Breaking Down The Offense

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State head coach Dave Doeren allowed his quarterbacks to be hit during the Wolfpack's second scrimmage, and he had his reasons for doing it.

"Today was the first day we made our quarterbacks where we could hit them," said Doeren following the scrimmage. "It was fun to see that, to see them finish off some of those plays. We were able to add that into our packages today, and I felt it helped our offense at times.

"This is the only time we're going to hit our quarterback until gameday so we ran enough today to see whether they could [handle the offense] or not."

Brandon Mitchell and Pete Thomas continue to battle for the starting job, and Doeren provided some insight on how they performed.

"I need to see everything on film," he said. "It looked like Brandon had pretty good command of the offense today. Some of the fumbles that took place were when Pete was in there. I have to see if it was the backs or him before I can tell you.

"Both of them are throwing the ball better. That's the one thing you do see."

Once again, Doeren mentioned true freshman Matt Dayes making plays. He did the same following the Wolfpack's opening scrimmage of fall camp.

"Aside from the fumble, I was impressed with what Matt Dayes has given us in the backfield," said Doeren. "He's low to the ground, he's compact. He has great vision and when he makes decisions he makes them with 215 pounds behind them. He has the ability to make things happen after the run that some of the lighter guys don't."

NC State is looking for someone to emerge to split reps with starter Tony Creecy with Shadrach Thornton out for the opener, and it sounds like Dayes is separating himself.

"We're trying to find out who our depth is going to be at tailback besides Creecy," Doeren said. "Matt Dayes has shown he can do that."

As for Creecy, he can be summed up in one word: steady.

"[Tony Creecy] has been real solid, steady," added Doeren. "He just does what he's coached to do and plays hard with everything that he has."

The Wolfpack's first-year head coach pointed out that establishing the ground game is critical, and they continue to experiment with different combinations along the offensive line.

"The [pieces] that we're moving around on the offensive line, with [Quinton] Schooley being here now it gives us that competition," Doeren said. "If he wins the center job we can maybe move Thuney out to a guard and get our best five on the field that way.

"I just liked the way that the guys fought today. Finishing on the goalline, there was some good contact there at the end. The run game to me is... the only way you can be a successful team in the fourth quarter is to be able to run the football. Hopefully we can get better at it."

The wideouts stood out in the scrimmage, as Doeren added that they made catches in tight coverage, and doing so were some inexperienced receivers with senior starters Rashard Smith and Quintin Payton sidelined.

"We made some nice catches, tight-coverage catches, guys fighting for the football," said Doeren. "That was something good to see from the receiver group. [Marquez] Valdes and [JuMichael] Ramos made some nice catches today. We expect the older guys to do that when they are in there.

"We were able to rest Rashard today, he's a little banged up, and Q.P. is getting better so we should have him back soon. Rashard is just beat up. We kind of know what he is. We don't need to put him out there to get hurt. Quintin pulled a muscle and it's just taking a while to heal. They say he'll be back for game one."

While Doeren seems pleased with his depth at wide receiver, he pointed out that there is separation at tight end where senior Asa Watson headlines the group. As for fullback, Ryan Cheek and Tyler Purvis are competing for the starting job that is now vacant with Logan Winkles out with a knee injury.

"I think Ryan Cheek and Purvis are a good compliment to each other at fullback," said Doeren. "Asa is clearly our best tight end, and we're still looking for [David] Grinnage and Benson Browne to make some strides.

"Grinnage does some really good things at times, but at times he's still young. I think that's... in the passing game he is outstanding. He's got better as a blocker."

The Wolfpack returns to the practice field today, and the offense continues to look for a starter to emerge at quarterback and a few other positions.

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