Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren will tinker at quarterback while Mitchell heals

jgiglio@newsobserver.comSeptember 2, 2013 

Brandon Mitchell’s surgery was a success. Now, all N.C. State can do is wait for its new quarterback to get healthy.

In the interim, coach Dave Doeren said he would start junior Pete Thomas but continue to explore his options, including the possibility of using receivers and running backs at quarterback.

Mitchell, a graduate transfer from Arkansas, broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot during the first half of Saturday’s 40-14 win against Louisiana Tech. He’s expected to miss four to six weeks.

“He’ll be back for the latter half of our schedule,” Doeren said. “So it could have been worse, I guess is the way to look at it.”

Mitchell won the starting job in training camp and led the Wolfpack to two scoring drives on the first two series Saturday. He completed all three of his pass attempts for 93 yards and ran for 19 yards on five carries.

Thomas threw for 212 yards but the offense didn’t run as smoothly as when Mitchell was in the game.

Doeren also used freshmen Bryant Shirreffs and Josh Taylor against Louisiana Tech, and those two were listed as the backups on Monday’s depth chart for Richmond.

The possibility of using receivers Travares Copeland and Rashard Smith, who both played quarterback in high school, in a wildcat package was also broached by Doeren, whose Northern Illinois teams featured running quarterbacks.

“We’re not going to lose the ability to run the quarterback,” Doeren said. “It just may not be a quarterback doing it all the time.”

Running backs Tony Creecy and Shadrach Thornton, who is coming off a one-game suspension, were also possibilities to take snaps, Doeren said.

Smith, a senior, was the most active player on offense in Saturday’s win. He caught five passes for 82 yards and ran three times for 28 yards.

Copeland, a transfer from West Virginia, suffered a hamstring injury early in training camp and missed most of practice in August. He did not play against Louisiana Tech but Doeren said Copeland is close to 100 percent.

Thomas, who completed 15 of 27 passes with an interception, will still handle the bulk of the responsibilities at quarterback. Doeren said he was pleased with the way Thomas played as the game progressed.

“The injury to Brandon, I think set us back a little bit in the game,” Doeren said. “Then Pete settled down and really played well as the game went on.”

Mitchell handled the injury and surgery well, Doeren said, and he has remained positive despite the setback.

Four weeks from Monday would put Mitchell on target to return to practice, at the earliest, on Sept.30. N.C. State will make its first road trip of the season to Wake Forest on Oct.5.

Doeren didn’t speculate on Mitchell’s return but he was impressed that Mitchell stayed on the sideline for the second half of Saturday’s win.

“They could have taken him right to the hospital and fixed him up, and he decided to stay on the sidelines and support his teammates, which I think says a lot about his commitment to us,” Doeren said.

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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