NC State football's diversity on offense creating new layers

Jacey Zembal, Editor
The Wolfpacker

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The Associated Press

NC State redshirt sophomore Jakobi Meyers caught a pass and smoothly juked Florida State All-American safety candidate Derwin James in the open field en route to a 71-yard touchdown pass to help spark NC State’s 27-21 win over Florida State on Saturday.

It’s the kind of play that could become synonymous with the victory when NCSU fans look back years from now. Part of that is a back-handed compliment toward the abilities of James. However, Meyers didn’t even play a snap against Furman the previous week due to a subpar week of practice leading up to facing the Paladins.

Meyers finished five catches for 112 yards and a score, leading one to expect Wolfpack offensive coordinator Eli Drinkwitz to heap some praise on the converted quarterback. Instead, Drinkwitz simply said over and over that Meyers was “he did his job.”

NC State hosts 2-2 Syracuse at 12:20 p.m. Saturday, and Drinkwitz is already plotting ways for improvement.

“To be honest, we didn’t play particularly well on offense,” Drinkwitz said.

NC State envisioned a diverse offense thanks to the versatile talents of senior H-back Jaylen Samuels and junior running back Nyheim Hines. Both delivered against the Seminoles. Samuels caught 12 passes for 64 yards and a touchdown, and rushed five times for 11 yards and a score. He also completed a 25-yard pass on what Drinkwitz called “the worst throw I’ve ever seen.”

Hines tallied 24 carries for 94 yards —both season highs — and caught a pass for eight yards.

“It is just about getting playmakers the ball,” Drinkwitz said. “We feel confident about a bunch of different people touching the football. There are a couple of plays where they happen to get it.

“It is never forced to one guy. Really the defense dictates who gets the ball. We are not trying to say ‘This guy has gotta do this.’”

Drinkwitz talked with the TV announcers prior to the game about how he has matured as a play caller this season. He followed up with that Tuesday.

“I think experience is the best teacher,” Drinkwitz said. “The more you call plays, the more you have an identity of who you are and what you are trying to accomplish on each call. I think anybody that is doing it for two years is going to be more mature.”

The NC State offensive line also did an impressive job of not allowing any sacks in normal drop back situations. The lone sack came when Meyers took a reverse, looking to pass.

“If you ask the offensive line, that was the goal going into it,” Drinkwitz said.

Syracuse’s defense has improved this season, but is still a work in progress, allowing 30 or more points in both losses — 30-23 loss to Middle Tennessee State and 35-26 defeat at LSU this past Saturday.

The Tigers were able to get speedy vertical receivers Stephen Sullivan and Drake Davis open deep for touchdowns. Sullivan caught a 43-yard bomb and Davis got free for a 87-yard score. Watching Syracuse defense defend a Matt Canada-led offense was a different wrinkle this week. Drinkwitz replaced Canada as offensive coordinator following the 2015 season.

“They have a lot of talent and have a lot of experience,” Drinkwitz said. “They have a great scheme and do a good job of limiting their weakness with their scheme. They have really athletic linebackers and their safeties tackle well in space.”

Syracuse defense was also aggressive with blitzes and had two sacks. However, the Orange only have four sacks on the season.

“They are one of the best third down defenses in the country (14 of 56 for 25 percent), so we have our hands full,” Drinkwitz said.

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