2007 NC State Preview - Offense

Posted Jul 22, 2007

Preview 2007 North Carolina State Wolfpack Offense

NC State Wolfpack

Preview 2007 - Offense

- 2007 NC State Preview | 2007 NC State Defense Preview
2007 NC State Depth Chart | 2006 CFN NC State Preview 

What you need to know: This won't be a bombs away attack under Dana Bible, but it could be with a big, fast, experienced receiving corps that should be able to spread the field. The trio of running backs, Toney Baker, Andre Brown and Jamelle Eugene, should be a major plus, but the line has to be far better and needs to replace the starting tackles. It'll be a three-man race for the starting quarterback job between Daniel Evans, Nebraska transfer Harrison Beck, and Justin Burke, with the one of them needing to be able to move the offense consistently, something that wasn't done this spring. This will be a running offense that will eventually grow into a 50/50 balance.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Daniel Evans
163-307, 1,843 yds, 6 TD, 11 INT
Rushing: Toney Baker
157 carries, 688 yds, 6 TD
Anthony Hill INJ.
45 catches, 478 yds

Star of the offense: Senior WR/KR Darrell Blackman
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior QB Daniel Evans
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman QB Justin Burke
Best pro prospect: Hill
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Blackman, 2) RB Toney Baker, 3) WR John Dunlap
Strength of the offense: Running back, receiver size and speed
Weakness of the offense:
Tackle, quarterback


Projected Starter: On experience alone, junior Daniel Evans will likely be the opening day starter. However, he might not be the best of the three options. He took over for an ineffective Marcus Stone and started the last nine games of the year, and while his stats weren't awful, completing 53% of his passes for 1,843 yards and six touchdowns, he threw 11 interceptions and only threw one touchdown pass in the final seven games. Masking the rough finish were magical performances early on, with a last-second touchdown pass to beat Boston College and a three-touchdown game in the win over Florida State, but he had a hard time once defenses started to force him to throw. He's 6-2 and 191 pounds with a decent arm, but little in the way of mobility.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-2, 213-pound sophomore Harrison Beck came over from Nebraska and didn't do much of anything this spring to make a claim for the starting job. He has the strongest arm of all the quarterback options, but he struggles with his accuracy. With decent mobility and good potential, he'll likely be more of a factor next year.

The wild-card is 6-3, 210-pound redshirt freshman Justin Burke, who has the most talent of any of the quarterbacks and simply needs a little bit of seasoning. A top recruit, he has a live, accurate arm and good running skills. He didn't display much this spring, but in time, he has the biggest upside and should be the starter sooner than later.
Watch Out For ... Burke. It's just a question of time before the job is his. He has to prove he's ready, and the other quarterbacks will have to fall flat, but that might come early on.
Strength: Three decent options. The new coaching staff can have an honest, open competition and let the cream rise to the top. The job is there for the taking by whoever plays the best this fall.
Weakness: Evans might be the starter by default. Harrison and Burke struggled way too much in spring ball, while Evans had a far better command of the offense and made better, smarter reads. That was expected because of his experience, but in a perfect world, it all clicks for Burke at some point.
Outlook: Evans is a pure baller who has a way of making things interesting late. Now he has to be more consistent and he has to prove he's a winner. Beck is likely the number three when all is said and done, and the team will sink or swim with Burke if needed.
Rating: 6

Running Backs

Projected Starters: The Pack will use a steady rotation of three backs, with 5-10, 225-pound junior Toney Baker the first to get the call after leading the team with 688 yards and six touchdowns to go along with 21 catches for 177 yards. The main man over the second half of the season, he ran for 95 yards against Maryland and was brilliant against Clemson with 34 carries for 174 yards.  Concentration and hanging on to the ball has always been an issue, and he hasn't proven he can be a top producer for a full season, but with the other backs in the mix, he won't have to be.

In to block, and only block, will be 6-0, 239-pound senior Pat Bedics. A big-time special teamer, the former Penn State linebacker will be a major contributor in several ways, even if he doesn't get any passes.

Projected Top Reserves: Baker might be the starter, but 6-0, 232-pound Andre Brown is No. 1A on the depth chart. He ripped off 113 yards against Florida State and was strong for a stretch in the midseason, and then didn't do much over the final five games. Extremely fast for his size, he can tear off big runs here and there, and was a star for a stretch two years ago with a 248-yard day against Southern Miss and 179 yards against Florida State. He's a great talent who'll be used more.

5-10, 195-pound sophomore Jamelle Eugene proved this spring that he has the speed, cutting ability, and talent to potentially be the team's most dangerous runner. He also proved this spring that he has to do a far better job of not putting the ball on the ground. He's a home run hitter who only got 17 carries for 60 yards with a touchdowns, and caught nine passes for 90 yards and a score.
Watch Out For ... the coaching staff to realize it has a fantastic group of backs. The good runners were underutilized as the offense revolved around the passing attack. That'll change in a big hurry.
Strength: Size/speed ratio. Baker and Brown are big backs who can move, Eugene is a smaller back who can fly. They can all tear off yards in chunks.
Weakness: Finding the right combination. The old coaching staff never quite juggled the backs the right way. All three can carry the workload, and it might take a few games before O'Brien and his staff realize exactly what they want to do to get everyone involved.
Outlook: O'Brien did a good job over the last three years of using L.V. Whitworth and Andre Callender in a dual role at BC. Each was productive, able to see time and keep the other fresh. The talent is there to be far, far better 79th in the nation in rushing, and the staff will do a tremendous job of getting everyone to play up to their potential.
Rating: 7.5


Projected Starters: The strength of the offense, and maybe the team, the top two receivers are back, but things could've been so much better. Senior Anthony Hill, who caught 45 passes for 478 yards, was the league's premier tight end, but he was lost in the summer to a torn ACL and will be out for the year. That means 6-2, 239-pound senior Marcus Stone, a former star quarterback prospect who struggled mightily when he finally got his shot, has to step up. He completed a mere 48% of his passes for 345 yards and four touchdowns with five interceptions, and now he'll be tried out as a full-time receiver after catching four passes for 68 yards.

