North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren wants to see his Wolfpack defense tackle better.
Doeren said Monday he was surprised by his team's poor tackling in the win against Old Dominion. That means the preparation for this weekend's trip to South Florida will include a big focus on the most basic part of playing defense.
"It was as bad as I've seen us tackle," Doeren said of the first half of Saturday's ODU win. "I'm disappointed by it. We're definitely going to work extremely hard on that obviously this week. Because we tackled so well in Week 1, I was surprised to see that out of our guys."
N.C. State (2-0) opened the year against Georgia Southern's run-based option attack, then spent last weekend matching up with a fast-paced offense that ran 87 plays and threw the ball 50 times. The defense has done just enough in those games to help the Wolfpack get a good start in Doeren's second season, though it's clear that the unit must improve after giving up a combined 942 yards in those games.
Doeren wants to see his players do a better job of shedding blocks to get to the football and get in the backfield more often to make tackles for loss.
As for the team's tackling work, Doeren said the drills include focusing on footwork while running to the ball and bringing down a ballcarrier near the sideline or in open space.
"You don't have to take people to the ground to get good at tackling," he said. "You have to play full speed to the thud. A lot of times in practice, you'll see DBs run over and they're a couple of yards away and they'll kind of slow down and let the guy run. That's a bad habit. We want guys to run and come to balance just like they're going to hit him, and then go by his back hip."
N.C. State has just two takeaways this season, one in each of the first two games. The Wolfpack also trailed at the end of the first and second quarters in each game, putting more pressure on the defense to do a better job stopping drives early.
"I think the biggest thing for us is adjusting better and playing faster, and starting off to a faster start," defensive end Art Norman said. "It all starts with us on the D-line, and we've just got to control the line of scrimmage from there."
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