NC State coach Dave Doeren is welcoming back the calvary this week.
Doeren said fifth-year senior quarterback Brandon Mitchell, fifth-year senior defensive end Darryl Cato-Bishop, fifth-year senior wide receiver Rashard Smith, freshman cornerback Jack Tocho and redshirt sophomore left tackle Joe Thuney, are among the players returning for the Florida State game Saturday. He did rule out senior left tackle Rob Crisp, who has been out since the second game of the season.
"For the most part, other than the guys who are out for the year, we have them all back," Doeren said. "Rashard and Cato-Bishop were full speed today, and Brandon has been going for the last week and a half. Joe Thuney is all good and Tocho is fine."
The 6-foot-3, 266-pound Cato-Bishop has missed the last three contests, and his presence will help in the run game along with having 41 games of career experience under his belt.
"It obviously adds depth and production," Doeren said. "The number of games he has played and just the savvy he can bring from game experience that you can't really coach. Sometimes you just need to get on the field and do."
Florida State moved up to No. 3 in the country in The Associated Press poll after trouncing Clemson 51-14. Doeren mentioned Wednesday that the Seminoles will likely keep a similar defensive game plan for the Wolfpack. NCSU has had Clemson play FSU, Syracuse and Wake Forest right before their game.
"They've got a tough job scheduling, and it's hard with all the teams and the puzzles you have to put together," Doeren said. "Some people think following a team like that is good because they are playing a really physical team the week before us. When you have a very similar scheme, their defensive systems carry over a lot, from their offense to our offense.
"I'd rather follow someone who played Georgia Tech every week before us."
The Florida State offense is well-rounded and presents many different options for redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston. Wide receivers Rashad Greene, Kenny Shaw and Kelvin Benjamin, plus tight end Nick O'Leary, are all capable of making big plays. Each has a long play of at least 41 yards.
"He [Winston] is who everyone says he is," Doeren said. "He is playing at a high level and playing at a lot of confidence. He's a good quarterback with a lot of players around him.
"There is time matchup-wise that we'll have to get nickel's or dime's into the game, depending on the coverage systems you want to be in. A lot of what you are doing is dependent on what they are doing."
O'Leary, who is the grandson of golfer Jack Nicklaus, played high school ball with NCSU junior quarterback Jacoby Brissett at Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) Dwyer High.
"Nick O'Leary, he's a really good player, and I recruited him out of high school," Doeren said. "He has been a red zone target for sure this year (five touchdowns). Last week, he became more of a third down and out in the field target. He's a dangerous receiver and has gotten a lot better as a blocker. I have a lot of respect for how he plays."
Benjamin is also the size of a tight end at 6-5 and 242 pounds, but is the third-leading receiver for the Seminoles. He has 20 receptions for 361 yards and four touchdowns.
"Benjamin is a really good receiver and he high points the ball," Doeren said.
Brissett, a Florida transfer, has done his best imitating Winston in practice this past week.
"He's competitive and I know he wants to get our defense ready," Doeren said. "It's a huge advantage [for us]. I told our scout team, the better look you get from those guys, the better we play.
"He took a lot of reps with our offense [during bye week] last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday."