Shadrach Thornton scored three touchdowns in N.C. State’s 46-34 victory over Old Dominion on Saturday.
The junior running back helped the Wolfpack rush for 242 yards, but he didn’t hesitate when asked why the offense was so improved from a year ago or why the team was 2-0 heading into its first road trip of the season.
“Jacoby,” Thornton said, singling out junior quarterback Jacoby Brissett. “We’ve got a good quarterback.”
Brissett has been a game-changer for second-year coach Dave Doeren, who struggled to get consistency out of the quarterback position last season.
Brissett, a Florida transfer, has thrown for 291 and 253 yards in his starts for N.C. State. He has completed 49 of 69 passes (71 percent) with five touchdowns and one interception. N.C. State’s quarterbacks didn’t produce five touchdown passes until the 10th game last season.
Even more than the numbers, Brissett has impressed Doeren with his poise.
“He stays in the zone,” Doeren said Monday. “He’s just doing what he’s coached. He’s reading pre-snap coverages and seeing tells and distributing the football.”
N.C. State has trailed at the half in each of the first two games but has not panicked. That, in no small part, is because of the effect Brissett has had on the offense.
“He’s a very strong leader; he’s very vocal,” tight end Benson Browne said Monday.
Brissett has kept everyone on offense happy and involved. Ten players have at least one catch and five have touchdowns.
“Everybody has been doing a great job in practice and it’s good to see these things translate to the game,” Brissett said.
Doeren spent much of last season trying to find the right spark at quarterback, shuffling Pete Thomas, Brandon Mitchell and Bryant Shirreffs.
With Brissett, the options have been much simpler and consistent. The only time he doesn’t take a snap is when offensive coordinator Matt Canada goes to the Wolf package with Thornton or running back Matt Dayes in a wildcat formation.
Thornton and Dayes scored out of the Wolf formation Saturday. This was fine by Brissett, who showed some running ability with 45 yards on seven attempts against the Monarchs.
“I do what I need to,” Brissett said.
With N.C. State’s trip to South Florida on Saturday, Doeren just wants his quarterback to keep on keeping on.
“If he can just manage the game, and be accurate like he’s been, he’s going to have a good season,” Doeren said.