2010 NC State Preview – Offense
NC State TE George Bryan
CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - North Carolina State Wolfpack Offense
Preview 2010 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: Tom O'Brien has always favored an offense built on a power running game. All signs, however, point to the passing attack being the catalyst once again. Most of the Pack's talent is through the air, with Russell Wilson and Mike Glennon throwing to an underrated receiving corps headed by Owen Spencer, Jarvis Williams, and TE George Bryan. The ground game, on the other hand, remains a work-in-progress after finishing 92nd nationally and averaging 3.4 yards a carry. None of the backs have ever started a game and a young and unproven offensive line doesn't figure to provide much cover. Throw in a defense that pretty much requires shootouts, and Wilson and the receivers will again fatten their stats while the backs get a crash course in pass protection.
Star of the offense: Sophomore QB Russell Wilson
Passing: Russell Wilson
224-378, 3,027 yds, 31 TDs, 11 INTs
Rushing: Russell Wilson
103 carries, 260 yds, 4 TDs
Receiving: Jarvis Williams
45 catches, 547 yds, 11 TDs
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior RB Curtis Underwood
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore QB Mike Glennon
Best pro prospect: Junior TE George Bryan
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Wilson, 2) Bryan, 3) Senior WR Jarvis Williams
Strength of the offense: Quarterback, the passing game, depth at receiver, red zone scoring
Weakness of the offense: The offensive line, the running game, pass protection, turnovers
Projected Starter: The Wolfpack did not have the services of junior Russell Wilson in the spring. All the program cares about is whether or not he's available in the fall. One of the ACC's premier quarterbacks, he's also a talented second baseman and a member of the Colorado Rockies, but remains committed to also playing football. That's great news since he's spent the last two seasons shredding defenses with his arm and legs. While only 5-11 and 201 pounds, he's already in the top 5 in most school passing records. An accurate passer and overall terrific athlete, he carried the offense on his back, rushing for 260 yards and four touchdowns, going 224-of-378 for 3,027 yards, 31 touchdowns, and 11 picks through the air. He is the franchise in Raleigh.
Projected Top Reserves: No matter what happens with Wilson in the future, NC State figures to have a capable quarterback calling signals. Sophomore Mike Glennon is entering his third season on campus, and is poised to take the reins if necessary. The 6-6, 217-pound former blue-chip recruit can make all the throws and has even more upside as a passer than the incumbent. He got a taste of action in seven games last year, completing 24-of-39 for 248 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions. He'll play more this fall no matter what. How much more depends on what happens around him.
The only other quarterback on the roster is 6-0, 202-pound junior Daniel Imhoff , a former walk-on who'll only be used in an emergency. He's appeared in just 13 plays since arriving, and could be bumped a peg lower when incoming freshman Tyler Brosius arrives on campus.
Watch Out For .... Wilson's decision about his future. Obviously, this has been the most closely-watched topic of the offseason surrounding the football team. It's not as if the program wouldn't have survived, especially since Glennon has such a high ceiling, but with Wilson on hand, the situation is far more stable. You don't get better, however, losing a player with his multi-dimensional skills.
Strength: Depth of talent. Wilson is one of the ACC's premier quarterbacks, having already accounted for 56 touchdowns and just a dozen picks in two seasons. Glennon has an enormous ceiling, and could start for a bunch of programs across the country. Together, they give State an enviable situation behind center.
Weakness: Durability. There's not a lot to dislike about this pair. The only concern is whether or not an undersized Wilson can continue to take a perennial pounding. He's absorbed a lot of punishment since winning the job in 2008, which has to be factoring into his decision about his future.
Outlook: When Wilson puts on a helmet in the fall, it will have a facemask … breathe a sigh of relief, Pack fans. With him and Glennon at the staff's disposal, NC State will have a chance in every game this fall.
Projected Starters: Toney Baker and Jamelle Eugene have graduated, leaving the Pack without a returning starter for the first time since 2005. The line forming to pick up the slack is headed by 5-11, 220-pound junior Curtis Underwood, who redshirted in 2009 to bolster future depth. The Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year, he's especially tough between the tackles and refuses to be brought down by a single tackler. He's lettered twice, turning 51 career carries into 200 yards and a score.
