We’re breaking down the biggest fall-camp position battles in the ACC for each team. Up next, NC State.
Position battle: Offensive line
The candidates: Quinton Schooley is set at center, but the rest of the unit is in flux. Joe Thuney and Tony Adams will start, but where they’ll line up is still in question. Alex Barr looks poised for a starting job at either tackle or guard, but Garrett Bradbury has come on strong. Tyler Jones had a strong spring at tackle, but Will Richardson might be further along at the moment.
The impact: The ground game is going to be the key to NC State’s success this year, and it’s imperative that the Wolfpack have the right five to open running lanes. Both of last year’s starting tackles have moved on, and while Doeren thinks there’s enough talent to fill those holes, finding the right chemistry among a starting five is a work in progress.
NC State won’t be a favorite to win the ACC, but offensively there are ample weapons at the skill spots, and while receiver was a looming question mark, head coach Dave Doeren said he’s been pleased with how that unit has progressed. The big mystery on offense right now is the line, and Doeren admits there might not be an answer in time for opening day.
Prediction: As much as Doeren is pleased with the quick transition Bradbury has made since switching positions, he’s also had the longest hill to climb, and Barr has plenty of experience to hold on to the job. That really puts the biggest question mark at left tackle, where Jones looked like a good option this spring. But he returned for fall camp having taken a small step back while Richardson made a big leap forward. It might be a scenario in which both get playing time early before anything is settled.
“The next two weeks, we need to see Tyler Jones and Will,” Doeren said last week. “Garrett Bradbury — can he beat out Alex at left guard? And it may be a deal where we’re rotating a little bit early in the year until it comes together.”