Ryan Finley has two offseason goals, only one is football related.
The Wolfpack quarterback needs to gain some weight, to help with his ability to run the football. He also needs to defend his unofficial claim to the Ping Pong throne against a high-profile newcomer to campus.
Football things first: N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said Finley finished his first season as the starter with his weight in the 180s. At 6-4, Finley has a long and lean frame but he also has some good wheels.
“He runs a 4.65 (in the 40-yard dash), so he can run,” Doeren said.
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But Finley was so thin last season that Doeren didn’t want to expose his starting quarterback to too many unnecessary hits in the running game.
Finley did run for a 15-yard touchdown at East Carolina, on a read-option keep, but for the most part Jalan McClendon was subbed in to handle the designed running plays.
If Finley can get to, and stay, at 205 pounds, Doeren said he would feel more comfortable letting him run more.
“We wanted him to gain some weight and be a little sturdier player and so he can run the ball effectively,” Doeren said.
All of the quarterbacks worked on the running aspect of the job this spring, Doeren said, with different circuit drills each week with running backs coach Des Kitchings.
Finley needs no extra work on the Ping Pong table but he has a new challenger on campus. New N.C. State basketball coach Kevin Keatts is a “defensive mastermind” at Ping Pong, according to Takayo Siddle, who worked with Keatts at UNC-Wilmington, Hargrave and now is an assistant coach at N.C. State.
“He’s the Floyd Mayweather of Ping Pong,” Siddle said. “He’s big time.”
The only problem with getting Finley and Keatts together for a Ping Pong clash is Keatts is out of practice.
“I have not played in about a year,” Keatts said. “You’ve got to give two weeks to practice.”
Finley was fine with Keatts getting his game in shape but did warn the new basketball coach not to waste his time.
Keatts said his defense-first strategy usually leaves him on the winning end.
“I’m not a spin guy, I play with the old paddles,” Keatts said. “I’m not a power guy but I’m a defensive player. I kind of make you make mistakes. I shouldn’t give the scouting report but I am right now.”
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio