N.C. State's Doeren looking for Wolfpack's next QB
North Carolina State is looking for a new quarterback to go with its new offense.
Coach Dave Doeren is wrapping up his first set of spring practices with a competition between Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas and Manny Stocker. The winner will inherit the starting job first held by Russell Wilson — who later transferred to Wisconsin and is now with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks — then Mike Glennon, a potential first-round draft pick later this month.
"They're getting better," Doeren said. "I told somebody the other day: I just don't think it's fair to make a decision on a guy that doesn't know your offense yet. I think we've got to give those kids a chance to play football without thinking. We're not there yet."
Both Thomas and Stocker have earned first-team snaps through the spring while the entire team transitions to the schemes Doeren brought with him from Northern Illinois. They're listed atop the latest depth chart posted Wednesday on team's web site in advance of Saturday's spring game.
Thomas, a 6-foot-5 junior from El Cajon, Calif., started for two seasons with Colorado State and threw for 4,269 yards and 18 touchdowns in those two years. He sat out last year after transferring to Raleigh.
Stocker, a 6-1 sophomore from Coatesville, Pa., played in five games behind Glennon last season. He threw two incompletions and ran for 18 yards on the year.
The most immediate challenge for both players, aside from learning plays and terminology, is directing the offense to move at a faster tempo in practice and eventually games.
Matt Canada, the Wolfpack's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, wants both players focused on taking care of the ball and avoiding major mistakes.
"I'm not asking them to do things outside of their skillset," said Canada, who was Doeren's offensive coordinator in 2011 before spending last season in the same role at Wisconsin. "I just want them to manage the game and lead us. And to do that, they have to be a student of the game and they have to be a cool customer. ... Be who you are and be true to yourself, but you've got to be level."
Thomas said he's been focused on making steady progress through spring drills. The more reps, the better.
"It's cliche but you do get better every single day," Thomas said. "You can throw however much you want in the summer or the offseason, but there's nothing like practice — being out here running the plays with pads on and the coaches and everything.
"Decision-making is huge. With this offense, you have a lot of options at quarterback. You have to be able to make the right reads, whether it's the run game or the passing game."
Doeren said those gains are showing up more often in practices. He mentioned Thomas and Stocker going from overthrowing wide-open guys during the first instrasquad scrimmage to more consistently connecting with those receivers in later workouts.
And that, Stocker said, has led to more confidence for both quarterbacks.
"When you know the offense, you're very confident in the throws that you make," Stocker said. "When you don't know the offense, you don't know the route, you don't know how he's going to run it or you don't know where it's going. It's easier to make the throws when you know the complete offense, and confidence comes with that."
Doeren said the Wolfpack coaches have installed a lot of pieces of the offense in hopes of finding what the players could and couldn't do well. The plan is to scale some parts back and install more this fall that is better tailored to his new roster.
"We're going to strive for perfection and settle for excellent," Canada said. "We always want more. That's the only way we know to do it."