NC STATE FOOTBALL
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
Injured WR Underwood back on the field for Wolfpack
Coach Tom O’Brien said Wednesday that sophomore Bryan Underwood has returned to practice and might be available to play in the season opener at the Georgia Dome against the Volunteers. Underwood had been sidelined since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on Aug. 8.
“Underwood got on the field, we’ll see how much he can do,” O’Brien said. “We have to see how he reacts from getting a little bit of work. It will probably be a game-time decision, whether he can play or not.”
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
ACC FOOTBALL PREVIEW: N.C. State
Outlook: Tom O’Brien isn’t the type of coach that wears his emotions on his sleeve for all the world to see. There’s no throwing of visors, no jumping into the arms of players coming back to the sideline after scoring touchdowns. Just a man under control, calculating the next move in his battle plan like the Marine officer he once was.
He’s so stoic that it’s sometimes difficult to tell whether his team is winning or losing by watching him on the sideline. It’s an even-keeled demeanor that served O’Brien and his Wolfpack well last season.
Despite an epidemic of injuries that gutted his defense for half the season, rumors that his job was in jeopardy, seemingly insurmountable deficits and the ever-looming shadow of former quarterback Russell Wilson, O’Brien never showed any outward signs of panic.
His players, following his lead, also held things together enough to produce a strong finish that not only saved the season, but helped build some momentum and optimism for 2012. Now he’s got the Wolfpack poised to take the next step, starting with Friday’s high-profile Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic showdown with Tennessee at the Georgia Dome.
Projection: There’s a reason teams and coaches aren’t judged until the end of the season. Five games into the 2011 campaign, O’Brien was squarely on the hot seat as Wolfpack languished at 2-3 and appeared to be heading nowhere. It’s amazing how different the outlook is now after State rallied to win six of its last eight games, including a 31-24 triumph against Louisville in the Belk Bowl.
But while all the elements appear to be in place for the momentum to continue and State to become a darkhorse contender for the Atlantic Division title, you just never know when it comes to the Wolfpack. Between its perennial slow starts, its penchant for injuries in bunches and a much-more challenging non conference schedule, things can change in a hurry.
As it learned last year.
Manuel and Glennon were under particularly powerful microscopes last year.
Manuel attempted to lead the Seminoles back to national relevance after taking over for first-round draft pick Christian Ponder. Glennon faced a season’s worth of comparisons to Russell Wilson, who transferred to Wisconsin after a bizarre split with N.C. State and immediately became a Heisman Trophy contender.
After leading the Badgers to the Rose Bowl, Wilson won the Seattle Seahawks’ starting job. Glennon, meanwhile, is preparing to lead the Wolfpack against Tennessee on Friday night in Atlanta.
“It worked out for everybody,” N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien said. “Russell’s doing great. … You’ve got Mike that’s still here for us, and we’ve got a quarterback and we’re heading into a high-profile game. Everybody should be happy.”
Now that Wilson is out of college football, Glennon no longer has to deal with that shadow. Instead, he’ll be measured against the other members of a deep pool of his peers in the ACC.
“In the past, we’ve had guys like Christian Ponder … (and) I think the world kind of saw how talented Russell was,” Glennon said. “There’s definitely been talent come through here, but I think this is probably stronger.”
Ben Swain (accsports.com)
ACCross The Web, August 29
N.C. State over Tennessee - Fairly self-explanatory, but it’s more than just an opportunity for an ACC team to beat an SEC team. N.C. State has some real potential this year, and boasts one of the nation’s best players in defensive back David Amerson. A great way for a league to earn respect is through the performance of its star players.
What The Blog?
Does Anyone Learn Anything At UNC? “The female species are a lot smarter than us…” So not only does Kendall Marshall seem to think that women are a different species than men, but according to Kendall, the fairer sex is made up of several different species. I’ll let that slide and chalk it up to the timeless tradition of athletes using the wrong words in interviews to attempt to spice up their statement, but what has to make UNC fans cringe is that Marshall opened the door for all kinds of negative recruiting against UNC. You think players at Duke, Kentucky, and Kansas don’t learn that they might have access to “improper benefits” with the ladies because of their basketball fame while they’re still on campus? Heck, Kentucky guys learn this while they’re being recruited.
Why Don’t You Have A Seat Over There
When N.C. State was in the courting stage with Rodney Purvis, Wolfpack fans adopted the alarmingly appropriate nickname, “Purverts”, which described the uncomfortable ferocity with which they followed his recruitment. They got their guy, but thanks to ongoing NCAA scrutiny of Purvis’ high school that impacts his eligibility, Purvis has not been able to officially join the basketball team.
