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October 10, 2013
The much anticipated return of graduate senior quarterback Brandon Mitchell received some encouraging news following Thursday's practice.
Mitchell injured his foot and left after playing three series in the season opener against Louisiana Tech on Aug. 31. The Arkansas transfer left a strong impression by leading the Wolfpack to two touchdown drives in the three series. Colorado State redshirt junior Pete Thomas has ably filled in for Mitchell, and will be ready to go against Syracuse on Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium if needed. The final decision will likely take place when the players go through their pregame paces prior to the 3:30 p.m. kickoff.
"He's probably 50 percent and ran for probably about 20-25 minutes today, and he said he had no pain," Doeren said. "We've made a lot of progress, and we'll see what the next 48 hours will bring him."
Doeren has talked about Mitchell's health Monday, Wednesday and today, but sounded more optimistic as the week went on.
"Compared to where he was a week ago, he's way ahead," Doeren said.
The adrenaline of playing in front of 60,000 fans at Carter-Finley Stadium could be another difference maker in playing Mitchell against Syracuse.
"We'll see what the game-day atmosphere does to him because sometimes guys feel really good," Doeren said. "[Him] knowing what to do and the scheme, his mobility today was the best we've seen so far. He's close, man. I just have to see him on game day. He'll tell me because he knows what I want."
NC State has a week off following the Syracuse game prior to playing at Florida State on Oct. 26. Mitchell could be completely healthy by the time the Seminoles game rolls around.
"Not off a surgical deal like him because I want to make sure we don't do it too early," Doeren said. "If it was a muscle thing and he had two weeks to rest [that's different]. If he re-breaks the bone, he's done. We have to be smart with how we do it."
Two other key players were hurt in last week's 28-13 loss at Wake Forest — fifth-year senior wide receiver Rashard Smith and fifth-year senior free safety Jarvis Byrd. Doeren called Smith a "possibility" against Syracuse but wasn't as optimistic about Byrd.
"He's questionable but he feels a lot better today," Doeren said. "You have a bunch of swelling in there and skill guys don't usually handle that well. As soon as that swelling is out, he'll be ready."
Byrd went to see a specialist this week for his injury. Senior cornerback Dontae Johnson could see time at free safety if needed.
Syracuse lost 49-14 at home to No. 3-ranked Clemson, but the Orange did rip off 323 rushing yards on 48 carries, but only passed for 74.
"They had a couple of long runs, which really skewed the rushing yards," Doeren said. "Their tailbacks [Jerome Smith, Prince Tyson-Gulley] are really good. They are two special players for them. [Clemson] got up enough where they felt like they weren't going to beat them by running the ball. They played a lot of two-deep and three-deep coverages to play the pass."
The Orange defense also allowed four passing touchdowns of 40 yards or more, highlighted by CU junior star Sammy Watkins going 91 yards for a score. The Wolfpack could test the SU secondary to see if they'll continue to have breakdowns.
"If you can protect, you do," Doeren said. "Syracuse is an aggressive secondary in an aggressive scheme. Clemson had some things where they got behind them, and they were playing with poor eyes. We'd like to catch them in that same look. We'll see if we can."
NC State injury report vs. Syracuse
Out for Season:
Cole Borroughs, CB
Kenton Gibbs, DT
Logan Winkles, FB
Out for Game:
Darryl Cato-Bishop, DE
Rob Crisp, OT
Doubtful for Game:
Jarvis Byrd, S
Questionable for Game:
Brandon Mitchell, QB
Rashard Smith, WR
N.C. State NEWS