Back at the Z is 6-1, 218-pound senior John Dunlap after catching 30 passes for 392 yards and a team-leading four scores. He's now more than a year removed from a torn ACL he suffered while playing basketball, and now he needs to be more of a deep threat. He has the speed along with the size to be far more dangerous.

Another potentially devastating target is senior Darrell Blackman, an All-America caliber kick and punt returner who ran for 47 yards and caught 27 passes for 358 yards and two scores. With phenomenal speed, he needs to stretch the field more and needs to up his yards after the catch. He has far too much quickness to not be more of a weapon.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-3, 200-pound sophomore Donald Bowens is a great looking prospect at the X behind Blackman. A receiver and outside linebacker in high school, he's physical and good at getting deep averaging 12.5 yards per catch on 16 grabs. He had the team's longest pass play of the season with a 46 yarder against Florida State.

6-4, 205-pound redshirt freshman Jarvis Williams was all set to be a contributor as a true freshman before getting knocked out for the year with a back problem. He has good speed, running a 4.58, and should grow into a regular playmaker on the inside.

Bringing great athleticism to the corps will be 6-4, 200-pound redshirt freshman Darrell Davis, a part-time player on the State basketball team. He needs plenty of polish, but he has the raw tools to be a good one over the next few years on the outside.
Watch Out For ... more from Dunlap and Blackman. They're the team's biggest weapons with the ability to score from anywhere on the field. Dunlap's biggest catch was only 34 yards, and Blackman only came up with a 41-yard play. That has to change quickly.
Strength: Size. Blackman is a good-sized receiver at 5-10 and 205 yards, but he's the small fry compared to the rest of the receivers. The other five top receiver prospects on the depth chart average 6-3 and 200 pounds.
Weakness: Proven depth. Williams, Davis and Bowens have a ton of upside, but haven't done it yet. They'll all be used at some point this season and need to make an impact.
Outlook: It's not a stretch to call the receiving corps the team's biggest strength, and it's not pushing it to say it's a more talented corps than Tom O'Brien ever had at Boston College. Now the quarterbacks have to start getting all the speedsters the ball deep, while Hill has to clean up everything underneath.
Rating: 7.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: The most beef will be on the right side, where 6-4, 335-pound Curtis Crouch is back at guard, where he started in every game last year, but missed a little time late with a head problem. A star recruit a few years ago, he's just now starting to grow into the job, and now that he's a bit slimmer than last year, should move even better.

Stepping into Jon Holt's spot at right tackle is 6-7, 330-pound sophomore Jerrail McCuller. He has the size and the strength, and now he has to show he can be a steady pass blocker after only seeing a little bit of time in one game. Consistency is his issue.

Back in the middle will be 6-4, 292-pound senior Luke Lathan, who stepped in for Leroy Harris over the last four games of the season. He was going to start the year, with Harris likely to have moved to guard, but had a major problem with a concussion suffered in fall practice and only ended up playing in eight games. While he has the talent, staying healthy is a concern. He also had a knee problem early in his career.

Returning at left guard is 6-5, 300-pound senior Kalani Heppe, who started in ten games after having a leg problem just before the season started. He also had a problem with a separated shoulder as a junior costing him a few games, and suffered a broken foot as a freshman. A former center, he has grown into a good guard.

6-5, 292-pound sophomore Julian Williams will take over for James Newby at left tackle after not seeing any time last year. He came to Raleigh as a major prospect, but his career hasn't gotten off the ground thanks to persistent knee problems starting late in high school. Strong enough to play guard if needed, he's more of a tackle.

Projected Top Reserves: It's time for 6-6, 315-pound senior Garrett Kline to finally produce. A star JUCO player, he came to the program two years ago as a top tackle prospect and hasn't played in two years. He'll be a part of the rotation behind McCuller on the right side.

On the rise if 6-,4, 305-pound redshirt freshman Gary Gregory, who appears ready to make an impact at one of the guard spots. He'll start out on the right side behind Crouch and be groomed for a possible starting spot next year. He's big and tough.
Watch Out For ... the line to play over its head. Great lines have been a staple of Tom O'Brien teams, and he'll get the right combination to turn a mediocre group into a productive unit. It just might take a little while.
Strength: Size on the right side. Between the 330-pound McCuler, the 335-pound Crouch, and the 315-pound Kline, getting a push for hard yards shouldn't be an issue.
Weakness: Playing up to the size. This was a big line last year that didn't do much on a consistent basis for the running game. Depth is an issue.
Outlook: After improving in pass protection, the line has to break in two new tackles. The biggest issue is health. It seems like no one has been able to stay in one piece for a continuous stretch, and with little in the way of developed depth, a rash of backups would be devastating. Give State the benefit of the doubt that things will turn out fine, in time, considering the new coaching staff.
Rating: 6.5


Related Stories
2007 NC State Preview
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 22, 2007
2007 NC State Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 22, 2007
2007 NC State Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 22, 2007

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