WTVD’s sports anchor Mark Armstrong confirmed with the basketball staff that Rodney Purvis was cleared to practice with the team, but would not be eligible to play in games for the entire season, a decision that N.C. State has chosen to appeal. As Armstrong points out, the NCAA doesn’t typically compromise when it comes to eligibility, so if Purvis is indeed practicing with the team without the permission of the NCAA, it certainly would not be good news for the Wolfpack. Well, unless this is all a ploy to get the NCAA on campus, which is just a 30 minute drive from Chapel Hill.
Ryan Tice (TheWolfpacker.com)
Q&A: Tom O’Brien talks season opener
We heard ESPN will show their All-Access with NC State tonight, did they get the icy commander or smiling Tom?
I have no idea, you’ll have to watch tonight to find out.
How did that come about?
They asked if we’d be receptive to them come and do a day with us. I asked them what that entailed, and as we talked about it, it worked out fine. I think the kids really enjoyed it.
Is that something you’re more inclined to do when you’re still a team trying to make a stamp, rather than an established national commodity?
I don’t know that, I haven’t been an established national commodity, so when I get there, I’ll let you know.
How confident are you in which NC State will show up on Friday – the really good one we saw against Clemson and Virginia or the one we saw against Boston College?
It’s hard to tell, it’s a new year, it’s a new season. You’ve got a lot of new guys playing a lot of new positions. You talk about the experience we have on the offensive line, but we’ve got three guys that are playing new positions up front. In a college game, [R.J.] Mattes has never played at left guard, [Robert] Crisp has never been a left tackle, [Andrew] Wallace has never been a right tackle. Those are all questions that have to get answered as we go along. It’s great to be starting against a team like Tennessee, and to be in a high-profile game like this, but sometimes you’d rather get another game in there so you can get them on the field and see what they’re going to do. We got this opportunity, we have to make the most of it.
Jacey Zembal (TheWolfpacker.com)
Q&A: Dana Bible has plan ready for Vols
Which of the Tennessee defensive players jump out on film?
“Their edge player, No. 55 Jacques Smith, is really a strong player. He is versatile and talented and active. He creates his own set of problems for everyone.
“They have a veteran corner, No. 23 Prentiss Waggner, who has played two, three years as a starter. You can tell he’s a quality player and very talented. They are good and athletic, and they are formidable as far as their size.”
What will it be like for NC State’s offense to play at the Georgia Dome?
“I don’t know if it will be a different atmosphere as an outdoor stadium, but each stadium has its own personality and its own style. Playing indoors, there will be a novelty to it for a short period of time, but quickly it will become the norm. It’s just playing football.”
TELECONFERENCE: Tom O’Brien Quotes
Who would you consider as your most talented player that’s currently flying under the radar?
Geez, I don’t know who that would be. Not a lot of our guys get national attention so it would probably be our whole football team.
What concerns you about Tennessee as you prepare for this game?
Well, they’ve gotten starters back on offense. Their whole offensive line is back. Tyler is back at quarterback. He was playing exceptionally well till he broke his thumb last year. People think if he comes out this year, he might be the first quarterback taken. Lost a wide receiver, but they get one back in Justin Hunter. They’re big, they can run, they have good speed out there at the wideout spot.
Certainly a very capable team.
Defensively just the unknown. They ended spring with a four-down linemen team. When they released their roster, they’re a three-down, four-linebacker type team, similar to what Coach Sunseri coached at Alabama. The unknown on defense, exactly what we’re going to see, what packages of personnel we’re going to see as we go through the game.
Stephen Schramm (FayObserver.com)
Sudden rush of good vibes leaves some Wolfpack fans uneasy
“It seems like, to a lot of us State fans, that if there’s something that can go wrong in a given moment that can derail whatever positive outcome that we’re hoping for, it seems to,” said James Curle, an N.C. State graduate who authors the Riddick & Reynolds blog and hosts a weekly podcast that has become required listening for hardcore Wolfpack fans.
But these days, that mindset is under fire. On Friday night, the Wolfpack kicks off a football season in which an ACC title isn’t a crazy thought. And it does so with a highly anticipated showcase game against Tennessee. Meanwhile, on the strength of a run to the Sweet 16 and a strong recruiting class, N.C. State has been floated as a league favorite in basketball.
“It makes me nervous, I don’t like it,” Johnson said of the lofty expectations.
Throw in the messy scandal that continues to evolve at North Carolina – which has some of that school’s fans blaming the troubles on what they perceive as an anti-Tar Heels media bias – and it’s an encouraging time to be a Wolfpack fan.
“It almost feels like a bizarro world of sorts,” Curle said.
This strain of Wolfpack fan owes its existence to a handful of factors. There’s the fact that nearby rivals Duke and North Carolina have built basketball programs that are so successful that the Wolfpack’s winning tradition – two NCAA titles, 10 ACC tournament crowns – tends to get overshadowed.
