Tuesday talk: Is the secondary already toast? [Updated 11:35am]

Background entry: More Concern than Hope

Yesterday marked not only the first day of practice, but also the one-month mark until the Wolfpack kicks off the entire 2009 College Football season on ESPN against South Carolina.

Unfortunately, practice started with some bad news as we all learned that safety Jimmual Simmons is no longer with the program. Ouch! Simmons was expected to be in the mix at safety in the Wolfpack’s thin and depleted secondary. His loss is chronicled more deeply in this entry at Backing the Pack.

NC State is now down two players in the secondary, which would have been the team’s weakest area even with Simmons and Dominique Ellis. Considering how bad the team’s pass defense was in 2008–last in the ACC in passing yards allowed per game, 11th in yards allowed per attempt, last in TD passes allowed, last in opponents’ completion percentage–these losses are alarming to say the least.

Another point of major concern was the absence of talented R-FR Jarvis Byrd from practice. Byrd was expected to challenge for Dominique Ellis’ starting cornerback position. Byrd is NOT currently listed on the team roster at the Gopack.com, NC State’s ‘official’ website although Coach O’Brien commented that Byrd and sophomore Desmond Roberts were focusing on their academics. (summer school)

I think that the Wolfpack is now so thin in the defensive backfield that we may see true freshman Rashard Smith or Donald Coleman see some action. (It sure will be nice when we can get to the ‘promised land’ of having enough depth to actually redshirt every single true freshman.) Maybe we are only a year away.

While we have moved on to the secondary, ESPN is still focusing on the potential hole that Nate Irving’s loss creates.

Additionally, someone asked in yesterday’s entry about defensive lineman, Michael Lemon. It is our understanding that Lemon was not at practice. Although I look forward to hopefully landing Lemon in west Raleigh, I am not nearly as concerned about his presence on this year’s roster with the talent and the depth that currently comprises our defensive line; with Alan-Michael Cash, Willie Young, Shea McKeen, Jeff Reiskamp, Nathan Mageo, Audi Augustin, Leroy Burgess and JR Sweezy we should be fine on the DL. Personally, I feel as though the addition of JUCO transfer Nathan Mageo was a fantastic and under-rated move by the staff.

Photo provided courtesy of News & Observer; Ethan Hyman, photographer

Photo provided courtesy of News & Observer; Ethan Hyman, photographer

Here are some more observations from the first practice from Ken Tysiac along with some great pictures from practice provided by the N&O.

- Quarterback Russell Wilson looks strong and healthy, none the worse for wear after spending the spring and summer playing baseball. He said he weighs 208 pounds – a little less than last year at this time – and has spent a lot of time in the weight room. Looking at him, it’s easy to believe.

– With Matt Kushner back from last season’s knee injury, the Wolfpack is in great shape at tight end. Sophomore George Bryan has incredible hands and is back after a promising season, and redshirt freshman Mario Carter has demonstrated a lot of ability.

– The punter position could be one of N.C. State’s biggest headaches this fall. Neither senior Jeff Ruiz nor freshman Chris Ward looked especially impressive in the first practice – but it’s still early.

– Freshman Morgan Alexander, who was recruited as an “athlete,” has started his career with the wide receivers. That’s one of N.C. State’s deepest positions, so Alexander is unlikely to play immediately. But he demonstrated quickness and good hands in his opening practice, even though he is small at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds.

Lastly, we are getting some traction and evolution with our fledgling “Wolfpack Wiki”. Since today is a little slow, we ask that you feel free to spend some time over there becoming familiar with the platform and building/editing some entries.

Updated 11:30am
The following are some pertinent updates on some of the items discussed in this entry gleaned from some of our community members who have provided accurate inside information in the past:

* Bird & Roberts ‘working on academics’ were taking (summer school) exams…nothing to worry about there.

* Javon Walker and Donald Bowens were seen running….a good sign.

* Heard Rashard Smith was looking good and Bishop was working out with the LB’s. Interesting.

* Ready to get confirmation on Lemon….I’m pretty sure he is going to be on campus

* Read that Rashard Smith at CB may be a future stud and another steal in the recruiting class. but don’t forget Gary Grant and CJ Wilson both redshirted last year, so its not a given that a true freshman will start.

* Audie Cole has locked up the SLB position maybe, with the staff moving Manning to WLB to compete with Maddox for Irving’s spot. apparently Cole has bulked up to around 250lbs. 6′5″ and 250? that’s a scary dude!

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22 Responses to Tuesday talk: Is the secondary already toast? [Updated 11:35am]

  1. Dogbreath 08/04/2009 at 9:38 AM #

    Ugh….Jarvis Byrd is a true freshman (not a RS) who enrolled in the summer session. I doubt he is in any academic trouble yet.

    Is picture #14 photoshopped?

    http://blogs.newsobserver.com/multi/wolfpacks-first-practice

  2. cooldrip 08/04/2009 at 10:02 AM #

    Was Javon Walker practicing? I still haven’t seen an update on him; when healthy, Johnson/Walker is surely our best pairing at the safeties. Corner looks really, REALLY thin if Byrd isn’t available. Who’s the starter opposite Morgan? It’s looking like Koyal George or a freshman, which is worrisome to say the least. I hope our pass rush is huge this year, the secondary is going to need all the help it can get.

  3. PackBacker001 08/04/2009 at 10:05 AM #

    “Is picture #14 photoshopped?”

    +1, that was funny.

  4. cooldrip 08/04/2009 at 10:07 AM #

    I was thinking Donald Coleman would end up at safety or possibly linebacker. Does he have the hips and quickness to play at corner? If so, at his size he was a steal on the recruiting trail.

