Doeren eager to see NC State face game pressure
North Carolina State is down to its final days of preparation
for coach Dave Doeren’s first game with the Wolfpack. He’s eager to
find out how his players handle running their new schemes under
game pressure this weekend.
”Some guys play a lot better in those situations and other guys
don’t,” Doeren said Monday, adding that Saturday’s opener against
Louisiana Tech will give coaches the first chance ”to really see
those pieces and how they interact.”
Doeren, who left Northern Illinois to replace fired coach Tom
O’Brien, spent training camp pushing the players to learn more of
the offensive and defensive schemes installed during spring
practices. While he said he’s excited about how much his players
have learned so far, he won’t know for sure how much they’ve really
processed until they take the field for the first time.
It’s why Doeren said there’s ”a lot of answered questions about
our personnel” as his team starts the week. Some of that comes
from the team’s lack of experience with the no-huddle offense, for
example, while some comes from the fact he knows the Wolfpack will
be a young team prone to some growing pains.
Seven freshmen appear on the team’s two-deep depth chart,
including a pair of receivers in Bra’Lon Cherry and Marques
Valdes-Scantling. Three redshirt freshmen also appear, though none
of those 10 players are listed as starters.
The biggest question still hovering over the Wolfpack is still
whether Arkansas graduate transfer Brandon Mitchell or Colorado
State junior transfer Pete Thomas will start at quarterback.
The school said last week that Doeren wouldn’t reveal a starting
quarterback until the day of the opener. Doeren said both players
would have a good idea of their roles ahead of time and didn’t rule
out using both Mitchell and Thomas on Saturday.
”We’ve talked a lot with all the quarterbacks just kind of
where they stand and what they need to work on,” Doeren said.
”There isn’t a magical rep count that we’ve talked about with
those guys, about a first play or anything like that yet. But by
the end of practice Wednesday, I think there will be a real firm
grasp on those guys’ parts.”
N.C. State started spring drills with Thomas and sophomore Manny
Stocker taking reps at quarterback, then added two freshmen and
Mitchell for preseason camp.
With Mitchell and Thomas battling for the job, Doeren felt
comfortable enough with his depth at the position to move freshman
Bryant Shirreffs to fullback after losing Logan Winkles to a
preseason knee injury.
N.C. State is going with a no-huddle offense that Doeren has
said blends elements from Wisconsin – where Doeren had worked as an
assistant before taking over at NIU – and Oregon. It was a
work-in-progress during a sloppy spring game, and Saturday’s opener
will mark the first chance to see how much progress that unit has
made in the workouts since.
The changes on defense haven’t been quite as dramatic, though
the coaches are constantly pushing both sides of the ball to work
at a faster tempo.
”I feel like it’s good chemistry and we have a pretty good idea
of what each of us is capable of doing,” senior linebacker D.J.
Green said. ”So we’re pretty excited about getting out here
Saturday and just letting it all out.”
Also Monday, Doeren said reserve defensive tackle A.J. Ferguson
is ”out of the lineup” for two weeks due to what he described
only as ”university policy.”