The blocking back will once again be Taylor Gentry, a former walk-on and key cog in the running game. Now up to 6-2 and 250 pounds, he's a bull when he locks on to a defender and has decent hands, catching 17 career passes. He also one of the team's best special teamers, leading the Pack with 21 tackles.
Projected Top Reserves: No one is assured of anything and everyone has a shot to be the feature runner. Sophomore Brandon Barnes knows it. One of the top recruits from two years ago, he blends the toughness of a 6-0, 209-pounder with good quickness, balance, and vision. After playing sparingly in three blowouts, he just needs more reps in order to become a bigger factor. However, he required surgery in April after dislocating his ankle, and his status for the season is unknown.
Sophomore James Washington was getting increased playing time before a knee injury prematurely ended his rookie year. By that point, he'd run 21 times for 76 yards and two touchdowns, adding five catches for 44 yards and another score. At 5-11 and 180 pounds, he has the most zip of the backs, dancing in and out of traffic and keeping plays alive.
Watch Out For .... incoming freshman Mustafa Greene. The opportunity will be there for newcomers to climb the depth chart and avoid a redshirt year. Greene is one of them. Tom O'Brien had to beat out the likes of Alabama and Georgia to land a physically mature runner, who might be ready to contribute immediately.
Strength: The future. The present may be murky, but the future appears bright at running back. After sitting out 2009, Underwood has two years left, and Barnes, Washington, Greene, and Tony Creecy are all underclassmen. The Pack has a lot of young talent in the backfield, but needs to develop...
Weakness: ...a go-to guy. Underwood's 51 career carries make him the veteran of a unit seeking a leader and a bona fide workhorse. Baker showed those tendencies last fall, but he opted to not pursue a final year of eligibility. Someone has to step up between now and the opener if State is going to have the balance it craves.
Outlook: NC State has an outstanding back on the roster … who's it going to be? It could take a while, especially if Underwood has any rust after sitting out a full year. The sooner a pecking order is established the better it'll be for the whole offense.
Projected Starters: NC State has plenty of problems. Quality hands is not one of them. The Wolfpack had three players catch at least 30 passes and six touchdowns in 2009. All of them are back, led by senior Jarvis Williams. Physically imposing at 6-4 and 219 pounds, he has big hands and uses his body well when the ball is in the air. After scratching the surface as a sophomore, he really percolated last fall, catching 45 passes for 547 yards and 11 touchdowns. With NFL scouts beginning to pay attention, the best is yet to come for No. 5.
Williams' partner on the outside is senior Owen Spencer. The field-stretcher among the wide receivers, he's established a new single-season ACC mark for yards per catch in each of the last two years. Long and lean at 6-3 and 185 pounds, he has the jets to streak into the secondary and leave opposing defensive backs in his wake. A year after averaging more than 20 yards a grab, he upped the ante by parlaying 30 receptions into 765 yards and six touchdowns.
Junior TE George Bryan has been a revelation since arriving without a firm position three years ago. In his first full season as the starter, he parlayed 40 catches for 422 yards and six touchdowns into a spot on the All-ACC first team. At 6-5 and 265 pounds, he possesses the outstanding balance, agility, and hands to ponder early entry to the NFL at the conclusion of the regular season. He has developed that quickly in Raleigh.
Projected Top Reserves: Behind Williams at "X" receiver will be senior Darrell Davis, who is similarly sized and experience. The 6-4, 211-pound veteran of three letters and 37 games caught a career-high 25 balls for 380 yards and a score last year, and has a flair for the dramatic grab. He also has starting experience, a luxury in the event one of the front-line guys goes down.
Providing depth at "Z" will be 6-0, 180-pound junior T.J. Graham, a potential gamebreaker with the ball in his hands. One of the fastest and most elusive players on the roster, he can be lethal in space as a wide receiver or a returner on special teams. Before suffering a stress fracture in his leg in mid-October, he'd started three games and caught a dozen passes for 129 yards and a touchdown.
Watch Out For .... this group to begin attracting a lot of pro scouts to Raleigh. After coming together in 2009, the wide receivers and tight ends are set to explode beyond just the region in 2010. Williams, Spencer, and Bryan all have next-level potential, a boon to both of the program's quarterbacks.
