Ken Tysiac has a nice writeup this morning:
It’s no secret that N.C. State was most effective late last season when a healthy Irving and defensive end Willie Young rushed the quarterback from opposite sides.
Opponents had to slide their protection toward one of those players. If N.C. State schemed correctly, that meant a running back was responsible for pass protection against either Irving or Young.
“That’s a great situation,” Archer said.
Leonard’s smallish size meant he wasn’t much of a threat to rush the quarterback. Opponents didn’t have to adjust their protection to account for him. With Cole, it could be different. He’s strong enough to get into the backfield and disrupt the quarterback’s rhythm.
He gives N.C. State an option it didn’t have with Leonard, and he still possesses the quickness to cover slot receivers. After playing a minor supporting role last season, Cole seems a bit surprised at his sudden billing as an emerging standout.
What Tysiac doesn’t expressly mention is that Audie Cole is the quintessential Tom O’Brien “hidden gem” recruit. Coach O’Brien is never going to be a splashy recruiter, landing Top Ten national classes. But he does have a secret weapon – the uncanny ability to find players that have slipped under the radar, see the untapped potential, and coach them into surprise stars. BJ Raji, anyone?
Audie Cole was going to play QB at Central Michigan, before Brian Kelly accepted the head job at Cincinnati. Fresh off taking the NC State job, Tom O’Brien swept in and offered him a scholarship to play LB for the Pack – a position Cole never even played in high school. Two and a half years and 30 pounds of added muscle later, Audie Cole is the talk of Wolfpack camp, poised to be the next TOB hidden gem and the extra “plus” defender that the NC State front seven sorely needs.
In 2010, you’ll see more hidden gems make their Wolfpack debuts on the offensive line. This is why I’m so confident in the 2010-12 window to challenge for ACC football supremacy.