RALEIGH, North Carolina — North Carolina State closed last season with a strong finish as learn-along-the-way youngsters grew and developed. Yet listening to coach Dave Doeren, the teaching didn't stop through spring drills for another inexperienced team.
"Even though we played with a lot of young guys last year," Doeren said, "we're young again."
N.C. State held its annual spring game Saturday, wrapping up offseason drills and giving the Wolfpack a snapshot of where things stand heading into the summer.
The highlights were big plays from running backs Reggie Gallaspy II and Matt Dayes, as well as from versatile sophomore Jaylen Samuels in Red's 16-3 win against White.
Gallaspy, a freshman who enrolled in January, ran for a game-high 131 yards on 21 carries. He was quiet in the first half for White but ran for 120 yards on 13 carries for Red after halftime.
Dayes finished with 98 total yards — 57 yard rushing, 41 yards receiving — all in the first half, while Samuels had a 50-yard catch and finished with 93 total yards.
"You can line them up all over the field," Doeren said of Dayes and Samuels.
Doeren's program has some momentum and buzz. After going winless in Atlantic Coast Conference play his first year, North Carolina State won its last three games in 2014 — including a 35-7 rout at rival North Carolina in the regular-season finale followed by a win against Central Florida in the Bitcoin Bowl to cap an 8-5 season.
"It won't fit the same way," rising senior quarterback Jacoby Brissett said. "We've got different pieces everywhere and we're still trying to find players to put in the best position possible."
Some other observations from Saturday's spring game at Carter-Finley Stadium:
EXPLOSIVE BURST: Gallaspy, Dayes and Samuels all averaged at least 9.2 yards per carry for Red. Throw in senior Shadrach Thornton and incoming freshman backs Johnny Frasier and Nyheim Hines, and the backfield has plenty of big-play potential.
BRISSETT'S DAY: Jacoby Brissett wasn't particularly sharp in the passing game. He completed 13 of 32 passes for 164 yards with one touchdown.
THE NO. 2 JOB: Saturday provided the first glimpse at redshirt freshman Jalan McClendon in the No. 2 QB role. The strong-armed McClendon threw for 144 yards, most of that coming with White. "He's got really, really good command of the guys in (the huddle), but he's got to move faster," Doeren said. "There's plenty of plays where we're barely getting the ball off, and he's got to understand the play clock and the dynamics of that."
DEFENSE: The Red team featured the team's projected starters, though several of the eight returning defensive starters were out with injuries. White finished with just 129 total yards. Touted freshman Darian Roseboro, a January enrollee, got off to a good start with five tackles and a tackle for loss. "There's a lot of hype coming in from what they had done last year," Roseboro said, "and we're just trying to help."
LINE PLAY: Replacing two offensive line starters will be a key going forward. The defenses were credited with nine sacks Saturday. "There were some good lanes but I was disappointed in some of the protection issues I saw," Doeren said. "The defense blitzed a lot and we didn't handle it well in the first half. I thought in the second half, they did a better job."
Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap
All content copyright ©2015 Daily Journal, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.