NC State adjusts to mystery Seminoles

Jacey Zembal, Editor
The Wolfpacker
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Ken Martin/TheWolfpacker.com

NC State has only one game to study Florida State, and even that contest has skewed scouting the Seminoles’ offense.

Florida State canceled its game against Louisiana-Monroe, which was scheduled Sept. 9, and then was forced to move the Miami (Fla.) contest from Sept. 16 to Oct. 7, both due to Hurricane Irma. Further complicating game prep is FSU lost redshirt sophomore quarterback Deandre Francois for the season due to an patella tendon injury in the opener against No. 1 Alabama.

The Crimson Tide topped Florida State 24-7 in the Seminoles’ lone game of the season Sept. 2 in Atlanta. Some parts can be gleaned from that powerhouse matchup, but only so much. NC State knows Francois’ replacement — true freshman quarterback Justin Blackman — has a big arm, but it is different trying to figure out strengths and weaknesses of a player based off HUDL film rather than college action.

“For us, there may be some unknowns that you wouldn’t [normally] have,” NCSU head coach Dave Doeren said. “At same time, [FSU head coach] Jimbo [Fisher] has been calling plays the whole time down there. He does a great job of that.

“Just watching him [Blackman] in high school, he has a big arm. There is not a lot of film on him as a runner. He can throw the deep ball. He has big receivers that can make plays.”

Blackman handed the ball off during his three snaps against Alabama. Rivals.com ranked him as the No. 10 dual-threat quarterback in the country in the class of 2017 coming out of Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Central. He picked Florida State over Louisville and West Virginia, plus a late run from Florida.

“It’s unique,” Doeren said. “You can watch his highlight film really quick and see he has a strong arm and can really throw it.”

The memories from last year’s heart-breaking loss against Florida State still linger. The Wolfpack were a Shawn Boone interception away from pulling off the upset. Some of the names have changed since then, but not the motivation to defeat the Seminoles.

“We just need to prepare them the right way, practice them smart and put them in position to make the plays, and then they go make them,” Doeren said. “We have had a chip on our shoulder since week seven of last season.

“We want to see our players get the fruits of their labor.”

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NC State has gone through a little flux of its own at various positions.

Doeren expects senior cornerback Mike Stevens and redshirt junior free safety Dexter Wright back in the secondary. Both have an “or” status on the depth chart, with Stevens competing with fifth-year senior Johnathan Alston and Wright going against sophomore Tim Kidd-Glass.

“[Stevens] practiced last week and took a lot of reps,” Doeren said. “Our trainers have told us he is ready to go. He’ll be out there in practice this week.

“Wright is back in practice this week. Him and Kidd-Glass will take a lot of reps and maybe it will be a rotation thing. Who is the one and who is the two, I don’t that yet [at cornerback and safety].”

Doeren also has opened up the competition at slot receiver, though based on the Furman game the odds are slanted in one direction. Redshirt sophomore Jakobi Meyers had been the starter, but fifth-year senior Gavin Locklear earned 21 snaps against the Paladins and caught one pass for five yards.

Meyers entered the Furman game with seven catches for 72 yards and a touchdown before getting benched. He did not play Saturday.

“He didn’t have a very good week preparation wise,” Doeren said. “We just didn’t feel like he was prepared to play like we expected him, too. I think it will be a good experience for him.”

Redshirt junior kicker Carson Wise also will continue in his role. The graduate transfer from Carson-Newman edged incumbent Kyle Bambard, but Wise has missed two field goals and an extra point through three games.

Doeren doesn’t want anyone to panic about the kicking game.

“I’m disappointed he missed the kick obviously,” Doeren said. “I have faith in him and think we’ll stay the course right now. He has done a good job from 45 [yards] and in, in practice.”

The play of defensive ends Kentavius Street, a senior, and junior Darian Roseboro also proved crucial in shutting down Furman’s triple-option attack. Doeren said the Paladins ran away from senior defensive end Bradley Chubb’s side. Roseboro led the Wolfpack with nine tackles.

Doeren credited defensive line coach Kevin Patrick's saying of “see a little, see a lot.”

“The week before, I thought our entire front on defense at times had taken their eyes off their keys,” Doeren said. “They were trying to do too many things. Coach Patrick got them back in where they needed to be.”

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