Near the end of the first half of Saturday’s lopsided win over Western Carolina, N.C. State quarterback Matt McKay connected with receiver Devin Carter on an 18-yard pass.
It was the kind of downfield throw where McKay put the ball up and let his receiver make a play.
“I thought that was a really good throw,” N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said during his weekly press conference on Monday. “He gave Devin a chance to use his big body.”
Doeren wants to see more of those types of throws from his new quarterback this week when the Wolfpack (2-0) travels to West Virginia (1-1) on Saturday (noon, Fox Sports 1).
McKay has been solid in his first two starts but most of his best throws have come in either short or intermediate range. The redshirt sophomore missed two open deep shots on the same third-quarter drive against WCU. That didn’t make a difference in a 41-0 win over a lower-level opponent, but it might going forward as the schedule picks up for the Wolfpack.
Near the end of his post-game press conference on Saturday, Doeren sounded frustrated with McKay for the missed deep shots.
“It has to get a lot better,” Doeren said Saturday. “You’re not going to run the ball for 300 yards when you start playing these ACC teams if you can’t throw it down the field. It’s not going to happen. It’s an area we have to get better for sure.”
After watching the game film, Doeren saw more throws from McKay than he liked. The 18-yard connection to Carter, which set up a short touchdown run, and he pointed out another on a 28-yard pass to tight end Cary Angeline off of a play-action fake.
But a deep throw to receiver Thayer Thomas, who had his man beat, sailed long and there was a leak to Angeline inside the red zone that McKay overthrew.
Quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Ryan Finley went through some of the same issues, Doeren said, in their first-year as a starter.
“It’s just part of it,” Doeren said. “Practice is different than a game sometimes in how juiced up they are and they let the ball go too far.”
McKay has completed 66.2 percent of his passes (43 of 65) through two games for 508 yards with a pair of touchdowns and no interceptions.
His two best throws have come on deep outs, from one side of the field to the other. He had one, in rhythm with perfect timing, for 18 yards to receiver Tabari Hines in the season-opening win over ECU and another for 16 yards to receiver Emeka Emezie against WCU.
Doeren said McKay, who is replacing Finley, has been consistent in practice with his deep throws.
“The good thing is it hasn’t been bad in practice,” Doeren said. “We just have to get it to carry over to the game.”
Nick McCloud update
Senior cornerback Nick McCloud was not listed in the depth chart for the West Virginia game. As a precaution, McCloud, who is N.C. State’s best cover corner, did not play against WCU. Doeren has adopted a policy of not talking about injuries unless a player is out for the season. He did say McCloud would be back but said “he’s just not ready yet.”
Game time set for Ball State
The ACC announced that the kickoff time for the Sept. 21 home game with Ball State will be at 7 p.m. and be televised by ESPNU. N.C. State’s first three games this season have each started at noon or 12:30 p.m. Going back to the 2018 season, N.C. State has had an early start in six straight regular-season games. The Wolfpack is also 5-0 in those games, heading into Saturday’s noon kick at West Virginia.