Wolfpack’s Devin Leary day-to-day ahead of trip to Syracuse

The NC State quarterback was knocked out of last week’s win over Florida State with a shoulder injury

NC State quarterback Devin Leary is day-to-day after suffering a shoulder injury in the Wolfpack’s 19-17 win Saturday over Florida State in Raleigh. (Karl B. DeBlaker / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — No. 15 NC State will hit the road to take on undefeated No. 18 Syracuse. What the Wolfpack doesn’t know is whether quarterback Devin Leary will be on the field with them for their latest critical ACC matchup Saturday afternoon.

“The good news is his shoulder is good,” NC State coach Dave Doeren said Monday of Leary’s status. “All the images were positive. It’s a rehab-able injury, and that starts immediately and is a day-to-day thing.

“There isn’t a timeline. It could be this week; it could be six weeks. It really is going to come down to how he recovers.”

Leary was injured in the third quarter of NC State’s 19-17 home win over Florida State last Saturday night.

Also of concern is the opponent: The Orange will be the second unbeaten team the Wolfpack have faced in conference play.

“We’re getting ready for Syracuse,” Doeren said. “Undefeated, ranked in the top 20, very balanced on offense. Robert Anae, the offensive coordinator they hired, is a really good football coach and he’s made a difference in their offense.”

If Leary cannot go for NC State, Doeren will turn to graduate quarterback Jack Chambers.

“Jack’s had 400-yard passing games before if you go back through his career,” Doeren said of the transfer from FCS Charleston Southern. “He can throw the football. If we’re going to have to get into a game and chuck it around, we feel great about him.”

But Chambers attempted just a single pass in Saturday’s win, one that hit the ground short of its intended receiver. After that, it was just run, run, run, calling into question just how much the coaching staff will trust him with the playbook.

And if the Wolfpack intend to roll out — more specifically, run out — that same game plan in Syracuse, they may be in for a rough afternoon.

The Orange have the second-best run defense in the ACC behind only Clemson, allowing just 95 rushing yards per game.

Syracuse also has the top passing defense in the ACC — 176.6 yards per game allowed — and has given up 14 points per game, the fewest in the conference.

“Defensively, they’re similar to us, 3-3-5,” Doeren said. “Different in their approach. They’re smaller, body types are very quick, they angle and loop and stunt a lot with their front. Their backers have been there a long time and they’re really good players. They make a lot of plays. Their corners are productive. They do a nice job disguising zone coverages and man coverages.

“They lead the ACC in almost every category on defense, and so it’s going to be a great challenge for us offensively.”

The bottom line is that the trip up north will not be an easy one, especially if NC State is down to its backup quarterback.

For the Wolfpack to be successful, it may again come down to the defense.

NC State shut down Florida State in the second half last weekend, suffocating the Seminoles and forcing two interceptions to help the Wolfpack overcome a 17-3 deficit.

“We tackled well,” Doeren said of his defense’s performance against FSU. “We only missed five tackles, we won the line of scrimmage, and we were in the backfield a lot. We disrupted a really good run game. I thought the guys really screwed up the timing of a lot of their plays. There were a lot of guys out there on the D-line just grinding. The second-half shutout was impressive, and the two interceptions were critical.”

The defense will have its hands full with Syracuse’s top weapons.

Sophomore running back Sean Tucker is second in the ACC in rushing with 546 yards, and junior quarterback Garrett Shrader has thrown for 1,224 yards, 10 touchdowns and an interception while rushing for 219 yards and five scores.

“Their quarterback, who last year I think struggled throwing the football, has a 70% completion rate,” Doeren said. “He’s playing really well. He was a dynamic runner last year and still is, and he’s a North Carolina native. I know this will be a big game for him.”

The Wolfpack did get some good news on the injury front when Doeren reported that both junior receiver Devin Carter and sophomore running back Demie Sumo-Karngbaye should be good to go against Syracuse, and that sophomore nickel Tyler Baker-Williams and redshirt junior tight end Trent Pennix each have a chance to return either this week or next.

“We look forward to another great week and another great and competitive game against a really good team that’s well coached,” Doeren said.