The 2021 spring game: a game that, frankly, you just are happy to see. Spring practice progressing like normal: happy to see it. Devin Leary back under center: happy to see it. More fans in the stands than were allowed to attend a game in the fall: happy to see it.
Leary’s return to the field was the headlining aspect of this game, and he was good in spots, but also showed some rust, understandably. He was uncharacteristically off on some down-field throws, sailing a few of them. One of them should have been picked, and another was.
Still, the Red team, which was composed of the first-stringers, pretty much cruised from the start of the game. It’d have been worrisome if that were not the case.
Leary got the Red team on the board early with a long pass play to Porter Rooks, who showed off his ability to make people miss in the open field in taking the grab to the house. Rooks has big potential, and should be more of a playmaker in year two.
There was also some trickery—this was actually one of the best throws of the day, with Thayer Thomas showing off the arm talent.
NC State was missing a number of regulars who were sitting out because of injury, which allowed us a look at some guys farther down the depth chart. Both Bam Knight and Ricky Person sat this one out at running back, and Jordan Houston had an impressive afternoon prior to getting hurt. He piled up 89 yards on 10 carries, but was rolled up on a down-field tackle and was eventually carted to the locker room. It didn’t look terribly serious, but it’s easy to fear the worst.
Delbert Mimms did some solid work as the change-of-pace back, providing some of that physical presence that’s missing when Knight is out.
Ben Finley had an up-and-down day of his own, and took an inadvertent shot to his lower leg that at the time was pretty scary, but he returned to the game and made some nice throws, including a dime of a deep sideline fade that led to an eventual touchdown for the White team.
Aaron McLaughlin looked like, well, a kid who has only been on campus for a few months. The game is going 100 MPH for him right now; he’ll be fine.
Based on what we saw on Saturday, there is no ambiguity about the pecking order at quarterback—this is Devin Leary’s show, Finley is the clear No. 2, and McLaughlin will be spending the season learning as much as he can.
After the game, Leary and Tanner Ingle met with the media.