What we learned from the NC State Kay Yow Spring Game

Whether it was Kyle Bambards consistency, Nyheim Hines moving into the backfield or Kelving Harmons explosiveness, Wolfpack fans saw a lot from the football program on Saturday.

RALEIGH — The NC State Kay Yow Spring Game was confusing and a bit befuddling at times, but it offered a glimpse at one of the most experienced teams ever in Raleigh.Oh, and Kyle Bambard. A lot of Kyle Bambard.All four quarters offered a different format and some serious athleticism from the expected stars on the offensive side of the ball. The fourth quarter was a proving ground for the senior-laden defense, which forced a fumble and barely gave an inch to the offense when it was given the chance to tackle.Here’s a look at the highlights from the 32-26 win for the Red team (offense) over the White team (defense).Bambard boasts big bootFollowing a season where Kyle Bambard was one of the most embattled players on the entire Wolfpack roster, the junior kicker looked solid on Saturday. Going 6-for-7 on the afternoon, including a 47-yarder, Bambard drew some eyeballs with his accuracy.”To end spring on a high note was great,” Bambard said. “Football aside, it was great to have the fan support. Really loved the support from them and my team.”The lone kick Bambard missed was a 37-yarder near the end of the third quarter — his fifth of the afternoon. He immediately answered with a 40-yard make on the following drive after Dave Doeren sent him right back out.After a season where he admits he didn’t live up to his own expectations, Bambard said he worked tirelessly in the offseason to improve.”Regardless of how I did last season, I would have come right back, put my head down and went to work,” Bambard said. “I was really happy to end spring on a high note, but that doesn’t mean I’ve made it by any means. … [The 47-yarder] was huge, going into the wind a little bit. But that didn’t change anything for me.”Nyheim Hines officially makes move to tailbackThe Matt Dayes era in Raleigh is officially over. Saturday’s Spring Game was the first without Dayes on the roster since 2012 and also saw Reggie Gallaspy and Dakwa Nichols not take a snap due to injury.That has left a hole at tailback and allows for Nyheim Hines to move back to his true position. Hines took the first two snaps out of the backfield, running hard for a few short scampers in the non-tackle drills. While he wasn’t able to show off his ability to shed tackles, Hines believes he can play a huge role in the backfield.”It’s going to be hard to replace Matt [Dayes],” Hines said. “We’re going to try as a group to try to do what Matt did as one person. I don’t know how he did it all last year, but he was an amazing player. Honestly, I’m just trying to do my job and do everything I can to help this team win and have a successful year.”Hines’ overall impact on the game was limited as the backfield situation heading into the game was already ravaged enough. He was pulled out of the game early on and was out of pads in the second half while players like East Wake product Damontay Rhem took over.If the past is any indication of the future, the move will be a huge one for Hines.The 4-star all-purpose back from Garner scored 49 touchdowns out of the backfield in high school. Blessed with unreal speed, Hines could be one of the biggest weapons for the Pack this fall after adding muscle over the last two years.”It’s definitely fun,” Hines said with a smile. “I’ve played running back my entire life. So carrying the ball and running between tackles is something I’m used to.”Kelvin Harmon is still a home run threatSpeaking of weapons for the Wolfpack, Kelvin Harmon proved on Saturday that he didn’t take his foot off the gas pedal this offseason.Harmon, who posted 427 receiving yards and five touchdowns last season, shined in the Spring Game with a 46-yard touchdown catch. The touchdown came from Gavin Locklear, who took the ball on a reverse and heaved it across the middle of the field.Harmon came down with a circus catch over his defender and landed in the end zone.”When you’ve got Kelvin on the outside, he makes it so easy,” Locklear said. “All you’ve got to do is give him a chance on a 50-50 ball and he’s going to do everything he can to come down with it. Before the play, I was just like ‘It’s the Spring Game, we’re just trying to have fun.’ Of course he made the catch. That’s what he does.”The Pack ran a similar play last season against ECU, so it was clearly in the playbook. But the bigger story wasn’t necessarily the trickery, it was Harmon’s freakish athleticism.While he may not be as consistent as fellow receiving threats Stephen Louis or Jaylen Samuels, Harmon put up the second-most yards per catch last season with 17.1. Already proving that he’s a home-run threat for the Wolfpack, Harmon set out to be an even better wideout this offseason.”One of my biggest focuses was just being fundamentally sound in the game,” Harmon said. “I don’t want to just be known as the guy making crazy catches. I really worked on my routes and really reading defenses. I want to be a smarter player overall.”Defense shows out in fourth quarterThe 2017 Wolfpack defense is one of the deepest and most experienced ever, but it wasn’t exactly able to shine on Saturday with limited tackling drills.It took three quarters before the defense could tackle, but it wasted no time on Saturday. Sure, it was mostly second-string players on both sides of the ball, but it provided a look at players that will be in the regular rotation for the Wolfpack.Players like Jerod Fernandez and Bradley Chubb were all over the field throughout the game, but the fourth-quarter defense didn’t give an inch to the offense. Several players combined for — by my count, because official statistics weren’t kept — three tackles for loss, one sack and a forced fumble in the fourth.This year’s defense is loaded with senior talent and experience all over the field, but it clearly doesn’t stop there. Doeren and Dave Huxtable have built up the defense for 2017, but the talent behind them is ready to step into action if necessary.