Not long after NCSU suffered a 38-20 setback at Duke last Saturday, Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren was talking with his wife about the contest, and the subject of Doeren's decision to go for it on fourth and inches at the NCSU 26 early in the second quarter came up.
Doeren's wife told the coach, "I knew you were going to go for it."
She was right, but unfortunately for the Pack, sophomore running back Shadrach Thornton was stuffed for no gain, turning the ball over to Duke who would tack on a field goal after failing to get a first down, giving the Devils a 10-0 lead they would carry into halftime.
"I got to be who I am," Doeren explained Monday during his weekly press conference. "I told Debbie [Yow], 'You hired an aggressive coach. I got to coach aggressive.' That's what we have to do."
Doeren is a believer that players reflect their coaches. He indirectly used Boston College as an example, noting during his opening statement that the Eagles take on their head coach Steve Addazio's personality in the running game, adding that Addazio is a former offensive line coach.
Doeren also believes you have to walk the walk as a coach. He noted that in his two years at Northern Illinois, he went for it on fourth down more than any other MAC team both seasons. He also tried an onside kick in year one against Wisconsin after NIU scored on its first drive.
"I want to build a program that is aggressive," Doeren added. "I can't say, 'Hey guys, we're going to be tough,' and we don't go for it on fourth down and inches and don't take chances. I don't believe that. Whatever you say, you got to back up your actions.
"I tell them that they can't quit, they got to be tough. Then I got to show up and be tough and got to work hard. I really believe players follow coaches lead."
That's why Doeren showed up Sunday eager to begin practice. He knew that it would be a challenge to pick the squad back up after their loss to the Blue Devils, one in which a 20-17 lead turned into a 38-20 deficit in a span of less than 30 seconds.
He was pleased with the players' attitude, and Doeren added that although it may not have been reflected in the outcome, the team is getting better.
"I do know tough times never last, tough people do, and we will continue to fight here," Doeren said. "Our guys will follow our lead. They are very good kids. I really like our players' personalities, we just need to make a few more players and as coaches give them as many plays as we can to do that."
Click below to listen to Doeren's press conference in its entirety.
- Fifth-year senior quarterback Brandon Mitchell will go back under center full-time Saturday against Boston College, according to Doeren. Mitchell was just 7-of-18 passing for 148 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions against Duke, but Mitchell's costly pick six late in the fourth quarter was more of a credit to Duke, Doeren thought.
"Brandon saw a guy open in the flat, their guy jumped up and tipped it to himself, it was a tremendous play by one of their players," Doeren recalled. "I don't fault Brandon for throwing the ball into the flat to David J. [Grinnage], he was wide open."
Redshirt junior Pete Thomas was just 6-of-15 passing himself versus the Devils for 100 yards.
"Last week we thought rotating the two guys would be good," Doeren explained. "It didn't work. Brandon is going to start this week and he'll play. It'll be his game, and whether Pete plays or not we'll see. We're going to go back to that formula."
- Doeren was very complimentary of Boston College senior running back Andre Williams, calling him the best running back in the ACC and perhaps in the country. He noted that Williams is a "really, really physical tailback.
"They try to make it a four-quarter game and let No. 44 win it in the fourth, that's been their formula," Doeren said. "They are feeding him the ball. They are doing what they need to do. It's a formula that is working for them right now. It's a throwback game from that standpoint. They are going to come at you with a lot of power."
- Doeren was asked about the progress of redshirting junior quarterback Jacoby Brissett, a former highly-touted high school prospect who transferred to NCSU from Florida last offseason. Doeren said that Brissett asked to be the scout team quarterback in the fall.
"I know the defensive coaches rave about his leadership down there and the looks that he gives those guys," Doeren said. "You turn around and see the ball coming out of his hands, it's hard not to notice he can throw it the right way. He's just a tremendous competitor.
"Next year when we get him we'll be excited about it. Right now we're trying to do what we can with what we have."
Doeren added that Brissett has driven himself to the road games, including FSU, to be around the team.