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November 7, 2013

Dave Doeren says 'It's just a matter of time'

NC State head coach Dave Doeren addressed a number of subjects after practice on Thursday, including quarterback plans for this weekend and the current state of the program.

Everything he had to say after practice is below:

How have your guys been this week?

They're good. We've had a great week of practice. We're close. The four games other that Florida State that we've lost, you can go through every single one of them and we're either tied or down by a touchdown or less, and then there are these one or two or three plays that you see guys make in practice that we're not making in the games. We just need to make that next step as a team.

None of the guys have changed. They're all working hard. They want to win and they know they have to make plays. We play a really good team this week, so we've got to execute at a high level. They've had two weeks to prepare and we know they'll be about as rested as they can be.

Duke has been really good in the fourth quarter this year, how much does that concern you heading into this game?

We've talked a lot about how they're a finishing team. They play better in the third quarter than they do in the second, and better in the fourth than they do the third. They're well-conditioned and they don't beat themselves. They've got one player on their team that is really, really good; No. 3 [Jamison Crowder] is a big-time difference maker for them. We've got to do a good job knowing where he is.

How do you evaluate their special teams?

Sound. Obviously, their punt returner [Crowder] is scary, he's really good. He puts his foot in the ground one way or the other, and then he gets north and south. The guys know he's good, so they block hard for him. They've done a nice job and that's going to be a big part of the game. We've got to make sure we have good hang time, coverage and leverage in our punt team.

The rest of it, you can see that they're sound. Their punt protection [is good], they've maybe had one or two guys get near the punter. It's what you'd expect from Coach Cutcliffe, he's been around a long time and has very intelligent kids that don't beat themselves.

On Monday, you talked about where the program is going. Is your confidence based on your experience at Northern Illinois and where they're at right now?

It's not just Northern. At Kansas, that might've been my best experience turning a program around. When we got hired there, there was a major drug problem, they had horrible grades and there were 20 kids that quit the team in the first semester because we made it hard. We were the worst team in college football the first year, five years later, that team beat Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.

So I know where the program is going. I see the guys' work ethic, I look into their eyes and I know how we're recruiting. I know how many guys are injured and what could have been if we didn't have all the problems we've had, as far as a rotating lineup. With all of that said, we're still in every game except for one.

I have no doubt in my mind where it's going. I assume they hired me here because they knew there might be some things that needed to be fixed and we're working hard to fix them.

You said when you were hired that you knew Northern would have a good team this year. It's only natural to look at that and say, 'that would be kind of nice to be a part of,' but how do you look at that from your position?

[The way that] I've always looked at jobs that I left is: did I leave it in a better place than when I got there? I did [at Northern], they had not won in 28 years and we won it two years in a row. I recruited really well there, and you can see a ton of those players playing right now and playing well for them.

Anytime you have a quarterback of their caliber returning, you know you have a chance to win every game, and they do [have a good quarterback]. Then, some of the coaches stayed behind, so they've had carry-over of the program. They haven't had to learn anything new as a team or as a system or as a routine.

I'm really happy for them. I don't look back at all. I'm really excited about where I'm at and where we're going. The people here will see what I'm talking about in time, it's just a matter of time.

Can you evaluate David J. Grinnage's play?

He's gotten a lot better. He's one of those guys that is 6-5, 270 and he doesn't know it yet. He was a receiver in high school that was a big receiver, but now he's playing in the phone booth more than he's used to.

At times, he's a dominating blocker and, at times, he's still trying to learn the techniques he needs to have against really good defensive players. His upside is tremendous and his work ethic is tremendous. You love that about him and he takes his performance very personal.

I know last week we gave up a block on a third-and-one, and he was really mad at himself for it. Then you see him come back and respond with a great block later, so I'm really excited about his future.

Any clarity this week at the quarterback position?

Both of them have practiced hard. We're not giving up on Brandon [Mitchell] and we're excited about Pete [Thomas] getting healthy. Brandon has had two games, he missed five and the growth that he could've had in those five games, I think everybody would agree is pretty important. He's going to play and Pete's going to play. How much kind of depends on what we see early in the game, but they're both ready to compete and we've given them both a lot of reps.

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