NC State football: Young receivers make their case in win vs. Charleston Southern
The NC State football team had a statement get-right game Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium, as the Wolfpack beat Charleston Southern 55-3 in a comprehensive drubbing.
The Pack put it all together against the Buccaneers, as Devin Leary tied a school record with 6 touchdown contributions while the defense held Charleston Southern to just 150 yards.
It was a much-needed performance for the Wolfpack’s offense in particular, as NC State’s much-less experienced side of the ball struggled in Week 1. Leary played the way everyone expected him to in Week 2, and he also distributed the ball really well.
One huge benefit to these early-season Football Championship Subdivision games is a team’s ability to get a bunch of players some time on the field, and that’s exactly what NC State was able to do. For the Wolfpack’s offense, coach Dave Doeren and offensive coordinator Tim Beck were able to get a lot of touches for guys who are fighting for playing time, especially at wide receiver.
The Wolfpack entered the season with most of its wide receiver group back from 2021. However, it did have to find a way to replace Emeka Emezie, Leary’s favorite target and the Pack’s most consistent threat down the field.
NC State’s offense was fairly middle of the pack in the ACC in 2021 in terms of big plays in the passing game, and the loss of Emezie probably was the biggest for NC State’s team.
While the Pack’s starting trio of Devin Carter, Thayer Thomas and Keyon Lesane has talent and experience to succeed in 2022, NC State still needs a true deep threat to emerge from the bunch of wideouts.
Saturday against Charleston Southern, the Wolfpack had a handful of young speedsters make a difference and their best case for more snaps.
“It was awesome to see some of the younger guys make plays,” Doeren said. “Julian Gray. Anthony Smith and Delbert Mimms had a touchdown. Jalen Coit had a touchdown. Some guys who have worked hard, and it’s good to see those guys get the reward of all that hard work.”
While Mimms is a running back, here’s a look at how the Pack’s young trio of speedy wideouts performed against the Buccaneers:
Perhaps the most talked-about young wide receiver all offseason has been Smith, who had a really strong touchdown catch from Leary against the Buccaneers.
Smith, who had 2 catches for 58 yards with the touchdown, went up and adjusted well to a slightly underthrown ball from Leary during the 2nd quarter.
It was a great sign to see for Smith, who has had a few issues with making catches in the past. His speed is absolutely undeniable, and he’s a huge candidate to have a big breakout season for the Wolfpack this year.
“I definitely feel like I’m a big key to the deep threat on the team,” Smith said. “We have a lot of guys in the receiver room and the running back room. It’s not just me. It’s not just Julian Gray. We have a lot of guys who can take things up top.”
Smith probably is the most ready to play receiver of NC State’s depth guys, and his touchdown grab Saturday should be a big confidence booster moving forward.
Another player with blazing speed, Gray led the Wolfpack in catches in Week 2 after playing just 4 snaps against East Carolina.
He had 3 receptions for 34 yards against Charleston Southern, as a few times he was able to show off the wheels he has been known for. While his longest reception was just 13 yards, Gray getting into games and making catches is a great sign for the Pack.
Potentially the fastest of these 3 blazers, Coit had a fantastic touchdown catch on a great throw from reserve quarterback Jack Chambers.
Coit got to the back corner of the end zone quickly and spotted the ball well, hauling in the 1st touchdown of his NC State career. He had just 1 reception in 2021 while appearing in just 2 games, so it was good to see him get on the field early.
While Smith and Gray might be more polished prospects at the moment, Coit has gotten a lot of love from the coaching staff over the past year and certainly is a viable deep-ball option.
“We understand how many people can make plays for us,” Leary said. “We understand how many receivers we have. We have so many different playmakers, and as the quarterback it’s my job to distribute the ball to them…Whoever’s number gets called to make a play, we expect them to make that play.”