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October 7, 2013
Is this the week that starting quarterback and fifth-year senior Brandon Mitchell returns to the lineup after being forced to the sidelines with a broken foot that required surgery?
NC State fans (and Saturday's opponent Syracuse) may have to wait a while before getting the answer. Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren said during his weekly Monday press conference that Mitchell is "day-to-day" after being cleared to practice without a boot.
"Yesterday was the first day he was dropping back and throwing the ball," Doeren noted. "He looked really good doing it. He hasn't run, he hasn't sprinted, he hasn't done the change of direction stuff that a quarterback does.
"I'm not going to rush it either. To put him out too early is not in anyone's best interest. I think you got to make sure he's back to where he needs to be."
Mitchell completed his first three pass attempts in the game against Louisiana Tech Aug. 31 for 93 yards and ran five times for 19 yards before injuring his foot. His replacement has been redshirt junior Pete Thomas.
Thomas is 100-of-157 passing for 1,163 yards and two scores with seven interceptions and has rushed 50 times for 153 yards (second highest on the team) and two more touchdowns in Mitchell's place. Doeren noted that other injuries on offense has limited Thomas and the unit.
"I think he's playing really hard, and to be honest with you I think he is giving us everything he has," Doeren said. "Is it as perfect as people would like it to be? Probably not, but you go out there and you're missing seven starters in your offensive lineup at one point in the game. He is doing a lot. I'm proud of his effort."
Thomas was 27 of 43 against Wake Forest during a 28-13 loss for 257 yards and a touchdown with two picks and ran 15 times for 60 yards.
"It's tough when Rashard [Smith] goes down and your offensive line struggles in pass protection in that game," Doeren said. "He was running for his life a little bit there. He made a bad decision on the one wheel route that he threw up on third and four. That's a throw he can't make, but he made a lot of very good throws.
"Bra'Lon Cherry should have caught a ball that would been a huge play in the game. It was a great throw. He did a nice job staying in the pocket, waiting. That one touchdown he threw to [Quintin Payton] was a nice play. He brought time."
Click on the link below to listen to Doeren's press conference.
- The offense should get some help back Saturday when leading rusher Matt Dayes, a freshman, and his classmate Marquez Valdes-Scantling, return to the lineup. Dayes, who has rushed for 180 yards and four scores in the first four games, missed the Wake Forest contest.
Valdes-Scantling, the team's second-leading receiver before he got hurt against Clemson, has missed the last two games. He has 14 catches for 201 yards.
Not returning Saturday will be senior left tackle Rob Crisp. That status of three fifth-year seniors, receiver Rashard Smith, defensive end Darryl Cato-Bishop and safety Jarvis Byrd, are to be determined.
- Doeren issued a challenge to his players to clean up the penalties after State picked up at least eight flags for the third time in five games.
"To be honest that comes down to the players getting that off the tape," Doeren said. "It's a point now where the guys have talked a lot about is as a team. You are going to have a lot of what I call combat penalties, you're fighting for the ball and the ref calls PI, you think it isn't, and that happens in football.
"We got to eliminate the roughing the kickers, the pre-snaps, the illegal formation type things and we will. Hopefully we'll see that this week."
- Despite the setback Saturday at Wake Forest, Doeren is maintaining a confident look at the big picture.
"I came here to build a program, and we're building one," he noted. "We got to take what we do at home on the road, put the ball down and let's go. That's not where we are at as a program yet, but we're going to be. I would like it to be now just like the fans would be, but we're not there yet. We're going to be.
"That's the thing, I'm not going to lose sight of the big picture of our program. I know where the program is going, but I'm not going to stand here and say what we did is okay. It's not, it's not okay to go on the road and not play well."
N.C. State NEWS