RALEIGH After rescuing a struggling offense Saturday, Harrison Beck won't have illusions about his position in N.C. State's peculiar game of quarterback roulette.
Beck replaced faltering senior Daniel Evans and passed for 246 yards and two touchdowns in a little more than two quarters, lifting the Wolfpack to a 34-24 defeat of William & Mary at Carter-Finley Stadium.
Coach Tom O'Brien quickly quashed any quarterback controversy, naming redshirt freshman Russell Wilson the starter for Sept. 13 at Clemson.
Wilson suffered a Grade 3 concussion in the Aug. 28 opener at South Carolina but was cleared to play against William & Mary. In fact, he did play, though astute observers spotted him holding for Josh Czajkowski on one extra point.
O'Brien held Wilson out of the game otherwise with the idea of avoiding another concussion that would keep Wilson out for a much longer period. Beck was 17-for-25 passing, but held no unfounded optimism about his chances moving forward.
“There's probably something else I did that I don't know about that will get exposed (Sunday) on film,” he said, smiling.
Beck's preseason delivered a sobering dose of reality about his hopes of playing a major role with the Wolfpack. He was one of the first two players out of a five-man race for the starting position.
Afterward, O'Brien offered to help Beck and Justin Burke transfer. Burke left for Louisville.
Beck, a junior who already transferred from Nebraska to N.C. State, stayed.
“If you just keep picking up and leaving, you just never build a foundation,” he said.
It was a good thing for N.C. State that Beck decided to stay. Evans, a senior making his 18th start, threw an interception on the third play from scrimmage and was 4-for-11 for 12 yards.
Beck replaced Evans late in the second quarter and threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis Williams 34 seconds before halftime to extend the lead to 14-0.
In the third quarter, freshman T.J. Graham raced away from the secondary for a bobbling, 47-yard catch to set up another score.
“One thing about Harrison,” O'Brien said, “if you want to get back in the shotgun and throw the ball, he's your guy.”
Beck did telegraph a pass that Derek Cox intercepted and returned 45 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown. But for a night, Beck provided the spark N.C. State needed – even though he will be relegated to backup status again next week.