Wolfpack rips Louisiana Tech in Dave Doeren coaching debut
New N.C. State coach Dave Doeren got a fast start from his no-huddle offense as well as a big game from a rookie runner in a season-opening win on Saturday.
Everything didn't quite go to plan, though — he also lost his starting quarterback for several weeks with a foot injury.
Freshman Matt Dayes ran for 84 yards and three touchdowns to help N.C. State beat Louisiana Tech 40-14 on Saturday, but quarterback Brandon Mitchell suffered a broken bone in his left foot during the opening quarter.
Mitchell, who beat out Pete Thomas for the job during training camp, directed N.C. State to touchdowns on its first two possessions before leaving after his third series. He returned to the sideline late in the half on crutches and wearing a protective boot. Doeren said Mitchell could miss 4-6 weeks and will have surgery Sunday.
The injury put a damper on an otherwise successful afternoon for Doeren, whose team avoided major mistakes and racked up 542 total yards against the mistake-prone Bulldogs in their first game under new coach Skip Holtz.
"We'll be good with Pete in there too," Doeren said. "We're excited about the different things we can do. I know in the first game (Louisiana Tech) didn't have a real good idea of all the stuff we could run on offense. It was definitely advantage us that way and we'll continue to evolve now that we've gotten some guys out there and seeing what they do under the big lights and on stage."
Thomas threw for 212 yards on 15-for-27 passing after Mitchell's injury, while Dayes showed why Doeren has been high on the rookie from Weston, Fla., during the preseason. Dayes — seeing a bigger role with the one-game suspension to leading rusher Shadrach Thornton — capped his day with an 18-yard TD run midway through the fourth quarter that made it 37-14.
"It feels good (hearing) him talking me up like that but I work extremely hard," Dayes said. "I think I got what I deserve."
Tony Creecy also scored for the Wolfpack, who scored the first 24 points and led comfortably all afternoon.
Doeren, who spent two seasons at Northern Illinois before replacing fired coach Tom O'Brien, has pushed his team to do everything at a faster tempo, with the no-huddle offense stirring the most fan excitement. That buzz grew with the fast start under Mitchell, an Arkansas graduate transfer revealed as the starter shortly before kickoff.
The Wolfpack marched 65 yards on the opening drive, ending with Creecy's 3-yard TD run. On the next drive, Mitchell found Rashard Smith for a 56-yard catch-and-run that set up Dayes' 2-yard score that made it 14-0 less than 6 minutes in.
But Mitchell was stopped on a third-and-1 keeper to end the third series in his final play. He completed all three of his passes for 93 yards and ran five times for 19 yards.
Holtz's Bulldogs — who averaged 51 points and 578 yards under current California coach Sonny Dykes last year — moved the football with plenty of no-huddle looks, too. They finished with 321 total yards, but they committed momentum-crushing mistakes that kept the Wolfpack firmly in control.
The biggest came when Kenneth Dixon — who ran for 1,194 yards and an NCAA-freshman record 27 touchdowns last year — fumbled as he tried to cross the goal line late in the first with the Wolfpack already up two scores.
Two possessions later, Tevin King lost a fumble as the Bulldogs pushed into the red zone, while defensive end IK Enemkpali fumbled away an interception near the goal line to set up Dayes' second score.
"We just made some critical mistakes today," Holtz said. "... They're also a new staff, and they did a much better job of protecting the ball, not turning the ball over and giving their team an opportunity to win. I think if we could have held onto the ball a little bit better, we could have made it a much better game in the first half."
Dixon ran for 118 yards and a touchdown for the Bulldogs, while first-time starting quarterback Scotty Young threw for 178 yards on 15-for-27 passing.
|NC STATE 40, LOUISIANA TECH 14|
NCSt_Creecy 3 run (Sade kick), 12:27.
NCSt_Dayes 2 run (Sade kick), 9:03.
NCSt_FG Sade 38, 10:42.
NCSt_Dayes 2 run (Sade kick), 2:39.
LaT_King 1 run (Fischer kick), :27.
NCSt_FG Sade 22, :25.
LaT_Dixon 12 run (Fischer kick), 14:06.
NCSt_FG Sade 45, 9:54.
NCSt_Dayes 18 run (Sade kick), 7:13.
NCSt_FG Sade 24, 3:48.
|Time of Possession||19:15||40:45|
RUSHING_Louisiana Tech, Dixon 22-118, King 7-19, Young 3-7,
Martin 1-(minus 1). NC State, Dayes 17-84, Creecy 13-47, Shirreffs 9-34,
R.Smith 3-28, Hall 5-28, Mitchell 5-19, Taylor 1-0, Team 1-(minus 1),
Thomas 2-(minus 2).
PASSING_Louisiana Tech, Young 15-27-0-178. NC State,
Thomas 15-27-1-212, Mitchell 3-3-0-93, Taylor 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING_Louisiana Tech, Griffin 3-52, Casey 3-14, Guillot 3-14,
L.Fitte 2-16, Lee 1-40, Jackson 1-30, D.Banks 1-9, Dixon 1-3. NC State,
R.Smith 5-82, Valdes-Scantling 4-87, Purvis 2-45, Ramos 1-28,
Watson 1-16, Cheek 1-15, Creecy 1-12, Grinnage 1-8, Payton 1-7,