Wolfpack football players have bowl, new coach to worry about

calexander@newsobserver.comDecember 18, 2012 

— Quarterback Manny Stocker and wide receiver Bryan Underwood were recruited to N.C. State to play for Tom O’Brien and be a part of Dana Bible’s offense.

But O’Brien was fired and Bible, the Wolfpack’s offensive coordinator, is serving as interim head coach for the Dec. 31 appearance in the Music City Bowl. After the bowl, Stocker and Underwood will begin anew – under coach Dave Doeren, in Matt Canada’s offense.

It’s an interesting dynamic being played out. Usually, bowl practices are a head start on spring practice, allowing younger players to get more repetitions and a long look from the coaching staff. There’s a continuity to it.

But not when there’s a coaching change. Players will have to adapt and be quick learners. They will have to focus on the now, on playing Vanderbilt in the bowl, but also be mindful of what’s to come.

“I came to play for State and I love the coaches who brought me in,” said Stocker, a freshman from Coatesville, Pa. “I’m sad that they’re leaving but you have to adapt to whatever the new coach is bringing.

“I’m not too worried about it now. When the new coaches come in with their offense in the spring, (Doeren) talked to us and said everything is going to change. Right now we’re running the same offense and going through the same reads and routes and everything.”

Quarterback Mike Glennon will be showcased in the bowl in his final game for the Wolfpack. Come spring, Stocker will compete with Pete Thomas, a transfer from Colorado State, to replace Glennon as Doeren’s staff takes over.

Stocker, who enrolled at N.C. State in January, played five games as a true freshman as Glennon’s backup. Thomas, who sat out this season under NCAA transfer rules, was a two-year starter at Colorado State and passed for 4,269 yards and 18 touchdowns before leaving after former coach Steve Fairchild was fired.

Canada, who was hired Saturday by Doeren as the Wolfpack’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, said he will install an offense that maximizes the players’ strengths, leaving all options open on playing style and schemes. But Doeren ran the spread offense this season as coach at Northern Illinois with quarterback Jordan Lynch, taking advantage of Lynch’s mobility and passing ability.

“I don’t know if (Doeren) plans to do the same thing or something different,” Stocker said. “Whatever he brings in I’m ready for it. I don’t think it will be too hard of a transition. We have certain plays that resemble a spread offense. We like the pro-style offense a lot.”

Stocker noted at Coatesville Area High, the coach left after his freshman year. With the new coach came a new offense.

“I’m familiar with this situation and will just have to ride it out,” Stocker said.

Like Stocker, Underwood also has been through such football disruptions. The redshirt sophomore said his high school coach in University Heights, Ohio, left after his sophomore year.

“We were under a different coaching staff with a whole different scheme,” Underwood said. “It’s like the whole situation is happening again for me and I’m trying to handle it the same way. Just keep my emotions down and focus on the task at hand.”

Underwood caught 43 passes and scored a team-leading 10 touchdowns this season in the Wolfpack’s pro-style offense that averaged 28.4 points a game. If there is a change to the spread, he may see even more balls thrown his way.

“It’s really exciting. As a wide receiver you want to catch as many balls as you can,” Underwood said. “It’s going to be a fun year for us. We’ll get a taste of a new offense and open next year with it.”

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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