It won’t be long now.
Yes of course, it’s still technically the dog days of summer. Which means for college sports fans, especially those whose MLB teams appear to be already thinking about booking October fly fishing trips (I’m looking at you every Oriole NOT named Jones or Machado), the boredom of no significant college sports material is causing a great deal of distress, if not suicidal thoughts.
But July is almost over, and pre-season camp will soon be upon us. In less than two weeks, Tuesday August, 4th to be precise, the 2015 edition of Wolfpack Football will begin its quest to up its program’s stock in a loaded ACC Atlantic division as summer camps get underway.
RALEIGH, N.C. – This year’s ACC Football Kickoff had a different vibe for Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren than in his first two years at the helm of the NC State program. And that vibe was definitely a positive one.
“This is the first time I’ve had a returning starter at quarterback and the first time I’ve had a backup quarterback that I recruited,” Doeren told some of the 400+ media gathered in Pinehurst, N.C.
Doeren also couldn’t hide his positive outlook on his defense. His secondary is experienced, there is depth at linebacker and even though the defensive line is young, there are experienced players returning.
The positive mindset is something that his team exhibits as well heading into 2015. “You can’t beat teams if you don’t believe you can beat them and I don’t think there is a man in our locker room now who doesn’t believe we can win. Now we’ve got to put in the work and then go out there and do it,” Doeren added.
PINEHURST, N.C. — With only 11 seniors, NC State’s roster will skew on the young side again. Coach Dave Doeren was quick to point out that 70 percent of the roster is made up of freshmen and sophomores.
Doeren was even quicker to volunteer freshman Nyheim Hines as a first-year player who can make an immediate impact.
The four-star recruit can help the Wolfpack’s offense in a number of ways, Doeren said. Hines (5-foot-9, 180 pounds) was primarily a running back in high school, rushing for 2,362 yards and 38 touchdowns last year, but Doeren said Hines will be used as a slot receiver, to return kicks and maybe even as a “wildcat” quarterback.
“He has so many skill sets, I’d be shocked if he was not out there,” Doeren said Tuesday at the ACC Kickoff.
Hines, one of 24 freshmen, is part of the influx of talent in the program. Doeren said there’s a noticeable difference in practice from his first season. It’s what he calls “competitive depth.”
“We’re getting to the point now, and not across the board but at a lot of positions, there’s not just a guy backing him up but a guy who can take his job,” Doeren said.
NC State Building Depth with Youth (NewsObserver.com)
Salahuddin ready to go: Junior linebacker M.J. Salahuddin missed the 2014 season and spring practice with a knee injury, but he has been cleared to return for the opening of training camp Aug. 3, Doeren said.
Salahuddin injured his left knee in a noncontact drill in the first week of practice last year.
“The biggest thing for him now is the mental hurdle of playing football,” Doeren said.
Salahuddin started five games in 2013 and had 25 tackles. He was slated to start in the middle of N.C. State’s defense last year before the injury.
In his absence, sophomore Jerod Fernandez and was second on the team with 78 tackles.
Doeren said Fernandez, Salahuddin and Ford Howell will compete for the starting job at middle linebacker. Doeren said Salahuddin can play either linebacker spot.
Special teams reset: N.C. State has to break in a new punter and kicker. Freshman A.J. Cole was impressive in the spring with his punting skills and will take over for Wil Baumann, a four-year starter.
The competition to replace kicker Nik Sade, the school’s career leading scorer, will continue through August camp.
Freshman Kyle Bambard and redshirt freshman Jackson Maples are contending for kicking duties. Maples, from nearby Southern Pines, likely will handle the kickoff duties, Doeren said.
Bambard has been a “little more accurate” and with a “higher elevation” on field goals, but Maples still could win the job.
“I’m anxious to see those guys work,” Doeren said. “They’re very talented, (but) game day is way different than practice. We’ll just have to see how they react on game day.”
Sade made 55 field goals as a four-year starter and finished with 332 points, eclipsing running back Ted Brown’s school record (312) set in 1978.
So, lots of questionmarks for sure, but I can’t help but like the quiet confidence that seems to be the M.O. so far leading up to the season. By mid-October, road trips to Blacksburg and Winston might blow it all to hell of course.
But for July….well, you know.
And here’s a little football/basketball 1-2 punch CH beatdown from the ’14-’15 academic year….definitely a fun five minutes of viewing….
Plus, we’ll soon be able to legally and without fear of recourse, look at things such as this….
(Yes…two photos of the Oregon ladies…I stand by that decision.)
Football. Is. Good.