NC State Wolfpack Spring Practice: 3 Things We Learned

With NC State’s spring practice in the books, here’s what we know and what we learned about the Wolfpack heading into summer drills.

Dave Doeren’s fifth team in Raleigh could be his best team in Raleigh. At least that was the buzz permeating throughout the Pack’s 15 spring practices. NC State is only looking to replace six starters from a 7-6 squad that ended 2016 with an exclamation rout of Vanderbilt in the Independence Bowl.

NC State Wolfpack Spring Practice Redux

1. One Back Insufficient For Replacing Matt Dayes

The graduation of Dayes, the team’s leading rusher the past two seasons, leaves the Pack with a gaping hole behind QB Ryan Finley.

Doeren has yet to decide on a starter at running back, in part because holdovers Reggie Gallaspy and Dakwa Nichols missed parts of spring drills with injuries. Gallaspy, in particular, has flashed signs of having feature back potential the past two years, but was boxed out by the durable Dayes. All of the team’s backs ought to benefit from an offensive line that returns four starters and had noticeably more chemistry than at this time last year.

2. Nyheim Hines Channeling His Inner-Jaylen Samuels

Samuels is one of the nation’s most versatile offensive weapons, an H-back who contributes equally as a runner and a receiver. Hines, though much smaller and faster, has similar potential for the Pack in 2017.

After catching 43 balls as a wide receiver in 2016, Hines has moved to running back, his natural position. Regardless of where he lines up, in the backfield or in the slot, he’s an electrifying gamebreaker who needs more opportunities to make plays in space. After Hines scored just one time last year, a 100-yard kick return in the bowl game, it’s on the staff to make better use of his vision and separation speed this season.

3. Kyle Bambard Has Company

If not for the inconsistency of the kicking game, the Wolfpack might have won 10 games in 2016. Bambard’s three missed field goals in the gut-wrenching loss to Clemson was the most glaring case in point. Well, the junior kicker will face a challenge for his job this summer.

NC State has added a graduate transfer, Division II Carson-Newman’s Carson Wise, who actually began his college career in the ACC at Virginia Tech. He hit 21-of-31 field goal attempts as an Eagle, with a long of 49 yards. However, if Wise is simply consistent on the makeable kicks inside 40, it ought to be enough to unseat Bambard. State has so much promise on offense and defense, but all of that can be derailed by an inability to convert on special teams in the latter stages of close games.

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