Dave Doeren described new quarterback Ryan Finley as “comfortable” in Thursday’s 48-14 win over William & Mary.
N.C. State’s success going forward might depend on how well Finley, and quarterback Jalan McClendon, perform when opponents start making life uncomfortable for the Wolfpack offense.
Finley was in his comfort zone in the pocket against a Football Championship Subdivision opponent and getting the ball out quickly to his playmakers. The sophomore quarterback completed 14 of his 15 pass attempts from the pocket in the first half for 157 yards and a touchdown.
For the game, Finley was 16-of-18 on pass attempts from the pocket but 1-of-3 from outside the pocket. Finley was particularly adept on short routes to either the middle of the field or his left. He completed all 11 attempts he threw less than 10 yards.
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All four of his incompletions in the game came on pass attempts to the right. He was just 1-of-3 on attempts longer than 20 yards and all were to his right.
“I thought he looked really comfortable,” N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said. “He got guys where they needed to be.”
McClendon, who played one series in the first half and then not again until the game was out of reach in the fourth quarter, had a smaller sample size but was more effective going deep.
McClendon completed both of his attempts longer than 20 yards (both to freshman receiver Kelvin Harmon). Both of McClendon’s deep throws were to his right. He threw a rocket to Harmon in the fourth quarter for a 29-yard pickup to set up a 1-yard Johnny Frasier touchdown run.
McClendon was 5-of-7 on pass attempts from the pocket and 1-of-2 from outside the pocket. His interception in the second quarter was on a scramble to his right. McClendon was 0-of-2 on both of his pass attempts to his left.
The challenge for N.C. State, starting this week with East Carolina: to throw the ball down field more with Finley and to get McClendon more comfortable with the shorter routes.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio
N.C. State (1-0)
Last week: beat William & Mary, 48-14
This week: at East Carolina, noon