ACC Title Road, game 3: NC State has Florida transfer at QB, 3 healthy backs

Coach Dave Doeren says youthful Wolfpack made progress in all areas during spring practice

Clemson's Garry Peters and Travis Blanks tackle N.C. State's Shadrack Thornton during the second quarter at Carter Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson's Garry Peters and Travis Blanks tackle N.C. State's Shadrack Thornton during the second quarter at Carter Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Editor's Note: The Tigers will continue their three-game ACC homestand on Saturday, October 4, when NC State visits Death Valley. It will be Clemson's third consecutive ACC game, while the Wolfpack will be coming off its conference opener at home against Florida State.

NC State Coach Dave Doeren

On spring practice: "We had a great spring...got to see a lot of good things out of our team.

We're very young. 70 percent of our roster is freshmen and sophomores, so the reps that we got in the spring and the reps that we got in front of a good crowd at the spring game were very important.

"Offensively, Jacoby Brissett is our quarterback and he had a nice day in the spring game, threw for about 370, and so now our big thing will be developing the next guy with Garrett Latham coming back, who had some minutes for us last year, and incoming freshman Jalan McClendon also returning to us.

"Our offensive line, we'll get back Rob Crisp, who missed 10 of our games last year, so that'll help us once we get him in shape ready to play. We had nine of our signees in at semester, so to add some guys in competitively, some of those guys have already started to help us in areas that we needed, some just playmakers but competition and depth.

"I look forward to getting the rest of that class here and adding to the formula of competition, which is the biggest thing. I think our team lacked depth at a lot of position groups last year and couldn't sustain injuries. I feel like after the class we just had and the red shirt class, at least we'll have competitive depth, albeit young, but they'll be guys that are battling for playing time, which will be fun as a coach to see that transpire here as we get through summer and into the fall."

On the areas where he saw the most significant improvement: "Probably the consistency out of our tailbacks - Tony Creecy, Matt Dayes and Shad Thornton all had a very solid spring. Ball security was very good. At quarterback there was just a consistency - from both guys, making good decisions, putting the ball where it needed to be.

At receiver, probably a position that's still pretty young, Bo Hines, a true freshman that graduated early was probably the most consistent receiver for us in the spring. Brian Underwood had a very good finish.

"I was very happy with disruption and daily work of our defensive line. We had a few seniors that have improved themselves at linebacker. Rodman Noel is a guy that was a reserve a year ago that really had a good spring, and in the secondary we're playing a lot of different coverage techniques than we did a year ago, so just to see the progress with that, those would be the things that stood out."

On the importance of quarterback Jacoby Brissett's redshirt year: "It was a great developmental year for him. He's done some things to his body that I know he feels have helped him. Mentally I think it gave him a year to get in a good place. He went through some things before he came here that kind of got him off center, and I think he's in a really good place mentally and spiritually now, and it's his team the way he wanted it, and excited to see him progress.

"He needs a lot of game time now, but last year, just to watch him lead and compete in practice every day and how serious he takes his performance and the game itself is exciting, and now it's just a matter of getting a guy that has a lot of accolades back into it, because he didn't play a lot at Florida. He played some as a freshman and really none as a sophomore, and then he sat last year and just played on the scout team. We've got to get a lot of reps in him as we move forward into competition."

On players who need to step up at wide receiver: "Brian Underwood is our fastest player, so just getting a consistent performance out of him (is important). He was really coming on last year when he hurt his collarbone and so he missed a lot of practice and development there. He needs to have a good summer physically to put himself in the right place. You'd like him to play the way he can and the way he was early in the year last year.

"And then Marquez Valdes and Jumichael Ramos are guys that were two true freshmen that played a lot for us a year ago that need to play better. I thought Valdes had a really good finish (in the spring), but started a little slow, and Ramos was the opposite. So they just need to get a consistent performance. A lot of times when a guy plays as a true freshman he gets a big head, and that's the one thing those guys can't do. There are good players coming in, and we've got a couple other freshmen that will be here that we'll add to the depth and competition. But those two guys need to have tremendous summers for us."

On the impact of 6-7 defensive end Pharoah McKever: "Pharoah got better every day. He's a really hard worker and very coachable. From practice 1 to 15, you can just see his confidence building...To have a 6-7 defensive end, and now he's up to almost 250 pounds, and eventually he'll be a 270 to 290 pound guy out there. He can run. He's a knee bender, very athletic. I'm excited for his future at that position. I think he's going to be able to not just add length, but a guy that can bend and run, and that's every coach's dream is to have those big long guys at the edge of their defense to be in throwing lanes and get around tackles and use that extension. I look forward to seeing what he can do."

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