'The Offense Is Starting To Jell'

Sophomore tailback Darrell Blackman probably has noticed that the running back meetings are a little more crowded then last season.

Sophomore tailback Darrell Blackman probably has noticed that the running back meetings are a little more crowded then last season. While NC State lost star rusher T.A. McLendon when the junior declared early for the NFL Draft, the Wolfpack added three impressive freshmen in Andre Brown, Toney Baker, and Jamelle Eugene.

With Blackman, junior Reggie Davis, and sophomore Bobby Washington already in the fold, running backs coach Dick Portee must be a happy man and offensive coordinator Marc Trestman has the task of trying to find a way to get the backs on the field as much as possible.

"Coach has a lot of plays with the running backs," said Blackman. "Stuff with me and the other backs doing a lot of things. Motioning out of the backfield, working out of the slots, things like that. It's going to be pretty exciting with us this year coming out and doing different things. Just confusing the defenses this year."

Offensively, the Pack has received some praise from head coach Chuck Amato during the early stage of fall practice, and Blackman agrees that the offense is improving.

"I think the offense is starting to come together very well," he said. "I think if you compare our sixth practice last year to today's practice, we're probably two steps ahead of ourselves.

"The offense is starting to jell and get everything done. Blocking, picking up blitzes... it just looks like everybody is doing what they are supposed to be doing."

If NC State's offense is going to drastically improve, quarterback Jay Davis will need to have a big year. After earning the starting job in fall practice, Davis struggled at times during his junior year. However, now with a season under his belt, Davis has a confidence about him that his teammates are noticing.

"Jay is a veteran guy, and he's just working real hard," said Blackman. "He's got a good grasp of the offense, and he's more hungrier than he was last year. With his leadership I think we can go far with him leading the offense the way he is right now."

Although there are a number of options for the Wolfpack in the backfield, each tailback has his own set of strengths and will likely earn reps during the season to show what they can do. One of the freshmen seems to already be making a statement with his ability.

"Andre Brown has really caught me eye," Blackman said. "With his size and the way he runs the ball, he kind of looks like another Reggie [Davis] back there. When he gets out in the open field they don't want to lower the shoulder and bang with him. They know he's going to bring the thunder when he's running the ball."

Another freshman also appears to be impressing Blackman.

"The new receiver, Geron [James] is looking tough," he said. "He's got great hands, great speed, and he just gets out there and takes care of business. He listens to everything the coaches say, and definitely has the look of what you want out there. I think he's going to be special."

Blackman had a strong freshman season for the Wolfpack, finishing with 206 yards as NC State's third-leading rusher. He led the ACC and ranked third nationally in punt returns with a 17.83 average, even though he didn't return a kick until the eighth game of the season, and also tallied the Wolfpack's only score in the loss to No. 11 Florida State when he returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown.

This year he will continue to try and be an explosive talent for the Wolfpack.

"I'm going to try and make plays whenever I get the ball."

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