NC State

What NC State’s offense will look like for its opener against South Carolina

N.C. State’s Jaylen Samuels pulls in a pass during the Wolfpack’s first practice in July.
N.C. State’s Jaylen Samuels pulls in a pass during the Wolfpack’s first practice in July. ehyman@newsobserver.com

N.C. State’s training camp has been quiet, as you would expect for a team with so many of the same players back from a year ago.

There are not a lot of holes to fill on the depth chart and not many unknowns for coach Dave Doeren as he enters his fifth season.

Compare that to last year when the starting quarterback spot was up for grabs and there was a new offensive coordinator.

Coaches will (correctly) never use the word “easy” to describe August practice but this camp has seemed relatively quiet for the Wolfpack. Maybe too quiet?

“Too quiet for you guys or for me?” Doeren said. “Nah, I mean every day we’ve got a lot going on over here.”

The opener against South Carolina, at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium, is 11 days away. Monday will begin the game week for the Wolfpack, hoping to take the next step from the 7- and 8-win plateau under Doeren.

There aren’t many surprises expected on the depth chart, which will be released on Monday, so here’s an educated guess (and breakdown) at what the offense will look like:

Quarterback

Ryan Finley started every game a year ago after he graduated and transferred from Boise State. He’s still only a junior in eligibility after one season with the Wolfpack. He threw for 3,059 yards with 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions in his first season as the starter.

Familiarity, with his teammates, and experience — he was injured for all or parts of his three seasons at Boise State — should help Finley progress in 2017.

Jalan McClendon, a fourth-year junior, will again serve as Finley’s backup. McClendon ran for a pair of touchdowns last season and was a good change-of-pace to Finley. McClendon will again likely have his own situational sets and sub packages.

Running backs

Junior Nyheim Hines is back at his natural position after spending most of his first two seasons at receiver. His speed can be a game-changer for the Wolfpack and he will be counted on to help offset the loss of Matt Dayes (1,166 rushing yards).

Junior Reggie Gallaspy is slimmer (down about 15 pounds to 220) and healthier than he has been in his college career. His power and between-the-tackles running style complement Hines’ strengths and will help save some tread on Hines’ tires. Gallaspy, who was still healing with a foot injury early last season, flourished by the end of the season.

Senior Dakwa Nichols, who is the best pass-protector of the group, and senior Jaylen Samuels, who helped out at running back after Dayes was injured in 2015, will also be in the rotation.

Receivers/tight ends

Samuels, listed as an H back, has led the team in receptions each of the past two seasons. He had 55 catches last year and will again be featured prominently in the passing game.

Junior Stephen Louis (a team-best 678 receiving yards) and sophomore Kelvin Harmon (five TD catches) were both pleasant surprises last season as outside receivers and will be counted on to take another step.

Cole Cook, a traditional tight end, doesn’t get too many passes thrown his way but he might be the best blocker on the team. Jakobi Meyers, Gavin Locklear and Maurice Trowell will get playing time in the slot and have been useful in gadget plays.

The newcomer to watch is C.J. Riley, a freshman who redshirted last season with a knee injury. At 6-4, Riley gives Finley a big, downfield target and he should have some room to run with defenses focusing on Samuels and Hines.

Offensive line

Joe Scelfo is the notable absence here. The grad transfer from South Alabama started every game at center and played nearly every snap.

Garrett Bradbury, who started at left guard, moves over to replace Scelfo. Junior Terronne Prescod, who started three games at right tackle, slides over to fill Bradbury’s slot.

Senior Tony Adams, a starter since his freshman year, returns at right guard and both tackles — Tyler Jones (left) and Will Richardson (right) — are back.

Depth behind the starting five is a question mark. Prescod was the “sixth man” a year ago and really the only reserve to see significant snaps. Justin Witt (tackle) and Joe Sculthorpe (can play either guard or center) are a pair of redshirt freshmen who could add depth.

As a group, the offensive line helped make a significant dent in the number of sacks allowed (17 down from 39 the year before) but the average yard per rush was down as was the rushing yards per game.

Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio

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