RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Since the first day of practice, N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren took a “next man up” approach.
We will see if that philosophy will serve his team well on Saturday when Bailey Hockman takes over behind center for the injured Devin Leary.
“The positive news is he will have a normal, healthy recovery. It’s nothing that will haunt him from an injury standpoint, but it will probably keep him out of the regular season, but we’ll see how fast he can heal,” Doeren said Monday.
Leary broke his leg in the third quarter of the Wolfpack’s 31-20 win over Duke on Saturday.
Leary ran the ball to the right and was crushed by two Blue Devil defenders. Duke’s Lummie Young IV was ejected over a helmet-to-helmet hit on the play.
The No. 23 Wolfpack travels to Chapel Hill on Saturday in a rare ranked matchup against North Carolina at noon.
In football, the backup is just one play away from getting into the game.
That’s now where freshman quarterback Ben Finley is.
“I know Bailey (Hockman), Ben (Finley), and Ty (Evans) are excited about their opportunity and they will work hard with coach Beck to be ready to help us win games,” Doeren said. “That’s what it’s all about, maximizing your opportunity and the guys around you helping to the best of their ability.”
The younger brother of former Wolfpack star quarterback Ryan Finley, Ben Finley has passed Ty Evans on the depth chart and will back up Hockman on Saturday.
“Ty had an injury that kept him out for a long time that allowed Ben to get reps and just gain more timing and knowledge with the offense,” Doeren said of Finley’s progression.
Hockman was benched following poor showings earlier in the season but helped lead the Pack to a win over Duke.
“He’s just got to play confident football,” Doeren said of Hockman. “He’s just got to go play football and let it all go. I thought he played really well against Wake Forest and we just need him to get back to that.”
“I think he knows our offense and is in a different position as a teammate… he’s more comfortable here, he has a good circle of people, and he can be himself,” Doeren said. “I think he understands what his role was. He was a very positive teammate. He was very energetic around his friends, his teammates.”
On the season, Hockman is 27 for 46 for 316 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Leary is 65 for 109 for 879 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions.
Saturday’s game against No. 14 UNC will be the first ranked matchup between the two since 1993.
Leary’s recovery is estimated between four and eight weeks.
N.C. State’s final regular season game is currently scheduled for Dec. 5 against Georgia Tech.
PACK PLUSES: Former Orange High School star Payton Wilson has been named ACC linebacker of the week for his performance against Duke on Saturday. Wilson became the first Wolfpack player in six years to pick off two passes in a game and his 19 tackles were the most at N.C. State in eight years. Wilson’s 11 tackles per game leads the ACC and ranks 6th best in the nation.