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2011 NC State Preview – Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 19, 2011


CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - North Carolina State Wolfpack Offense



NC State Wolfpack

Preview 2011 - Offense

- 2011 NC State Preview | 2011 NC State Offense
- 2011 NC State Defense | 2011 NC State Depth Chart
- NC State Previews  2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 

What You Need To Know: The Wolfpack backfield will have a fresh look, but will it be able to reach the levels of production that became customary over the past couple of seasons? Star QB Russell Wilson is making a full-time commitment to baseball, opening the door for former blue-chip recruit Mike Glennon to get his long-awaited turn at the controls. The sky is the limit for the pro-style passer. He’s expected to be joined in the backfield by another can’t-miss get, second-year RB Mustafa Greene, who led the team in rushing as a rookie despite starting just a single game. The primary offensive concerns in Raleigh are at wide receiver and the offensive line. State must replace last season’s top two pass-catchers and plug the leaks in a front wall that was last in the ACC in sacks allowed and blocked for a running game that averaged 3.4 yards a carry.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Mike Glennon
9-13, 78 yds, 0 TDs, 0 INTs
Rushing: Mustafa Greene
134 carries, 597 yds, 4 TDs
Receiving: George Bryan
35 catches, 369 yds, 3 TDs

Star of the offense: Senior TE George Bryan
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior OT R.J. Mattes
Unsung star on the rise: Junior QB Mike Glennon
Best pro prospect: Bryan
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Bryan, 2) Sophomore RB Mustafa Greene, 3) Glennon
Strength of the offense: Upside of the backfield, tight end, protecting the ball
Weakness of the offense: Inexperience at quarterback, the wide receivers, the offensive line, protecting the passer

Quarterbacks

State of the Unit: Now that Russell Wilson has been given his release and is dedicating himself to a baseball career, it’ll be someone else’s turn at bat on Saturdays. Wilson will go down as one of the best to ever play the position in Raleigh, but the diamond was always calling. No. 16 leaves a gigantic hole behind center, but one that the Wolfpack believes it can fill with the players still in school. One, in particular, has been itching for this opportunity for the last three seasons.

This will be the fourth year on campus for 6-6, 225-pound junior Mike Glennon , a one-time mega-recruit who has patiently waited his turn. Over two years, he’s only gone 33-of-52 for 326 yards, one touchdown, and two picks, showing his greatest gains in the weight room and film room. He shares many of the qualities of Matt Ryan, a former Tom O’Brien pupil, sporting a terrific arm, ample leadership skills, and an excellent feel for the position.

The luxury of having Glennon as a backup now gone, 6-3, 233-pound redshirt freshman Tyler Brosius is set to assume the role. He’s raw and no threat to the top of the depth chart, but has good zip on his passes and the time to grow from the sidelines. The veteran off the bench is 6-0, 202-pound senior Daniel Imhoff , a former walk-on who has only been on the field for 23 plays since arriving.

Watch Out For .... Glennon to flatten the learning curve in a hurry. Sure, he’s light on snaps and actual game experience, but he’s a bright athlete with three years of experience in this system. If it takes time for him to get comfortable, thinks in terms of weeks, not months.
Strength: Glennon. Not your ideal first-year starter, he’ll bring a sense of calm and confidence to the huddle that’ll resonate to the rest of his teammates. Oh, and he can make all of the throws, even more so than Wilson, a boon to a receiving corps that’ll be looking for all of the support it can get in 2011.
Weakness: Experience. When your most experienced quarterback has attempted just 52 career throws, the cause for concern is legitimate. More than just the starter being raw, though, the Pack is in even worse shape off the bench. In the event of an emergency, neither Brosius nor Imhoff is ready to take meaningful snaps. The program will keep its fingers crossed every time Glennon gets up slowly.
Outlook: It’s time to turn the page and begin a new chapter in Raleigh. Although Wilson will be missed, there’s a sense of excitement and anticipation now that Glennon is finally at the controls. With proper support from the line and the receivers, he has all of the tools to be one of this year’s breakout stars in the ACC.
Rating: 7.5

Running Backs

State of the Unit: As long as this is a Tom O’Brien production, NC State will want to pound the ball between the tackles, setting up the pass with the run. Unfortunately for the Pack, that’s been an elusive pursuit. A dual-result of average runners and sub-par blocking, the program was forced to lean on the multi-dimensional skills of QB Russell Wilson, ranking 95th on the ground and averaging just 3.4 yards a carry. The season is new, but the objective remains the same, running the ball with far better results.

