Wealth of weapons (and decoys) plays perfectly into NC States strengths

Despite the loss of Matt Dayes in the backfield, NC State believes its in a perfect position to have a dynamic offense

Christine T. Nguyen—The North State Journal
NC State's Jaylen Samuels (1) runs for a touchdown during the second half of the Wolfpack's win at UNC last season.November 25

CHARLOTTE — Jaylen Samuels is an animal. He’s so versatile in NC State’s offense that the ACC added an entirely new position — the “all-purpose back” — to the all-conference ballot.But he’s not the only player expected to play a similar role in the Wolfpack’s offense. Nyheim Hines, a former do-it-all Garner product, is also expected to move into a more prominent role with Matt Dayes now on the Cleveland Browns roster and not in Raleigh.So just how dynamic can this year’s offense be for NC State? Dave Doeren isn’t bothering to play coy about it.”We’re about to find out,” Doeren said with a smile. “I’m excited for that. I think that’s one thing that coach [Eliah] Drinkwitz and his staff, that’ll be what fall camp is — how do you use the pieces the right way?”Over the last two seasons, Samuels has been the team’s leader in overall touchdowns with the departed Dayes just behind him. But the questions about Samuels’ usage have persisted, especially given the fact that he’s averaged one touchdown per every 7.2 touches.This time around, it’s JaySam who is expected to have the volume of touches that Dayes did last season. While he wouldn’t go too in depth about his role — can’t give away too much with the opener less than two months away — he did see a large uptick in the spring.”We’ll see what happens, I can’t call the call,” Samuels said. “I did see a little difference in the spring, I was more featured in the offense. … Matt Dayes was a heck of a player and that’s a huge role that somebody has to fill. Of course, that’s the main reason — us losing Matt, now we have to find somebody that can do what he did. I feel like we’ve really got the pieces for it.”Likely on the opposite end of the always mobile H-Back — Samuels has a new position on the State depth chart, too — is Hines.The active wide receiver from a year ago now moves to running back, a position he finds more suiting to his abilities after running roughshod over defenses in high school. He’s had to change some during the offseason to take on the new role, bulking up to spend more time in the backfield after receiving just 13 carries last year.He’ll also likely take over a duty that Samuels had last season: The “Decoy.” Samuels said he believed he played the decoy role around 40 percent of the snaps he played. So is Samuels OK still being utilized in the decoy role?”I’m not really like a ball hog,” Samuels explained. “If somebody’s eating on the other side, let ’em eat. I don’t really get into getting the ball a lot. … I take like three defenders with me just running the jet [sweep].”When we had Matt Dayes, it was about 40 percent. I don’t know what it’ll be this year.”NC State’s offense is not just Samuels and Hines, though. The emergence of Kelvin Harmon and Stephen Louis at wide receiver along with Reggie Gallaspy likely seeing added carries and Ryan Finley more comfortable in the starting quarterback role has helped earn the Pack the “dark horse” moniker in the ACC.Much of those players’ success is thanks, in large part, to attention being drawn to Samuels last year and likely Hines this fall. But calling them decoys? Doeren laughed when he was asked about Samuels being a decoy in Eliah Drinkwitz’s offense, simply calling having both of them on the field a strength for the Pack.”Ha, ‘decoy’ is funny,” Doeren said. “Because when he lines up, people point at him. What that does is create opportunities for other players. … The biggest thing you always try to do is play to your strengths. Obviously two of them are those players.”