RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – So much for that debate about who should start at quarterback for North Carolina State.
The Wolfpack (1-0) have no choice but to enter this week’s game against Richmond with Pete Thomas now that Brandon Mitchell is out with a broken foot.
“Obviously, with Brandon being down for a substantial amount of time, Pete will be our quarterback,” coach Dave Doeren said. He said Mitchell had surgery and “it’s just a matter of healing time now for him.”
Thomas is listed on the depth chart as the starter and behind him are a pair of freshmen – Bryant Shirreffs and Josh Taylor.
Mitchell beat Thomas out during preseason camp but lasted only three series before he broke a bone in his left foot during the first quarter of the opener against Louisiana Tech.
Thomas stepped in for him and threw for 212 yards on 15-for-27 passing in a 40-14 rout of the Bulldogs.
Doeren says Mitchell – who was in the training room during the coach’s weekly news conference – will spend the next 4-5 weeks focusing on academics and his rehab, and will “be back for the latter half of our schedule.
“It could have been worse, is the way we look at it,” Doeren added.
The Wolfpack’s offense will look a little different with Thomas taking snaps out of Doeren’s no-huddle offense – not because he’s incapable of running the ball like Mitchell, but because N.C. State is forced to play things safer with two freshmen behind him.
Mitchell had 19 yards on five carries before he was injured. Thomas carried twice for no yardage.
“Most of the stuff you see Pete do is the same stuff you see Brandon do,” Doeren said. “I just think there’s a little more designed run game when you have a guy like Brandon – and also when you have depth.
“When you had Brandon and Pete, you could run them knowing that your next guy’s pretty good too. Now we’re down to some young backups,” he added. “So we’re going to have to be smart about when we do run Pete, how we do it, because obviously we need him to be a guy who can play more than one game.”
The N.C. State offense certainly seems to have confidence in Thomas, who passed for more than 4,200 yards in two seasons at Colorado State and transferred before the 2012 season to play for since-fired coach Tom O’Brien.
Mitchell, who played receiver at Arkansas last season, arrived during the offseason. Their competition for the starting job lasted through the first game week, and nobody knew who would operate Doeren’s fast-paced system until shortly before kickoff of the opener.
Mitchell “is a great player and he’s going to be missed, but he and Pete were splitting reps all throughout summer camp, so we got a taste of Brandon’s style and a taste of Pete’s style,” fullback Tyler Purvis said. “He’s more than capable of filling in. He stepped up and did a great job.”