NC State opens spring practice today with many questions to answer on both offense and defense. The biggest, of course, is at quarterback, where the race is on to replace Mike Glennon.
I had a chance to catch up with new coach Dave Doeren to ask him about a wide variety of topics leading into spring. Quarterback dominated the conversation. Here is a little of what he had to say.
On offense, you have a rebuild job with Mike gone and some questions at receiver, along with a lack of depth at running back. How do you see yourselves developing an offensive identity, knowing you have to find some playmakers?
DD: It won’t happen overnight. There’s going to be competition, as you mentioned, the quarterback. Looking forward to watching how that unfolds. Those guys have been great this offseason, getting around (offensive coordinator Matt) Canada, and trying to learn all the new terminology and the way he likes things done at the position. Playmakers will definitely show up. Some of the guys are starting to emerge already. Some of these seniors are seeing the light. You’re starting to see them emerge and become the guy I’m sure everyone wanted them to be all along. We will not be a shell of what we’re going to be during the spring. That’s a big learning process not just for the players because they’ve got to know what we expect from practice but from the coaching standpoint we’re going to do what we do and then we’re going to tweak it after we know what the strengths and weaknesses of our club are.
So how are you going to evaluate the quarterback competition when you have a pro-style guy in Pete Thomas and Manny can be more of a dual-threat?
DD: They’re totally different guys. All the run game we have because we are a Pistol offense, we have the ability to turn around to hand off just like you would under center as a pro-style quarterback, and we also have the ability to read those plays. So nothing will change for the backs, or the o-line or the tight ends or the receivers. It’s just based on what quarterbacks’ in there, it could be a zone read in a zone, it could be a power read. All those things, both quarterbacks will have to know both.
Do you envision having an answer at quarterback at the end of spring?
DD: From a coaching standpoint, it’d be great to know by the end of the spring, but I’m not sure that’s realistic yet, until we go out there and see the guys compete.
What are you looking for out of each guy once you get to see them on the field?
DD: Well, the quarterback has to manage the game. He has to put us in positions not to hurt our defense. Obviously, you want to see him run the offense the way Matt wants it run from an efficiency standpoint, making good decisions, not forcing throws. Just really playing within the system. It doesn’t have to be anything special it just can’t be somebody that screws it up. Until they can let their God given ability take over, sometimes a guy will press and try to do too much and end up hurting the team. Early on, can you manage the game, can you get the ball to the playmakers, and do the things the offense tells you to do based on numbers. Hopefully those guys will be able to do it, but I know it takes time. The last two guys I had didn’t walk in and play great the first day of practice.
Is Pete going to be asked to run a little bit more than he has in the past because of some of the things you like to do?
DD: Possibly. He’s not going to do what Jordan Lynch did. Pete’s not Jordan. They’re different guys. But we’re also going to use defensive numbers and if people want to take everybody out of the box, there’s times when he can run a draw and things like that. It’s more what you saw probably with what Matt had to do as Wisconsin when he had guys who weren’t as agile. We’ll just have to see until we get out there and watch the move around with people chasing him how well he can avoid guys and run the football. Collin Klein wasn’t a guy who ran a 4.5 either and he ran the ball pretty good for K-State. Pete’s a tough kid so if he can help us running the ball some, he will.