Is Devin Leary Again State's Starting Quarterback?

Brett Friedlander

Devin Leary was penciled in to begin the season as NC State's starting quarterback and he played well in a relief role Saturday at Virginia Tech after missing his team's opening game against Wake Forest.

That would logically put him in line to be the Wolfpack's starter this Saturday for its game at Pittsburgh.

And that might end up being the case.

As of Monday, though, coach Dave Doeren wasn't ready to play his hand on who will be under center for the first snap at Heinz Field. The depth chart released prior to his regular weekly media conference, lists either Leary or Bailey Hockman as the first team quarterback.

"Like I said last week, we need them both," Doeren said. "They’re both going to get reps this week and we’ll see who is the most ready to lead our team this weekend."

Leary wasn't ready for the opener against the Deacons after missing 20 days of preseason camp while in contact tracing quarantine, opening the door for Hockman -- who completed his first 13 passes while leading the Wolfpack to a 45-42 win.

It was a performance that earned him a second start Saturday at Virginia Tech. But things didn't go nearly as well.

State's offense sputtered from the start as Hockman completed only one of his first seven passes with an interception. He was picked off again early in the second half before Doeren and offensive coordinator Tim Beck, with the Hokies leading 37-10, finally pulled the trigger and made the change to Leary.

"We got into a situation where Bailey had thrown his second interception and you could tell he just wasn’t in it," Doeren said Monday. "Nothing against him. He battles. He’s tough, all those things, but sometimes it’s just not going your way."

Hockman finished 7 of 16 for 82 yards and those two interceptions. He was also sacked three times for minus-13 yards rushing. 

"We needed that spark for the offense," Doeren said, "and we thought Devin gave us the opportunity there to see how he was and where he was at."

Leary did, in fact, provide the Wolfpack with a spark and his play over the final quarter-and-a-half provided at least a small silver lining to an otherwise dark evening.

He got off to a fast start by leading an eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive highlighted by a crisply thrown 36-yard strike to Devin Carter on a fourth-and-nine play. He finished the drive with a 7-yard scoring pass to C.J. Riley.

Leary later led another touchdown drive on his way to completing 12 of 16 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown.

"I think Devin has worked hard," Doeren said. "He was disappointed with the circumstances he had. He understood it and battled back through it. He prepared well last week, practiced well and got in the game. 

"I thought he threw the football well. He was decisive. He operated the offense the way coach Beck would like him to do it. He was into the game."

And barring something unexpected, he'll likely be back in the game when the Wolfpack lines up in Pittsburgh next Saturday.

NC State-Pitt depth chart

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