It’s also shaped by a catalogue of painful memories. Any Wolfpack fan can easily rattle off a list of blown calls and frustrating losses that still sting.
The Sports Network
Tennessee (0-0) vs. NC State (0-0) (ET)
NC State hopes that the talent in the secondary will help mask the inexperience of the linebackers. All four starters return to the defensive backfield, anchored by All-America cornerback David Amerson, who led the nation in interceptions last season with 13, helping the team to the nation’s sixth- ranked turnover margin. The ball-hawking ability of Amerson, as well as Earl Wolff (113 tackles, 3 INTs) and Brandon Bishop (99 tackles, 5 INTs), will no doubt be a key to the unit’s success once again.
Art Norman was the standout on the defensive line in 2011, posting team-highs in sacks (7) and QB hurries (30) as a redshirt freshman.
Tennessee’s poor season in 2011 can mostly be washed away as an aberration considering Bray’s untimely injury, but this season it will need to prove that a healthy Bray under center can help lead it back in the discussion in the SEC East. NC State is certainly no pushover, and its secondary can cause fits for even the most prolific quarterbacks, but the Vols will pull this one out to start the 2012 campaign off on the right foot.
Network Predicted Outcome: Tennessee 24, NC State 21
Jerry Palm (cbssports.com)
Week 1 look ahead
Tennessee (-3½) over N.C. State — Vols coach Derek Dooley’s pants are on fire, and he’s probably going to have to do better than 6-6 to hang on another year. Winning at N.C. State would be a nice step in that direction
Clemson (-3½, cover) over Auburn — Clemson is one of the favorites in the ACC and ranked 14th, while Auburn is considered no better than fourth best in its own division of the SEC and unranked, yet they are only a field goal underdog. I think that says something about the relative respect for each league, but I think Clemson will earn their ranking for one week anyway.
Adam Markowitz (bangthebook.com)
PREVIEW: Tennessee Volunteers vs. NC State Wolfpack
We just don’t understand why Tennessee is favored in this game. The Georgia Dome is typically SEC territory, but that doesn’t mean that the Wolfpack fans aren’t going to travel. We think that the Pack are going to be the side to take the initiative in this game early, and Bray won’t be able to get himself out of the hole that he has dug. This is a much more important game for Tennessee, but NC State should be able to prevail in an upset. NC State 28 – Tennessee 17
Mike Strange (govolsxtra.com)
Daniel McCullers wasn’t interested in hometown N.C. State
The 6-foot-8, 360-pound nose tackle professes to have virtually no affinity with the school from his hometown.
“I liked the Tar Heels back when I was younger,” he said.
That would be the North Carolina Tar Heels from just up the road in Chapel Hill. McCullers said he can recall attending only one N.C. State home game.
“My sophomore year of high school, they played ECU,” he said. “That’s it. I was closer to the Tar Heels.”
As a prospect — a large prospect — at Southeast Raleigh High School, McCullers fell behind the academic eight-ball early and never caught up. He liked Wake Forest but playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference wasn’t an option.
So McCullers passed the next two years off the radar, restoring his academic resume in Milledgeville, Ga.
That’s where Tennessee found him. N.C. State noticed, too, McCullers said.
“They offered me,” he said, “but they wanted me to play offensive line. That ain’t my thing.
“Hitting people, hitting the quarterback, that’s fun. That’s what I like to do.”
Said N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien. “He wanted to play defense. He kind of told us to go take a hike.”
Head Football Coach Tom O’Brien discusses the team’s last practice and previews the upcoming game against Tennessee.
Yahoo! Sports Radio (AUDIO)
Mike Glennon – Wolfpack Looking To Make A Statement in The ACC
NC State quarterback Mike Glennon talks about learning from Russell Wilson, and what his NC State Wolfpack team is out to do in the ACC this season.
The Wolfpacker Podcast: Football season preview
The staff of The Wolfpacker breaks down NC State’s first official depth chart of the fall, previews the season, looks around the ACC and offers their predictions for the Wolfpack in the fall.
Riddick & Reynolds
R&R Podcast, Episode 63 — Tennessee Preview
Football is here! Coach Logan explains what you need to run a solid 3-4 defense, why the Volunteers’ giant nose guard may not be as much of a threat after all, and other notes heading into the game.
In segment two, Austin Skype’s in with his “Stone Cold Lock Of The Week.”
O’Brien: NC State has chance to win one for ACC
North Carolina State head coach Tom O’Brien spoke about Tennessee, his own team and how the Wolfpack have an opportunity to steal bragging rights back from the SEC at the Raleigh Sports Club luncheon Wednesday.
O’Brien ready for the Vols