NC State, new football coach Doeren hold first practice

jgiglio@newsobserver.comMarch 18, 2013 

In the first three and half months on the job at N.C. State, Dave Doeren has hired his assistants, recruited prospects, evaluated tape and even sung with Scotty McCreery.

The Wolfpack’s first spring practice under Doeren, who was hired to replace Tom O’Brien in December, started early Tuesday morning.

Coming off a 7-6 finish, and with 16 seniors to replace, the Wolfpack’s spring will be one in transition. Five questions for Doeren’s first spring, which will conclude with the Kay Yow Spring Game on April 20 at Carter-Finley Stadium:

1) Who will be the starting quarterback?

There are only two eligible options on scholarship, Pete Thomas and Manny Stocker, to replace Mike Glennon, who threw for 4,031 yards and 31 touchdowns last season.

Thomas, a junior, started 21 games in two seasons at Colorado State before transferring to N.C. State. He sat out last season and is eligible for the 2013 season. Stocker, a sophomore, backed up Glennon last season but his game experience consists of a handful of snaps in five games and two pass attempts (with no completions). In January, Doeren added Jacoby Brissett, a transfer from Florida, but he will have to sit out the 2013 season.

2) How does the existing talent match the new scheme on offense?

The Wolfpack employed more of a traditional pro-style offense under O’Brien and coordinator Dana Bible, albeit with some elements of the spread that Doeren and new coordinator Matt Canada will bring with them from Northern Illinois and Wisconsin.

Thomas, who’s 6-foot-5, 225 pounds and cut from the pro-style mold, will have to make adjustments in his game to run the spread. Sophomore running back Shadrach Thornton, who led the team with 694 yards, should excel in the new scheme, as should receiver Bryan Underwood (620 receiving yards, 10 touchdowns).

Doeren has already said he will make adjustments based on personnel rather than trying to run something that doesn’t fit the talent, but there’s always a period of adjustment with a new coach and new system.

3) Who will fill the holes on the offensive line?

Center Cam Wentz, guard Zach Allen, tackle R.J. Mattes and guard Andrew Wallace had 125 career starts between them. New line coach Mike Uremovich will need to find replacements, although tackle Rob Crisp, guard Duran Christophe and tackle Tyson Chandler each have starting experience.

With the spread offense, there will be more zone blocking and quicker pass routes, so there will be changes – notably the need to move and play faster.

4) And in the secondary?

Safeties Earl Wolff and Brandan Bishop started together for 43 games the past four years. Dontae Johnson, who played corner last year, could be moved back to safety, but some combination of Hakim Jones, Tim Buckley and Jarvis Byrd, whose career has been derailed by knee injuries, will need to fill the void left by Bishop and Wolff.

Cornerback David Amerson left early for the NFL draft but sophomore Juston Burris returns at one corner with either Johnson or Byrd at the other corner or one of several redshirt freshman.

5) Who won’t be at spring practice?

Five other players have left the program since the end of the regular season: linebacker Rickey Dowdy, defensive end Sylvester Crawford, receiver Hakeem Flowers, defensive end Dave Mann and linebacker Michael Peek.

Dowdy, who would have been a senior, was the only one of the five with any substantial game experience. He was third on the team in tackles last season with 88 and led the team with 16.5 tackles for loss. He transferred to an NAIA school to complete his college career.

Fullback Logan Winkles, who was charged with a DWI near campus in February, is not on the spring roster.

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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