NOTEBOOK: Wednesday's Practice

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Here is a collection of notes on NC State football with the Wolfpack nearing the end of fall camp.

Johnson Leads By Example
Senior cornerback Dontae Johnson continues to be a positive influence for the Wolfpack.

"He's doing really good," Dave Doeren said of Johnson. "He's had a consistent camp. He's a kid that really coaches himself hard. One of the things we've worked with him on is going to the next play when it's not the way he wanted it to be on the previous play.

"During the spring he didn't always do that and in the fall he's done that. That's a hard thing to do when you're a competitor."

Johnson may not say much, but that's fine with Doeren. He knows Johnson let's his play do the talking.

"Dontae is not a vocal leader," the Wolfpack's first-year head coach stated. "He's a guy that shows up and does his job and does it really well. He handles himself off the field the right way. Everything you want a player to be like is what he does. That brings people along, and quietly he grabs guys and talks to them.

"I don't care what position you are, if you do your job and always do what the coaches ask you and more, people are going to respect you."

Depth At Tailback?
We already know that sophomore Shadrach Thornton will miss the game against Louisiana Tech, so the Wolfpack could be thin at running back for the opener, but Doeren believes his return will give them the depth they need at the position.

"When we have Shad back after the first game I'll feel good about [the depth] because Matt Dayes has really been consistent," said Doeren. "I think he's going to play... I know he's going to play as a freshman, and [Tony] Creecy is just a dependable guy.

"Milton Hall just comes out here everyday and works his tail off, and [Josh] Mercer is getting better."

One of NC State's true freshmen hasn't been able to participate in fall camp, leaving the Pack with five scholarship backs after Hall received a scholarship last week.

"It's unfortunate that Dakwa Nichols has been out of camp with a hamstring," he stated. "We've been unable to evaluate him.

"Sometimes you go through five or six running backs in a year, and I hope it's not us, but I've seen that. It just depends on our health."

Parting Shots
NC State continues to rotate players at linebacker to build depth for the start of the season, and M.J. Salahuddin, who entered fall camp at middle linebacker, is now receiving reps at weakside.

"He grinds everyday," Doeren said of Salahuddin. "He was playing inside and we moved him to outside because Gentry and Caldwell are playing so good in the middle.

"We wanted to have a two-deep that we felt we could rotate. In the first three games we play two no-huddle teams that averaged over 80 snaps a game with Clemson and Louisiana Tech so we know we'll have to rotate a lot of people."

  • Doeren mentioned last week that freshman wideout Marquez Valdes had been playing well in practice. What sticks out about Valdes?

    "For a freshman, he's obviously got nice size and skill, but he just keeps playing," said Doeren. "He hasn't hit the freshman wall and had a day where you're like, he's a freshman again.

    "He just competes and plays. He makes some mistakes here and there, but he's a guy that just competes."

  • Doeren has spoken much about the schemes his defense will be running, but it sounds like, at least as of right now, the Wolfpack will be blitzing less this fall

    "We're not blitzing a ton because we're trying to work on coverage and techniques," he said. "I do feel good about the nickel position. We've got good depth and Jack Tocho, one of our freshmen, has done a good job in that spot as well."

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