NOTEBOOK: Spring Game Changes For NC State

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Previously, NC State has used the Kay Yow Spring Game to simulate a live-game situation, but that could change this season.

Previously, NC State has used the Kay Yow Spring Game to simulate a live-game situation, but that could change this season according to head coach Dave Doeren.

"We're going through it today as a staff," Doeren told the media on Tuesday.  "It'll be different. It's going to be more practice-oriented.  There'll be a lot of situations... we're going to get a lot of special teams work. There'll be some live work as well, but it's not just going to be a game from head-to-toe.

"It's going to be a little bit more, quite a bit more situational stuff that we're going to do."

This is a definite change for NC State.  Last year the roster was split into Red and White teams with essentially the starting offense playing the second-string defense, and vice-versa.  Three's would be mixed in as well, but mainly you didn't get a chance to see starters versus starters.  However, that's another change in 2017.  While it won't be a full game, NC State fans will get a chance to see starters square off, which should add excitement even though contact could be limited, major reps could increase.

"Oh yeah, it's going to all be ones, ones, twos, twos, and threes, threes," Doeren said.  "But there won't be a ton of tackling with some of those groups, just again trying to keep guys healthy and when you have that many players back, you kind of know what they can do.

"It's important for us, I don't want to have a spring game where I pull 18 guys out and make 'em watch the game. I don't want to do that. So just trying to get as many reps as we can with those guys in a smart way, and getting production out of 'em."

NC State's roster has certainly been constructed from inside-out.  If you look at the Pack's projected starters, the Wolfpack returns five offensive linemen with starting experience and all four defensive linemen.  The defensive line group in particular has played a lot of football, and that experience has led to a maturity and motivation you don't always see.

"Well the good thing is is those guys are intrinsically motivated," Doeren said of his defensive line.  "I mean they really push themselves. They're hard on themselves.  Coach Patrick sets the culture in that room, and Coach Nielson before him did a great job creating it.  

"Those guys understand what it takes to be good. They also understand if you don't do it that you're going to look bad on film. So for me it's just making sure they're consistent, and their attitude and their effort every day, which they've been great about."

That experience and talent in the trenches is what Doeren hopes will be a staple of his program. 

"I think if you're soft in the middle either side of the line of scrimmage, it's tough," he said.  "It's really hard to play quarterback if your center's getting knocked into you all day long, you know what I mean? So I love being strong from the inside out on both sides of the football."

NC State entered spring practice needing to replace Matt Dayes, but also with projected starter Reggie Gallaspy dinged up.  Redshirt sophomore Johnny Frasier left the team during the spring, and Dakwa Nichols has been banged up as well as Jaylen Samuels, who will see time at the position in 2017.  

Who will play on Saturday? 

"Well that's kind of what we're going through today," Doeren said of the coaches meeting to determine the spring game script.  "If we don't tackle, we're able to play those guys a little bit more.  So Reggie, you probably will not see, just because he's the one that's furthest behind at being full speed, but Jay Sam's full speed. Nyheim, Jay Sam... you'll see Reggie maybe in some of the passing situations that we're doing and two minute drill and things like that."

Gallaspy, who rushed for 234 yards and two scores in 2016 while averaging 4.78 yards per carry, has been limited with a knee injury. 

"He just had a meniscus be repaired," Doeren said.  "He has taken awhile and just the quad atrophy that sometimes comes with that, in that position, we don't want to put him in a tough spot."

With that being said, Gallaspy, and others, will have a huge opportunity this year.  All-ACC tailback Matthew Dayes is headed to the NFL, and Dayes had a heavy, heavy workload that will yield touches for multiple players.

"With Matt's absence, that's 270 touches Matt Dayes had," said Doeren.  "Nyheim Hines, Jaylen Samuels, Reggie Gallaspy, and when we get Dakwa Nichols back, and then obviously the receiving core... there's a lot of kids who need to take those touches away."

According to Doeren, there are no other projected starters expected to be sidelined due to injury in the spring game.  However, he added young guys, such as redshirt freshman lineman Kendall Brown, will be sidelined.

* The 2017 Kay Yow Spring Game is set for 1:00 pm on Saturday. 

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