Audio link and transcripts for Dabo and Dave Doeren are below. Dabo is at the 26:40 mark of the audio, and Doeren is at the 2 hour 25 minute mark. You can skip ahead using the bar at the bottom of the player.
Well, we are excited that we got back on track last week. Really proud of our team and how they played. Just kind of responded to a setback, and looking forward to another big challenge this week. That's just kind of the way it is in this conference. You know, every single week you're going to have a tough challenge, and NC State is a really, really good football team, a very complete football team. They're a veteran-led team. I think they've got 21 starters back, and I think 19 of those guys are either graduates or seniors or redshirt juniors. They've got excellent scheme on both sides. They're well-coached. So just a -- and right now they're in first place. They're undefeated in this conference. A huge challenge for us, and especially at their place.
But really looking forward to it. This is where you want to be. It's November. You're still in the hunt for the division, and that's our next goal, and we know we're going to have to play very, very well to have a chance to continue chasing that goal.
Q. What was the difference between the Lamar Jackson that you saw last year and the one you saw this year?
DABO: I mean, just this year, he's just a little more mature player. I think he just has better command of the offense this year than maybe last year as a first-year starter. He's done a good job of sitting in the pocket and going through his progressions, checking the ball down. From just what I've seen of him, we played them early in the season, but he's electric just like he's always been. I know the season hasn't gone maybe the way they wanted it to from a win-loss standpoint, but he's still a great player.
Q. What jumps out at you when you see Bradley Chubb on film to kind of explain why he's so impactful, and what's your offensive approach in trying to neutralize him this week?
DABO: He's the real deal, man. He's long, he's fast, he's explosive. He plays with excellent technique. He's a very knowledgeable, instinctive player. I mean, he's a senior. The guy has been there a while. He's played a lot of football. You're not going against a rookie over there who's kind of green. This guy has got all the little nuances down. He understands what you're trying to do offensively, so that allows him to anticipate. When you have the type of speed and skill and strength that he has, plus you have knowledge, you're a tough guy to handle, which he is.
And then the other thing is he's surrounded by other great players. I mean, all those guys on that defensive line are probably going to play in the NFL. It's not just him. I mean, that's probably the biggest thing. I mean, over on the other side, Street and Roseboro, those are good players, and B.J. Hill and Justin Jones inside. I mean, he's got good people around him. It's not like you can just go away from him and neutralize him. But you just try to do the best you can. I mean, we've played a lot of good players, and we'll win some, we sure will lose some, but you have to have kind of a plan A, B and C when you go against a guy like this, and we certainly will have that in place.
Q. I talked to Christian before the season, and I was asking him about the offensive lines that you guys played last year, and he ranked NC State as probably the toughest that you guys faced. It seems like that group might even be better this year. What have been your impressions of what you've seen of them on film, and how much fun is it to have a challenge of a really great offensive line versus your really great defensive line and kind of see two strengths in the trenches going head to head?
DABO: Yeah, that's kind of what championship football is all about. For the most part, our side is pretty much down to us and NC State. You know, when you're in the mix for some type of championship, you're usually pretty good in the trenches, and that's the case for both of these teams. The strength of our team is our offensive line and defensive line, and the strength of their team is their offensive line and defensive line. It's definitely going to be a great battle, and they are very good up front. In fact, I thought they blocked us well last year. That was a very physical game, and the same as I said earlier, you're looking at a bunch of fourth-year juniors, graduates, seniors. It's a veteran, veteran first group that have played a ton of football and have a good understanding of what they're doing, and then again, on the flipside, they're going against a veteran D-line. Should be a heck of a challenge, and the same thing for our offensive line going against their defensive line, vets on vets, strength on strength, and you know, that's usually what championship games come down to.
Q. Do you know yet how you're going to approach the early signing period with regards to expectations about your commitments signing?
DABO: How am I going to approach it? Guys that are committed, why wouldn't they sign? I would say if you have a guy that's committed that doesn't sign on the signing date, then you might better go recruit.
But if you're just recruiting guys that aren't committed, then I mean, I don't have any expectation because you know, they may not be ready to sign. They're not even committed. I don't have any type of expectation.
Now, there's probably some uncommitted guys that do want to sign early, and they just haven't made a commitment yet, so I have no idea how that'll play out, but as far as our committed guys or guys that are committed and obviously can't talk about anybody specifically or things like that, but I think for most coaches out there, if you have commits and you have a December signing period because there's really nothing else to do, it's just kind of a dead period up until January, so I think most coaches are going to expect their commits to sign. Like I said, if they don't, then you've probably got some conversation to have.
Q. Obviously last year NC State gave you a pretty good scare. I was just wondering what you maybe remember about that one specifically and if you guys are kind of extra wary going into this year considering that they've only got better from last year?
DABO: It was a great game, and I mean, we were fortunate to win. They created some turnovers. I mean, we had three trips inside the 5 that we got zero points. We had another trip inside the 20, we got zero points, and we threw a pick six. I remember a lot of bad. But we still won the game, which ultimately is all that matters, so it was a very tough game, one, again, we were fortunate to win. A lot of mistakes in the game, a physical game. We're going to have to play a lot better if we're going to have a chance to win this year.
Q. And then last year at the end of that game, did you have a feeling that this team was maybe a little bit more on the rise and would be pretty good going into the next year?
DABO: Yeah, I've always had great respect for NC State. I really have. I mean, as long as I've been here, I've always felt like that they're one of the toughest challenges that we face year in and year out, and I know we've been fortunate to win most of them, but none of them are easy. I mean, there have been a lot of close games, but certainly looking at their personnel last year and then the makeup of their team coming into this year, again, you're sitting there with 21 starters back. I mean, they'll be good, especially when they're all seniors and juniors and graduates, and that's exactly where they are. That's why they're in first place right now in the division, undefeated in this conference.
