Doeren expecting, not predicting big things from his experienced and deep Wolfpack team

A lot of times when teams are loaded with talented experience, coaches like to downplay it but not N.C. State’s Dave Doeren. In his fifth year at the helm of the Wolfpack, he’s proud that his team is considered a contender due to experience and depth. When he was in his first and second years at State, he said players came because they saw an opportunity. “They saw a chance to play early,” Doeren said at the ACC Football Kickoff in Charlotte. “We told them they’d have to earn playing time but that the lines are short. We had good […]

A lot of times when teams are loaded with talented experience, coaches like to downplay it but not N.C. State’s Dave Doeren. In his fifth year at the helm of the Wolfpack, he’s proud that his team is considered a contender due to experience and depth.

When he was in his first and second years at State, he said players came because they saw an opportunity. “They saw a chance to play early,” Doeren said at the ACC Football Kickoff in Charlotte. “We told them they’d have to earn playing time but that the lines are short. We had good players (when I came) but we didn’t have any depth. They competed and played and now four years later they’re bigger, stronger, faster and more mature. They are battle tested.”

He said that he coaches in order to go through that journey with players and see what kind of man they become.

“I ‘unentitled’ them when I recruit them,” Doeren said. “I tell them the truth. If you want to come play for me at N.C. State, here’s how you’re going to be treated. I’m going to love you but I’m going to push you. I’m not going to baby you. You’re going to earn what you get and if you don’t, don’t be disgruntled about it. If you don’t want to be in that environment, then don’t come to N.C. State because we want kids that want to earn it.”

In four years under Doeren, the Wolfpack has yet to have a winning ACC record, despite three straight overall winning seasons. Expectations are high this year as the defense returns eight senior starters and the offense returns eight starters, including three seniors and five juniors.

“Like any job, it helps to have experience,” Doeren said. “Just like you, when you’re in your third year on the job, you’re better than the first year. At 22, Bradley Chubb is a lot tougher dude than he was at 18.”

Chubb, a senior defensive end, led the team with 22 tackles for losses and 10.5 sacks last season. He had an opportunity to go pro but decided to come back to better himself. “I thought another year with my teammates would bring out potential in me that nobody has seen,” Chubb said. “People saying take the money aren’t really in your corner. They’re going to ask for the money later in life.”

He said that he came to college to play the best players in the country and he’s doing that in the ACC. The Wolfpack’s bitter loss at Clemson, which turned out to be the nation’s best team last year, sticks in his craw.

At times, he avoided questions about it saying, “I can’t even remember last year” but other times he admitted that it’s always on the mind. “I try not to think about the close calls last year,” he said. “When you go through hard times with people – tough losses, hard work – standing strong through it all is a motivating factor and builds camaraderie… We’re just excited to get back on the field to show how good we can be.”

Coach Doeren said that obstacles and adversities have made the Wolfpack a more cohesive group. But he won’t predict victories.

“On any given day you can beat anybody,” he said. “I’m not going to sit here and predict because we were close in two games (last year). We’ve got to do it all over again and so do they.”

Doeren admitted that there is a gap between N.C. State and Clemson. “They have a tremendously larger budget than we do. They have different things they can showcase in recruiting than we do. They have a lot more personnel working than we do. So, there’s a gap. Do we have a good football team with great experience?, Yeah we do. So, we’ll see where it all goes on a Saturday,” he said.

Doeren looks to close out games that were losses last year, like the heartbreaker at Clemson. “You take moments like that and pin point how important that one play can be,” he said. “You carry that one play theme in everything you do.”

Despite the learning experiences and depth, N.C. State still must get by the likes of Clemson, Florida State and Louisville, which has the returning Heisman Trophy winner in QB Lamar Jackson.

“Nobody was better than the ACC last year on the field. We’ll see this year,” Doeren said.

Pack Notes: Coach Doeren said the players on his team that have the best football IQ are Shawn Boone (safety), Airius Moore (linebacker), Germaine Pratt (linebacker), Ryan Finley (QB) and Cole Cook (tight end).

The position battle he’s most excited to watch comes at receiver. Steph Louis and Kelvin Harmon are returning starters and may very well see the majority of action. But other receivers, whether in the slot or spread out, who will see action include Jakobi Meyers, Gavin Locklear and Maurice Trowell.

Also two “new” faces that Doeren said he’s excited to see added to the receiving corps are Jumichael Ramos and C.J. Riley. “Jumichael was a really good player his freshman year but he had a bad sophomore season and then, as a junior, he had some tough injuries. He was redshirted last season. It would be a great story for him to have a good year as a senior.”

He said Riley was the guy he was most excited to see going into last season but he tore his ACL in the summer and saw no action. He’s now a healthy redshirt freshman. “He’s 6-foot-5 and ran a 4.59. Just add him to the stable of guys,” he said.

The Wolfpack certainly has options.