Nine different N.C. State players caught a pass in Saturday's 24-23 win over Georgia Southern. Senior receiver Bryan Underwood was not one of them.
It has become something of a tradition for Underwood not to touch the ball in the season opener under coach Dave Doeren.
Underwood is healthy, Doeren said, and played in 25 of the 75 snaps on offense. Doeren said it was not by design that Underwood didn't have a catch or rushing attempt on Saturday.
"I'll be honest, I was disappointed he didn't get the ball," Doeren said on Monday. "We had some plays for him in there, but when we called them, it didn't happen."
Doeren said he sought out offensive coordinator Matt Canada after the game to talk about Underwood's role.
"We haven't forgotten about him," Doeren said. "The first thing I said to coach Canada after the game is we need to make sure he's touching the ball more."
Underwood didn't have a catch in last year's opener either but then became more and more involved in the offense, both as a receiver and runner, before a broken collarbone cut his junior season short in the seventh game.
In his abbreviated season, Underwood caught 32 passes for 382 yards and ran 12 times for 135 yards, with his most famous run — an apparent 83-yard touchdown — called back by the officials in a Week 4 loss to Clemson.
Doeren said he still plans to use Underwood, who's listed at 5-9 and 179 pounds, on deep routes and end-arounds ("jets" in Wolfpack vernacular). The way Georgia Southern's secondary was playing off the ball wasn't conducive to Underwood's strengths, Doeren said.
"They were playing really soft coverage, I mean everything was underneath in the game, and that's not his deal," Doeren said.
The philosophy of using a lot of players at the skill positions will continue and for good reason.
"When guys practice well, they deserve to play," Doeren said. "There was a bunch of guys who worked their butts off in camp and we got a bunch of them in.
"When you play a lot of guys, you get better practice out of your team."