Looking forward to Homecoming Game, a chance to play a great Clemson football team, and two teams fighting for first place in the division. So a ton to play for and guys have really done a great job preparing and working hard in practice. Obviously got a few more days here to polish things up.
But they are a very good team, explosive offense, balanced offense. They are the No. 1 defense in the ACC in almost every category.
So a great challenge for us with our team, and as we look at the last game we played, we know we can play better. And losing some key players during the game didn't help, but we still had some opportune moments and some critical errors that cost us at key moments.
All big games come down to one or two or three plays, so it's going to be a game where those plays have got to go our way, and it's our job as coaches to get them there and their job to finish them, and looking forward to watching it happen.
Q. How would you compare the Lamar Jackson you faced this year to the one you faced a year ago?
Doeren: Lamar Jackson?
Doeren: Okay. We don't play Louisville this week.
Q. Okay. Do you care to look back at that game at all?
Doeren: He's a great player.
Q. Obviously you had to deal with that formidable Notre Dame running game last week. What do you want to do better with the run defense as you get ready for a good Clemson running game?
Doeren: First thing you've got to do is fit the run game the right way. We had a couple misfits, guys in the wrong gap and something we haven't done. We've been very good at that. You've got to play with low pads, inside hands, shed blocks and leverage the ball on tackle and that's what rushing defense is and that's at all positions, because they can make it a DB tackle with a correct block and guys got have to disciplined eyes so they can strike and play aggressive in the running game.
As far as the Notre Dame game, they did a great job. They have a great offensive line; and when we lost three defensive players on the defensive line during that game, our rotation hurt us as the game went on.
So hopefully we'll be healthier. We were able to get all three three of those guys in practice today, so that was a very positive thing for our rotation up front.
Q. Anything you're looking to do better when it comes to your running game as you get ready for that stout Clemson defense?
Doeren: They make it hard. They have got a really good front. They have got big people and rotate and active linebackers and big safeties.
For us, it's about being on our tracks and being thick and our contact and running our feet and passing off movements well, because they do a good job defensively, you know, with their blitz packages and line movements. They are going to get heavy on you and try to flatten you out when they play their odd front. The O-Line has to communicate well together and tight ends and running backs and see the plays that are there to make and go get them.
Q. Kelly Bryant for them as a bigger role in the run game. How does that make it more challenging to defend this type of Clemson offense?
Doeren: Yeah, he has, I think 30 more carries than their tailback, and maybe it's 50, than the other tailback. He's without a doubt a threat. Not just when they design it but when they drop back and he scrambles.
Similar to when we play Louisville and other quarterbacks; Syracuse. Our D-Line has to be disciplined. We can't just run past and open up an escape lane. We have to power the pocket and press it, and when we blitz we've got to be in our rush lanes and not create seams for him to escape through; and if it's inside pressure, we have to have guys that are containing it outside and understand how we work together in pass rush because that's really important against an athletic guy like Kelly.
Q. You mentioned getting everybody back in practice today. If everybody is able to play, even though they might still be a little bit banged up, do you feel like your rotation will be back to the way you want it to be in this game?
Doeren: If they are all back, yes. We've been able to double-train some guys, too. So it's something that we can do if we have to.
But Justin Jones was 100 percent today. He looked great, during practice, the whole practice. Eurndraus Bryant was out and we didn't do as much with him because at nose tackle there's not a ton he has to do. He did his individual work and we'll rest him. I think we'll have them all and they will be feeling really good on game day. We'll be back to being able to play eight or nine guys in the front.
Q. Obviously Ryan has had a great year and maybe last week was maybe sub-par for him, he threw a pick-six and the completion percentage wasn't really there. Against a great team like Clemson, how important is it for him to get back to mistake-free football?
Doeren: Well, I mean, any time you play in a big game, every rep matters, not just for the quarterback. But Ryan's done a great job throughout the season. It was a tough day to be a throwing quarterback out there. It was in the 30s temperature-wise and the wind was blowing. It's not an ideal place to throw.
So I think being home and having the weather will help him. You know, second part of it's just learning from his errors and continuing to improve, and I think that's something Ryan does well. He really studies himself. He'll use that as an opportunity to be a better player.
Q. What was his week of preparation like facing back-to-back maybe his two toughest defenses all year?
Doeren: He's had a great week of prep, and he understands what Coach Drinkwitz wants, and he has played against this defense before, so he has an idea what to expect.
They do a great job in man coverage and they mix it a lot. There's a lot of different looks that they are going to give you and they disguise and they have got an active front. They have got 31 sacks. So our timing and our protection is going to be important.
Q. Trying to get an updates on Hines. How did he look in practice today?
Doeren: He was running around, feeling really good. We didn't hit him. So that part, we'll still have to see. But he was full speed and he was flying around the field. So we're excited that his progression has been what we hoped it would be, and tomorrow we'll continue to do more. We're still three days out, so the recovery will continue.
Q. Do you feel like he can still be as explosive Saturday as he's been before the injury?
Doeren: Yeah, I think by the time we get to Saturday, unless we have a setback, I feel real confident about it. I know he did coming off the field today. Just those things, you've got to continue to get through the hurdles you face on any injury, and you go block a sled or you hit a moving linebacker and you get put in a weird position, and then the next play you feel fine.
Some of that's mental for those guys. You get tackled and rolled up and you pop up and you're good. You've got to get through those things in the game. Progression-wise, he's doing really well so far in the recovery.