Bailey Hockman has taken a winding path to become North Carolina State’s starting quarterback. His next chance to keep the Wolfpack’s offense rolling will come Saturday against a Florida State program in which Hockman once hoped to make an impact.
Hockman spent a redshirt season at FSU and a year in junior college without playing before joining the Wolfpack in January 2019. And this year, he’s gone from starter to reserve and back to starter due to coronavirus and injury issues that have sidelined Devin Leary.
Hockman is coming off a career-best passing performance in a shootout loss to ninth-ranked Miami for the Wolfpack (4-3, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), throwing for 248 yards and two scores as well as having a TD catch on a trick play. The goal now is to keep playing with confidence.
“He didn’t sit there and wait,” Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said. “He made quick decisions. … And I think just having the success and seeing his guys make those plays for him is just going to lead to more success for him.”
Hockman said he originally went to FSU in 2017 to play for Jimbo Fisher, who left for Texas A&M at the end of that season. Hockman lost a preseason position battle the next summer under new coach Willie Taggart, then opted to transfer.
“When (Fisher) left, that was kind of hard,” Hockman said. “But me and Taggart just kind of ended up having a little bit of a disagreement on things. Ultimately I just felt like it wasn’t where I was supposed to be at. And I felt like I needed to change, and it ended up working out pretty good.”
The Seminoles (2-5, 1-5) fired Taggart late last season and hired Mike Norvell, who led FSU to a big upset of then-No. 5 North Carolina in mid-October. But the Seminoles have lost by 32 points to Louisville and 24 points to Pittsburgh since to squander that momentum.
“It’s challenging when you have disappointment there on gameday and you come up short,” Norvell said. “But the objective doesn’t change. Our job and responsibility as players and coaches is to get better and to go out there and put ourselves in the best position to win.”
Some other things to know about Saturday’s FSU-N.C. State game:
Norvell announced Wednesday that the Seminoles will have some prominent names out of the lineup going forward.
The list includes preseason All-American defensive tackle Marvin Wilson and starting offensive lineman Devontay Love-Taylor being ruled out for the rest of the year due to injuries. Receiver Tamorrion Terry has left the team and backup quarterback James Blackman intends to transfer.
“The guys that are here have come to work each day this week and just continue to focus on their improvement and this football team,” Norvell said. “That’s something I appreciate. At the end of the day, it’s what we’re here to do.”
N.C. State is in the middle of the ACC in scoring offense (32.9 points per game) but 13th in scoring defense (35.6). FSU is worse in both categories, ranking 13th in scoring offense (22.0) and 14th in scoring defense (35.9).
N.C. State’s Christopher Dunn is making sure the Wolfpack doesn’t come up completely empty on stalled drives.
The junior is 7 for 9 on field goals, including a career-long of 53 yards against Virginia Tech and another of that length in last week’s loss to the Hurricanes. Dunn is now four field goals away from tying the school record of 55.
FSU has blocked five kicks this season, including two field goals.
Florida State and N.C. State have played every year since the Seminoles began ACC play in 1992 and the two schools have been Atlantic Division foes since league expansion to 12 teams in 2005.
FSU has won five of seven, with the Wolfpack winning on the road in 2017 and at home in 2018. The series continued this year even as the ACC revamped its scheduling model due to the coronavirus pandemic, doing away with divisions and going to a 10-game league slate.