Doeren brings new approach to NC State
Posted July 28, 2013
Updated August 6, 2013
A preview of the 2013 NC State Wolfpack season has to begin with new head coach Dave Doeren.
In his two seasons at Northern Illinois, Doeren compiled a record of 23-4 with two MAC Championships. In Raleigh, he has hired a coaching staff that hit the ground running on the recruiting trail, having already received over 20 commits without having even coached a game in Raleigh. There is a new sense of youthful energy around the football facility as Doeren (41) replaces Tom O’Brien (64).
Doeren, along with his young staff have transitioned the Pack from having one of the oldest staffs in the ACC (2nd to Va. Tech) to now having the youngest. The added energy and enthusiasm has not only helped in recruiting, it has also given the current squad some jump in the weight room as well as in practices. A true change of culture has taken place in a regular practice that once saw a coach with arms folded (TOBing) stoically standing in the corner of the field not saying too much, to a guy that is running with the offensive line to get them to the next fast pace snap while blaring Bon Jovi over the sound system.
There have been two eye-opening experiences for Dave Doeren since he was hired on Dec. 2, 2012. One, during Music City Bowl practices, he saw the Wolfpack's lack of speed and playmaking ability. Two, Doeren watched his former team, Northern Illinois, get overpowered by Florida State in the Orange Bowl. The same Florida State team that got beat by NC State two months prior. So, as a coach, he's replacing a staff that didn’t put as much of an emphasis on recruiting, but definitely knew how to get the most out of the talent they had. Doeren and his staff feel they can definitely build a strong program in Raleigh, but what about this season?
Athletic Director Debbie Yow has already tabbed this season a “rebuilding year.” Some of the players on the team have taken that as a motivation tool. They want to make this “rebuilding year” a winning year.
The Offense – The eight home games in Carter-Finley this season won’t be void of excitement. Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada is going to be running a fast pace, no-huddle offense that even employs an efficiency clock that tracks how fast plays can and will be run. The “pistol” spread offense has become very popular in college football. The hope is that over the course of a series or even a game, the defense will get worn down, thus giving the offense a big advantage. Vince Lombardi said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” The most important part of the equation, though, is moving the chains and getting more plays. Without a quarterback, running a no-huddle offense just gets your punt team on the field faster.
While Junior Pete Thomas is listed as the favorite to start at quarterback for the Pack, I have a sneaky suspicion Arkansas transfer Brandon Mitchell may prove to be the guy. At Northern Illinois, Doeren’s offense had a strong running game (238 yds per game) led by Heisman hopeful Jordan Lynch. Last season, Lynch rushed for 1,815 yards. That’s 371 yards more than NC State had as a team. Mitchell is a big, fast athlete that played wide out last season for the Razorbacks. If he can run as well as throw in this offense, the Pack is going to have an explosive offense. Sophomore running back Shadrach Thornton will find open lanes and safeties more concerned with the quarterback than stopping the tailback.
The Pack has some experience at wide receiver with Quintin Peyton, Rashard Smith and Bryan Underwood. But that experience was part of a team that led the world in dropped passes. Some teams go an entire season with 12 drops. State had that many in one game against UNC. Doeren’s first recruiting class is bringing in six freshman receivers. The biggest recruit of the 6-pack right now appears to be Bra’ Lon Cherry, who has a leg up after graduating early and going through spring practice.
The Defense – Being faster on offense means more plays in a football game – for not only the offense, but the defense as well. New Defensive Coordinator Dave Huxtable says he’s ready for that challenge. NC State will play 8 teams this season that will employ the same type of offense as the Pack. The spring and fall camps will be great opportunities for Huxtable to prepare the defense for what they’re going to see the majority of the season.
The defensive front has the most experience and depth of any position for NC State this season. T.Y. McGill, Thomas Teal, Art Norman and Darryl Cato-Bishop should be able to put enough pressure on quarterbacks to speed up throws on the Pack's inexperienced secondary. A defensive back's best friend is a defense that hits the quarterback.
The defense will have some level of success this season if D.J. Green can make plays. Two years ago, before he was suspended by the NCAA for a failed PED test, Green was beginning to make big plays in his transition to linebacker. For the entire year last season, he was kept out of games only to be able to service the offense on the scout team. Green is a playmaker. This is his last opportunity as he wasn’t allowed to red-shirt last season. He will be the heart of the defense this season.
Overall – How successful is NC State going to be this football season? I have to ask. What is your level of success? 8-9 wins? The Pack has had a lot of success the past couple of years at home. And with 8 home games to go with a soft non-conference schedule, NC State could go .500 in league play and still pick up 8 wins. 8-4 would be a big year for the Pack. Especially, for those that see the 2013 season as a “rebuilding year.”