COACH DOEREN: I don’t know. My wife would tell you too much, for sure. There’s a lot of different things on that form of social media that you can find in recruiting. Then there’s also things you can find about people, I think. We’re always trying to figure out who’s the best fit. We actually do look at their pages, their pictures, what they write. There’s several kids that we’ll stop recruiting when we see some of the things they put on those pages. We’re always trying to find not only the great player, but the right person for our program, the right fit for our program. Obviously I’m in communication as much as I can be. I do feel like recruiting is one of my strengths. As a head coach I’m very active in that role. I’m messaging as much as I can with certain guys, building relationships with them that maybe another school’s head coach doesn’t do that. We feel like it gives us an advantage that I will. So I don’t know how many minutes or hours, but I’m on there a lot. Enough where it bothers people at home probably, you know what I mean? As far as the red light, the red light is what happens at NC State when we win a big game, whether it’s football, whether it’s basketball. They light up the tower on campus. We use that illustration for when we add a member to our family. When we get a recruitment, we say, The red light is on in Raleigh. It’s a way to acknowledge somebody making a life’s choice to be part of our football family.
Q. You’ve had quarterbacks of differing styles your first year with Thomas, Mitchell. Now you have Jalen coming in, taking over the backup role. What have you seen from him? What kind of competition has he given Jacoby?
COACH DOEREN: First of all, it’s the third year I’ve been at State and first year I’ve had a returner at that position, the first year I had a backup that we recruited to be a scholarship quarterback. I’m excited about the depth and the talent that we have there. I feel like we’re in a great situation because Jalen traveled to every game last year, was in every game plan meeting with Coach Canada, took valuable reps in this off-season, and is with Jacoby day in, day out. Jacoby is a tremendous preparation guy. He’s getting to watch a veteran guy go through it, a guy that’s going through it the right way. He’s really dedicated, Jacoby has dedicated himself to the cause. So for Jalen, I think he’s in a tremendous position. I tell kids all the time, they want to play right away, all of them do, if you’re a three-year starter at that level, that’s a lot. If you start at quarterback for three years at the ACC or SEC, you’re a pretty good football player now. He’s going to be able to do that after Jacoby is gone. If we feel like there’s a moment in a game, injury in a game, we don’t have to change what we do. We have another 6’6″ guy that can run and throw and is tough. It’s a great scenario to have on your team. It’s the first time I’ve had it since I’ve been here. I do sleep good at night from a quarterback standpoint knowing that’s what we have. Just like every year, you have different things. Last year no one asked about our kicker and punter. Now that’s the unknown. Our left tackle is a new guy. That’s an unknown. At least at quarterback we don’t have that problem.
Q. Coach, when Mike Rose was in here yesterday, he had a lot of fun, but he was very confident. He said, We’re not here to play for third place behind Clemson and Florida State. How optimistic are you? Do you like to see that kind of confidence coming from your players?
COACH DOEREN: Well, you can’t beat teams if you don’t believe you can beat ’em, that’s for sure. I think at the end of the season we were playing very confident team football. I think our guys believed they could beat anybody in the country. We started to play like it. Now we’ve got to go out there and do it. I don’t think there’s a man in our locker room that doesn’t believe we can. That’s exciting as a coach, to know you have that kind of confidence. We just have to make sure we back it up with the work and preparation that it’s going to take. Those are great football teams that are well-coached. I do feel good about the mindset. The fact that we’ve walked over some hot coals. We’ve rebounded and found a way to stick together and be resilient. There’s a good bond in our locker room right now.
Q. You raved about Jacoby the minute you landed him as a transfer. Is it possible to overstate the impact he’s had on the program? Can we overstate how important he’s been to the transformation?
COACH DOEREN: No, I don’t think you can. I told everybody last year, it’s his team because he’s the quarterback. The quarterback’s the CEO of your football team. We’re going to go, any team is, you can go from Pop Warner to NFL, if you look at their quarterback play, if it’s good, if he manages the team the right way, if he’s tough, if he’s a leader, those teams probably win some games. Vice versa, if you have a team that has no identity at that position, they’re probably not very good. So he’s helped us immensely. I was excited when I got him because I’ve known him since he was a freshman. He comes from a great program. Was coached by a great high school coach in Jack Daniels. He was a state championship basketball player at point guard. I knew what I was getting because I’d known him for so long. I knew what we needed. I was coming from a program at Northern Illinois that had tremendous quarterback play in Jordan Lynch one year and Chandler Harnish the year before. They were both Player of the Year in our league. I knew that we were champions at Northern because I had a championship quarterback. So to know I was getting one that had that pedigree, once you have that you can build around it. You can have a lot of other things, but if you don’t have, that it’s hard to reach the goals you have as a program.
Q. You recruited Reggie Gallaspy. What a runningback. Will he have an immediate impact? Is he something down the road?
COACH DOEREN: Well, he’s going to have an immediate impact, it’s just whether it’s on the field right away. He already has in the way he works. He’s a really, really good role model. He hasn’t been on a list since he’s been here. He works his butt off. Nobody has anything to say about him but good things. He’s a great teammate. How fast he plays. We have two good backs in front of him. He may not play a lot as a freshman, he might. Even if he redshirts, he’s going to have an impact because of the type of person Reggie is. I’m blessed and happy to have him on our football team. He made a great choice I think to be here, to be around his mom. I know his community is proud, our state is proud to have him on our team. So far so good. We have a lot of good backs. That’s the problem or the privilege, I guess, we have as coaches, to decipher how we’re going to use them all this year.
Q. I know you have a good relationship with Coach Shafer. One of his assistants has ended up on your staff. What does George bring to you?
COACH DOEREN: There’s a lot of ties to Northern Illinois. Coach Novak was a great coach there. He’s produced a lot of good coaches on this tree. Coach Canada, my offensive coordinator, Scott Shafer, Narduzzi, George McDonald, they were all on the same staff together at Northern Illinois. Those guys know each other. George is a guy that I’ve known of for a long time because of my relationship to those other coaches. We needed somebody that could come in and help a position group become more detailed, could teach them just the finer points of playing that position and elevate their play and production. We felt like as a team, that was one position group that had some really good talent but needed more production. So when I interviewed George, just a tremendous teacher, his passion for the position, the detail that he explained things to me, I knew he was the right guy for the job. Now he’s got to sort out who’s right for what thing, how he’s going to use them all. But we have great confidence in him.
Q. Coach, a massive structure has emerged out of the ground across from your practice field. How much of an extra bounce in your step, to see that now, does that give you?
COACH DOEREN: Our indoor football complex is tremendous. It’s full size. We have a great campus now. It’s a football campus. The Murphy Center always has been one of the best facilities in the ACC. We had three practice fields that were a short walk from it. Now we have the indoor, where regardless of what Mother Nature chooses to do, we can get great work in. For our players’ safety to be on good footing every day, for the development of our team, when we get the program where we want it to be, those key games that everyone is talking about that are in December, you have to have a place to practice. Last year during the bowl, we were outside in sideways rain getting ready to play a game in Florida. So to have that for our December practices, eventually to have it for our off-season changing of direction and conditioning. If you picture my first spring at NC State, we go to our off-season program to work on change of direction and explosion, we’re on wet grass, everybody is falling down all over the place. I’m like, How am I going to get these guys better? To know I don’t have that problem anymore, it’s unbelievable. Blessed to be able to be at a school that could raise that money as fast as they could.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you.
COACH DOEREN: Thank you.