Getting to know NC State linebacker Robert Caldwell

csmith@newsobserver.comOctober 26, 2013 

N.C. State, NC State, Wolfpack, ACC, Wake Forest

Wake Forest wide receiver Michael Campanaro (3) tries to avoid N.C. State linebacker Robert Caldwell (48) during the first half of N.C. State's game against Wake Forest Saturday, October 5, 2013, at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem, N.C.

ETHAN HYMAN — ehyman@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

— For three years, Robert Caldwell worked to get to where he is now. After spending two years as a starter for College of the Desert in Palm Desert, Calif., the Spartanburg, S.C., native found his way back to the East Coast for his final two seasons with N.C. State.

After spending his entire junior season as a special teams player, Caldwell is now fully entrenched as the Wolfpack’s middle linebacker. He’s still looking for that elusive first sack at the Division-I level, but Caldwell does lead State with 7.5 tackles for loss and tackles overall with 48.

Saturday brings a bigger opportunity: trying to slow down Heisman candidate quarterback Jameis Winston and Florida State’s potent offense.

Q: How difficult of a task is this for you this week, especially as a middle linebacker, going against Jameis and that offense?

Caldwell: It’s going to be a tough challenge. They’ve got a lot of key players and they show a lot of effort, regardless of who they’re lined up against. A lot of it for me is going to be about playing my gap and being mentally locked in. Those boys are physical, so we’ve got to play downhill.

Q: The FSU war chant was playing on repeat while you were practicing. How much emphasis has been put on being prepared for that this week?

Caldwell: It’s going to be tough. It’s a big stadium and they’ve got a great fan base, so we expect it to be tough. We’ve just got to block it all out and when we’re on the field it’s just us.

Q: Other than him being a great pocket presence, Winston can also roll out and beat you with his legs. What is the game plan against that this week?

Caldwell: Well, I can’t really tell you the game plan. (Laughs.) I wouldn’t necessarily say we’ve done anything differently, but we just focused more on our keys this week to pressure him and contain him when the play does break down.

Q: Coming from a smaller college to a D-I school and finally getting the chance to start this season, what has this season been like for you?

Caldwell: This has been a dream come true. The coaches have trusted me all season and it’s really been a blessing. I can’t put it into any better words than that. God blessed me with an opportunity and I’m just trying to make the best of it.

Q: How much different has this coaching staff been from the previous one?

Caldwell: The whole coaching staff is great. They’re confident and they’re always there for you. If it wasn’t for coach (Dave) Doeren, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.

Q: How did Doeren help?

Caldwell: I was slacking a little bit in the offseason and he pulled me to the side and said, “You need to man up. It’s either you do what you need to do or you’re off this team.” I really look at him as a role model because he made me change my mindset and I became a starter because of that. I really appreciate what he did for me.

Smith: 919-829-4841; Twitter: @RCorySmith

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