The Pack is pinning its hopes on 6-0, 201-pound sophomore Mustafa Greene , a key recruit who’d been pursued by the likes of Alabama and Georgia. Despite coming off the bench in all but one game, he rushed for a team-high 597 yards and four scores on 134 carries. More than just an elusive and physical runner, he also caught 30 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns, flashing soft hands out of the backfield.

Back for a third year as the blocking back is 6-2, 250-pound senior Taylor Gentry , a former walk-on and important part of the offense. A powerful fullback, he’ll surprise defenses as a receiver, catching 31 career passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns. He’s also led the team in special teams tackles the last two years, enhancing his overall value.

Chasing Greene and providing more depth are juniors Brandon Barnes and James Washington. Barnes goes 6-0 and 209 pounds, the biggest of the backs, bringing vision and toughness to the running game. He’s itching to get back on the field after missing all of 2010 with a dislocated ankle. The 6-0, 180-pound Washington actually started four games, but only ran for 215 yards and a score, adding 27 catches for 185 yards and another touchdown. A cutback runner, he’s ideally suited to provide a spark, especially on third downs.

Watch Out For .... the health of Greene’s foot. He injured it in April, which required surgery. He’s expected to return in time for summer camp, but considering his importance to the offense, bears a close watch between now and early August.
Strength: Tomorrow. As the Pack officially begins to put its fate on the ground in the hands of younger players, the output and production are expected to improve over time. Greene is still just a year removed from high school, and Barnes and Washington are only halfway through their amateur careers.
Weakness: A proven feature back. Okay, so it’s presumed that Greene will be the go-to guy once he returns from surgery. However, it needs to be restated that he only started one game a year ago and is only in his second year out of high school. Maybe he’s the guy, or maybe the Pack will still be searching for an every-down back.
Outlook: NC State is hoping to tap into some Greene energy this fall. The sophomore was recruited with such diligence for this exact moment, to take command of the backfield and the running game. He displays leading man tendencies and a bright future, and will benefit from the healthy return of Barnes.
Rating: 6.5

Receivers

State of the Unit: The departure of QB Russell Wilson tells only part of the story of the NC State passing game woes. The Pack is also facing a shortage of proven wide receivers, losing last season’s top two pass-catchers, Owen Spencer and Jarvis Williams, to graduation. The pair combined for 112 receptions and nine touchdowns, output that won’t be easily replaced. New quarterback Mike Glennon will need to use the offseason to develop some chemistry with a rebuilt corps of receivers and tight ends.

First, the good news. Tight end. The Wolfpack boasts one of the league’s best, 6-5, 265-pound senior George Bryan. A pro-caliber performer, with ideal size, he been All-ACC first team the last two years, catching 35 balls for 369 yards and three touchdowns in 2010. An improving blocker, he’s most valuable when running patterns, showcasing the agility, balance, and soft hands to frustrate opposing linebackers.

The early favorite to be Glennon’s preferred target on the outside is 6-0, 180-pound senior T.J. Graham, a three-time letterwinner and one of the fastest men in Raleigh. Also a dangerous return man, he’s coming off his best season, catching 25 passes for 316 yards and four touchdowns. He has the raw skills to be dangerous, but needs to tighten up the finer points of his game.

After Graham, the wide receivers are light on experience and accolades. If the season began today, senior Jay Smith would be the other starter. At 6-2 and 209 pounds, he trades good size for blinding speed, and had a career-high 10 catches for 84 yards and a score as a backup. Senior Steven Howard brings maturity and veteran leadership to the group. The 6-2, 200-pounder has been a career backup, grabbing 12 balls for 105 yards and a score in 2010. One of the many underclassmen looking for a promotion is 6-4, 203-pound sophomore Quintin Payton, who’s currently working behind Smith. A letterwinner, he got his feet wet last fall with four receptions for 38 yards.

