Preview 2007 - Offense
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2006 CFN NC
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.
Passing: Daniel Evans
163-307, 1,843 yds, 6 TD, 11 INT
Rushing: Toney Baker
157 carries, 688 yds, 6 TD
Receiving: 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
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman QB Justin
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
Weakness of the offense:
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.