RALEIGH — In retrospect, the struggles by N.C. State in last years spring game were a sign of trouble to come in the 2013 season.
The Wolfpack hopes the opposite is true for 2014 after Saturdays 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 wasnt just N.C. States 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 years spring and last years, 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 wont 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 Reds 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 years 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 didnt 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 Doerens 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 wasnt 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.
Its a good start leaving spring the way we did today, Underwood said.