Watch Out For .... Bryan to be the first option of Glennon on plenty of plays. Who’d blame him? He’s an all-star and a big target, the most reliable set of hands in an otherwise sea of uncertainty. After playing in the shadows of the outside guys in 2010, Bryan should catch 50 balls this fall.
Strength: Tight end. Well, odds are you saw this one coming. Not only might Bryan be one of the first tight ends selected in the 2012 NFL Draft, but backup Mario Carter is a 6-4, 262-pounder who’d start for a handful of teams in the conference.
Weakness: Wide receiver. While Graham has the speed to be a playmaker, he’s largely surrounded by journeymen. Glennon’s first collection of targets will be an average group that has a long way to go in the areas of experience and consistency.
Outlook: If Glennon is truly a franchise quarterback, he’ll elevate the wide receivers to higher ground. They’ll need it. It’s an average group, with limited experience or track record of success. Bryan will be especially valuable in 2011, and Graham and Smith will need to rise to the occasion now that their time has arrived.
Rating: 6.5

Offensive Line

State of the Unit: Tom O’Brien-led teams are supposed to be ornery at the point of attack and immovable in the trenches. At least that was their calling card when he was at Boston College. With the Wolfpack, however, that has not been the case, as the program has been perennially mediocre along the offensive front. Although a handful of starters and lettermen return from 2010, there are understandable concerns that the downward spiral will continue.

The biggest hole will be at left tackle, where last year’s best blocker, Jake Vermiglio, has run out of eligibility. Assuming there are no imports to the position, it could come down to 6-6, 303-pound junior R.J. Mattes, who began the spring on the right side. A former guard, he started 10 games in 2010, posting the unit’s highest grade eight different times. Right tackle is shaping up as a battle between 6-6, 289-pound senior Mikel Overgaard and 6-7, 312-pound sophomore Robert Crisp. One of the smartest players up front, he well-traveled Overgaard transferred from Snow College in 2009 and began as a Washington State tight end. Crisp is the future, one of the nation’s top tackle recruits from a year ago. He started the opener, yet rarely left the bench after Week 1, needing to improve his fundamentals.

On the interior, 6-3, 296-pound junior Camden Wentz is a returning starter at center. Second on the team with 995 snaps, he showed outstanding growth in his starting debut, playing with a nice burst and a nasty attitude. The veteran among the guards is 6-3, 322-pound Zach Allen, who’ll get the call on the right side. A physical, no-frills blocker, he goes to the whistle and yielded just three sacks in 969 snaps a year ago. At left guard, the staff is excited about the future of 6-6, 287-pound sophomore Duran Christophe , who started the bowl game and overcame an ankle injury to earn his first letter. He has building block potential, displaying the right size and footwork to excel in pass protection.

Watch Out For .... the timetable for the return of junior Andrew Wallace . A starter at left guard for every regular season game, he suffered a serious knee injury in preparation for the Champs Sports Bowl and is expected to miss the beginning of the 2011 season. The Pack could use his presence, even if it’s for part of the year.
Strength: Experience. This might be the most seasoned group that O’Brien has ever had, a collection of seasoned upperclassmen. The Wolfpack should begin the year with four juniors or seniors in the starting lineup, with Wallace capable of increasing that number once he returns from the disabled list.
Weakness: State ranked last in the ACC and 109th nationally last season, yielding an average of three sacks a game. Where would the team have been if the quarterback wasn’t such a nimble athlete? Too often, the unit was exposed by speed rushers, a fact complicated by the graduation of Vermiglio.
Outlook: New season. Same problems. The Pack has marginal talent along the offensive line and no blockers jumping out as slam-dunk NFL prospects. Crisp is an exception, but he’s still raw and in the early stages of his development. While a year older, this front wall is still likely to struggle once again, laboring to control the push from opposing defenses.
Rating: 6

- 2011 NC State Preview | 2011 NC State Offense
- 2011 NC State Defense | 2011 NC State Depth Chart
- NC State Previews  2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006