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Three Ways NC State's Offense Changes in 2024

NC State’s offense went through quite a few changes over the course of last season, and now heading into 2024, there's a good chance it will look quite different again. State will have a deeper running back room, and completely revamped receiving corps, and a brand new quarterback.

First-year offensive coordinator Robert Anae did an exceptional job reshaping this offense around its personnel after a gross first two-thirds of the season, and the tinkering likely began months ago to accomplish the same thing with this group. Let's predict what may look different.

A more traditional run game

State relied heavily on variations of QB counter last year over the last four games including bash reads that put Armstrong between the tackles. With Waters in the program and Armstrong out, State will still run lots of read run concepts, but bash probably goes away and Waters becomes the primary between-the-tackles ball carrier. 

McCall is a plenty capable runner, but he’s not the bruiser that Armstrong was, and I don’t think you’d want him taking those hits anyway. I'd predict that State shifts back to a more traditional looking run game that relies more on Waters and Raphael to carry the rock. More of McCall's carries will likely come off of zone and counter reads as well as scrambles and draws.

QB is primary in bash and pull read in the normal set. Should see less bash this year.

An RPO-heavy offense

The RPO world is a place where Coastal Carolina did a lot of its business during the Chadwell era. State wasn’t necessarily a high-volume RPO team last year, but it did use glance and slide RPO concepts semi-regularly. Don’t be surprised to see an expansion of these in 2024. 

The slide RPO, which is often referred to as the modern triple option, was a base play for a lot of McCall’s career to this point, and it probably will be again during his year in Raleigh. With a traditional run game that you expect to be strong and a mobile quarterback that has this play burned into his brain, it just makes too much sense. 

The question here is who plays the H. This made a lot of sense with Pennix because he was a competent run blocker who was a good enough athlete to make plays in the open field. Joly is much more of a Y and Reid’s role has always been a pure run blocker. Is this a spot for Dante Daniels or perhaps Jordan Poole, who was a budding run blocker with very real speed? 

In addition to just running this stuff more, you’ll probably see downfield routes tagged to these concepts. That’s what I mean by expansion. Steve Sarkisian at Texas has done a lot of this, and I think you’ll see State join in on the fun with two-man combos like a post wheel concept added to the base slide RPO as a way to attack vertically.

Read 1 is give/keep. Read 2 is keep/throw. State did this a fair amount with Armstrong, but it didn't get deep into the different expansions of the concept. I think you will see it this year.

I also think State might see more zone coverage this year now that it has a handful of true matchup issues at receiver. That puts you in a position to leverage the RPO game with concepts like glance and stick in addition to the slide plays that State will definitely be running.

Stretching the field 

The additions of downfield routes to the slide RPO lead directly into what I think will be the biggest difference in 2024; more shot plays. State did not have a great deal of success on throws of 20+ air yards in 2023, and it didn’t scheme too many shot plays for Armstrong over the final four games. Armstrong’s pocket presence and generally erratic accuracy weren’t conducive to such a thing. 

McCall does a lot of things well that Armstrong didn’t, and accuracy is at the top of the list. His arm strength is just fine, and his downfield accuracy is something that will jump off his Coastal tape. This is a quarterback you can stretch the field with, and pairing him with some real downfield threats across the formation at receiver will open opportunities for explosives that just weren’t there last year. 

It also helps that State feels good about its offensive line and its pass protection unit. The Pack should be strong at tackle, it has a veteran back in Waters, and it has a back in Raphael that is sufficient in pass pro. You have to protect in order to get vertical. The pieces are certainly in place here to have a more explosive passing offense that’s less dependent on YAC.


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