Friday, April 17, 2009

N.C. State spring game: 5 things to watch

Five things to watch at N.C. State’s spring football game:

1. Russell Wilson. Don’t get there late if you want to see him. The returning first-team All-ACC quarterback will start the first half, then yield to walk-on Daniel Imhoff for the second half.

The reason? Wilson will join the baseball team for the 6:30 p.m. game against Florida State. If he plays the second half, he will exceed the NCAA’s 20-hour weekly limit on athletics participation for athletes.

2. Safety squeeze. Senior Clem Johnson, who was injury prone last season, is N.C. State’s only proven player at either safety position.

Jimmaul Simmons, Justin Byers and Bobby Floyd all will need to make strides to prevent the Wolfpack from being vulnerable at this critical spot on the defense.

3. Owen Spencer’s hands. Spencer set a school record last season with a 22.3-yard average per catch. He also dropped at least a half-dozen passes that could have gone for big plays last season.

If he stops dropping the ball and takes full advantage of his uncanny ability to get wide open, he could become an All-ACC candidate as a junior.

4. One team, one offense. Despite the divergent skills of the speedy Wilson and classic dropback passer Mike Glennon, offensive coordinator Dana Bible said both can thrive in the same offense.

Bible compares them to batters in a baseball game. He said two batters can use different stances and swings to arrive at the same point of contact and still clobber the ball. We’ll see if Wilson and Glennon both hit home runs today.

5. Young blockers. N.C. State has some proven veterans in Jake Vermiglio, Julian Williams, Ted Larsen and Jeraill McCuller.

The team is counting on freshmen Sam Jones, Andrew Wallace, Zach Allen and R.J. Mattes to provide depth. This will be a chance to show they can do it in front of a crowd.

-- Ken Tysiac