November 3, 2011
NC STATE FOOTBALL
JP GIGLIO (N&O)
Withers spices Heel-Pack rivalry
North Carolina interim football coach Everett Withers added some heat to Saturday’s game against N.C. State with some verbal jabs at the Wolfpack during a radio interview Wednesday.
Withers, who has openly embraced the importance of the rivalry to the Tar Heels, questioned the “academic environment” at N.C. State and the motivation of the Wolfpack in games when it isn’t playing the Tar Heels, during a taped radio segment with Joe Ovies of Raleigh’s 99.9 “The Fan.”
Withers, who assumed the coaching duties nine days before the season after Butch Davis was fired in the fallout of an academic scandal and an NCAA investigation of the program, mentioned North Carolina’s graduation rate, compared to N.C. State’s during the interview.
“When you have as many schools in this state as we have, and the recruiting base gets watered down a bit, I think the kids in this state need to know the flagship school in this state,” Withers said.
“They need to know it academically. If you look at our graduation rates, as opposed to our opponent’s this week, graduation rates for athletics, for football, you’ll see a difference. … If you look at the educational environment here, I think you’ll see a difference.”
LUKE DECOCK (N&O)
Pack fans take a stand for O’Brien
Feet shoulder-width apart, arms crossed over the chest, a look of distant concern on one’s face.
It’s a new craze among N.C. State fans: “TOBing,” otherwise known as posting pictures of themselves mimicking football coach Tom O’Brien’s frequent sideline pose.
It started out, as most Internet memes do these days, as a one-off joke on Twitter, a parody of the short-lived “Tebowing” fad, but TOBing appears to have some legs.
A website – tob-ing.tumblr.com – is cataloging pictures of O’Brien in his trademark stance as well as fans’ imitations of it – including a strikingly dramatic shot of a Wolfpack fan TOBing on a Tallahassee, Fla., dance floor before the Florida State game, blurred bodies swirling around him in the near-dark.
It’s an homage to the coach, but it’s also gently mocking, a subtle reference to some fans’ main complaint about O’Brien: He doesn’t show enough emotion on the sideline.
J.P. GIGLIO AND CAULTON TUDOR (N&O)
Rivalry game means more than ever
T.J. Graham joked Wednesday that N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon is not ignoring him. He’s just gotten more attention from opposing defenses recently.
N.C. State’s top receiver, Graham caught seven passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns against Cincinnati on Sept. 22, his third straight 100-yard receiving game.
In the four games since then, however, Graham has a combined nine catches for 103 yards and no touchdowns. He also was suspended for the first half of the Virginia game two weeks ago for missing class.
“He’s not mad at me. He’s got to spread it out,” Graham said of Glennon.
J.P. GIGLIO (N&O)
N.C. State tries to forget, go on
N.C. State defensive coordinator Mike Archer was as blunt as he could be when asked what went wrong Saturday with the Wolfpack’s defense against Florida State.
“Most everything,” Archer said. “Seriously.”
The problems evident in last week’s 34-0 loss at Florida State have been percolating all season for a Wolfpack defense that seemed to turn a corner last season, only to get thrown off track by injuries and mental mistakes this season.
“There were assignment errors,” Archer said. “We didn’t tackle very well. They killed us on the perimeter with their speed.”
Archer, in his fifth season with head coach Tom O’Brien, kept going, but he had already made his point. The opportunistic defense that helped the Wolfpack win nine games last season is still sorting through the same problems it had in the first week of the season.
Across the board, N.C. State has seen a drop in its defensive rankings this season. The Wolfpack’s scoring defense is allowing an average of 28.6 points per game, taking its ranking from 29th nationally in 2010 to 82nd this year. Against the run, N.C. State’s average of 160.1 rushing yards against per game has dropped from 14th last year to 66th this season.
JP GIGLIO (N&O)
Frustrated Bryan making progress in Pack’s offense
Little of George Bryan’s senior season has gone as expected.
N.C. State’s tight end and offensive captain has seen his production drop with a flurry of dropped passes in the first eight games this season.
He has also seen the Wolfpack, 9-4 and ranked a year ago, struggle to 4-4 record and in need of three wins in the final four games to get back to a bowl.
