RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Something was missing last season at Carter-Finley Stadium and Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren is determined to get it back.
“We’re asking for our fan base and our student section to be a 12th man that has one thing in mind, making it Hell on the opponent,” pleaded Doeren.
In years past, Doeren would not have had to worry about that. Wolfpack fans, especially the student section, always came prepared to make life difficult for the opponent.
But a season dealing with COVID-19 restrictions tamed the beast in 2020.
With fewer students allowed in and pockets of empty seats by design, Carter-Finley Stadium was not so intimidating.
Doeren is confident that will not be the case this season.
“It’s now here and that’s what makes us different,” said Doeren. “It gives us a unique environment here when we have it the way that it can be and I expect it to be that way Thursday.”
Gameday at Carter-Finley Stadium is now full speed ahead.
More than 57,000 fans are expected for Thursday’s home opener against South Florida.
A year ago attendance was restricted to 4,000 fans due to safety protocols.
“The first couple of games it was definitely really weird,” said Wolfpack linebacker Payton Wilson on the lack of fans. “It wasn’t hard to be motivated but it’s definitely easier when you have 65,000 fans cheering you on.”
Just that little extra boast a rabid fan base provides can make the difference in a close game. In years past that’s what the Wolfpack could expect at Carter-Finley Stadium. It’s what Doeren expects moving forward.
“Coming off the most difficult season in my life as a player or coach when you talk about what we went through last year, what a reward to play at night (Thursday) at home,” said Doeren.
“Let’s make everyone jealous about how special it is here on game day.”