The first thing that needs to be stated up front is that Doeren is recreating this Wolfpack team the way he wants it to run. When Amato hit Raleigh, the focus was confidence and intensity. When O’Brien came to town, the focus was discipline and execution. Doeren is bringing his own focus points which appear to be adjusting to ‘his style’. As such, there are a few things we have to state are not accurate from the Spring Game: the offense is lagging way behind the defense, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that the defense is ahead of any curve.
FAST-PACED OFFENSE GIVES RECRUITS AN ALTERNATIVE TO FEDORA
O’Brien and Bible were big on playing a traditional style of ball and Doeren is more into the college trend of speed. The adjustment is going…. rough. The good news is that this should provide State fans with a much more entertaining game to watch. The best I’ve seen it put comes from Beach Carolina Magazine:
New head coach Dave Doeren likes a brisk pace on offense, which is putting it mildly. The Red and White teams combined for a breathtaking 131 snaps in just under 60 minutes Saturday, often snapping the ball within seconds of the referee spotting it for play. Doren’s no-huddle offense moves faster than most teams run their two-minute drill.
Love it. This is an important thing to note, especially with Fedora coaching that pack of cheaters over in Chapel Hill. Fedora is going to run a hard-and-fast offense that is exciting to watch, exciting to play, and difficult for opposing defenses. The most interesting aspect of this style to Wolfpack fans should be how fun it is to play. Recruits want to play in a program that seems exciting. Where Fedora was posed to leave O’Brien’s anemic recruiting in the dust was found in NC State’s lack of energy and excitement. Doeren’s offense provides an in-state alternative to playing for the Tar Heels and gives NC State fans a fighting chance against UNC for in-state recruits that have been typically going to Chapel Hill.
GROWING PAINS… MOSTLY IN THE FORM OF FUMBLES
As previously stated, the adjustment from O’Brien’s style of offense to Doeren’s is going rough (or maybe just as rough as you would expect). We are seeing a lot of quick snaps and pistol offense. What’s nice about the pistol is that it gives the quarterback a lot of flexibility. Combining that offensive flexibility with Doeren’s lightning fast pace, and you have an offense that poses big problems for opposing D’s.
That inherent advantage on offense might be needed since we are experiencing a lot of growing pains. Manny Stocker and Pete Thomas are trying to work with the new offense and overall doing a decent enough job. Stocker did throw an interception, but considering the adjustments they are being expected to make you can’t fault that much. It was also refreshing to see Stocker acknowledge the interception as a bad pass and take accountability for it. What is agitating is Thronton causing 3 of the total 6 fumbles experienced on the day. Granted, lining up behind the QB in that pistol formation can be a little awkward, but you would hope a veteran player would have a bit better handle on the ball than that.
DEFENSE STIFFENING UP
I’ve read a few comments online from other fans and blogs that tout our defense and I have to reiterate that the defense’s accomplishments are only as valuable as the offense executed. The offense has a lot of growing to do and has to start executing better. that said, the defense really is doing a good job stiffening back up and stand-outs are starting to develop.
Since losing the likes of Nate Irving and several other key players on defense a couple years ago, NC State has had difficulties stopping offenses, even under Tenuta’s tutelage. Huxtable seems to have really balanced the defense which NC State has really been lacking over the years (When he was at Pitt, the Panthers were ranked 24th and 25th in rushing and passing defense respectively). It helps that Huxtable is a former linebackers coach. Maybe we can get back some of that old Nate Irving magic.
On the day, NC State’s defense was responsible for turning 5 of 6 fumbles into turnovers and landing one interception from Stocker. Post-game interviews seemed to indicate that forcing the turnover has been a huge emphasis for the whole team (fitting for a former linebacker coach) which may become the key to winning in 2013 if the offense continues to struggle adapting to the quick offensive tempo.
‘I’D RATHER THE DEFENSE BE SOLID AT THIS POINT’
Said Doeren only 15 practices into the season:
“We are ahead defensively and that’s not a bad thing,” Doeren said. “I would rather be ahead on the defensive side than the offense. I think we’ll catch up.”
This makes perfect sense. The offense is experiencing the most dramatic change of anyone, so going into last Saturday you would probably expect them to have more issues than the defense. Most of the problems we saw last Saturday were problems with execution and comfort. The players aren’t comfortable with the system yet and that won’t come over night. Luckily, there is a lot of time from now until August 31st.
DROWNING IN THE TALENT POOL
The biggest concern at this point is who will end up starting for NC State. O’Brien sort of ‘bet the farm’ on Glennon and that left NC State in an awkward position under-center for 2013. As someone who has slowly begun adopting the Redskins as an NFL franchise, watching Stocker and Thomas shoot it out reminded me a little of watching John Beck and Rex Grossman. For those that aren’t familiar with the metaphor, it basically means you were watching two quarterbacks that you hope can get the job done but as of the first scrimmage you aren’t really sure.
NC State fans are going to get a very good feel for how good Doeren is as ‘working with what he has’. While O’Brien did a good job at recruiting ‘good kids’ that could play their part in his system, he didn’t leave NC State with an abundance of star athletes. This season, Doeren is making the best of mediocre situation. This isn’t a slam against any of our players. For the past 6 years NC State has been mediocre at many positions and that is a reflection on the program the previous staff ran. Doeren is a capable coach, but exactly how capable is something that will be fun to watch as he takes this “solid” team and tries to excel.