CAULTON TUDOR (N&O)
Glennon, Renner set up for defining moments
Quarterbacks are defined by performances in their most important games.
“That comes with the job, and quarterbacks have to accept it whether they want to or not,” the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers said before winning the last Super Bowl.
North Carolina’s Bryn Renner and N.C. State’s Mike Glennon won’t be playing in a Super Bowl game Saturday afternoon at Carter-Finley Stadium, but the career paths of the two first-year starters likely will be long influenced by the outcome.
North Carolina has a 6-3 record, but N.C. State (4-4) is in danger of finishing the season with more losses than wins.
CAULTON TUDOR (N&O)
Amerson impresses UNC wide-outs
Count North Carolina wide receivers Dwight Jones and Jheranie Boyd among those amazed by N.C. State cornerback David Amerson’s eight interceptions.
“It’s kind of hard to believe one guy can get that many so fast,” said Boyd. “I think a few of them have been off tipped balls, but that goes to show you he’s always around the ball.”
Jones called Amerson “a playmaker.”
“I’m looking forward to playing against him, but I know he’s going to be tough. Their whole defense will be,” Jones said.
KEN TYSIAC (N&O)
Going 0-4 against Wolfpack under Davis, Tar Heels restore emphasis
Everett Withers grew up a North Carolina fan and says he bleeds Carolina blue.
His appreciation for the Tar Heels’ rivalry with N.C. State makes the atmosphere at the Kenan football complex different from in recent years.
Former coach Butch Davis was 0-4 against the Wolfpack and didn’t treat the rivalry with the same reverence as Withers – or N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien. But Withers, who took over at North Carolina after Davis was fired in July, said rivalries against in-state opponents have a special place in college football.
North Carolina (6-3, 2-3 ACC) will visit N.C. State (4-4, 1-3) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in a game that will be televised by WRAL in Raleigh.
“Yeah, it’s important,” Withers said Monday at his weekly news conference. “Sometimes you want to stay so focused that you want to say, it’s (just) the next game, it’s the next game. But these kids were recruited by State, a lot of them. Some of them may not have been offered by State. They may not have had an opportunity. So I think it’s important when you have a school that’s only 20, 25 miles down the road, to be a rivalry.”
Akula Wolf (BackingthePack.com)
Just Ask Us Out Already, Independence Bowl
Independence Bowl reps will be in Raleigh to watch UNC/NC State on Saturday:
Jacey Zembal (TheWolfpacker.com)
Earl Wolff and Pack facing must-win vs. UNC
NC State redshirt junior strong safety Earl Wolff felt as if he was surrounded by North Carolina fans while growing up in Raeford, N.C.
Wolff decided to go the other way and became an NC State fan in football, and Duke for men’s basketball. He has cherished going undefeated against North Carolina since his arrival in Raleigh. NC State carries a four-game winning streak against its rivals going into the 12:30 p.m. Saturday game at Carter-Finley Stadium.
“Almost everybody I know is a UNC fan,” Wolff said. “That is why growing up among UNC fans, I decided to be different. I kind of never liked them, but they are a good team and will be playing hard Saturday. We’ll have to bring our A game.
“Four straight, that’s kind of a big thing, but we are trying to make it five this Saturday. It’s a big game and a must win.”
Ryan Tice (TheWolfpacker.com)
T.J. Graham wants to be more than special against UNC
NC State senior wide receiver T.J. Graham is a local product of Raleigh (N.C.) Wakefield High and grew up as a Wolfpack fan, so he has seen his fair share of NC State-UNC contests.
He’s also been a part of two of those heated games before, as a freshman in 2008 and he made one of the biggest plays last season when he scored on an 87-yard punt return, which gave the Pack their first lead of a contest they would eventually win 29-25.
However, he wasn’t pleased with his performance outside of that punt return in last year’s showdown, so he’s working hard to ensure that he makes an impact on offense this Saturday, when the Pack will host the Tar Heels at 12:30 p.m.
