Doeren, new regime begin loudly for Wolfpack

csmith@newsobserver.comMarch 20, 2013 

— Tuesday felt different. New coach. New sounds. New vibe.

“Very different from past seasons,” sophomore running back Tony Creecy said after N.C. State’s first spring football practice.

Instead of hearing the resounding sounds of pads pounding together and whistles blowing, music blared from N.C. State’s practice facility as first-year coach Dave Doeren switched his attention from position to position. It was his first of 15 practices before the Kay Yow spring game April 20.

Creecy was happy following the first practice with Doeren and the new coaching staff.

“I loved it,” he said about the atmosphere on the field. “There was a lot of enthusiasm and a lot players running around. ... there was never a moment where it got quiet.

“The music gets our blood flowing and gets us excited to be out here. I don’t know if it was just because of the first day of practice, but I think that’s going to be a consistent thing here.”

While the mood on the field appeared to be light-hearted, there are several positions battles beginning – none bigger than at quarterback, where the Wolfpack must replace Mike Glennon.

Junior Pete Thomas and sophomore Manny Stocker are competing for the starting role.

Thomas, a 6-foot-5 transfer from Colorado State who sat out last season, was a two-year starter with the Rams, breaking the school record with a .647 completion percentage as a freshman and reducing his interceptions from 13 as a freshman to eight as a sophomore.

While Thomas has proven he can play at the Division I level as a quarterback, Stocker has in-game experience for the Wolfpack, as he saw brief action in five games last season.

“So far we’re just fitting in where we can get it,” Stocker said. “I’ll get some reps with the ones (at the top of the depth chart), (Thomas) will get some reps with the ones. I’ll get some reps with the twos, he’ll get some reps with the twos. So right now we’re just all cycling in.”

The quarterback that emerges will be the one that fits Doeren’s spread offense the best. Thomas and Stocker are considered pro-style quarterbacks and will need to adapt. How much could depend on Doeren, who has said he might tweak the offense according to what’s working during the spring.

For Thomas, the biggest obstacle might be learning his third playbook in three years.

“I feel like I’ve been pretty solid with it,” he said. “The install’s going to be pretty crazy over the next few days. … but I think we’re slowly getting better with the new terminology.”

While myriad changes have taken place since last season, from a new coaching staff to music pulsating at practice outside Carter-Finley Stadium, a key shift will be the adjustment to a new quarterback.

Asked who might start behind center on opening day, Doeren said, “It’s early.”

Smith: 919-829-4841

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