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April 6, 2013

First scrimmage notebook

NC State held its first scrimmage of the Dave Doeren era on Saturday afternoon on a beautiful day in Raleigh, N.C.

The head coach said that the first goal of the day was accomplished, and that was getting through the practice healthy. He also noted that both sides of the ball had their moments.

"I was happy no one got hurt, that's the first thing we look at," he said. "The defense started fast, I thought. There were a lot of three-and-outs and energy, then as things went on, the offense started to gain some momentum. We were able to get a lot of good situational work in today.

"That's our first scrimmage, so you expect some ups and downs. I didn't think we tackled extremely well, there were a lot of missed tackles. That's part of the deal when you finally do it, you see who can finish plays. I'm happy with just the energy and effort, but there's a lot of things we have to work on."

Rising redshirt junior quarterback Pete Thomas saw some good things, as well, but wanted to focus on the areas where he saw room for improvement.

"We've got to be a lot better and we will be better," he stated. "There were some positives, but you've got to focus more on the negatives and try to work on those, and get those better in order to be the type of team we want to be this year."

The coach admitted he would need to go back and watch the film before providing any in-depth analysis on Thomas or rising sophomore Manny Stocker, but he did note that he is seeing more of players reacting on the field, rather than thinking and then reacting.

"You see guys playing faster now at a lot of positions," he said. "We've just got to clean up a few things, pre-snap penalties and cadence, things like that. It's hard when you have four different quarterbacks in and out, and different cadence tempos and sounds, but those things will get cleaned up as we go.

"It didn't seem like we turned the ball over a lot. I need to watch it, but there were some nice throws and there were some bad protections at times, which hurt those guys."

Doeren didn't single out too many players as scrimmage standouts, but he did mention rising fifth-year senior wide receiver Rashard Smith and rising sophomore Charlie Hegedus.

"A couple of receivers stood out," he said. "I thought Charlie Hegedus made a couple of nice catches today and Rashard Smith stood out to me, especially on some of the sweeps where he was running the football."

Quarterback battle not to be decided soon

One of the biggest story lines around NC State football is who will replace Mike Glennon, who has been a frequent practice observer this spring while in town, under center?

Although that is the issue every fan wants to know the answer to, Doeren does not expect to make a decision anytime soon.

"I'm not going to name a starter for a while," he said. "I think Pete is making progress pretty steadily and Manny is still struggling with some things. One guy is older than the other, so it's a little bit expected, but it's going to be a while before we decide."

Thomas is working off the rust after spending a year on the scout team while he was forced to sit out following his transfer from Colorado State.

"It's definitely a change going from the scout team to actually playing," he said. "The new offense and tempo and everything is a big change, but like I said, I've played before and we need to be a lot better."

Stocker has enjoyed the competition with Thomas, and thinks it will benefit the team in the long run.

"The quarterback competition has been a lot of competing," he said. "I'm excited that I get to compete against like a quarterback like Pete. I think competition makes everyone better.

"We're definitely two different types of quarterback, but the offense is tailored to whoever the quarterback is. Certain plays would be tailored to him if he's the quarterback and he can run certain plays; and if I'm the quarterback then I'll run other plays that he wouldn't run. Whoever wins the job that is who the offense is going to be tailored to."

Both signal callers agree that the Pack's new offensive system and its up-tempo style will help the team in the fall.

"The no-huddle is definitely a different feel than the pro-style," Stocker explained. "It's a fast-paced offense, you have to think on the move, you have to do things that you normally wouldn't do in a pro-style offense. I like it, actually, because it keeps the defense on their heels. You never know who is going to get the ball and we can utilize as many players as possible. I'm [feeling] pretty positive about where the offense is going."

What huddle?

Thomas was asked today about what it felt like to have his chance to take control of the huddle after having to spending the last year on the sidelines after his transfer from Colorado State.

"We don't huddle up anymore," he said before talking about the challenges of playing without a huddle. "I need to be a lot better as a quarterback - leading everything, getting everyone lined up, running the right play and taking charge of it.

"There are a lot of [pre-snap communications]. You have to make sure everyone lines up right, everyone knows the right play and, like I said, we just need to be a lot better at that and at everything."

Thomas is also going through the process of trying to learn the new offensive system - his third since he first enrolled in college - while also leading the team at the same time.

"It's definitely a challenge, but as a quarterback, that's what you need to do," he said. "You not only need to know what you're doing on every play, but you need to know what everyone else is doing on every play, and you need to lead them at the same time."

Doeren on the move

Doeren is an active participant in practice, rather than an overseer who just sits backs and watches. The coach can be seen regularly helping out in positional or special teams drills, and he said that is just his nature.

"I'm not a stationary guy," he said. "Even in our offices, I can't sit in my office very long. It's just I love coaching, I like interacting, helping and teaching, so that's what I'll do at practice. It's my favorite thing that I get to do."

The players definitely appreciate how involved their coach is during a regular practice.

"That's a good thing actually because that means you've got to stay on your P's and Q's," rising senior linebacker D.J. Green said. "I like that about him a lot."

"Coach Doeren coaches every position on the field, every special teams and I think that's really good," Thomas added. "I think guys respond to that pretty well."

"He's very interactive with us," Stocker said. "That makes us feel good, we know we have the head guy behind us in everything we do, we can be comfortable with him. It makes everyone play harder."

N.C. State NEWS


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