“That one return is something that fans and media remember,” the 6-foot, 180-pound speedster said. “I remember how many drops I had that game, how many missed assignments I had – I didn’t have a very good offensive game that game. This year, I’m trying to have a better offensive year. The kick returns come, the punt returns come, but that’s not what I wanted; I’d rather score on offense. When it happened, of course I was excited, but I just felt I was doing what I was supposed to do.”
Tar Heel Fan (Tarheelfanblog.com)
Everett Withers Wants You To Know He Is Taking The NC State Game Seriously
Needless to say this is a nice change from when Davis was running the show. While I understand the notion every game is the same from a practical standpoint, the reality of college football dictates that not all games are created equal. Some of them mean more to the fans and by extension the players. At this point with multiple juniors and seniors having felt the sting of losing to NC State three or four times, I imagine there will be extra motivation to finally put this streak to bed. There is also a lot of talk about the absence of Russell Wilson and UNC players basically crediting the success over the past three years to Wilson. There is some truth to that, especially given Wilson’s mobility however there is a danger in playing that card too much since it could also be interpreted as disrespect for the rest of the team.
Sitting on a four game losing streak means UNC’s best bet is to sit quiet and let the on-field performance do the talking. That being said, publicl acknowledging what his game means is acceptable and quite frankly extremely important. Withers has made it clear this game means something. Assuming the players follow his lead hopefully the Heels show up at Carter Finley on Saturday with a little extra juice in the tank.
Tar Heel Fan (Tarheelfanblog.com)
Everett Withers Throws Six Gallons Of Gasoline On UNC-NCSU Rivalry Fire
At this point Withers is like the guy who knows he isn’t staying on the job much longer so he is doing or saying whatever. And why not? Withers has absolutely nothing to lose. He can take shots across the bow of the U.S.S. Wolfpack to his heart’s content because he likely will not get the interim tag removed making this his only and last shot at the Pack. In fact, I really don’t care if Withers is ripping NC State providing he wins the game. If he wants to call Tom O’Brien a crusty old man with sinus cavity issues, what do I care? If he can get his players up for the game and take care of business, it will all be worth it. Even if UNC does lose, Withers will have succeeded in bring more heat to this rivalry in a one week span that the previous four years combined. Whatever else happens, the entertainment spring from that cannot be denied.
Withers, O’Brien talking different games leading up to Saturday
Despite the recent black eye that the UNC football team has suffered following an NCAA investigation that led to Withers taking the reigns on an interim basis, the Multi-Year Academic Progress Rate (APR) as calculated by the NCAA to reflect graduation rates in all sports of every member school, appear to defend Withers’ comments.
In the latest report, UNC scored 955 to NC State’s 929.
NC State head coach Tom O’Brien says that he’s used bulletin board material in the past, but he’s not sure his team really needs it this week. He also included a bit of a jab.
“I think in a game like this, if it takes something like that to get you excited then you are probably brain dead anyway,” O’Brien told Adam and Joe Wednesday. “You have to be ready to play no matter what the other team says one way or another.
“I have used things in the past that people have said about us. I think all that does is it sharply focuses the team on (how) they are perceived by someone else or the thought process of the other team,” O’Brien continued. “I don’t think that in the middle of the fourth quarter they go, ‘oh, well coach said this.’”
Josh Goodson (WRALSportsfan.com)
Renner and Heels glad to see Wilson gone
Freshman KR TJ Thorpe was asked if he was surprised if Russell Wilson wasn’t at NC State. Thorpe said, “I’m surprised and I think we’re all surprised and slightly relieved a little bit…he brings so much to the table…his experience would probably change the game a lot more for them…the fact that he’s not playing kind of takes a lot of our back and think that relieves a lot of pressure we might have to face on defense.”
Joe Ovies (WRALSportsfan.com)
O’Brien enters Rivalry Week under scrutiny
There is a difference between an important season and a “hot seat” season.
Tom O’Brien found himself in the former entering the 2011 campaign for NC State. Coming off a competitive 2010 season that found the Wolfpack in contention for the Atlantic Division and finishing 9-4 with a victory in the Champs Sports Bowl, everyone expected O’Brien to build off the success. It’s what he did at Boston College, breaking through and piling up an impressive bowl streak for the Eagles. Why shouldn’t he be able to do the same in Raleigh?
