Charlotte, NC – NC State Wolfpack head football coach Dave Doeren took questions from the media on Thursday at the ACC Kickoff. The full transcript is below:
Q. Looking at college football today and the fact that coaches change every few seasons, you’ve had over a decade at NC State. Just what can you say about that tenure, your belief in the program, the program that’s continuing to buy into you, and just what that relationship has been like in a world that we don’t see that consistency a lot?
DAVE DOEREN: For me it’s a blessing to be at this school this long. Really in my life I’ve never lived anywhere this long. Even as a child, moving around.
To be able to say that all three of my sons didn’t have to move through their childhood years and their schooling, I think that’s a huge win in the parenting box.
From a stability standpoint NC State has definitely supported me ask Sara and the kids. I love the leadership. Chancellor Woodson has been huge in this for me, and now Boo Corrigan.
I came to NC State for the same reason I’m still there. I think it’s a great fit. It’s a bunch of blue-collar, tough, hard-working people that enjoy good food, good music. The state of North Carolina, fishing, mountains, beach, lakes.
I mean, you can’t beat it. It’s really just a tremendous place to live.
So thankful to be here, and honestly hope that they let me finish here. That’s my goal is to retire here one day. The winningest coach in school history and be able to kind of go to the parking lot and tailgate myself and have some fun. Maybe not have as much stress and get a vacation every now and then.
It’s a fun group too, and the guys that I’ve been able to coach and the coaches I’ve been able to work with make it the ride that — that’s what it’s about. It’s that journey you have.
Q. You mentioned that fit and culture. I’m curious, Robert Anae, how has he fit in? How that is that relationship gone? How has his work on the field progressed?
DAVE DOEREN: It’s great having Coach Anae. I have several staff members that worked with Robert at other stops before I hired him that could really give me some good insight into what this relationship would be like for me are with Ruffin McNeil and him going back to Texas Tech and UNLV.
Tony Gibson, my D coordinator and he were together at Arizona. Brian Mitchell and he were together at BYU. So I had some insight into what kind of person. I coached against Coach Anae four different times and knew the kind of play-caller that he was and what his guys were like to play against. So it’s been a great match.
He has been very unique. For those that have interviewed him, you know where I’m coming with that. He is definitely a different personality in a good way. He has a fun personality, but he is a tough ball coach. He expects guys to do things a certain way. He is demanding. His creativity, I’m not saying it’s unmatched, but it’s in the top 10% in college football. He does a lot with the different things he can do in the offense for the players.
Q. What does your defensive coordinator Tony Gibson do to make him a consistently quality defensive coordinator for you guys?
DAVE DOEREN: His system was unique. Not a lot of people run the 3-3-5. He understands the ins and outs of it really, really well. He knows how people are going to attack them. He knows what the answers are before they happen. So if they do this, I’m going to do this. He has that for everything.
He has a good progression. Not just of teaching, but of when to add things in and when it’s time to change things up. He is a great chemistry guy. Not just with players, but with staff. I like that he is tough on the guys. He demands a lot, but he is also a guy that loves on his players.
He has really, really been a great hire for us, and he has done a tremendous job. So have the coaches that are with him.
I know Payton and Aydan will speak to this, the chemistry of that side of the ball, and not that it’s not on the other, but Tony deserves a lot of credit for that. When he was promoted four years ago, I guess it was, to defensive coordinator, he changed a lot of things, and those things have paid off for us.
Q. They say that the team takes on the attitude and temperament of the head coach, and we’ve seen that over the years with you and this team being very tough, hard-nosed, all that good stuff. It seems like this team is on the cusp year after year after year. You are right there. What needs to change with this team or with you or in general to kind of break through that ceiling and get your first ACC Championship?
DAVE DOEREN: I would love to see it, and it’s great to see you, Kent, as a former player of mine. We finished second in the league a couple of times records-wise. Second in the league for league wins three years now combined, and I think it’s third over the ten years that I’ve been here for league wins. So we’ve had a lot of success.
How do you get over the top? That’s a great question. I say this to the team. It’s one more play sometimes or one more player sometimes or one more play-call. It’s a very little thing that takes place. Sometimes you have to have some luck too.
Staying healthy is a big thing in college football. If you look at the teams that make it to the end, that’s a factor. There’s a lot of pieces in it, and I’ve been fortunate to win championships at several of the schools I’ve been at. Those things come together at the right time. You just make some clutch key plays. Sometimes it’s just a routine play at the right time.
Once you do it one time, it’s amazing. The repetition of it is not as hard as the first time doing it, in my opinion, because of the belief that goes with it.
