N.C. State Football

Doeren on Pack's QB battle: Go with guy 'who doesn't hurt us'

jgiglio@newsobserver.comApril 4, 2013 

— You don’t need to list the accomplishments of the previous two N.C. State quarterbacks for Pete Thomas.

He already knows what he and Manny Stocker are up against as they contend for the starting spot this spring.

“Those are big shoes to fill,” Thomas said.

Mike Glennon, the starter in 2012 and ’11, threw for more than 7,000 yards and 62 touchdowns the past two seasons. Glennon is poised to be one of the first quarterbacks taken in the NFL draft later this month.

Russell Wilson, the primary starter from 2008-2010, nearly rewrote all of Philip Rivers’ school records, was one of the best quarterbacks in ACC history and is now an NFL star with the Seattle Seahawks.

Thomas, a transfer from Colorado State, and Stocker, a sophomore, have a different coach in Dave Doeren and a new offense to follow in the footsteps of Glennon and Wilson.

Doeren said Thursday that Thomas and Stocker have both taken snaps with the first-team offense but said Thomas was getting more because “his decision-making is a little further along.”

Doeren said the decision at quarterback, one of six starting spots to fill on offense, will come down to who makes the fewest mistakes.

“We just have to have a guy that doesn’t hurt us,” Doeren said. “That’s what we’re looking for right now, the rest of it will come.”

Thomas has an edge in experience. Thomas started 21 games in two seasons at Colorado State and has thrown for 4,269 career yards and 18 touchdowns.

Stocker, who was Glennon’s backup last season, has attempted only two passes and appeared in five games last season.

Thomas and Stocker are trying to win a job and learn a new offense at the same time. The basic elements of the new offense under coordinator Matt Canada aren’t drastically different from what N.C. State ran last season, but the terminology is.

And, as Stocker put it, “the new system is a lot faster.”

Doeren’s Northern Illinois teams ran more than N.C. State, especially the quarterback. The first-year coach is willing to adapt to what Thomas and Stocker can do, but he wants to be able to play up tempo. If possible, a snap every 15 seconds is the speed Doeren prefers.

“We want the ability to go as fast as humanly possible, but it also depends on the game,” Doeren said. “If we have them tired, we’re going mach speed. If our defense is struggling, we’ll slow it down.”

Canada, who was Wisconsin’s offensive coordinator last season, said he has been pleased with how Thomas and Stocker have picked up the offense.

“There’s a long way to go for everybody, but at the quarterback position there’s a lot to learn,” Canada said.

Doeren, whose Northern Illinois teams went 23-4 the past two seasons, expected a learning curve in spring practice. Picking up the terminology has been a slow process, receiver Bryan Underwood said, but adjusting to the tempo has been the bigger challenge.

“From the first day, we’ve been non-stop going, going, going,” said Underwood, who led the team with 10 touchdown catches last season. “There’s a lot of chaos going on.”

Doeren has already seen the team make progress in the first few weeks of practice and expects to see more before the Kay Yow spring game on April 20 and even more by the opener against Louisiana Tech in August.

“It’s a process,” Doeren said. “We’re still learning our personnel. We’re just making sure we know what guys can and can’t do.”

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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