If there’s one thing for certain for the N.C. State football team, it will have experience next season. The Wolfpack could start eight seniors on defense and five on offense.
And that experience is the primary reason N.C. State coach Dave Doeren decided to change up Saturday’s annual Kay Yow Spring Game.
“I think defensively there’s good chemistry,” Doeren said. “Our O-line last year we had four new starters. This year that’s four returners. You can see the way those guys play together, and Ryan Finley is really comfortable out there.”
The spring game was more like a practice.
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Doeren said with 16 starters returning from his 7-6 2016 team, he didn’t see a need to have a regular spring game.
The first-team starters had also dominated the backups 97-3 in the past three years combined in the spring games.
In the first quarter, the Red (offense) went against the White (defense) in a series of scripted plays. The second quarter featured a “sudden change” mode. Each side worked on how to react to turnovers or big plays on special teams. And there was a 2-minute drill at the end of the second quarter.
Junior Nyheim Hines and senior Jaylen Samuels are expected to line up in the backfield this season.
Doeren said it will be a different way to get both playmakers the ball.
Hines, at 5-9, 197 pounds, played wide receiver in his first two seasons at N.C. State. But running back is nothing new for him. He was a standout running back during his time at Garner Magnet High School.
“It’s definitely fun,” Hines said, “and I played running back my entire life, so carrying the ball and running between the tackles is something I’m used to.”
The offense worked onits plays in the red-zone during the third quarter. And during the fourth quarter there was a live scrimmage between the second and third teams.
That’s where things were turned up a notch. The defense didn’t let up and put hits on the quarterback and running back.
The most interesting play came in the first half. On a trick play, senior wide receiver Gavin Locklear received a reverse toss. With sophomore wide receiver Kelvin Harmon running downfield, Locklear set his feet and heaved it in the air.
The ball traveled 47 yards downfield and into the hands of Harmon for a touchdown. His teammates surrounded him.
The stats were not kept Saturday, but junior kicker Kyle Bambard, who is expected to compete for the starting position, hit six of his seven field-goal attempts. The Wolfpack picked up graduate transfer place kicker, Carson Wise, last week.