Q. You bring in an experienced OC in Robert Anae. You bring in an experienced O-line coach, Coach Tujague, and you bring in an experienced quarterback to pilot this thing in Brennan. Can you speak on where you feel the ceiling is for this new-look offense in 2023?
DAVE DOEREN: Well, I think the ceiling is being the best in the league. That’s our goal. We can’t control the stats and all the things outside of the ACC. We got to try to win the ACC.
Our goal is always going to be to be the best statistically in the areas that we consider important. So I know Coach Anae has his pillars on offense that he preaches to these guys that they’re going to be working hard to attain. It’s no different on defense. We want to finish in the top one, two, or three in every category that we care about. There’s certain tenets of the program when it comes to taking care of the football on offense and taking the ball back on defense that is paramount for us.
The penalties, it’s an area that hurt says a few years ago. Not beating ourselves with things we can control. So there’s a lot of things you look at that I don’t think at this phase of the season you can ever say this is what we’re going to be. You have to go earn it. You have to get on the grass and go play and get in these games and see who is better.
Q. Dave, obviously last year the dynamic was completely different. Do you feel like your teams perform better when there’s not as heightened of expectations, when you are seen as the underdog going into the season?
DAVE DOEREN: I’ve been asked that a lot. I think we performed really well last year, considering four quarterbacks had to play. I mean, there’s never been a team in the history of college football win eight games with four quarterbacks.
When you sat in this meeting a year ago, we would have all said eight wins was not what we were hoping for, but I know I was quoted last year saying this. You guys are asking me to protect 12 games with the line-up that I have for game one. That’s not reality.
The team changes a lot when you lose a quarterback, another quarterback, another quarterback. So the fact that our complementary football played into it, the defense was No. 1 in the league in scoring defense, the special teams were No. 1 in the league, our offense did not turn the football over and kept us in games.
So that’s how we won. I look at last year as a huge success with the difficulties we faced. Would have loved to have not had those challenges and been in the championship game and all of that, but that’s not the reality of sports.
You have to compete with what you have to compete with. I felt like this staff did that, and we’re going to do it again, and hopefully — we will have obstacles, we will have adversity, we’ll have things happen we didn’t want. I just hope that they’re not in the injury category when we’re facing them.
Q. There’s plenty of game film on what Brennan Armstrong can do and Robert Anae’s offense, but what has he done in terms of ingraining himself within the locker room, within the offense that you have seen through the spring and the summer and how good of a teammate he is?
DAVE DOEREN: Yeah, I think it’s probably a question to ask these players when they come up here. From my standpoint I like how he just came in and put his head down and went to work. He proved himself and his competitive spirit.
Going back to the winter runs, he put him in a competition, and he is winning every rep. You see how he cheers on his teammates when they win things, and his excitement level for that. How hard he competed in spring ball, and you would see him coaching guys. The way he goes about his business is where the respect for me is.
As far as how he is with them, I think that’s probably better for them to answer.
Q. Being in Raleigh, which is one of the fastest-growing cities right now, does that help with the recruiting process at all in bringing players that help best fit your team?
DAVE DOEREN: For some it does. I think the internships that are available due to the growth and the fact that it’s still growing, and Apple bringing all this stuff to the Triangle, it definitely helps for the guys that care about that.
I also think it being the capital, the different things that are already there industry-wise, and now that NIL is what it is, there’s opportunity in that to have more corporations, more businesses for these guys to potentially be contacted by through the collective.
It’s crazy being there now going on 11 years and seeing the growth of our city every year. The highways are a mess. They can’t keep up with the growth, and a number of new schools and new restaurants, new this, new that. It’s an awesome place to live right now.
For the guys that get there and realize it, I don’t think they know how good they have it. Trust me, being a coach that’s lived all over the country, been in big towns, farm towns, you name it, Raleigh has it going right now. It’s an awesome place to live and work.
THE MODERATOR: Your last question from the podium. Given your passion for NC State, we like to get the sound bite. 16 of their last 17 at Carter-Finley. Talk about the fan base.
DAVE DOEREN: Wolfpack Nation, we’ve already sold more tickets. This was two weeks ago they told me there was only 2,000 seats left for the entire season completely combined. So the most tickets they’ve ever sold in school history for football. The most revenue generated from that as well.
Last year they added these lights that turn on and off and go red and all this, which was pretty cool for the players and the fans. Now we have the largest jumbotron in the league with the new sound system, which is going to add even more to the game day environment, which I know will fire our fans up.
We love the Wolfpack fan base and continue to ask them just to be in the stands for four quarters and try to make life hell on the opponents.