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November 18, 2013

Dave Doeren wants to finish well

A lot of NC State's goals for this season have gone by the wayside. Last Saturday's loss at Boston College ensured that the Pack will not go bowling and have a losing record for the first time since 2009.

But Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren has the same energy and passion for coaching this team as he did back in preseason camp. He noted that before the season started, NC State had no players selected on the preseason All-ACC teams and the fewest number of returning starters or lettermen in the league.

Doeren also added that the questionable depth at certain positions became an even bigger issue with all the injuries the Pack sustained during the season. Yet despite all that youth, inexperience and hard luck, NC State has been competitive into the fourth quarter in six of its seven ACC losses.

"Because of that, I'm excited about continuing to work with these guys this week," Doeren said. "I think our team has come in every week with a good attitude. They've practiced with good energy. We go out to practice everyday as coaches with the same intensity, and so will our players.

"The goal will be to have a great finish to the season, and to do that we need to have a great finish to the game."

Indeed, the fourth quarter has been a sore spot for NCSU in those six close conference losses that Doeren alluded to, with the Pack being outscored 72-31 in the final period in those games.

"We haven't been able to make the plays to sustain or overcome the fourth quarter to this point," Doeren said. "There are a lot of reasons for it. If it was one, it would've been fixed."

NC State will try to put it all together while stepping out of conference action Saturday when East Carolina, who earlier this season routed UNC in Chapel Hill and played Virginia Tech competitively in a close home loss, comes to Raleigh. The Pirates and Wolfpack have had a spirited rivalry over the years.

For ECU, it's another opportunity to knock off a major conference opponent, something Doeren appreciated from his two years as the coach of Northern Illinois in the MAC.

"I understand what's going on in their campus and in their locker room and in their meetings right now," Doeren said. "It's a 'chip on your shoulder' game for us and them. For us, we have a lot to prove. I really feel like it's a game where our guys, we want to play well for our seniors, we want to finish the right way and we're playing a very good football team.

"I know what we're going to get from their team. I know the history of this game. A lot of people have told me about it. I understand what we're going into with this football game. For our team, 12 days remain with this football team since we won't be in a bowl game. We want to enjoy those 12 days as much as we can and do everything we can as a coaching staff to have our seniors finish the right way. That will be our goal."

Click below to listen to Doeren's press conference in its entirety.

Dave Doeren Nov. 18 PC (16:09)

Other tidbits

- Doeren updated the quarterback situation and described it basically as wait-and-see. Fifth-year senior and starter Brandon Mitchell is nursing a sprained ankle he suffered in the loss at Duke Nov. 9. In his place, redshirt junior Pete Thomas completed 22 of 33 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown.

The coaches though will have to wait until at least Tuesday to know where they stand with Mitchell.

"I know he wants to play, but we have to make sure he can move around the way he's capable," Doeren clarified. "We'll find out that a lot more [Tuesday]. If he can't go, it will be what it's been. We'll see where it goes. I know Brandon really wants to play, and hopefully the doctor says he can."

- Doeren has crossed paths with ECU head coach Ruffin McNeill on several occasions. When Doeren was a grad assistant at Southern Cal, McNeill was an assistant at Fresno State. When Doeren was an assistant coach at Kansas, McNeill was coaching as an assistant at Texas Tech, a conference rival.

"Ruffin and I have known each other for a long time," Doeren said. "I have a lot of respect for him. We're both defensive guys. I like Ruffin a lot as a person."

- Doeren said that after all the losses, positive reinforcement for his team is important. That's why after the loss to Boston College, he almost immediately congratulated freshman receiver Jumichael Ramos for catching five passes for 109 yards and a touchdown, fifth-year senior receiver Rashard Smith for throwing a touchdown pass, redshirt freshman tight end David J. Grinnage for making a key one-handed catch and junior linebacker Brandon Pittman for having a second straight big game, among others.

"Everybody hates to lose, but for us to get better we got to point out the things that are improving for those guys," Doeren said. "We need our playmakers that are making plays, that are growing as players to continue that growth. I immediately do that.

"I know we are going to be coaching the negative things we are watching film with them. Anytime you can point out something that is growing and getting better, I think you have to do that in the situation we're in, and that's what I try to do."

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