RALEIGH – The punters stole the show in the first half of the North Carolina State spring game before either offense was able to get going.
With a running clock in the second half, the red team pulled away for a 16-3 win at Carter-Finley Stadium.
A.J. Cole and Williams Stephenson punted a combined 12 times in the first half, before the red offense, led by starter Jacoby Brissett, got into the endzone on a couple of short scores. Senior running back Shadrach Thornton scored on a one-yard run, and Brissett hit Benson Browne for a 13-yard strike as the red team took a 16-3 lead into the locker room.
That was all the scoring for the day, as both defenses bolted down after intermission. Playing the first-team starters against the second units, the red team (first team) accounted for 400 yards of total offense. The white team (second team) finished with 129 yards of total offense, led by redshirt freshman quarterback Jalen McClendon, who finished with 117 yards through the air and 8 on the ground.
Brissett finished 13-32 with 164 yards and 1 score in one half of work.
The real star of the day was early enrollee Reggie Gallaspy II. The running back from High Point switched from the white to red team and proved he belonged with the starters, finishing with 120 yards on the ground, averaging 9.2 yards per touch.
“There was a lot of back and forth,” NCSU head coach Dave Doeren said afterwards about the scrimmage. “I thought the defensive line did a nice job on the red team squeezing the run lanes. Offensively, we didn’t turn the ball over, we stayed healthy. A lot of guys played. There were some good things out there. When we get everybody and our team is healthy, it creates a few more things you can do on offense. We got out of it what we wanted – we stayed healthy and a lot of guys got work.”
North Carolina State opens the 2015 season September 5 versus Troy.
Spring Game notes …
*NCSU will be breaking in a new crop of wide receivers in 2015. Last season’s number one guy, Bo Hines, transferred. The other top two pass catchers are a running back and a tight end.
“We need to get all our receivers on the field,” Doeren said. “There are a lot of guys who weren’t out there and that makes a difference. I thought throughout the spring, the small number of players we had, they took a ton of reps. I’m not concerned about it when we get everyone back. We have three signees who will be here in a month and they will help as well.”
*Again, the breakout name of the day was the rookie Gallaspy. He showed in the first half he was running hard, but behind the second team offensive line, he wasn’t getting a lot of open lanes. Once he played with the first unit, he broke for some huge runs, showing power, speed and vision.
“I was happy to see him run through,” Doeren said. “In practice you don’t get to see the backs run through because you are blowing (the whistle), but Reggie made some plays after contact today. He was able to finish runs, stay on his feet, see his balance, see his vision, his patience.”
*Speaking of Gallaspy, he figures to be a part of a deep stable of running backs in the fall. Shadrach Thornton appears to be the starter, with Dayes behind him. Throw Jalen Samuels in the mix along with Gallaspy, not to mention Johnny Frasier and Nyheim Hines, who will both enroll in the fall. Thornton, Dayes, Samuels and Gallaspy combined for 223 yards on Saturday.
“We did great,” Dayes said when asked to assess the performance of the group. “Pass blocking, running the ball, obviously, I think we did a great job running behind our line today. Our rotation saves us from injury and it’s great.”
*Wolfpack fans got their first look at the quarterback of the future in redshirt freshman Jalen McClendon. The Charlotte native moved the ball well on the opening drive – 5-7 for 59 yards – leading the white team to a field goal. He has the build (6-5, 208) to fit the scheme and should be a reliable backup to Brissett. Doeren says he can’t wait for McClendon to get in the film room to correct his mistakes.
“It’s going to be a lot of learning for him on that film,” Doeren said. “He can throw the ball, he’s got a tremendous arm. He’s got really good command of the guys, but he’s got to to move faster. There were plenty of plays where we were barely getting the ball off, but it’ll be a good learning experience for him.”