RALEIGH — The first practice of N.C. States 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. States players at the opening of training camp, Doerens first in Raleigh.
There was even a mix of ACDC and Ace Hood to provide a soundtrack to Fridays feel-good start.
Weve got a long way to go but its 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 OBrien his job in 2012.
Doeren, whos 23 years younger than OBrien, has injected a little life into the Wolfpacks 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 cant wait for camp and in the past years, you never heard that.
Doeren wasnt the only new face at Fridays practice. Quarterback Brandon Mitchell will wear Mike Glennons old number (No. 8) as he tries to win Glennons 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 Wolfpacks 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.
Its competition, said Thomas, who started 21 games in two seasons at Colorado State. I know its 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, its kind of like a puzzle, Doeren said. Youre trying to move the pieces around and make them fit and you really dont know what they all do yet.