Camp O'Brien: OL Rotation in Place?

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Last season NC State's offensive line struggled with consistency and really lacked the depth needed to implement a rotation that head coach Tom O'Brien and offensive line coach Don Horton likes to use during the course of a game.

"They are still a work in progress," O'Brien said at NC State's Media Day. "There hasn't been anything settled up front. We're trying to get as many guys ready to play as we can so that we can get into some type of rotation up front. Last year, a couple of those guys played every snap for 12 games and by the end of the year they wore down."

Not only is NC State looking to find a solid starting five, O'Brien hopes a strong second unit can be developed so the starters can receive rest throughout the course of a game. At Boston College, O'Brien and Horton routinely shuffled in substitutes so that by the end of the game the starters were as fresh as the opposing defensive linemen.

"We're still trying to find the best five but also find some guys that can go in and spell so we can get into a rotation," said O'Brien. "So they are not having to play 82 plays a game or 75 plays a game. I think we'll be better in the long run for it."

Following Monday's practice, it sounds like the Wolfpack is closing in on that rotation. O'Brien stated he likes to have eight offensive linemen ready to play with substitutes on both sides of the ball.

"We look at eight," he said. "We look at a backup on the right, a backup on the left side, and a backup at center. Somebody that can play both guard and tackle on both sides of the ball, right and left side. Hopefully we can get to that."

Although he didn't give name any starters or reserves, O'Brien did say he feels like he knows who the three backups will be heading into the opener against South Carolina.

"Yea, I think pretty much we know who the three guys are. It's just a question of where they are going to start and how we are going to do the rotation."

Burke To Louisville
O'Brien also announced that redshirt sophomore quarterback Justin Burke will transfer to the University of Louisville.

"[Justin's] a great kid and he's done a great job for our program," said O'Brien. "He's decided to transfer to the University of Louisville. He's a great kid for our program and a great player... I think it's for his best interests to move on and we're happy for him. He gets a new start somewhere else."

"With the situation here, I felt I needed to do something that was important to me," Burke said in a released statement. "I had a great experience at NC State and it was a special place for me over the last two and a half years. The entire coaching staff and the support staff have been great to me. I want to thank them and my teammates for being there for me. I wish them all the best."

Burke was recently elminated from the Wolfpack's quarterback competition, and he wasn't present for this weekend's Media Day.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder enrolled at NC State in 2006 as a highly-rated recruit out of Lexington (KY) Catholic. Named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Kentucky and a finalist for the Gatorade National Football Player of the Year, he threw for a state record 62 touchdowns and only six interceptions while passing for 3,789 yards durig his senior campaign.

After redshirting his freshman season, Burke saw limited action in 2007. He played in the Wofford, Clemson, and Florida State games, completing 2-of-3 passes for 15 yards with an interception against the Tigers.

Burke was the star of the 2008 Red/White Game, connecting on 17-of-24 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns, including a Hail Mary into the endzone that won the game for the Red team on the final play.

He is currently a redshirt sophomore and will have two years to play after sitting out this season.

Beck Sticking Around
Burke wasn't the only quarterback eliminated from the Wolfpack's position battle, as redshirt junior Harrison Beck has also been receiving minimal reps behind the three who are competing for the job.

O'Brien said that Beck plans on remaining with the program.

"He's going to stay," said O'Brien. "He's a little more difficult, because he'd be a double transfer. I think what his options are is probably to go through this year to graduate, and then I think his only option would be to go to a NAIA school next year."

With that being said, don't take it as O'Brien saying Beck will definitely transfer following the season.

"Who knows? He may end up playing this year and being around next year. Nobody knows. He's committed to staying, and Justin had the opportunity to go."

Parting Shots

  • Junior college transfer Shea McKeen arrived at NC State last week and has just been in pads for a couple of days, but he's already making an impression.

    "He's been practicing," said O'Brien. "He's been practicing well. We don't have any qualms about sticking him in the game. We'll see how he continues to scrimmage and continue to play."

  • O'Brien believes that a wide receiver will step up and replace Donald Bowens, NC State's leading returner from 2007 who is out for the year with a back injury, as the Wolfpack's go-to guy. He just doesn't know yet which of his young wideouts it will be.

    "We're keeping our fingers crossed," O'Brien stated. "We just keep working and working hard. Somebody's going to have to step up and somebody will... always does. Who that guy is? I don't know... maybe we'll find out Thursday night in Columbia."

  • NC State will have its final scrimmage of the fall on Tuesday and the quarterback situation could be resolved at that point. Daniel Evans, Russell Wilson, and Mike Glennon continue to battle for the starting job.

    "We're still working through it," said O'Brien. "We'll see what happens in the scrimmage and decide how we're going to go."

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