North Carolina State's quest to improve on its poor rushing attack from 2012 became a little bit more difficult for its season opener, as new Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren suspended Shadrach Thornton for the first game of the new year.
The Wolfpack's leading rusher from 2012, Thornton will miss the Week 1 contest against Louisiana Tech after he was charged with misdemeanor assault in June for allegedly pushing his girlfriend during an argument. He is due in court on August 22.
“I think he's learned a lot and he'll grow a lot from it,” Doeren told reporters. “That's part of our job as coaches is to discipline guys and to help them through mistakes.
“The bottom line is he knows he made a mistake putting himself in that situation. We removed him from all team activities except for academics and he had to live his life the way that he should live it, in my opinion and our team's opinion before he could come back and exercise with the guys.”
Thornton, who rushed for 694 yards and three touchdowns last season despite not playing in the first three games, was expected to be a big part of the Wolfpack's ground attack, one in which struggled mightily last fall. The team finished 2012 ranked No. 111 in the nation with 111.1 rushing yards per game.
However, despite having four 100-yard rushing games last fall, Thornton's three fumbles during the spring game knocked him down the depth chart a bit behind junior Tony Creecy. Freshman running back Matt Dayes also could see more time in the opener with Thornton sidelined.
Dave Miller, the college football editor and writer for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.