Strength: Size. The Wolfpack likes its receivers to be big enough to create match up problems, which is exactly what this unit is capable of doing on a weekly basis. With the exception of Graham, who can hurt you with his wheels, all of the primary wideouts are at least 6-2. Spencer and Williams are 6-3 and 6-4, respectively, and Bryan is a load to handle in the middle of the field.
Weakness: Consistency. Yeah, the wideouts and tight ends are physically imposing, but they still need to tighten up their overall consistency. The receivers, in particular, will drop a few too many passes and need to do the little things better, such as running routes and blocking downfield.
Outlook: NC State is stacked with talent and depth in the receiving corps, which it'll look to leverage week-in and week-out. The Pack has the size and the speed to challenge any secondary, and the battery mates, in Russell Wilson and Mike Glennon, to make connections. If they can keep everyone well-fed, it'll be fun watching this collection of talent blossom.
Projected Starters: Someone sound the distress signal. The Pack is once again in trouble in the trenches. An already flimsy front wall must replace three starters and four lettermen. For now, the patchwork group will be built around 6-5, 325-pound senior Jake Vermiglio, the starter at left tackle. A regular over the last three seasons, he started all nine games he appeared in last fall and allowed just a pair of sacks. He has ideal size for the position, needing to just clean up his fundamentals and footwork in order to neutralize speed rushers.
Coming out of spring, the favorite at the opposite tackle is redshirt freshman Sam Jones. At 6-7 and 321 pounds, he certainly looks the part, but in a conference with plenty of quality edge rushers, he'll need to grow up in a hurry before the season begins. Although he has no experience, he does have the reach and athletic ability to have a chance of holding this spot atop the depth chart.
NC State is likely to entrust the pivot to 6-3, 290-pound sophomore Camden Wentz, who was in on 67 snaps as a reserve in his rookie year. One of the nation's better centers of 2009, he won't overpower many defenders, but he moves well for his size, is very bright, and plays with a chip on his shoulder.
The other returning starter along with Vermiglio is 6-6, 313-pound sophomore R.J. Mattes. The youngest Wolfpack lineman in six years to earn the start, he was playing well before a torn ACL cut his debut short at the end of October. While he missed the spring session to continue his rehabilitation, he's expected to be back at right guard when the team reconvenes in the summer.
Finishing off the line at left guard will be 6-5, 299-pound Andrew Wallace, another key member of Tom O'Brien's 2008 recruiting class. Built like a tackle, he has the size, quickness, and footwork to get out to the second level and really become an asset as a run blocker. He played in every game a year ago, earning starts versus Maryland and Gardner-Webb and enough experience to handle this promotion.
Projected Top Reserves: With all of the youth up front, NC State is hoping junior Mikel Overgaard can step in and immediately provide depth in the rotation. The 6-6, 280-pound transfer from Snow College in Utah began his career as a tight end with Washington State. While raw, he does possess the athleticism and agility coaches want in a tackle.
When Mattes sat out the spring, 6-3, 314-pound sophomore Zach Allen got most of the reps with the first team at right guard. A physical, no-nonsense drive blocker, he plays with good pad level and will stay on his man until the whistle blows. He was in the rotation last fall, he earned a letter by appearing in all but one game.
Watch Out For .... incoming freshman OT Robert Crisp. He's the caliber of lineman who'd vie for a spot on the two-deep at plenty of schools. At NC State, it might already be a foregone conclusion. A can't-miss prospect at 6-7 and 299 pounds, he already has what it takes to wade through the mediocrity and contend for playing time in preseason camp.
Strength: Young talent. It's debatable how much it'll help in the short term, but the Pack has done a nice job of attracting talented young blockers to the program over the last three years. The key will be to get blockers, like Jones, Wentz, Wallace, and Crisp, to an ACC level as quickly as possible.
Weakness: Run blocking. Or pass blocking. The cruel reality is that the Wolfpack line doesn't do any one thing well at this point. Last year's offense was 92nd nationally on the ground and 98th in sacks allowed. With so much youth on the two-deep, this year's edition might be every bit as ineffective.
Outlook: Don't be shocked if the O-line stops the offense as much as opposing defenses do this fall. There's simply a dearth of veterans and proven blockers, which will keep the quarterbacks scrambling and put a spoke in the wheel of the ground game. While there's hope for the future, it probably won't be realized until late in the campaign or in 2011.
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