In just one week from right now we will be discussing the results from Dave Doeren‘s debut as NC State’s fifth Head Football Coach of the last thirty years. Let’s all hope that his debut goes better than Tom O’Brien’s. Who can forget the night Central Florida defeated NC State in Carter-Finley (25-23) when Knights running back, Kevin Smith, rushed for a career high 217 yards including a school record 80-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage (and the first play of the O’Brien era. For a walk down memory lane you can Click here for SFN’s entry on September 1st, 2007
The calendar doesn’t say 2007; it says 2013. This means it is Dave Doeren’s time, not Tom O’Brien’s. But, the overhang of O’Brien’s lack of recruiting is impossible to ignore – just this week ESPN.com ranked the Top 25 players in the Atlantic Coast Conference without mentioning one single NC State player. Since my personal memory of NC State football begins around 1977, I honestly cannot remember a year when we wouldn’t have placed at least ONE player in any Top 20 list, let along Top 25 list. With that, the N&O has a nice feature on Doeren that is worth a look.
When it comes to building a winning football program, there is no detail small enough for Dave Doeren.
Doeren was hired nine months ago to elevate N.C. Stateâ€™s program into a perennial top 25 candidate and an ACC championship contender. To get there, the 41-year-old Kansan believes you have to â€œwin the day.â€
Those daily wins, however small, add up to real wins on the field. Thatâ€™s how Doeren did it at Northern Illinois, where he won 23 games and a pair of conference titles in his first two seasons as a head coach.
Thatâ€™s how Doeren will approach his job with the Wolfpack, which is coming off a disappointing 7-6 finish in 2012, which cost former coach Tom Oâ€™Brien his job.
With the season opener six days away, Doeren has been busy collecting wins where he can. There has been noticeable progress on the recruiting trail, where the current class ranks in the top 25 nationally, but also progress with the players he inherited.
â€œHe wants us to buy in,â€ senior linebacker D.J. Green said. â€œI feel like, more and more people are starting to buy in.â€
You â€œwin the dayâ€ by controlling what you can, and by putting in the hard work. A program prone to wild swings and inconsistencies the past three seasons could benefit from a straightforward, micro-focused approach.
Before the first snap Saturday against Louisiana Tech, the players already are starting to see the results of Doerenâ€™s measured approach.
â€œHands onâ€ is how Doeren likes to describe it.
â€œWe are all over our guys in every way in their lives,â€ Doeren said.
â€œInvolvedâ€ is the word senior receiver Bryan Underwood uses.
â€œThereâ€™s not a day that goes by where heâ€™s not talking to us,â€ Underwood said. â€œHeâ€™s like a second father.â€
Thank God he didn’t say “daytight compartment.”
Within the program, there are some personnel developments worth discussing:
(1) Although most expect Brandon Mitchell to start at quarterback, Pete Thomas (whomever is the backup) will play as both QBs play hard and are talented.
(2) Offensive line will absolutely be boosted by the addition of the two JUCO transfers – Schooley and Kassem. But, make no mistake that we are thin on the OLine and any injuries will bring with it quite a negative impact.
(3) I think most people feel real good about the running back group as Tony Creecy has changed his body and Matt Dayes is proving in practice to be as good as people were hoping. Shadrach Thornton won’t be available for the first game, but having a stable of those three backs will be great for the pace we play on offense.
(4) Back-up defensive tackle, K’Hadree Hooker has left the NC State program and transfer to – of all places – East Carolina. Hooker was a redshirt freshman after enrolling (with decent fanfare) at NC State in 2012. He had become a Wolfpack fan favorite without ever playing because of his strong promotion of all things NC State through his Twitter account. Coach Doeren confirmed the transfer and confirmed that it was because Hooker wants more playing time earlier than what he can get in Raleigh. Good God, he’s a friggin FRESHMAN!?! I hope the ‘AAC’ treats K’Hadree well.
Coach Doeren appeared to have handled the transfer exceptionally well. His comments were very gracious and stated there that was nothing negative at all about the situation. He also told the story of how he called around and helped Hooker find a home in Greenville. (Dave obviously still has a little to learn about the composition of the current market) Doeren says he doesn’t have any issues helping Hooker transfer to East Carolina because the Pirates won’t be on our schedule over the time frame that he will be in school. What he is failing to recognize is that we still have to recruit against ECU with most kids down east; so, the better ECU actually is on the field then the more they have to sell to kids and the more potential impact they have on our recruiting.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the end of the world. But, personally, I’d rather see Hooker at App State or Richmond or Georgia Southern if he isn’t good enough to play in the ACC.
NC State now has seven scholarship defensive tackles on the roster this year along with three commitments from pretty highly recruited studs who can play the position in our current recruiting class.
(5) On the opposite end of the spectrum from Hooker, you have a kid like Bryant Shirreffs who chose NOT to run away from a challenge, but instead honor his commitment to the University and is changing positions to in an effort to potentially be able to play earlier. Shirreffs was recruited to play quarterback at State, but 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds he is currently contributing at fullback. Coach Doeren also made reference that he has the attributes to potentially play linebacker in the future. This leaves the Wolfpack with four scholarship quarterbacks on the roster this year: Pete Thomas (jr), senior Brandon Mitchell (Sr), junior Jacoby Brissett (sitting out due to transfer rules), and Manny Stocker (So).