N.C. State Football

Feel-good start for NC State football

jgiglio@newsobserver.comAugust 2, 2013 

— The first practice of N.C. State’s football season started early Friday night. New coach Dave Doeren would like for his Wolfpack team to remain ahead of schedule.

There was a renewed energy and enthusiasm among N.C. State’s players at the opening of training camp, Doeren’s first in Raleigh.

There was even a mix of ACDC and Ace Hood to provide a soundtrack to Friday’s feel-good start.

“We’ve got a long way to go but it’s fun to be back out here working,” Doeren said.

Doeren won 23 games in two seasons at Northern Illinois and his attention for detail preceded him to N.C. State. The Wolfpack came out in new practice jerseys and with a new attitude after an inconsistent 7-6 finish cost Tom O’Brien his job in 2012.

Doeren, who’s 23 years younger than O’Brien, has injected a little life into the Wolfpack’s practice routine. There was music cranked up, to airport decibels, during the stretching drills and a general air of giddiness as the team prepares for the Aug. 31 opener against Louisiana Tech.

“It was the first practice, and guys are going to be overly excited, but guys were really eager to get out here,” senior tackle Rob Crisp said. “Ever since summer workouts, it was ‘I can’t wait for camp’ and in the past years, you never heard that.”

Doeren wasn’t the only new face at Friday’s practice. Quarterback Brandon Mitchell will wear Mike Glennon’s old number (No. 8) as he tries to win Glennon’s old job.

The Arkansas graduate is competing against junior Pete Thomas, who worked with the first-team offense in the drills open to the media on Friday.

Mitchell made an early impression on Doeren with his arm strength but the Wolfpack’s newest quarterback, who went through spring practice at Arkansas, was hoping to do more.

“I need to be more mentally sharp,” Mitchell said. “I knew where to go with the ball but my timing was off, so I need to anticipate better and get it out of my hands.”

While Mitchell learns the playbook and the names of his new teammates, Thomas, a Colorado State transfer, welcomes the challenge.

Thomas ended spring practice ahead of sophomore Manny Stocker for the starting job but Doeren has since added Mitchell and freshmen Bryant Shirreffs and Josh Taylor.

“It’s competition,” said Thomas, who started 21 games in two seasons at Colorado State. “I know it’s a cliche but it makes everybody better.”

Thomas sat out last season while sophomore Stocker backed up Glennon.

Doeren moved between the quarterbacks, receivers and running backs early in the practice, getting a look first-hand at his new troops.

One of his preseason talking points has been cutting down on turnovers – N.C. State had 33 last season. He was hammering that home on Friday.

“Take care of the football,” Doeren shouted to his running backs.

Doeren said he still needs another seven or eight practices to get a better idea of what the Wolfpack will look like come Aug. 31. As far as starts go, though, he was pleased.

“For me, it’s kind of like a puzzle,” Doeren said. “You’re trying to move the pieces around and make them fit and you really don’t know what they all do yet.”

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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