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Excitement Greets Season Opener

New NC State football coach Dave Doeren has never lost a home game during his head coaching career.

Granted, the 41-year-old Doeren only has two highly successful seasons at Northern Illinois leading his own program, but it’s something to keep in mind when the 34th football coach in NC State history begins his tenure on Saturday, as the Wolfpack hosts Louisiana Tech at 12:30 p.m. at Carter-Finley Stadium in the season opener for both teams.

It’s the first of eight home games this season for the Wolfpack.

Coach Doeren on field.
New head football coach Dave Doeren owns a 23-4 career record.

Doeren, who owns a 23-4 career coaching record, took over for the departed Tom O’Brien last December and inherited a team that lost most of its starters from last year’s 7-6 squad, including NFL-bound quarterback Mike Glennon and defensive backs Earle Wolff and David Amerson. The biggest shoes to be filled this year are Glennon’s, as neither of the finalists for the starting job under center, Arkansas-transfer Brandon Mitchell or Colorado State-transfer Pete Thomas, has ever taken a snap for the Wolfpack.

Doeren, however, is a proven winner during his time as an assistant at Kansas and Wisconsin and in his two years at Northern Illinois, where he won a pair of Mid-American Conference championships. So he’s looking forward to the challenge of this year and seasons to come.

To get to know a little more about the new coach, here are a few pertinent questions he addressed before the season began.

On being at NC State:

“I’m still learning about NC State. I like a lot of the things that happen here. I am excited for game day. That’s the one thing that people keep telling me about. I can watch film all I want but to be out there and smell the grass and hear the fans is something I am excited about. The fans seem like they are excited for the season to get going and see what we have. I look forward to seeing them on game day and using them the eight times we have in front of them to help our football team. With our first four games at home, there would be nothing better than getting on a roll here in the early season.”

On performing at Packapalooza:

Performing at Packapalooza.
Doeren, left, shared the stage at Packapalooza with Scotty McCreery, center, and Chancellor Randy Woodson. Photo via Storify by Audrey Hill.

“It was a neat event, though I realize a lot of the people there in the first 10 rows were there to see Scotty, not me. I was excited just to be part of it and to be there with the chancellor, Scotty, the baseball team and a lot of other people who were being recognized.

“There was a lot of excitement during the day.”

On the anticipation of the coming season:

“We are excited just to start the season as a staff and to get back into The Carter with our fans. I know there are a lot of players for us who will be playing in their first college game, whether they are transfers or freshmen or guys who were redshirted here a year ago. There was a good look in their eyes as we finished preseason practice. We are really starting to see how the pieces of our team are coming together and how they interact with each other. I am excited about where we are right now and how we handle being on the field on game day.”

Concerns going into the season:

Coach Doeren on field.
Doeren leads the youngest team in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“It was only a week or so after I got the job that someone told me we were going to be the youngest team in the ACC. That’s good and bad. You can get a lot of guys out there who don’t know any better and will just play hard. You will also have some things happen during a game that will cause people to grow, some things that have to happen. But we will get them through the bumps and lumps. While I was at Kansas, we played a ton of freshmen my first year and it was a tough time. But those were the same players that made Kansas into an Orange Bowl team a few years later. That experience over time really helps a football team when it’s rebuilding.”

On academics and community service:

“The team grade point average was above a 2.8 for the summer term, which was higher than our overall team GPA. There are no players on the team academically ineligible heading into the fall. Going into the summer, I couldn’t say that would happen. There were a lot of guys battling to stay here. I am thankful for the work that was done by our players, our academic support people and our coaching staff.

Coach Doeren on field.
The biggest challenge facing Doeren is finding a new quarterback.

“The team did more than 1,100 hours of community service as a team this summer. I asked our players to do 10 hours per person per year. They did that in one summer. I think that says a lot about the way we are approaching things here and the way they give back to the city that gives them a lot. When you have more than 63,000 people cheering for you in your stadium on game day, you owe it to them to give back and give to their schools. So we have started a program where our redshirt players and injured players go out to elementary schools and high schools and partner with them during the season.”

The arrival of a new head coach is not the only thing different about Wolfpack football for the 2013 season.

  • Carter-Finley Stadium is now designated as smoke-free facility, and smoking is now banned inside the stadium, in Vaughn Towers, on the concourses and in restrooms. Designated smoking areas are available at Gates 1, 5 and 11.
  • Umbrellas are no longer allowed inside Carter-Finley Stadium and no storage is available for those umbrellas found during bag searches at the stadium’s entry gates. A list of all prohibited items is available online.
  • The popular “Walk of Champions” will continue this season, as fans, the marching band, cheerleaders and dance team welcome the team as it arrives to the stadium at approximately 10 a.m. between the Motor Home Lot and the Stadium East Lot.
  • Saturday has been designated as “This is Our State” Day, with a special halftime ceremony.