North Carolina State has suspended starting running back Shadrach Thornton for the first two games of the season. Coach Dave Doeren announced today that Thornton was suspended for violating team policies.
Thornton has had disciplinary issues before, resulting in a suspension for one game in 2013. Coach Doeren said this incident was a university issue that occurred six months ago.
The two games will likely be all that Thornton misses, give the time taken to investigate and levy a punishment.
Those first two games are in Raleigh versus the Troy Trojans and Eastern Kentucky Colonels, so the impact may be minimal in the grand scheme for the Wolfpack’s season outlook.
Thornton figures to be a key weapon in an offense built to run. Alongside quarterback Jacoby Brissett, and backup running back Matt Dayes, the Wolfpack ground game will likely be a standout in the ACC this season.
Even without Thornton, NC State will likely make quick work of both early opponents. The impact of the suspension may be felt as the season progresses, given how Matt Dayes performs in Thornton’s absence.
Dayes will likely see the lion’s share of the run duties vs. Troy and EKU; while a handful of freshmen could also see action if a blowout occurs.
Dayes made the most of his carries in NC State’s Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl win over UCF last December, totaling 78 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. These opening games won’t be against stiff competition, but he will have a chance to step up and prove he is a viable option.
Shadrach Thornton led the team with 907 rushing yards a season ago, and had 60 more carries than Dayes. With their first four games against Group of Five opponents, NC State can test the waters without Thornton, and get the rest of the running backs valuable playing time.
Thornton should be eligible to play come the third game of the season on September 19; this will be NC State’s first road game at Old Dominion.