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The new head coach said the team has been good for a long time but perhaps underachieving.
Associated Press | File January
Dave Doeren, N.C. State’s new head football coach, says he wants to improve the team’s record in games on the road.
Associated Press | File 2012
North Carolina State fullback Logan Winkles (front) and receiver Bryan Underwood celebrate a touchdown against Maryland. The team has gotten bowl bids but has not won the league since 1979.
Saturday, July 27, 2013
When he was introduced Dec. 2 as North Carolina State’s new head football coach, Dave Doeren theoretically had his pick of teams to coach in their bowl games.
He chose neither.
Doeren was a spectator Dec. 31, when the Wolfpack dropped a 31-24 decision to Vanderbilt in the Music City Bowl, and he was on hand one day later at the Orange Bowl, where Florida State defeated his old Northern Illinois team 31-10.
Different coaches handle that sort of transition in different ways, but Doeren was no stranger to the process.
“I hired a [coaching] staff and a strength staff and that was all done before Jan. 7, when we started school,” said Doeren, who turned 41 on Dec. 3, the day after his introductory news conference in Raleigh, N.C. “I did that in one month, and that’s a lot.
“In the meantime, I was talking to recruits like crazy to try and maintain the commitments they had and find new ones for the ones who were leaving.”
He also had to move his family and monitor the moves of his assistants.
“So, there was a lot going on,” he said. “Not saying we couldn’t have gotten it done if I’d started after the bowl game, but we would have been behind, for sure.
“There’s always things you can do a different way, but I’m really happy with the end result. I’ve always believed in not rushing into big judgments. It helps a lot that I’d just gone through it two years earlier.”
Doeren was the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin before he was hired by Northern Illinois in December 2010.
“So, I kind of knew what I was up against,” he said. “The difference here was that I was bringing guys from Northern. I had to start from scratch with the last job.”
Doeren kept running backs coach Des Kitchings from the staff of his fired N.C. State predecessor, Tom O’Brien, and brought five assistants with him from Northern Illinois.
Matt Canada, the Wolfpack’s new offensive coordinator, was at Wisconsin in 2012 but had served as the Northern Illinois offensive coordinator in Doeren’s first season as head coach 2011.
How the formula will work in Raleigh is still to be determined.
“We won the league our first year at Northern, so it would be kind of hard to have that kind of success here in Year 1,” said Doeren, a Shawnee Mission, Kan., native who played collegiately at Drake. “It would be hard to have that kind of success with all the players they lost from that team.”
A 7-6 record last year marked the third winning season in succession for the Wolfpack, whose last ACC championship was in 1979.
“Thirty-three years,” observed Doeren, who clearly had brushed up on his new program’s football history. “That intrigued me, to be honest with you, because Northern hadn’t won it in 28 years and they’d been a good program for a long time.
“And, these guys have been a good program for a long time. I felt like I had a similar blueprint. Not that we’re going to win as fast, but this one might be easier because we’re taking over a team that lost a bowl game and may have underachieved, compared to a Northern team that had just won 11 games when I was hired.”
The job at Northern Illinois came open after former coach Jerry Kill was hired at Minnesota.
“When you take over an 11-win team, everybody knows they’re going to have to play their best to beat you,” Doeren said. “We were on everybody’s schedule as the team to beat and that was my first year as head coach, so that was tough.
“We got everybody’s best shot in Year 1, whereas here we’re picked third [in the Atlantic Division], which surprises me with all the players we lost. Nobody’s going to have us circled on their calendar, except for maybe UNC.”
Doeren needs to come up with a replacement for 4,000-yard passer Mike Glennon from a group of quarterbacks that includes transfers Pete Thomas from Colorado State and Brandon Mitchell from Arkansas. A third transfer quarterback, Jacoby Brissett, is ineligible this year after leaving Florida.
Gone from the defense is All-America cornerback David Amerson, a second-round draft pick of the Washington Redskins. Amerson had an NCAA-high 13 interceptions in 2011.
The biggest issue, in Doeren’s mind, is not limited to one side of the ball.
“We’ve got to be a better road team,” said Doeren, who takes over a program that was 16-3 at home the past three seasons. “To me, it’s about that.
“I’m not going to judge what’s happened here in the past. I know that they’ve had a lot of players go to the NFL, they’ve been in a bunch of bowl games and they’ve had a hard time getting to the 10-win mark.
“Usually, that means you’re not winning on the road as much as you want. Being around them for 15 practices, that’s the biggest thing — teaching them how to take their Carter-Finley game on the road.”
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