One game into the season is a tough point to make any big generalizations about a team, but we can look at where things stand on a game-by-game basis. We will assess three items from each game as NC State progresses during the season.
1. The Quarterback Battle
So far, it's safe to say Ryan Finley looks the best choice as the starter going forward. He completed 17 of his 21 passes, including two touchdowns. While he did not throw the ball down the field much at all, this was by design and he did all that he was asked. Jalan McClendon did not play poorly, but was not quite impressive enough to win the job yet. He made one mistake for an interception but also had a nice long ball to freshman Kelvin Harmon. He will get his chance against ECU this week, but will need to look very good to win the job.
2. Drinkwitz Feeds the Threats
If you were to ask any Wolfpack fan who follows the program who the biggest offensive threats are, you would get the same answer every time: Matt Dayes, Jaylen Samuels, and Nyheim Hines. The new Pack Offensive Coordinator got the trio involved early and often to hopefully set the tone for the rest of the season. Dayes finished with 25 total touches for 156 yards and a pair of scores. Keeping him healthy but involved is likely the biggest key to the season. Samuels had 10 touches for 90 yards (5 carries, 5 receptions) for 3 touchdowns. Hines finished with 8 touches for 50 yards. All three were out before the fourth quarter, so their touches should increase in more competitive games down the line.
3. Improved Pass Defense?
Granted, the opponent wasn't an FBS squad, but the State defense forced two turnovers and kept the yardage through the air at a manageable number. The William & Mary quarterbacks combined for 106 yards with two interceptions on 10 of 19 passing. If players like Shawn Boone and Josh Jones (one of the interceptions) can keep plays in front of them, State may not be torched for as many long plays as last season.
It looks like true freshman receiver Kelvin Harmon could have the attributes that Dave Doeren has been looking for. Harmon has a prototypical receiver body and made two nice long catches for 53 total yards.
Despite the atrocious penalty immediately after, it was great to see Kentavius Street get his first full sack on Thursday. He abused the right tackle and will be able to use that move as a confidence booster going forward.