    SFN: Agree – safety. Point was Jimmual Simmons was a safety which will now open opportunity for him.

  5. McPete 08/04/2009 at 10:23 AM #

    My understanding is that Jarvis Byrd and Desmond Roberts had a final exam to study for or take, since its finals week for summer semester 2.

    i also read that Rashard Smith at CB may be a future stud and another steal in the recruiting class. but don’t forget Gary Grant and CJ Wilson both redshirted last year, so its not a given that a true freshman will start.

    and Audie Cole has locked up the SLB position maybe, with the staff moving Manning to WLB to compete with Maddox for Irving’s spot. apparently Cole has bulked up to around 250lbs. 6’5″ and 250? that’s a scary dude!

  6. rdjennin 08/04/2009 at 10:25 AM #

    HAHA, I agree #14 definitely photoshopped

  7. Sw0rdf1sh 08/04/2009 at 10:38 AM #

    The players working on academics were taking exams…nothing to worry about there.

    Walker and Bowens were seen running….a good sign.

    Heard Rashard Smith was looking good and Bishop was working out with the LB’s. Interesting.

    Ready to get confirmation on Lemon….I’m pretty sure he is going to be on campus.

  8. StateFans 08/04/2009 at 11:19 AM #

    Thanks to our insiders for the scoop. Please never hesitate to let us know what you are hearing.

  9. Sam92 08/04/2009 at 12:13 PM #

    interesting article on SI.com about recession affecting athletic departments. anyone have scoop on how ours is doing?

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/andy_staples/07/31/college-economy/index.html?eref=sihpT1

  10. ruffles31 08/04/2009 at 12:27 PM #

    Anyone surprised that in the SI.com article, our own Lee Fowler was quoted?

  11. GAWolf 08/04/2009 at 12:58 PM #

    Haven’t read it, ruffles, but were Fowler’s statements written in Irish brogue?

  12. TOBtime 08/04/2009 at 1:25 PM #

    If Cole is that size and can run anywhere close to a 4.5 he’ll be a monster. I think Manning can be as well but in a different way. Hopefully Maddox has picked up the speed of the game now and can be a serious contributor. He has all the tools.

  13. GAWolf 08/04/2009 at 1:58 PM #

    David Amerson is apparently visiting ND and then going to visit State immediately upon his return. He’s a 4 star (by some) Safety from Dudley High (Greensboro), and it would stand to reason that due to the recent attrition of young players at that position he’ll hopefully go from a strong NC State lean to a commit soon. Hopefully… hopefully… help is on the way. Too bad we can’t pull a Duke and get him on campus before his highschool class’s official graduation date.

    Amerson’s offer list is impressive and includes Clemson, VT, UNC, ND, USC-Columbia, Texas Tech, WVU, etc.

  14. packnwilm 08/04/2009 at 2:20 PM #

    what happened to incoming freshman A.J. Ferguson from South Brunswick? Last I heard he was playing in some all star tournament this summer for the US. He’s not on the roster. Hargrave?

  15. primacyone 08/04/2009 at 3:03 PM #

    TOB said yesterday A.J. Ferguson will not be here this fall. I would assume Hargrave, but don’t know for sure.

    On a side note, it appears Leon Mackey has failed again to get into school. He was top DE recruit for State, UNC, and VT last year and choose VT over UNC and State. He ended up at Hargrave, reopened, and comited to SC, but appears he want be headed to SC either.

  16. otisthetowndrunk 08/04/2009 at 11:53 PM #

    Simmions leaving school. Not only does this not surprise me, but it makes me proud. I know it makes us thin at DB, but Jimmual was “grade A jackass” to say the least. Was in class with him last summer. He gave a speech in class, part of a project, with a giant belt buckle in the shape of a middle finger that said “F*** You” (with out the asterisks). He was not serious about school in the least. He was a waste of a seat in a full class, that I had to get waitlisted to get into. Well it looks like I am going to lose the pool over which State Football player will get arrested first.

  17. choppack1 08/05/2009 at 8:54 AM #

    the most important question is “how was the speech?”

  18. otisthetowndrunk 08/05/2009 at 9:27 AM #

    Well it was like, ya’ know, like, well…….not that good.

  19. Noah 08/05/2009 at 9:54 AM #

    AJ Ferguson is grayshirting. He’s expected to enroll in January, I think.

  20. hball57 08/05/2009 at 2:03 PM #

    I heard Mark Thomas on 99.9 comment on the loss of Simmons. Surpirsed me but he indicated that Simmons wouldn’t go to class and he would have played more last year if he spent any time learning the playbook. Said that he really wasn’t a big loss because of that. I have never heard a player dressed down publicly like that before.

  21. Dogbreath 08/05/2009 at 9:26 PM #

    How can someone who is 6’3 215 and runs a 4.4 piss away all of that natural talent? Just like if you are 6’11…get your ass in the gym and learn how to hit a baseline jumper. Geez.

  22. tvp1 08/06/2009 at 1:33 PM #

    The secondary is a concern. But on the other hand…who are we playing that will have success exploiting it? Both SC and Pitt lack good QB options (Pitt does have one stud receiver). BC’s QB situation is a disaster. Skinner and Lewis are good but not great QBs without any stud receivers, and there’s a good chance that we’ll be able to outscore Duke and Wake in any event. It’s not like we’re in the Big 12 South.

    And yes, I realize that Chris freaking Crane passed for over 400 yards against us last year, but I cannot imagine the secondary being THAT bad again, even if it is bad.

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