A solid B+ for State
Posted August 31, 2013
Updated September 1, 2013
A toasty Carter-Finley Stadium saw quite a few unexpected twists. North Carolina State's $64,000 question finally got an answer: Brandon Mitchell is/was Dave Doeren's choice to start under center. So, go figure that after weeks and months of the Pack's quarterback carousel sailing 'round and 'round, Doeren's decision, lasts all of three series. Not of his own accord, of course. Mitchell suffered a foot injury to his fifth metatarsal in the first quarter and spent the rest of the game non-pads. How did the first-year head coach find out about the severity of the injury? Social media nonetheless, or as he put it in his postgame press conference, "the tweet guy." If that's not a Grandpa Simpson-esque reference, I don't know what is:
Hence, for the next 4-6 weeks, the Wolfpack's quarterback carousel will cease to spin. Pete Thomas is the man under center, no what if's, and's, or but's about it. The junior transfer from Colorado State didn't put up Johnny Manziel-type numbers, but the beauty of it being, he's not expected to. Doeren's persisted for weeks now that whomever got the nod would be more game-manager and less game-breaker. And he managed a heckuva game. 15-of-27, 212 yards passing, and one defensive fumble recovery (cast your defensive player of the week votes now!) after his lone "bad" throw of the day got picked off, only to be promptly returned to sender. Thomas spearheaded six separate scoring drives which resulted in 26 points. Coupled with the pair of touchdowns on the opening possessions from Mitchell, and 40 points are certainly nothing to scoff at. As Rashard Smith said afterwards, "sometimes 40 points might not get you a win," but on Saturday it was good enough for a blowout.
This is where the Summer of Indecision will pay nice dividends for State. Both Thomas and Mitchell had been seeing essentially equal reps in camp, so the surrounding personnel is just as familiar with the guy who started number two on this morning's depth chart.
Another surprise? The debut of Matt Dayes. The tailback had been highly touted for his performances in preseason camp. Some finish their freshman season with three touchdowns, Dayes finished the afternoon with three. One might expect a frosh, who just found the endzone thrice in his first time in a college uniform, might be a little exciteable after the fact. Not Dayes, who straight-faced his postgame interviews, to the point where some media even joked with him that he could lighten up and smile a little. That's a great sign of maturity from a 13th grader, who expects himself to succeed. However, now I fully expect him to stone-face the writers and cameras when he goes "Al Bundy." For those who aren't aware of what the "Al Bundy" performance is:
The lesser-discussed half during the offseason, the defense, came up clutch. Louisiana Tech converted only 2-of-10 third down attempts and the Pack thwarted two red zone drives with a couple of fumble recoveries, including one by Darryl Cato-Bishop in the endzone. Total yardage was close at the stat sheet at one point, but the Pack ended up outgoing the Bulldogs by more than 200 yards.
Granted, this might not have been the Louisiana Tech of yesteryear, so we might not find out the true measure of State until three weeks when Clemson comes to town. However, all things considered, the Doeren-era starts strongly in Raleigh. The performance wasn't perfect, i.e., settling for four field goals, inability to stretch the field vertically, but does any team ever play spotless? I bet Paul Johnson is finding something to pick apart right now, and he opened the season with a 70-0 W. So, if we're giving grades, the Wolfpack earn a solid B+.
Currently listening to: Fitz and the Tantrums - "Out of My League"