Thursday, February 11, 2010

Q&A with new N.C. State LB coach Jon Tenuta

N.C. State linebackers coach Jon Tenuta spoke Thursday about his new job with the Wolfpack.

Tenuta, 52, earned notoriety as one of the nation’s top defensive assistants in 16 years as a coordinator at seven different schools, including North Carolina and Georgia Tech. He most recently coached at Notre Dame.

Q: What interests you in N.C. State?
A: First and foremost, [coach] Tom O’Brien. I’ve known Tom for 29 years and always would have liked the opportunity to work for him. Tom O’Brien and [Boston College coach] Frank Spaziani are good friends of mine and have been since I was a GA with them at Virginia back in the early ’80s. And obviously I’m an ACC guy. I’ve coached at a lot of ACC schools. So getting my chance to come back in the ACC is exciting.

Q: What is your philosophy in terms of how you like to coach linebackers?
A: I’m an aggressive guy, and everybody knows that. I just want to be aggressive and play within the scheme of what we do. I just met the players today for the first time, and obviously it’s a feeling-out process. But I like to be aggressive and get after the offenses.

Q: There are people who will be excited about this hire because you have a reputation of being one of the best defensive minds in the business. Does it flatter you that you’re thought of that way?
A: Obviously I’m flattered that you brought that up. I never thought of myself in that aspect. I’m excited to have the opportunity to work with Mike [Archer, the defensive coordinator] and everybody else, assistant coaches, and get going and put out a good product for next season. It’s an exciting aspect for me. I love defensive football. I’m passionate about the game and these young men that I’ll get to know, and they’ll get to know me, and I’ll move forward in that direction.

Q: How much do you know about the talent that’s in place here? Have you had a chance to look at who’s coming back?
A: Again, I just started learning guys’ names, and I had a chance to watch some film with Coach Archer and the defensive staff. And then I got a chance to meet some of the guys and watch them run and work out. It will take me a while to see what we have. But obviously they’re excited about it, so once we get going, I’ll get excited about it.

Q: How does your philosophy fit into Mike’s scheme?
A: Obviously Mike’s been around a long time and he’s an excellent coach. And I’ve been around a while. With Mike and Keith [Willis, the defensive line coach], you work together and put out the best product you can. So obviously if there are holes we’ve got to fix, we’ll fix those and move on and put out the best product we can put out.

Q: Were there ever any thoughts that, you would only want to take a coordinator job? How did you decide not to do that?
A: I think that you do what’s best for you and your family. And obviously my passion for the game of football, I just love to coach. Having the opportunity to come to N.C. State and work for Coach O’Brien and the other coaches, that’s a great opportunity for me. So that’s really the basis of why you coach. You coach because of your passion for the game and these young men and giving them the chance to be as good as they possibly can be. And that’s why I’m here.

Q: Where is your family right now?
A: They’re back in South Bend.

Q: I presume they’re moving to Raleigh at some point?
A: Yes.

Q: Are you excited to get them some place warmer?
A: That’s a big thing for my wife. And obviously my sons play baseball. They had some great years in Georgia where they play a lot because of the weather. And right now up there they have about 12 inches of snow. So we’re excited about coming back to the South. And the ACC.

Q: Being away from the ACC, did you learn some things up there – sometimes they say when you get away from some place and you get back, you’ve learned some things. Did you learn things that will help you now getting back to it?
A: I think anytime you change jobs or whatever, there’s always a learning curve. Something good. Something bad. Something different. So going back up to Notre Dame and more in the Big Ten, which I was accustomed to the Big Ten having been at Ohio State and playing similar teams, and all that did come back to me. But offensive philosophies and the spread offenses and things have spread like wildfire. So that’s the new trend and everybody’s doing it. A lot of things are similar, but players are different in different aspects at different schools. It all comes in complete circles.

Q: One of the things they’ve done here is use the hybrid outside linebacker/safety. Are you seeing a lot more of that to deal with the spread?
A: You just answered the question. You’re spreading the field, getting the vertical and horizontal separations you need to get. It’s still back to football, counting the number of guys in the box, seeing how they can attack you. Vertical separation in the passing game. West Coast or underneath passing game. Whatever fits them and their personnel. But the game is more spread out, so you have to have guys that can play in space and can run.

Ken Tysiac


Anonymous said...

Think Tenuta likes recruiting any more than he did when he was at Carolina?