Will Muschamp and Dave Doeren came to Quail Hollow Club on Monday to preview the September game that will kick off the season for their football teams, and they painted two very different pictures of the clubs they will take into the fray.
Doeren, N.C. State’s fifth-year head coach, has 21 seniors on his team, including 11 returning starters. Muschamp, South Carolina’s second-year head coach, has 10 seniors on his roster and more questions than answers.
“When you are able to recruit your guys and have them going into your fifth season, you own the guys you have on campus as far as the talent level, the ability level and the character,” Muschamp said. “That’s something you see at N.C. State.”
Doeren talked Monday about how his team now is benefiting from the types of growing pains Muschamp and his staff currently are experiencing.
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“It’s a different locker room (after four seasons),” he said. “(In Year 2) a lot of the kids in your locker room you didn’t recruit still. Some of them buy in right away and some of them don’t. When you get to Year 5, you don’t have that anymore. The culture of it is a little bit different from that standpoint. I am coaching guys I have been coaching for four years. I understand a lot about these guys. That’s a hard thing for anybody when you inherit a program. You chose to be with those players, they didn’t always choose to be with you.”
The two teams will meet in the Belk College Kickoff Game on Sept. 2 in Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers. The Charlotte Sports Foundation hosted a luncheon for both coaches to talk about the game Monday.
“I think it’s good to lead the season off against a really good football team because I think it’s extra motivation for your players during the summer to be ready to go,” Muschamp said, “and we have to be ready to go when we report to camp July 27.”
Doeren is 25-26 at N.C. State. after going 23-4 in two seasons as head coach at Northern Illinois. The Wolfpack were 7-6 (3-5 ACC) last year.
“I have been there, I understand what he’s going through but my focus is really not on Will,” he said. “For us to play the way N.C. State wants to play, we have to put all our eggs into us being better than we were in our last game. That’s what we’re going to put our energy into.”
The Gamecocks are coming off a 6-7 season in Muschamp’s first year.
“We are going to have some new faces, especially on the defensive side of the ball, playing in this environment and against a really good football team so it will be an experience issue for us early on to make sure we don’t ask our guys to do too much and think instead of just reacting and play the game,” he said.
Neither coach wanted to speculate how much difference the experience factor will make on the final score of a game that remains three months away.
“Those first two or three games, you’re looking at your own squad and making sure we do everything we can,” Doeren said. “I think a lot of teams beat themselves early in the season. I don’t care how experienced you are, you have to have your guys in the right frame of mind to perform at their best out the gate. For us, that will be critical.”