Except that O’Brien hasn’t. Instead, NC State has taken several steps back this year and now the coach finds himself in the middle of those dreaded discussions of warm posteriors that college football fans engage in at this point of the season.
NC STATE BASKETBALL
J.P. GIGLIO (N&O)
Top basketball recruit Warren picks Pack
The worst-kept secret in men’s basketball recruiting circles broke Wednesday afternoon on Twitter, when news of T.J. Warren’s decision to go to N.C. State spread before his official announcement at his high school in New Hampshire.
The adulation for Warren quickly followed on the microblogging site, from former Raleigh prep star (and Washington Wizards point guard) John Wall and from former Duke star Nolan Smith.
“Y’all got anotha (sic) good one!!” Wall posted on his Twitter account.
Warren, one of the top high school basketball players in the country, chose the Wolfpack over Georgetown, giving first-year N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried one of the best 2012 recruiting classes in the country.
Warren joins his friends and top recruits Rodney Purvis and Tyler Lewis in the Wolfpack’s recruiting class. He also joins the program where his father played 32 years ago.
On April 5, 2011, NC State President Dr. Randy Woodson and Director of Athletics Debbie Yow began penning the latest volume in the tradition-rich history of Wolfpack men’s basketball when they announced the hiring of Mark Gottfried as the program’s 19th head coach.
In Gottfried, they found a coach that had a proven track record of building programs and academic achievement for his players. In his previous stints as a head coach, Gottfried guided Murray State and Alabama to a combined seven NCAA Tournament and four NIT appearances, including taking the Tide to its first ever Elite Eight in 2004. In only his second year at the Capstone, Gottfried’s Alabama team became the first in school history to obtain a No. 1 national ranking. During his tenures with the Racers and the Crimson Tide, 33 of Gottfried’s student-athletes earned academic all-conference accolades and 40 of his players received their degrees.
Gottfried immediately raised the intensity level around the program, challenging the returning players from last year’s squad that finished 15-16 overall and 5-11 in the ACC to do things the right way off and on the court.
“The guys on this team have been very coachable and as a group they’ve wanted to learn our system (of play),” Gottfried said. “They have been eager to do the things we’ve asked them to do, and they’re hungry after finishing 10th in the league a year ago.”
Warren Follows Roots
When NC State landed CJ Leslie, Lorenzo Brown, and Ryan Harrow in the 2010 recruiting season many State fans were thrilled that NC State was able to pull a top 5 recruiting class. Even though Sidney Lowe had yet to win anything of significance with NC State, had missed out on local top point guard John Wall the year before, and had no history of showing that he could mold top talent; he had yet pulled one of the best recruiting classes NC State has seen. Many State fans thought that with talent, Sidney Lowe could finally start producing results.
I remember looking ahead towards the 2012 class. I saw several names, Torian Graham, TJ Warren, Rodney Purvis. All from the triangle area and all ranked high in the class. I thought to myself, ‘Man it would be nice to carry this momentum in recruiting and pull some of those guys’.
Inside Wolfpack Sports
In today’s episode, Don Shea visits with sophomore forward C.J. Leslie from Holly Springs, N.C.
Sweezy said it’s a fun game to play in
NC State defensive tackle J.R. Sweezy said the UNC, State game is a fun game to play in.
Overgaard said UNC is going to be a challenge
NC State’s Mikel Overgaard said it would be another challenge against Carolina Saturday.
O’Brien said UNC-NCSU is an important game
NC State head coach Tom O’Brien said the North Carolina game is an important game.
Thorpe said it could get ugly between UNC, NC State
UNC receiver TJ Thorpe said he expects emotions to be hightened and that that may lead to more talking on the field.
Coples on the NC State, UNC rivalry
UNC defensive end Quinton Coples talks NC State-UNC rivalry.
Renner just wants to keep winning
UNC quarterback Bryn Renner said he didn’t grow up in NC so it’s not a huge rivalry, he just wants to win to win.
Withers said football needs rivalries
UNC interim head coach Everett Withers said he bleeds Carolina blue and think rivalries like NCSU, UNC are important.