Wolfpack QB carousel sure to spin as season starts
Posted July 17, 2013
Four talking points certain to arise during the ACC Kickoff Sunday and Monday in Greensboro:
Wolfpack may mix QBs
If you read between the lines, first-year North Carolina State University head football coach Dave Doeren’s recent statement that he’s not averse to using multiple quarterbacks could be a reflection of a couple of unstated items.
One likely relates to Doeren’s assessment of the quarterbacks at his disposal this season. The most obvious choices are Pete Thomas, a transfer from Colorado State, Brandon Mitchell, a versatile transfer from Arkansas, and Manny Stocker, who was recruited by Tom O’Brien’s staff to succeed Mike Glennon.
Doeren and staff may also be looking ahead to 2014 and '15, when winter transfer Jacoby Brissett from Florida will be eligible. He'll sit out this season.
A second factor is the nature of the Wolfpack’s early schedule.
With four straight home games to start the season and three of those against Louisiana Tech, Richmond and Central Michigan, Doeren should be able to experiment fairly often.
Louisiana Tech won nine games last season but coach Sonny Dykes left for California and was replaced by former ECU and South Florida coach Skip Holtz. The Bulldogs also lost record-setting quarterback Colby Cameron and several more key players.
Doeren faces an important league game against likely preseason Atlantic Division and ACC favorite Clemson on Sept. 19 (a Thursday) but should have a comfortable feel for his quarterback situation by the time the Pack has to take its first road trip – Oct. 5 at Wake Forest.
Virginia Tech emerges from offensive upheaval
The Hokies didn’t make a change at the top, of course, but Frank Beamer re-invented his offensive staff after a disappointing 7-6 record capped by a sluggish 13-10 overtime bowl win over Rutgers.
Scot Loeffler was brought in from Auburn to take over as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Loeffler, in turn, added Auburn staffer Jeff Grimes to handle the offensive line and supervise the run-game strategy.
Next, Aaron Moorehead jumped cross country from Stanford to take over the wide receivers.
Exiting were former N.C. State head coach Mike O’Cain (quarterbacks), Curt Newsome (offensive line) and Kevin Sherman (receivers).
“Change isn’t easy for me,” Beamer said when the housecleaning was finalized in January. “At the same time, you’ve got to do what you think is right for your overall organization, and that’s what I’ve done in this case … I think with different personalities and so forth, these guys can bring freshness to the organization.”
Historically, the Hokies have relied on Bud Foster’s defensive unit and a robust ground game to win big.
For Beamer, it all amounts to a radical course adjustment – and a significant gamble with program chemistry.
Early SEC games will show where ACC teams stand
With four early games and four at the end against SEC opponents, the ACC’s overall success again will be defined by the non-conference schedule.
It’s not the best way to upgrade the league’s competitive image nationally, but it is good for business and changing the paradigm will not be easily accomplished.
ACC commissioner John Swofford has suggested exploring season-ending alternatives to three time-honored rivalries _ Clemson vs. South Carolina, Georgia Tech vs. Georgia and Florida State vs. Florida. But state legislatures in each case could be a barrier and the Seminoles-Gators games frequently have been blockbuster television events.
This season, North Carolina will open at South Carolina on Thursday Aug. 29, followed by Virginia Tech against Alabama in Atlanta and Georgia at Clemson on Saturday. Toss in a Sept. 7 trip by Florida to Miami, and the potential for an 0-4 or 1-3 ACC stand is entirely possible.
Who else parties with Fats?
Haydn (Fats) Thomas’ parties will be come up during interviews.
The six Triangle players – State’s Rashard Smith (wide out) and Dontae Johnson (defensive back), Carolina’s Bryn Renner (quarterback) and Kareem Martin (defensive end) and Duke’s Anthony Boone (quarterback) and Ross Cockrell (defensive back) – certainly will be asked if they have attended Thomas’ parties and if they have had any dealings with the Durham man.
Thomas is a central figure in the on-going story involving Tar Heel basketball player P.J. Hairston and has been photographed at an event with Carolina cager Leslie McDonald and former player John Henson.
ACC KICKOFF ON TV, RADIO, WEB, MOBILE
On Sunday at 6 and 11, WRAL's Jeff Gravley will break down the commissioner's report and players preparation.
Log on to WRALSportsFan on the web, app or mobile device for full player interviews and Caulton Tudor's analysis.
620 The Buzz will broadcast live from the ACC Kickoff beginning at 6 a.m. with Mark Thomas and Mike Maniscalco. Coach Steve Logan joins the guys with his perspective during the 8 a.m. hour.
99.9 The Fan picks up the live coverage at noon with the David Glenn Show followed by Adam & Joe at 3 p.m. Logan will wrap up the day with Adam & Joe.
WRALSportsFan will have the coaches and media preseason picks first Monday afternoon, along with interviews with each of the coaches.
WRAL's Mandy Mitchell will wrap up two days of football prep and hype on the WRAL News at 6.