RALEIGH, N.C. — New North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren is eager to find out whether his players have learned their new schemes and how they’ll handle game pressure. Skip Holtz is wondering the same things as he takes over at Louisiana Tech.
That leaves both teams unsure exactly what to expect as they meet Saturday.
Doeren, 41, went 23-4 in two seasons as Northern Illinois coach and inherits a program that had been stagnant in six seasons under Tom O’Brien, who managed just a 22-26 record in Atlantic Coast Conference play. Holtz, 49, was fired after three seasons at South Florida but quickly found a new home when Sonny Dykes left to take over at California.
Doeren has installed a no-huddle offense that blends elements of Wisconsin — where Doeren worked as an assistant — and Oregon. That’s the biggest change for the Wolfpack (7-6 in 2012), while the defense is staying with a 4-3 scheme.
“Our focus right now is just on us,” Doeren said. “Because of that unknown of playing a new staff, new coaches, new schemes, a lot of new players that you can’t find on tape right now because they weren’t playing last year for them, you’ve got to really focus on yourself and how you’re going to play. I think if that’s where our focus is and not what people are saying about the game, we’ll come out and play the way we want to play.”
Holtz is familiar with N.C. State after spending five years as head coach at East Carolina, where he won two Conference USA championships about 90 miles east of Raleigh.
Holtz went 16-21 at South Florida before replacing Dykes at Louisiana Tech (9-3).
“You are going to see a lot of adjustments being made and teams feeling more and more comfortable with what they are doing and what they are going to try to plug in from a gameplan standpoint,” Holtz said. “This is not one you go in with a call sheet and say we are going to do all these things to attack them because you do not know what you are going to get. Both teams are in the same boat.”