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July 22, 2021

Dave Doeren

Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

NC State Wolfpack

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: We'll have our head coach Dave Doeren. Questions, please.

Q. Over your career and in this particular case, what is the advantage of returning a quarterback who has both game experience and a knowledge of what you're asking him to do?

DAVE DOEREN: I think any time as a head coach you're going into your summer and you know who the starter is, there's just a different feel as a head coach. Going into a fall camp and having a competition, it's going to happen. Not having that allows us to focus on a lot of other things.

I think for your team, that piece is really critical, for them to know who the shot caller is, for him to be able to lead the team throughout the summer like Devin has, all the things that they do without coaches present, it's a big part of I guess you would say putting yourself ahead of the game from other teams that are still trying to figure that out.

Q. In your secondary you had some issues with injury and targeting suspensions. Despite the missing players, your secondary performed pretty well. They're all back. What are your expectations for this group? Could this be your best secondary ever at NC State?

DAVE DOEREN: I hope it is. I hope it's the same guys playing every game. I think Coach DeForest played six different players at free safety last year. Felt bad for him.

Continuity is a big deal. We have experience. We have a lot of people that have played because of the injuries, as you mentioned. So we've got great competition in training camp.

I think it's one of the things I'm excited to watch, is who comes out on top. It's nice to have a rotation back there because with the pace of the offenses we play, the DBs can get tired. There's a lot of running at that position group. So to have a rotation, to be able to jump in and out of some dime packages with extra DBs at times, it's going to be fun.

We have experience. We have some guys that are hungry to play again. Chris Ingram hasn't played in a long time, Teshaun Smith hasn't played in a long time. Excited for those two to be back in the mix, compete with who is coming back.

Tanner two years ago wasn't ejected from a single game, and last year three games. That hurt us a lot. He knows he needs to stay on the field. Tanner wants to play in the NFL someday. Part of his profile is going to be learning from last year, showing him that he can play the way he does, but play where they're not going to take him out of the game for how he's hitting people.

Q. Obviously your pre-season last year was completely disrupted, all that. Was there anything you learned from going through that experience that you apply to a normal training camp? Any sort of battlefield lessons? Was there anything you learned from going through that?

DAVE DOEREN: Well, I didn't even know what virtual learning was 18 months ago, right? Obviously I've heard of it, but I've never had to be the instructor, the speaker in a Zoom setting prior to. So it does allow us to have that as a way for our assistant coaches with our players, particularly if they go home.

I do think the way that things got spread out last year, the players were allowed to be around the coaches the last two weeks of July in a different setting than normal. We don't get to do that this year, but I think it did teach our staff that it doesn't have to be training camp to get your team ready to play. You can do things differently. We can adjust. We can look at how things are done and apply. Maybe it's not going to be three day in a row normal scheme. You're going to have a walk-through day, more of a teaching day on your feet.

We had to do a lot of that last year, and I think it did help our guys situationally be better. I think we learned a lot, not just from a coaching standpoint but from a management-style standpoint. I think we all have comfort zones where if somebody is not at work with you, you think they're not working, right? Now to have somebody that needs to be home with their family, something is going on, you can communicate with them in different ways, there's a lot of other things you can do to stay connected.

Q. The offensive kind of scheming under Tim Beck, what can you say about what he's brought to this offense, how things are looking at this point, stepping into 2021, from what he tried to build during the pandemic year?

DAVE DOEREN: I'm glad that Tim has a full year to work with his guys, first of all. I think it can't be said enough. What he had to do last year coming in new, not knowing any of the players, not getting to go through spring ball with our team but three practices, he had no idea really what our talent was going into the season.

So we were a watered-down version of what we will be. I think our offense will evolve quite a bit now that they know him, he knows them. They're speaking the same language. They've evolved. He's now been in the ACC, knows the league better as well.

For Devin and Tim to have the relationship they now have going through a year together, finishing Tim's sentences for him, I'm sure Devin will tell you he knows the offense at a completely different level than he did a year ago.

The continuity of the staff, too, those guys working together, I'm not going to say it's better, we have to go prove that it's better, but it has an opportunity to be much better than it did a year ago.

Q. After playing last year without divisional play, now going back to it this year, do you have a preference as to which one you would like to see going forward?

