Better spring showing the second time around for NC State football

jgiglio@newsobserver.comApril 12, 2014 

  • Observations

    •  N.C. State played mostly nickel, instead of a 4-3 alignment on defense, a switch that coach Dave Doeren expects to remain the same in the fall.

    •  Three true freshmen, all early enrollees, started for the Red team: receiver Bo Hines, center Tony Adams and defensive tackle B.J. Hill. A fourth early enrollee, safety Germaine Pratt, had an interception of starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett for the White team in the second quarter.

    •  Brissett’s two most impressive throws were incompletions. He threw a 25-yard out, clear across the field, in the first quarter but receiver Bryan Underwood dropped it. He also unleashed a 55-yard go route down the right sideline which just missed connecting in the third quarter.

    There wasn’t much of a chance to see Brissett’s elusiveness, but his arm strength will help an offense that struggled to put up points last season.

    “He’s giving us a chance,” Underwood said.

    •  The game raised $15,351 for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. Yow was the school’s legendary women’s basketball coach who passed away from breast cancer in 2009.

— In retrospect, the struggles by N.C. State in last year’s spring game were a sign of trouble to come in the 2013 season.

The Wolfpack hopes the opposite is true for 2014 after Saturday’s promising showing in the Kay Yow Spring Game at Carter-Finley Stadium. The Red, composed of the expected starters on offense and defense, blanked the White, 34-0.

It wasn’t just N.C. State’s first football win since September, after ending a 3-9 season with eight straight losses, but a glimmer of hope for the offense and the program.

Junior quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who sat out last season after transferring from Florida, threw for 365 yards and a pair of touchdowns to senior receiver Bryan Underwood.

Asked the difference between this year’s spring and last year’s, second-year coach Dave Doeren replied: “How long do I have?”

Doeren has been busy remolding the program since the end of the disappointing 2013 season. He will have 51 freshmen, both true and redshirt, in the fold by the time the season starts on Aug. 30 against Georgia Southern.

“We had a great offseason,” Doeren said. “A lot of these guys got mentally tougher, got bigger.”

True freshman receiver Bo Hines, whose classmates back at Charlotte Christian are prepping for graduation, was the most promising part of the offense. Hines, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound slot receiver, caught 10 passes for 132 yards.

Doeren called Hines, who has been a standout throughout spring practice, “reliable.” Brissett, who won’t have a shortage of new options at receiver, went a step further.

“I like him a lot,” Brissett said. “He can catch the ball and make plays.”

Hines’ 60-yard catch and run led to the Red’s first touchdown, a 1-yard run by senior Tony Creecy at 7:06 in the first quarter. Creecy added a 14-yard touchdown run, and Underwood had touchdown catches of 36 and 72 yards in the second quarter.

In last year’s spring game, the first-team offense scored 20 points and none came from the starting quarterback. There was a mishmash of options at quarterback for Doeren last season, which has been the biggest difference this year.

Brissett, who completed 24 of 37 passes, will be the quarterback as long as he stays healthy. Junior Garrett Leatham (6 of 14, 71 yards) led the White team, but the first-team defense didn’t give up a point and allowed only 65 yards on 41 plays.

The White team, which got an interception from freshman safety Germaine Pratt – one of the top prizes in Doeren’s recruiting class, did finish the game with five sacks.

Some of that was the missing parts on the starting line for the Red, including center Quinton Schooley – who suffered a minor knee injury early in spring practice – and left tackle Rob Crisp, who was granted a medical redshirt but is not enrolled in school.

The protection will get better with their return, and so will the running game. Between the two sides, they ran for just 56 yards on 60 carries. Creecy and sophomore Matt Dayes split most of the reps with the first-team offense, while Shadrach Thornton, the leading rusher the past two seasons, finished with 7 yards on nine carries with the White.

Doeren said the running game wasn’t his focus for Saturday, rather seeing how Brissett and a new group of receivers would perform in front of a crowd.

Doeren said he was “pretty happy” with the way the game went. Underwood, one of the few returning receivers, said the way the offense played it should give them a lift heading into the summer.

“It’s a good start leaving spring the way we did today,” Underwood said.

Giglio: 919-829-8938

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service