Some news, notes, quotes and other assorted tidbits from the three spring games contested across the ACC Saturday afternoon…
NORTH CAROLINA STATE
Dave Doeren concisely summed up his first-ever spring game as the Wolfpack’s head coach when he told reporters, “well, we won.”
Yes you did, coach. Yes you did.
Specifically, the Red team downed the White team 20-10 in the first Kay Yow Spring Football Game. Or, even more specifically, the defense dominated the offense in the glorified scrimmage.
The fact that the defense is significantly ahead of the offense at this point in his tenure — neither side scored an offensive touchdown in the first half doesn’t appear to bother Doeren at all.
“Offensively there are a lot of new guys in the lineup,” said Doeren. “The plays are not that much different, but the names of the plays and the tempo are a lot different. I think that’s the biggest thing.
“We are ahead defensively and that’s not a bad thing. I would rather be ahead on the defensive side than the offense. I think we’ll catch up.”
— Defensive tackle T.Y. McGill was credited with a game-high three tackles for loss, while linebacker M.J. Salahuddin totaled eight tackles.
— Pete Thomas, listed as the co-starter back on NCSU’s most recent depth chart, completed 15-of-26 passes for 168 yards with neither a touchdown nor an interception on the stat sheet. Thomas worked with the first-team offense, for what it’s worth. Thomas’ competition, Manny Stocker, directed the second-team offense and completed 11-of-20 passes for 96 yards. He had the lone touchdown toss of the two, connecting on a 30-yard strike in the fourth quarter.
— Florida transfer quarterback Jacoby Brissett threw a 39-yard touchdown pass in the Red team’s win. Brissett, who announced he was leaving the Gators for NCSU in January, is not a part of the competition this year as he will have to sit out the 2013 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.
— The spring game raised more than $20,000 for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. Yow was the Wolfpack’s beloved Hall of Fame women’s basketball coach who lost her long battle with breast cancer in January of 2009.
With a significantly revamped coaching staff on that side of the ball, there was significant anticipation as to how the Hokies’ offense would look in Saturday’s spring game. The reality, however, is they still have some significant work left to do before opening the season against two-time defending BCS champion Alabama.
The White team, composed mainly of backups, downed the Orange team, almost entirely starters, by the count of 27-9. Yes, the reserves were spotted 13 points before the game even began; still, that merely means the non-starters merely edged the starters 14-9.
The offensive numbers were, well, offensive. Just 41 yards rushing on 23 carries (1.78 yards per carry); 3-23 on third-down conversions and 1-3 on fourth-down conversions; 214 yards passing but three interceptions — two of which were brought back for touchdowns — by returning starting quarterback Logan Thomas (pictured, parallel to the ground); and just one offensive touchdown to go along with a lone trip to the red zone.
Frank Beamer tried to downplay the offensive struggles, but acknowledged things still need to be ironed out over the next four months or so.
“Today is kind of where we are right now,” the longtime head coach said. “Good defense. Good kicking game. And an offense that’s gotta function better. …
“On offense, we’ve got to get more consistent. We’ve heard that before. … It’s not so important where we are today. It’s important where we can get to when we line up against Alabama.”
— The two defenses combined for 14 tackles for loss (for minus-48 yards) and three sacks.
— Backup quarterback Mark Leal led the Hokies to their lone touchdown of the game, a drive culminating with a Leal 30-yard pass to Ryan Malleck.
— New offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler wasn’t available to speak to reporters after the game due to recruiting obligations. From the sounds of it, he wasn’t available during the game, either. In fairness, Beamer noted that only roughly 25-percent of the offense has been installed.
— “I think all you all, and people are going to say I had a bad day today, but I can’t complain about how I played,” Thomas, the Hokies spring offensive MVP, said following his three-pick performance. “The ball was going where I wanted it to. I hit my spots. I was accurate. My mechanics have gotten better. My accuracy has gotten better. That’s all I can ask for.”
Speaking of defense, the Demon Deacons’ offense scored just once in its spring game, and that was a 39-yard field goal by Chad Hedlund.
That effort came despite — or because of? — what head coach Jim Grobe described as a dumbed-down defense.
“The defense was awesome today,” said Grobe. “I thought they played great. We really dumbed the defense down today, we didn’t blitz and we didn’t play a lot of different coverages. It’s amazing how good they played when they know what to do and didn’t have a lot of thinking going on. That ought to be a lesson for our coaches.”
— Deacon ballcarriers ran 32 running plays on the day and netted a total of minus-five yards on the ground. Wake quarterbacks weren’t much better, accounting for four interceptions.
— To go along with the four picks, Wake’s defense accounted for 12 tackles for loss and five sacks. The offense was 2-18 on third downs and did not reach the red zone on any drive.
— “On offense, we really haven’t thrown the ball much this spring,” said Grobe. “We have to run the ball better. There’s no question about it. We’ve spent a lot of time this spring running the ball and we thought today would be a great day to come out and throw it more. … The defense had the upper hand today and hopefully we learned a few things about the quarterbacks today and know what we have to work on when we come back in August.”