The North Carolina State Wolfpack has gotten stuck in a rut as a middle-of-the-road ACC team in recent years. That prompted the program to bring a new coach for 2013 in Dave Doeren who built the Northern Illinois Huskies into winners and the first MAC program to bust the BCS. Before Doeren can turn NC State into an ACC power, however, he must first make the Wolfpack the best team in the state of North Carolina.
And that means he has to catch up with the rival North Carolina Tar Heels and their second-year head coach Larry Fedora. The Heels put together a strong 2012 campaign that would have put them in the ACC Championship game if not for a self-imposed postseason ban (though it didn’t stop them from buying some bling). In year two under Fedora, he will start to really put his stamp on the team as his players begin to really buy into his system and start running the team the way he wants it run.
Doeren is just starting that process at NC State, which means he’s got a full year of experience to make up with much bigger questions about his roster. Chiefly, who will play quarterback? Mike Glennon is gone and there will be a mad scramble for the starter’s job in fall camp between Pete Thomas, who took the majority of snaps in spring ball, Manny Stocker and Brandon Mitchell, a transfer from the Arkansas Razorbacks. Picking the right guy to lead the Wolfpack could make all the difference in how the Doeren era begins.
Whoever wins out, however, will have to be ready to lead NC State in the battle for North Caroline. The Wolfpack cannot become players in the ACC title race if they are second fiddle in their own state. In order to get the respect, the recruits and the momentum, Doeren has to make NC State the in-state favorite as soon as possible.