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N.C. State is tinkering with the quarterback position ahead of Thursday’s matchup against Syracuse. Dave Doeren wants adjustments elsewhere as well.
The Wolfpack has some good attributes according to Doeren. There are some things involving his team where the status quo will suffice.
However, the back end of N.C. State’s defense still has some questions.
“We’re stopping the run, top 10 in the country,” Doeren said. “I think we’re doing a really good job on third down of pressuring the quarterback. We’re doing well in total defense and there are some routes we have to get off the film and be able to stop more consistently.
“We also have to get more takeaways. I think that’s the biggest thing defensively. There are some things we can fix and things we can understand. We have to do a good job as a staff of putting these guys in a position to make plays and for them to make them.”
Bailey Hockman will make his first start for N.C. State after a relief appearance against Florida State on Sept. 28, the Wolfpack’s last outing.
Much of the attention the Wolfpack has received offensively stems from the quarterback position. There have been questions about accuracy, both downfield and intermediate throws wide or in the flats.
There can be improvements in other facets, but the Wolfpack will have to shrug off some injuries woes if the team is to avoid an 0-2 start in ACC play.
“(Running back) Ricky Person is out but not long-term,” Doeren said. “He will be back but won’t play this week, the same with Justin Witt. (They are) two guys who have injuries and should bounce back but aren’t back yet.
“Looking at us, offensively we are running the football well, we’re playing really good football in the red zone, and we have a lot of first downs. We are No.1 in the conference in first downs, offensively. We have to improve our efficiency on third-and-short from the last two weeks, get more explosive plays, and be more efficient, period, in our pass game.”
SEASON HALFWAY OVER
The Wolfpack enters its showdown with Syracuse at 3-2 on the season. The Thursday night game against the Orange will mean N.C. State is halfway through a regular season that is flying by.
There could be a tendency when in a scenario similar to N.C. State’s current plight to count wins or losses on the schedule in a manner to gauge whether a bowl berth can be attained. This is especially true from the fan base.
Doeren hopes that the team and those who will spend Thursday night at Carter-Finley Stadium will avoid that and instead focus on the journey as a young N.C. State squad tries to find its bearings.
“You’ll either fight or fail, and we’re going to fight,” Doeren said. “These guys will stick together, compete, and we’ll try to find solutions and stay positive. I think that’s the best thing any family does when going through tough times, and that’s what we are. This football team is a family so we’ll stick tight and we ask our fans to do the same for these young men who are working their butts off.”