DAVE DOEREN: I think I've been on the record of saying I would like a different rotation than we have. I'm not saying realignment or any of those things are necessary to do that.

I really don't like the fact that I don't get to play everybody for every seven years. Every seven years I'll see Duke on our schedule or Virginia Tech, these teams that are close by, Virginia. I don't think that's fair to the student-athletes at any of these schools. If I'm a North Carolina person, grow up -- Payton Wilson is a great example. Grows up going to Duke football games, he comes to NC State, he gets to play them one time. Some of our guys don't ever get to play Duke. I just don't think that's a good way to put it together. That's my opinion.

I loved last year, playing as many teams as we got to play from the other side. What's the best way to do that? That's not for me to decide. I would just like to see a little bit more of a rotation. How that gets done, is it getting rid of divisions, realigning, adding another conference game? I don't know. That's for people ahead of me to decide.

But that is the one negative of our current setup that I think a lot of us would tell you we don't like.

Q. You said with Devin being back, having an experienced quarterback, that gives you opportunity to focus on other things. With 20 starters back, I imagine that gives you an opportunity to focus on other things. What are some of those things you want to focus on in 2021?

DAVE DOEREN: I think just because there's returning starters doesn't mean there's not competition for those jobs. There is. And we've brought in some transfers that are good players that were starters at their school. They want to start for us, too.

So I look forward to watching the competition in training camp. I look forward to seeing the depth develop in those spots, whether it's the DB position that I already mentioned to you, there's some spots on the offensive line with Joe Sculthorpe leaving. To watch those guys compete. We lost Cary Angeline and Dylan Autenrieth. To see Dylan Parham step up in the tight end room, Trent Pennix assume a new role at the tight end position. Kam Walker, how he steps up from being a young tight end to a guy we need. There's some great competitions that are going to happen.

As a coach, you recruit, you develop, you retain these guys, and they just can't wait to play games. Well, it's now time to practice to see who gets the right to play the most in those games. So we're excited to go watch that happen, see these guys compete and get ready to do it.

Q. Tight end has been an important position for you, especially run blocking. Talk about what you see happening there. You have Grant Gibson, arguably one of the best centers in America. How quickly can this offensive line gel?

DAVE DOEREN: Well, they've gelled already. It's a really tight group. Grant can speak to that when you get him up here. Excited for Grant, what those guys are doing together.

The tight end is a critical piece in our offense. They do a lot of things, whether they're in the box or out of the box. Dylan Parham is a guy we're really excited for. He's been injured a lot in his career. He's worked really hard. He's one of the most physical blockers at that position I've been around. It's just about not having the nicks that he's had in the past to keep him off the field. He's worked really hard. He's in a position to excel at that spot. The guys behind him have a chance to now -- who is going to take those balls that Cary Angeline had, right? Those were touches that Devin needs to give to somebody else. They have to go out there and prove that he can trust him, they're going to be where they're supposed to be, they're going to be open and make that catch, they're going to make that block. That's what training camp is going to be for that position group.

I know Coach Goebbel and that group is really excited to go prove themselves.

Q. What can you learn from what happened with the state baseball team? What have your conversations been with your team? Do you have a percentage of where you guys are trying to be or where you're at right now as far as vaccinations?

DAVE DOEREN: First of all, it was heartbreaking to watch. Our coaching community, I guess you would say, we love Coach Avent. He's been a great friend to me. What they had, what a season. To see how it ended was heartbreaking.

It's an opportunity to learn for our team. We're going to talk about it when we get together collectively. Our guys have seen it. We've talked one-on-one with several of the players.

Like everyone, my job is to help these young men grow, help these guys compete, put them in the best places they can be, and keep them as safe as I can keep them.

At the same time, it's not my job to make medical decisions for our football team. All I can do is educate them, get them around the people that can help them make great choices. That's what I'm trying to do.

Where we're at numbers-wise, we're going to be in a good place. I don't know exactly what our percentage is today. I feel comfortable with where we're headed. Guys have to make decisions for themselves. I just want to know why they're making those decisions, and can I help them get the info to make the right ones for them and protect us, protect our team, but ultimately make them feel good about the decisions they've made.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you.

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