Instant Offense

With several experienced players returning, NC State's high-octane offense is expected to be the Wolfpack's strength in 2010.

Last fall the offense accounted for nearly 400 yards per game while averaging 30 points an outing. State has a bunch of weapons returning, and it all starts with junior quarterback Russell Wilson.

Wilson was No. 19 nationally and No. 2 in the conference in total offense, accounting for 274 yards per game. He also accounted for 35 touchdowns and just 12 turnovers, and his 31 passing touchdowns were the fourth-most in the country and the highest-total for a BCS-level quarterback.

A fourth-round pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, some believed Wilson might no longer play football, but he has announced that he will be back for his junior season to the delight of his coaches, teammates, and Wolfpack fans.

Russell Wilson

"Him coming back, it's huge for us," senior wideout Owen Spencer stated. "We're very excited. Russell is an unbelievable talent. He has been blessed with gifts that are tremendous."

"He's a great player," said senior linebacker Nate Irving. "We know on defense we just have to get him and the offense the ball back because they are going to put points on the board."

"Russell has some traits that not a lot of people have," said head coach Tom O'Brien.

Wilson is nearing the end of his first summer playing professional baseball, and this weekend he'll return to Raleigh with fall practice beginning next week. Waiting for him is a talented group of receivers and tight ends led by senior wideouts Owen Spencer and Jarvis Williams and All-ACC tight end George Bryan.

A big-time vertical threat, Spencer established a new single-season ACC mark for yards per catch in each of the last two years. The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder has outstanding speed and runs great routes. Last season he totaled 30 receptions for 765 yards and six scores, averaging a staggering 25.5 yards per grab.

"I think he's grown physically and maturity-wise," O'Brien said of Spencer. "He's sneaky fast. He runs by guys all the time. You'd think after tape you'd say don't let this guy run by you but he does. Obviously he gets up on them pretty quick and they don't know he's going to run by them."

Spencer teams with Jarvis Williams to form arguably the top wide receiving duo in the ACC. Williams led NC State in catches (45) last year, and his 11 touchdown receptions were the most in the league. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior is expected to have a big season.

"He's a big, strong guy that's really learned to use his body," O'Brien said of Williams. "I think he's increased his speed too, he's worked hard to get a little faster. He's learned to use that body. He'll position guys and go up and make catches that smaller guys can't make.

"He adds a certain toughness. When we go to blocking drills and things like that he'll go down and knock somebody down for you. To a position not known for its toughness... he adds a little bit of that."

Bryan returns after an All-ACC sophomore season and is firmly on the radar of NFL scouts. At 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds, he has outstanding size and might have the best hands on the football team.

"[George] gives you a ton of options," said O'Brien. "He's got tremendous hands. The thing he's done is become a better blocker which is going to help the running game."

"Jarvis and George, those are two sure-handanded guys," Spencer stated. "We all talk trash to each other and that's all in competing. I know that whenever I don't have the ball that George and Jarvis are going to do their thing.

George Bryan

"When we work together we're going to put up big numbers. I'm confident in George and Jarvis, regardless of the play or situation. I feel sorry for some defenses that have to gameplan against an offense like ours."

NC State's passing attack should be on par with anyone in college football this year, but there are questions on the offensive line and at tailback. Despite it's prolific passing attack, NC State was just No. 46 nationally in total offense in 2009 largely due to a running game that averaged only 121 yards per contest (No. 92 nationally).

With Toney Baker and Jamelle Eugene no longer in the program, and possibly four new starters on the offensive line, State's ground game is an unknown. Spencer believes that just means the passing game needs to produce even more.

"We've got to execute our offense," said Spencer. "We know that's the strength of our team, the receivers and quarterback. We've got to prepare accordingly... we know our passing game opens up our running game.

"We've got to elevate our level so the running game can be successful."

If State can continue to make strides defensively and fulfill the offensive potential, the Pack just might turn some heads in 2010.

"All we have to do on defense is get off the field," said Irving. "We've go to get our offense the ball and the 30 or 31 points a game we scored last year will go up because I think we have a high-octane offense."

"We're very confident," Spencer said of the offensive unit. "We know that we are the team that can get the scoreboard running. We know that when we have an offense like ours we have to be confident.

"We know that we can put up a lot of points. I take it personal... we take it personal when we get beat on a play and have to punt. We get mad because it's not like us. We know we have more talent than the defensive guys on the field so we have to take it personal."

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