RALEIGH, N.C. — NC State had one of its best seasons under Dave Doeren in 2020, which speaks to the strength of the program considering the team underwent an early season COVID-19 pause and some significant injury issues once the season got underway.
Most notable was the season-ending injury for starting quarterback Devin Leary. He already had a delayed start to the season, but he had eight touchdowns to just two interceptions when he suffered a broken fibula against Duke in October. The biggest headline of Saturday’s spring game was seeing Leary back on the field, and he mostly showed a return to form leading five scoring drives in the first half.
There was an interception and a few missed throws early in the game, but Leary finished with two touchdown passes of his own, including a 58-yard score to Porter Rooks and a red zone toss to Thayer Thomas.
“The thing I like about how Devin is playing is he’s just comfortable right now,” Doeren told 247Sports after the game. “He knows the system. His eyes are in good places. He’s communicating well. He’s making quick decisions. He’s doing what [offensive coordinator Tim] Beck wants him to do. It’s just fun to watch him in his progression from last year to this year.”
Unfortunately the day did not conclude without a couple of injury scares. Ben Finley, the projected backup to Leary for 2021 and younger brother of former Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley, got rolled up on by a defender early in the game. He missed a few series but was able to return and even run for a touchdown. Running back Justin Houston was not so lucky as he had to be taken away on a cart, but Doeren said afterwards the X-rays were negative and the initial evaluation suggested the injury was “probably just a sprain” in his foot.