To preview Saturday’s Maryland-North Carolina State game, I chatted with Wolfpack offensive coordinator Dana Bible about facing the Terrapins’ top 10 defense, establishing the run and whether anyone is even thinking about last year.
Thanks for taking the time. Given what you’ve seen from Maryland on film, what stands out to you about the way the Terps operate?
I think their style of defense, you can see each week they’re growing and improving with the scheme. I think they’re playing with a lot of confidence right now. I can’t speak exactly what triggers it, but they’ve had their success against their opponents. Each week, it seems like they keep improving. As long as I’ve been in this conference, any time you win a game in the ACC on the road, is a job well done.
Looking at that front seven, who stands out, given the way they blitz and attack from that area?
Obviously the down player who’s most dangerous is [Joe] Vellano. He’s been a fine player for a number of years. Then you can tell that they feature their rush linebacker, [Darin Drakeford]. He’s a handful. I like the kid from Raleigh, [Demetrius] Hartsfield, he’s played a lot of ball, and [Kenneth] Tate as an outside backer. Those are all who look like they’re paying dividends for them.
How impressed have you been with the rate at which this Maryland defense has picked up its new 3-4 scheme?
Anytime a new scheme comes in, and a coordinator comes in, there’s always transition to a new way of doing it, a new style, a new way of being taught, whatever it is. Obviously, they’ve taken to it. You can tell by the success they’re having. I’ve known Randy [Edsall] for a long time, and really valued his way of coaching. When we were at BC, we saw him build that program at Connecticut. We saw the process happen there at Connecticut. It’s not surprising to me that they are where they are. Again, it’s a credit to their head coach, to their coaches and their players. They’re doing an outstanding job.
So what becomes the priority offensively? Establishing the pass early? Setting up the run to aid the pass?
I think it’s going to be all of the above. This is a defense that, you can’t be one-dimensional against. You have to be able to throw the ball effectively and run the ball at the right times, and when opportunity is there, we’ve got to be able to capitalize on those type of things. This is a game where we’ll have to play well to be competitive, and we’ll have to play well to be really successful.
Were there certain weaknesses you addressed over the bye week?
We spent the week studying ourselves, and anytime it’s always eye-opening, you have an idea, you think you’re good at this, you’re not good at that. Sometimes the numbers and the facts and the evidence doesn’t prove to be that way. That always happens in the bye week. By and large, what we’ve done, we have a better understanding of what we do on offense and who we are. We’re going to play to our strengths and try to stay away from things we’re really not strong at. Same old, same old. In all areas, just try to be more efficient and more productive in the offensive plan.
(Bonus!) Given the way your Wolfpack team was able to come back against Maryland last year, did you at all have to impress upon your players that this Terps defense is far superior to the one seen in 2011?
I’ll be honest with you, this isn’t out of the ordinary, there hasn’t been a word mentioned of last year. I don’t think there’s any correlation between last year, the year before, whatever. This game has its own identity and will have its own moment in time. We’re just focusing on the team we’re going to see Saturday and on ourselves.