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.”