North Carolina State's Brandon Mitchell and Pete Thomas have spent training camp competing for the starting quarterback job. It's left new Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz with plenty to prepare for heading into their game Saturday.
The school has said first-year Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren won't reveal who will start until the day of the season opener. Thomas, a junior transfer from Colorado State, emerged from spring drills atop the depth chart before Mitchell arrived over the summer as a graduate transfer from Arkansas. Doeren said both players can throw well and have good size, though Mitchell brings more athleticism to N.C. State's new no-huddle scheme.
"You just have a lot of different things which makes for a lot of unknowns ... so you just have to split your time and take all those pieces of film and try to assimilate what they are going to do if they are a passing team and what they are going to do if they are a running team," Holtz said. "Right now, it just makes it hard defensively because you cannot put all your time into putting together one game plan."
Thomas sat out last year in Raleigh as a transfer after passing for more than 4,200 yards in two seasons with Colorado State. Mitchell played receiver for the Razorbacks last season.
"It's a 12-game season and a lot of things can happen," Doeren said. "Both of them have worked extremely hard, so I told both of them they need to be ready to go."
Mitchell said both quarterbacks have seen work with the first-team offense running Doeren's fast-tempo attack.
"We always try to make practice harder than what it's going to be in the game," he said. "That way the game's fun and it flows easy. We have very intense practices and we're going nonstop, nonstop, then we have a small break ... and we get right back out there into it."
The new offense struggled during a turnover-filled spring game, though Thomas said there's been significant improvement in August.
"I think we've all gotten better," he said. "We were nowhere near where we needed to be in the spring. That started with me. I wasn't as good as I needed to be. ... I really truly think we worked hard this summer, and came out on day one of fall camp night and day better than the spring."
Holtz said the Louisiana Tech coaches have spent time reviewing game film from Doeren's teams at Northern Illinois and from N.C. State last season. With four returning defensive starters, the pressure will be on the Bulldogs to adjust quickly depending on which guy Doeren chooses to run N.C. State's offense.
"I think the biggest thing for us is we are just going to have to be technique-sound as a whole," junior defensive end IK Enemkpali said. "It is going to come down to fundamental football as far as tackling and pursuing and running to the ball."