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November 25, 2013

For Dave Doeren, this week is all about seniors

NC State head coach Dave Doeren was asked Monday during his weekly press conference how, in the midst of a 3-8 season and coming off a loss to in-state rival East Carolina, do you get the Wolfpack up for playing one last game, which comes Saturday against visiting Maryland.

"Senior day," Doeren quickly answered. "That's all you have to say."

Doeren noted that 21 Wolfpack seniors, 15 scholarship and six walk-ons, will put on their uniforms for the last time at NCSU, and the sole focus this week is sending them out winners.

"One of the biggest honors as a coach is to try to send those guys out the way they want to, with a win," Doeren said. "That'll be our entire mindset of the week: helping our seniors walk out of Carter-Finley the way we want to.

"I appreciate all 21 of our seniors. I know they'll be excited, and they'll be emotional. It'll be nice to see their families."

Doeren added that everybody in the tight-knit NC State locker room has been through a senior day in their past.

"Even the freshmen, they were just in high school," Doeren pointed out. "This is the last time we'll be together as a team, this year's team. As hard as it's been, we've grown very close as a team."

There will also be some history at Carter-Finley Stadium Saturday. It will mark the last time that Maryland will suit up in an ACC game. The Terps are leaving at year's end to join the Big 10 Conference, ending an affiliation with the ACC that dates back to the league's formation.

NCSU and Maryland has played an amazingly even series, with the Pack owning just a 33-32-4 all-time edge over the Terps. The teams also have a shared history with former Maryland and current NCSU AD Debbie Yow.

"I don't know how big of a deal that will be for those kids," Doeren said. "I'm not sure. I do know about the series and how far it goes back, obviously Debbie has a lot of history there, too, and that's important.

"For us it's senior day, and that's really all I'm focused on."

Click below to listen to audio from Doeren's pressor.

Dave Doeren Nov. 25 PC (19:50)

Other tidbits

- Doeren has gone through the same Thanksgiving routine since joining Wisconsin as an assistant coach. Players will be allowed, after an early-morning practice, to leave around noon on Thanksgiving to go home with their families. They are expected back at 4 p.m. Friday.

In-state players are encouraged to bring other players with them to their families' Thanksgiving, and the coaches have extended invitations to have players join them at their homes.

"We'll see how many want to come home with me as opposed to going with teammates," Doeren cracked, adding his wife is all for having guests. "We love having players to the house."

- Doeren was asked about the youth of the team, and he pointed out several young players that have gone through a lot this year, especially on offense:

Redshirt freshman tight end David J. Grinnage: "He's a young player that played a lot of football this year, 270 pounds but still learning to play."

Freshman tailback Matt Dayes: "I know the first five weeks of the season he didn't know how to practice hard. He was just a talented guy that got away with not practicing hard in high school, and now that he is practicing harder his ability to make plays is going up."

Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Joe Thuney: "This is his first year as a full-time starter, and he played every position. After another year in the weight room, his knowledge of the game and ability to play fast is going to be pretty significant for us next year, I think, particularly if we are able to move him inside."

- When discussing players that excited him among the redshirting freshmen, one name Doeren expanded upon was defensive tackle Kenton Gibbs, who ruptured his Achilles tendon in the preseason.

"He was going to start and hurt his Achilles tendon. I'm hoping he has a safe and full recovery from that. He's walking around. The kid is 300 pounds and ripped up. He's everything you want in a leader and work ethic and tough. He could really help our d-line next year."

- Doeren said that fifth-year senior quarterback Brandon Mitchell played his best game Saturday against ECU, completing 28 of 44 passes for 312 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions and rushing 10 times for 30 yards.

"What I liked was he didn't hurt us," Doeren noted. "He still overthrew a couple of guys, but that's okay. That's going to happen. I thought he was accurate underneath. He gave the receivers a chance to catch a lot of balls, and for the most part our receivers came up with those catches for him even when they weren't perfect throws.

"He made some really nice throws on third down, he hit his deep balls, he threw some nice fade balls at the end of the game and when things weren't there, he scrambled, took care of the football and got down and took care of the football land threw it away."

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