Drinkwitz Is Aiming To See The Wolfpack Build Off Spring Work On Offense

RALEIGH, North Carolina — North Carolina State spent the spring installing a control-the-tempo attack, then drilling itself on the basics over and over again.

The coach calling those plays wants to see what the Wolfpack will do in the offseason to build off that foundation now that spring drills are complete.

"To be honest, I felt really good about what we got done," new offensive coordinator Eli Drinkwitz said after Saturday's spring game. "We even stopped after one of our practices and started over reinstalling again because we just felt we need to get the base in and be very good at it.

"It's going to be very simple for us. Once you get the base in, our offense can expand in a lot of different ways. And that's going to be a matter of what you do that week in the game plan."

Drinkwitz took over in January as coordinator and quarterbacks coach after the dismissal of Matt Canada. Drinkwitz had spent the past two seasons at Boise State and directed one of the nation's top offenses with the Broncos last year. He worked previously with current Auburn coach Gus Malzahn.

He's charged with providing a jolt to an offense that put up some good numbers last year but struggled in winnable games that turned into midseason losses to Louisville and Virginia Tech.

He takes over an offense in flux at key positions, following the losses of two-year starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett and three seniors from the offensive line.

Saturday's intrasquad scrimmage was the first public look at the Wolfpack's initial steps under Drinkwitz, including a quarterback battle between Jalan McClendon and Jakobi Meyers. McClendon will be a redshirt sophomore and Meyers will be a redshirt freshman this fall.

"I think when you start the spring, they're thinking a lot," head coach Dave Doeren said. "As you get to the end of spring, they're playing."

The Wolfpack ran plenty of no-huddle, fast-paced snaps. A wave of key injuries — the backfield was particularly hard hit with Matt Dayes, Jaylen Samuels, Reggie Gallaspy II and Dakwa Nichols missing some of all of spring — limited the team's ability to build chemistry.

That had both McClendon and Meyers playing on the Red team during Saturday's 47-0 win against the White instead of leading competing teams. This gave both a shot to see what they could do with the starting offense.

McClendon, who is 6-foot-5, saw time in eight games last year and showed a strong arm in last year's spring game. He needed that zip on his throw Saturday with strong wind gusts swirling through Carter-Finley Stadium, finishing 13 of 18 for 120 yards — including a 3-yard touchdown pass to Maurice Trowell to cap a sharp game-opening drive.

Meyers, a 6-2 quarterback with mobility and speed, finished 12 of 20 for 117 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a 14-yard score.

"We didn't really worry about what our offense was trying to do to us or what schemes they were running," Drinkwitz said. "We're just trying to get plays in, get it off film and then coach it off that."

The trick for the players now will be proving they know the offense well enough to work fast through fall camp ahead of the Sept. 1 opener against William & Mary.

"It's a lot of work ahead," McClendon said. "We've got plenty of time to learn the offense, to learn new installs and new things ... and that's our goal for this offseason."


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