RALEIGH — Dave Doeren wants N.C. State fans to spend more time in Carter-Finley Stadium and less time in the parking lot.
The new coach challenged fans on Monday to get back in their seats for the start of the second half, instead of spending more time tailgating at the break.
N.C. State announced a crowd of 54,204 at Carter-Finley Stadium for Saturdays season-opening win against Louisiana Tech. While the stadium was nearly full for the start of the game, there were considerably fewer fans in the stadium to start the second half and the Wolfpack leading 24-7. The numbers got smaller in the fourth quarter as the Wolfpack stretched its lead in a 40-14 win.
Doeren thanked the fans for their support during the pregame Walk of Champions and in the first half but said there needs to be more bodies in the seats in the second half.
The passion that our fan base has, we need them to be in the seats in the third and fourth quarter to be a great team, Doeren said on Monday at his weekly news conference.
You win big games in the third and fourth quarter. Its great to start fast with a big crowd but its better to finish with one. Thats an advantage that we need to gain.
It has been long-standing university policy to allow fans to leave the stadium at halftime and to re-enter after a tailgating break.
N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow said Monday that Doeren has not asked her to change the policy. Yow said the heat (temperatures were in the high 80s) was more of a problem on Saturday than the halftime policy.
Yow said the school prefers to schedule games at night early in the season to avoid such scenarios, and will play Saturdays game against Richmond at 6 p.m., but that the ACCs television contract was the reason the game was scheduled earlier.
It was brutally hot with a 12:30 start, Yow said Monday. I understand why Coach D would want our fans to be there and they usually are.
Jonathan Skinner, an N.C. State fan from Durham, sat in Section 224 with his sister, Emily. Skinner said he was directly in the sun and made it until the end of the third quarter.
Skinner said the re-entry policy wasnt the main culprit for the lack of people in the stands in the second half.
I felt like we had the game in hand, Skinner, 33, said. I wanted to be there as long as possible, but it was about as miserable as Ive ever been in a game in which my team was winning.
Doeren was hired in December from Northern Illinois to turn the Wolfpack into an annual Top 25 contender. He said for the Wolfpack to be a national program, it needs consistent fan support.
So Im asking for them to change their routine a little bit and come back into the stadium a little earlier and stay a little longer and support our guys, Doeren said. Thats something we need if the program is going to grow the way everybody wants it to.