NC State Preview 2006 - Offense
North Carolina State Wolfpack
Posted Jul 31, 2006

NC State Wolfpack Preview 2006 - NC State Offense

What you need to know ... There's little question the ground game will be better after finishing tenth in the ACC thanks to the sophomore backfield tandem of Andre Brown and Toney Baker pounding the ball behind a big offensive line, but the passing attack has to be far crisper. Coordinator Marc Trestman needs an accurate, good decision-making quarterback to make the offense sing, so the season will be made or broken on how well Marcus Stone has improved since last year. The receiving corps has the potential to be fantastic if someone can consistently deliver the ball.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Marcus Stone
75-154, 1,015 yds, 8 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: Andre Brown
129 carries, 667 yds, 6 TD
Lamart Barrett
21 catches, 248 yds

Star of the offense: Senior C Leroy Harris
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior QB Marcus Stone
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore FB Octavius Darby
Best pro prospect: Harris
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Harris, 2) RB Andre Brown, 3) TE Anthony Hill
Strength of the offense: Running back
Weakness of the offense:
Proven passing game

Can Marcus Stone shine in the Mark Trestman attack? He had a few big moments last year,, but he was wildly inconsistent had major accuracy issues. His emergence as a more polished passer should be the difference between a good season and a great one for the Wolfpack. Backups Daniel Evans and Mike Greco are buying time until true freshman Justin Burke is ready to take over the number two job.
The key to the unit: More efficient passing from Stone. The completion percentage has to get to around 55% with even more big plays than last year.
Quarterback Rating: 6

Projected Starter
- Marcus Stone, Jr. - 75-154, 49%, 1,015 yds, 8 TD, 6 INT
A huge recruit for the program a few years ago, the 6-4, 236-pound junior got his shot last year when Jay Davis wasn't getting the job done and went 5-1 with a bowl win over South Florida. However, the team went 5-1 with Stone, not because of him. He has the arm, he has the size, and he has the athleticism, but he has to be far more accurate and has to show he has a better command of the offense.

Top Backups
- Daniel Evans, Soph.
With a good mix of athleticism and passing arm, Evans should be a strong second stringer. He has started to fill out his 6-2 frame a little bit and should be able the handle the offense after a few years of practice work.

- Mike Greco, RFr.
While not the best passer around, the 6-3, 220-pound Greco can move with enough athleticism to make the coaching staff flirt with the idea of moving him to another spot. The left-hander could end up at wide receiver or defensive back just to get his combination of size and speed on the field.

- Justin Burke, Fr.
He might not be in the hunt for the starting job this year, but he's certainly in the mix for the number two position and should be good enough to push for the number one spot next year. Considered one of the nation's top quarterback recruits after throwing for a Kentucky state high school record of 62 touchdown passes in his senior season and 120 for his career, he's the type of passer who should grow into the perfect fit for the attack.

Running Backs
NC State has few problems finding productive young running backs, but can there be some consistency? The powerful sophomore duo of Andre Brown and Toney Baker should be a solid 1-2 thunder tandem, and now there needs to be some more lightning from somewhere. The hope will be for Jamelle Eugene to provide a little bit of dash as a third down back as well as a third runner in the mix. Octavius Darby is a good-looking fullback who could end up seeing time at tight end.
The key to the unit: With Brown and Baker back after a year of experience, there needs to be a bit more overall production. 3.4 yards per carry will be a disappointment.
Running Back Rating: 7

Projected Starters
- Andre Brown, Soph. - 129 carries, 667 yds, 5.2 ypc, 6 TD, 7 catches, 76 yds, 10.9 ypc
The quick and powerful 232-pound sophomore did almost nothing over the first five games of the season, and then he exploded for 248 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Southern Miss and 179 yards and a score against Florida State on his way to becoming the team's leading rusher. While he's not necessarily a home run hitter, he was able to crank out a 65-yard touchdown dash against the Seminoles on the first play of the game. He's also great in the classroom earning Academic All-ACC honors.

- Fullback Octavius Darby, Soph.
The second team tight end will take over the fulltime fullback role, at least for a while, after seeing a little bit of action in 11 games as a freshman. The 6-2, 256-pound sophomore will be a key go-to target and should be used as a power runner in short yardage situations. His emergence as a blocker will determine his overall role.

Top Backups
- Toney Baker, Soph. - 124 carries, 546 yds, 4.4 ypc, 5 TD
Baker started out the season well as a key cog in the rotation while also serving as a nice receiver, but he couldn't hang on to the ball and then couldn't hang on to his playing time with the emergence of Andre Brown. After an average four-game stretch, he got back into the mix rushing for 65 yards against Maryland and 93 against South Florida. At 5-10 and 228 pounds, he's a tough between-the-tackles back with a little bit of wiggle. 
- Jamelle Eugene, RFr.
Originally considered to be a defensive back despite being a star high school tailback, the 202-pound Eugene will be the third-string tailback this year adding a bit more flash than Andre Brown and Toney Baker. He'll end up seeing a few passes his way just to get him into space.
- John Kane, Soph.
More of a true fullback than Octavius Darby, the 5-9, 239-pound Kane could end up seeing plenty of action if Darby ends up seeing time at tight end.

