No. 23 Wake Forest, NC State meet with uncertainty at QB
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — There's plenty of uncertainty at quarterback for No. 23 Wake Forest and North Carolina State.
The Demon Deacons have been waiting for starter Jamie Newman to recover from a shoulder injury and it's unclear whether he'll be ready for Saturday's game in Winston-Salem. As for the visiting Wolfpack, coach Dave Doeren will go with his third starting quarterback this season in Devin Leary as the team emerges from an open week.
Newman leads the ACC in passing efficiency and passing yardage (295.3 per game) along with being a physical runner with his 6-foot-4, 230-pound frame. But the redshirt junior missed time after getting banged up in the loss to Louisville and then sat out the Oct. 19 win against Florida State.
The Demon Deacons (6-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) went with sophomore Sam Hartman — who started nine games last year — with Newman out. Hartman threw for 308 yards and ran for another 43 yards against the Seminoles.
Coach Dave Clawson wouldn't reveal how close Newman is to being ready when asked this week, though it's also unclear whether Newman might need to run less even if he does play.
"If Jamie can go, he'll go," Clawson said. "If not, Sam will go."
The Wolfpack (4-3, 1-2) have optimism with Leary, but there isn't much of track record for the redshirt freshman who emerged from preseason camp at No. 3 on the depth chart behind Matthew McKay and Bailey Hockman.
The timing for the open date was good for the switch, too, with Leary getting plenty of first-team practice reps.
"The conversations you have with offensive coordinators and your quarterbacks is just, 'What do you see well? What do you think of this play?'" Doeren said, adding: "You're just trying to make it fit him so that he can play fast."
Leary got his first extensive work in a loss at Boston College, coming off the bench to throw for 259 yards and three touchdowns.
"I knew I was going to go out there and make mistakes," Leary said. "I mean, everyone does, but just being able to chop at it every single day, I think that's what really helped me to get where I am now."
Some other things to know about the North Carolina State-Wake Forest ACC matchup:
Wake Forest is 0-7 under Clawson when emerging from an open week, including the 62-59 loss to the Cardinals on Oct. 12.
This has been a difficult every-other-year trip for the Wolfpack. N.C. State has won just once in Winston-Salem since 2001, the only win coming in 2015 to end a six-game skid.
The Demon Deacons and Wolfpack sure have made things interesting the past two seasons. Last year, Wake Forest rallied from 10 down in the fourth quarter on the road to win 27-23 on Newman's touchdown pass to Jack Freudenthal with 30 seconds left.
And in 2017, North Carolina State carried a national ranking on the road only to fall 30-24 when receiver Emeka Emezie lost a goal-line fumble with 1:51 left.
N.C. State has been hampered by injuries in the secondary charged with slowing Wake Forest receivers Sage Surratt (No. 2 in the Bowl Subdivision ranks at 125.9 yards per game) and Scotty Washington. N.C. State hasn't had starting cornerback Nick McCloud since the opener, and has lost Chris Ingram, Teshaun Smith and Taiyon Palmer to season-ending injuries.
Wolfpack receiver Tabari Hines will play against his former team.
Hines started 24 games for the Demon Deacons from 2015-17. He then appeared in four games last year as a graduate transfer at Oregon last year before redshirting the season and transferring to N.C. State.
"Obviously I've still got a lot of people who came in with me there," Hines said. "So it's going to be a great experience, a great time being on the field with those guys again."
Hines has 21 catches for 192 yards and a touchdown this season and offers some big-play potential. He also scored the go-ahead touchdown in that close Wake Forest win in 2017 against the Wolfpack.
"We know his skillset, we know he's a very gifted player," Clawson said. "We certainly don't root against him and in this particular game, we're not exactly rooting for him."