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.
- 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.
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!