Wolfpack hit hard by graduation on the offensive side

Editor’s note: The following is the third in a series of previews of West Virginia’s football opponents for the 2019 season.

The last time West Virginia faced North Carolina State a future NFL star quarterback was guiding the Wolfpack offensive attack.

Russell Wilson, a member of the Seattle Seahawks, paced N.C. State to a 23-7 win over the Mountaineers in the 2010 Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Florida.

The squads were slated to meet last season in Raleigh but that game was canceled due to Hurricane Florence.

The Wolfpack have won nine games the past two seasons under coach Dave Doeren, who is entering his seventh season at the helm.

A rebuilding year is expected in 2019, however, as graduation claimed most of the skill players on offense and three starters along the front from last year’s squad that went 9-4 overall and 5-3 in the ACC.

Talented signal caller Ryan Finley must be replaced, along with receivers Kelvin Harmon and Jakobi Meyers.

Matthew McKay, a sophomore, emerged from spring drills as the frontrunner at quarterback. He is expected to be challenged in fall drills by freshman Devin Leary and Florida State transfer Bailey Hockman.

Junior Emeka Emezie does return at a receiver spot after grabbing 53 catches for 616 yards and five scores in 2018.

Sophomore Ricky Person Jr. also is back after rushing for 471 yards during his freshman campaign.

N.C. State ranked 108th nationally in pass defense last season.

Eight starters are back from that unit, including senior end James Smith-Williams, who recorded six sacks in 2018.

Senior Jarius Moreland will lead the secondary from his safety spot and his the team’s top returning tackler (81). He also picked off three passes.