Interviews: NC State's Art Norman, Tony Creecy
Posted July 20, 2014
Q. How difficult of an offseason was it when you look at the numbers, three wins and no wins in the ACC?
TONY CREECY: To be completely honest, we didn't think about that. We're not going to look back, we're going to keep moving forward. We focus more on this offseason of fighting through adversity, being more of a team, and just team building. We didn't look too much on last season. We're going to keep moving forward with that.
Q. Somewhat in that same vein, how confident are you that this season will be different, and how much will a little stability at quarterback go toward turning 2014 around?
TONY CREECY: I'm very comfortable. There's no way to go but up. We won three games, so we have no choice but to go up. We have a great quarterback in Jacoby Brissett. Not to take anything away from the last two quarterbacks, they were good, too, but Jacoby Brissett is a really good quarterback and also a really good leader.
Q. You say Jacoby is a good quarterback. What makes him good and why are you guys so confident in his leadership in?
TONY CREECY: First of all, he's confident in himself. That's definitely a great start on how to be good. Next he has really good pocket presence. He feels the blitz. He reads defense very well, and he also anticipates. He anticipates that post route when the guy plants and comes out, he's already throwing the ball. His anticipation skills, he has a very strong arm.
Q. You seem enthusiastic and ready to go. Camp could start tomorrow, couldn't it?
TONY CREECY: Yes, most definitely. I'm always ready to play football. This is my last one. It will be a series of lasts: First of last spring practice, first of last home game. It's a series of lasts I'm ready for.
Q. How do you process all that, all these lasts?
TONY CREECY: I'm just going to roll with it. I mean, I can't stop time. I can't fast forward time, so I'm just going to roll with it and enjoy it.
Q. Last year you guys struggled at times to run the football. How much emphasis does Coach Doeren's offense place on the run, and will Jacoby giving the kind of leadership that you described at quarterback help ignite the running game?
TONY CREECY: He puts a lot of emphasis on the running and Jacoby will definitely help it, but not just Jacoby. Us as running backs. A lot of teams tried to pack the box on us last year thinking we couldn't really throw the ball. Jacoby will help with that. The offensive line has gotten a lot older. We have Rob Crisp back, and we also, as a running back group, we strive to be some of the best on the field, and we worked this off‑season as that.
Q. Why do guys get so jacked up about uniform changes and helmets? And what are your impressions?
TONY CREECY: Guys get so jacked up because it's change, nice change. Just like you wouldn't want to wear the same outfit every day. You get really jacked up, but also the recruits like that. The recruits want to see something different. They want to see a variety of things, just like everyone. Oh, and I love the new helmets: Pack in black.
Q. Talk to me a little bit about pass blocking as a running back, and obviously I'm interested because we have so many great defensive ends in this league, a lot of guys coming off of the corner, so just talk about that aspect.
TONY CREECY: With pass blocking as a running back, you first have to identify who the line will block. They will make their calls unless you know where to block. Pass blocking from the backfield is pretty tough because they have five to six yards to make a move to make you miss, so what I do is I sit back and watch them make their move, just like a defensive player that's playing basketball. You always keep your eye on the midsection because he can do all this with his arms but he can't do anything without his midsection.
Q. What's your favorite part about the offensive game going into the fall?
TONY CREECY: Overall my favorite part is that Jacoby can really throw the ball so no team can press up on us and try to stack the box with nine, ten guys.
For me, my favorite thing is I can‑‑ first of all, I'm healthy. That's what hindered me for the past two or three years with turf toe. That's great. I can run it, I can catch it, I can block it, and I'm a team leader, so I bring a lot of things to the table.
Q. Your fan base is second to none, and you maybe lost a few of them with the performance last year. How big a priority is it to get them back and give them something to be proud of?
TONY CREECY: It's a huge priority. We owe it to them. They come to every game no matter who we play ready to cheer as loud as they can, so we owe them a great season. We've had great previous seasons and they loved it, and we definitely owe them a good one because no matter what they're always at a game, if it's raining, if it's 20 degrees they'll be there with no shirt on.
Q. Tony was talking about kind of not looking back to last year, but everywhere you look, the numbers are beside what happened last year as far as the record. How difficult was it to go through, and what do you expect will change that this year?
ART NORMAN: Well, last year we were coming in under a new staff, and I feel like we didn't really have like a lot of senior leaders just because they didn't know how to set the tempo kind of thing because this is a new tempo, we didn't really know what to expect so we're all kind of going through it together, nobody really stepped out and led from the team. This year I feel like we all know each other. We've got more senior leaders, Tony and Jacoby stepped up a great bunch. Jacoby acted like a leader last year, as well, and a bunch of guys, so that's what I think the big difference is going to be.
Q. What are you going to do with the GoPro video?
ART NORMAN: The GoPro video is going up on gopack.com so you guys can see yourselves. Gopack.com.
Q. Some people say that an athlete has a nose for the football. You seem to have a nose for the quarterback. What is it about your awareness? What is it about the offensive schemes that you see that allow you to attack into the backfield?
ART NORMAN: I just use what I have the best I can, kind of like‑‑ that's the thing about playing D‑line or defensive end, you don't have to have one thing, you just kind of have to figure out what works and just practice at it and just try to be the best you can at it. That's what I think with me, I just try to set a goal and work towards it kind of thing.
Q. How is progress evaluated on the defensive side this year? How do you know that you're moving the needle?
ART NORMAN: I don't think we can tell until we start playing.
Q. Tony was talking about no one likes to wear the same outfit back to back days. What is it like for you guys to have a new team in the league, a Louisville, a place that you guys get to visit this year?
ART NORMAN: I'm excited about Louisville. I don't think I've ever been to Kentucky before. But I'm excited about it. We played against them in the Belk Bowl a couple years ago, and that was pretty fun. I'm looking forward to it.
Q. You returned the majority of your starters on defense. Talk about how much of an impact that's going to make on your season and turning it around this year?
ART NORMAN: Yeah, that's going to be great. You know, the experience, a lot of guys, it's going to really help. A lot of guys that played last year are stepping up, like M. J., he didn't play a whole lot last year because we had D.J. and Robert Cardwell, but he's going to have to step up more. Jack Tocho, he stepped up a whole lot, and those guys and a couple more guys, as well, like Mike Rose, as well, he played behind Cato, and they're going to have to step up and help out, too.
Q. You guys struggled at times last year to stop the run and get off the field. I think you were near the bottom in 3rd‑down defensive conversions. Talk about those areas of the game and how much better you feel you'll be at stopping the run and getting off the field?
ART NORMAN: Well, like I said, we've got more experience, more leadership this year, and also we got a couple new guys on the D‑line that's going to help us get to that quarterback and help us get some pressure on these quarterbacks, make them throw and pass, and just less time to decide.
Q. What would make this a good senior year for you?
ART NORMAN: Just finishing on top. The perfect senior year, just winning the ACC Championship.
Q. Are you going to take your GoPro everywhere this season?
ART NORMAN: No, I think it's just for media day.