The receivers have the speed and the talent, and now they need someone to steadily get them the ball. Even with the top three pass catchers from last year gone, there's a lot of reason to be excited with John Dunlap appearing to be back and healthy after a torn ACL and with speedy Lamart Barrett way overdue for a breakout year as the top target at the X. Expect plenty of immediate help from a deep recruiting class. 277-pound tight end Anthony Hill will be playing on Sundays, while fullback/tight end Octavius Darby might be just as good.
The key to the unit: There's no excuse to hot keep stretching the field. Projected starting quarterback Marcus Stone has a big arm, and this receiving corps has tremendous speed.
Receiver Rating: 7

Projected Starters
- Lamart Barrett, Sr. - 21 catches, 248 yds, 11.8 ypc
The 6-1, 190-pound Barrett has good size, tremendous speed, and more experience than anyone in the receiving corps, but he's still trying to find his way into the end zone. While he's known for being a steady target, he has to start cranking out some big plays as the number one man at the X.

- John Dunlap, Jr. - 4 catches, 41 yds, 10.2 ypc
A superior deep threat with excellent size at 6-2 and 210 pounds, he was never quite right last year after suffering a torn ACL playing basketball in the 2005 off-season. If back to pre-injury form, he has the potential to be a game-breaker at the Z position. In 2004 he caught six passes for 116 yards.

- Tight end Anthony Hill, Jr. - 15 catches, 140 yds, 9.3 ypc, 1 TD
At 6-6 and 277 pounds, Hill is a tremendous specimen as both a blocker and a receiver. He's not going to stretch the field too much, but he's a steady midrange target who has turned into a good route runner. 

Top Backups
- Darrell Blackman, Jr. - 15 catches, 151 yds, 10.1 ypc, 1 TD, 46 carries, 203 yds, 4.4 ypc, 2 TD
Part running back, part wide receiver, Blackman will push for the starting job at the Z position along with John Dunlap. He's a game-breaker wherever he plays with his best use now as a tough inside receiver with all the talent in the backfield. He can also be used as a kick and punt returner.
- Geron James, RFr. - 2 catches, 14 yds, 1 TD
The 6-4 James has excellent speed and unreal athleticism with the ability to jump out of the stadium. He got hurt early on last year banging up his shoulder, but he's back, healthy, and ready to create several mismatch problems around the goal line. Watch for him to be used on several jump balls.

- Tight end Jacob King, Soph.
With Octavius Darby likely to spend most of his time at fullback instead of backup tight end, the 6-2, 238-pound King could potentially see plenty of time. While he has hands, he'll be used mostly as a blocker if he gets some work.

Offensive Linemen
It's a big line with a little bit of experience, but it has to be better in pass protection after allowing 28 sacks last season. Center Leroy Harris is one of the best in America with enough NFL talent to revolve the entire line around. There's good potential among the reserves to provide a push for the projected starters with Jon Holt and Jerrail McCuller in a decent battle for the right tackle spot. Kalani Heppe and Curtis Crouch are big guards who should be strong for the ground game right off the bat with Harris cleaning everything up in the middle.

The key to the unit: More consistency and for things to quickly come together around Harris.
Offensive Line Rating: 6.5

Projected Starters
- OT James Newby, Sr.
One of the line's most versatile players, the 6-5, 295-pound senior will start against at left tackle where he has experience and decent skills, but needs to be more consistent in pass protection. With all his past time spend at guard, he could easily move if one of the young backup tackles steps up and demands playing time.
- OG Kalani Heppe, Jr.
The former center turned into a decent guard last year before suffering an injured shoulder. The 300-pound senior has bulked up a bit, and now he has to show he can stay healthy after having problems with a broken foot earlier in his career.
- C Leroy Harris, Sr.
By far the team's best offensive lineman and in the hunt for All-America honors before he gets a big pay day from the big league next year, the 6-3, 300-pound senior is a perfect anchor for the line with devastating run blocking skills and good durability despite missing four games a few years ago with a shoulder problem. If absolutely needed, he can move back to guard.
- OG Curtis Crouch, Soph.
A top recruit a few years ago, Crouch ended up becoming a key member of the rotation over the second half of the season getting one start along the way against Maryland. He has all-star potential with a little more seasoning; he can move surprisingly well for being 6-5 and 344 pounds.
- OT Jon Holt, Sr.
Appearing to be on the verge of being a top starter after a strong sophomore year as a reserve, the 6-6, 296-pound senior had a hard time getting on the field last season. Now he'll get the first look at right tackle where he'll be pushed hard for time. While he's a strong run blocker, he has to be consistent in pass protection.

Top Backups
- T Jerraill McCuller, RFr.
An imposing 6-7, 342-pound behemoth, McCuller will play behind James Newby at left tackle. He'll have to battle with JUCO transfer Garrett Kline for the number two job, but with his size it'll be hard to keep him off the field.
T Julian Williams, RFr.
Potentially a key cog on the line if he's finally over persistent problems with knee injuries, he'll be a top backup at both right guard and left tackle. At an athletic 6-5 and 295 pounds, he has the versatility to shine at either spot.

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