NC STATE FOOTBALL
Joe Giglio (N&O)
Wolff’s streak in doubt for South Alabama
Senior Earl Wolff has started 28 straight games for N.C. State. That streak is in question for Saturday’s home opener against South Alabama.
Wolff suffered an undisclosed injury in the second half of N.C. State’s 10-7 win over Connecticut last Saturday and missed the entire fourth quarter. Wolff has been limited in practice this week and his status for South Alabama is uncertain.
N.C. State does not provide an injury report for nonconference games and coach Tom O’Brien has been vague on injury issues for Wolff and starting left tackle Rob Crisp, who missed the UConn game with an undisclosed injury.
O’Brien said earlier in the week it was unlikely Crisp would play against the Jaguars. O’Brien was more ambiguous about Wolff’s status.
Andrew Skwara (accsports.com)
ACC Weekend Preview, Sept. 14
South Alabama (1-1) at N.C. State (1-1)
When: 6 pm (EST)
TV: None (Internet on ESPN3.com)
Radio: Sirius 135
What’s at Stake?
After a pair of tough non-conference games, N.C. State begins the easiest part of its schedule. South Alabama won’t be a full-fledged member of the FBS until 2013 and the Wolfpack host The Citadel (FCS program) next Saturday. South Alabama should be a chance to fine tune units on both sides of the ball, especially for an offense that scored just 10 points in a win at Connecticut last week.
Key for the Jaguars
Get creative. It’s going to take some trick plays and some aggressive moves on defense to upset an ACC team.
Key for the Wolfpack
Protect Mike Glennon. The quarterback got sacked six times at UConn. Those protection issues must be fixed when the Wolfpack return to ACC play.
N.C. State handed South Alabama its first defeat in program history with a 35-13 thrashing in Raleigh last year. The Jaguars had won 19 straight games since beginning play in 2009, but the Wolfpack were their first FBS opponent … N.C. State’s defense made three interceptions last week with each coming from a defensive back … Despite not scoring a touchdown, South Alabama won 9-3 over Nicholls State last week.
Wolfpack 31, Jaguars 14 – The ‘Pack will triple its point total from last week.
Home at Last for Wolfpack
Indeed, the sound of mowers inside Carter-Finley was like music to the ears of NC State’s players this week as they prepared for the home opener.
“Oh man, it’s a great feeling being in front of all our fans,” said senior guard Zach Allen. “It’ll be nice to have someone in the stands actually backing us up instead of booing. We’ve got some of the best fans in the nation and having them here to back us is an amazing feeling.”
Allen and his teammates probably appreciate the home fans even more after enduring two long weeks on the road. A loss to Tennessee at the Georgia Dome two weeks ago was followed by last Saturday’s wind swept 10-7 triumph over Connecticut in East Hartford. And of course, the last road trip ended with a bumpy, turbulent trip back to Raleigh last Saturday night that included a landing in Greensboro before storms finally cleared enough for a later than expected arrival at RDU Airport.
Despite the win, there were also some turbulent times on the field against the Huskies. Sacked six times by an aggressive, blitzing UConn defense, Mike Glennon’s uniform probably required more Oxiclean than usual when the equipment staff stuffed his number eight jersey in one of the Murphy Center washing machines this week.
The Pack hopes to keep Glennon’s uniform a bit cleaner on Saturday night and for the rest of the season.
Ryan Tice (TheWolfpacker.com)
Defense looking to continue improvements
From the season opener with Tennessee to the second game against UConn, the NC State defense made huge strides. Improvements were evident on all three levels – the defensive tackles played more and helped the line be much more effective, the linebackers made plays and helped a strong front seven limit the Huskies’ ground attack and the Wolfpack’s experienced secondary took last season’s form in forcing four turnovers.
“Obviously, we did a much better job of eliminating explosive plays,” defensive coordinator Mike Archer said. “They only had two explosive plays – the 43-yard pass that set up their one touchdown, that hurt – but when you eliminate those, you have a good chance, and we shut their running game down. I think they had 32 rushes for 35 yards, and when you do that, you can get them in predictable, long-yardage situations and you’ve got a better chance for success on third down.
“Where we were poor against Tennessee, we improved – we were better on first down and we were much better on third down, they were two for 12 and 0-2 on fourth down. The stats don’t lie. When you play good on those down and create turnovers – which we did – you usually win.”
The Pack defense set the tone early, despite UConn starting with great field position, and that helped get the momentum going, according to Archer.
“I think maybe the most important thing was, early in the game, when we were in some tough field position situations, we forced three-and-outs five straight times,” he said. “That may have been the most important thing because they had great field position and could have put points on the board, but we responded.”
Matt Carter (TheWolfpacker.com)
Wentz confident the offensive line will move on
Senior center Camden Wentz joked that it feels like “a long time ago” when NC State played a home game. That wait finally comes to an end with a 6 p.m., kickoff against South Alabama Saturday night.
“In Atlanta, we had a good turnout, but this is our stadium, our crowd,” Wentz explained. “It will be nice to be actually cheered for in this game.”
The offensive line hopes to put on a better show against the Jaguars than they did in Connecticut as well. The Pack gave up six sacks and none of its running backs averaged at least three yards a carry.
Wentz though is quick to give the Huskies credit for some of that.
“I got to do a better job of getting everybody on the same page,” Wentz conceded. “We didn’t play as bad as perceived. That was a good football team. They were very experienced, well-coached. They knew what they were doing just as much as we knew what we’re doing. It was a battle.
Andrew Carter (N&O)
Mixing and matching opponents key to building a football winner
Building the puzzle
In some ways, constructing a nonconference schedule is like putting puzzle pieces together – and that puzzle is likely to become more difficult next season for ACC teams, which for the first time will play nine conference games.
That will leave just three nonconference games, and some – such as Florida State’s annual meeting with Florida, and Clemson’s annual game against South Carolina – are spoken for.
“You’re talking three games … and now, evidently, one out of every three years you’re going to have Notre Dame on your schedule,” Fedora said while explaining his scheduling philosophy. “So to me, you’re looking at one of those three games needs to be a good FBS opponent …
“So if you go with a home-and-home with an FBS opponent, a good strong opponent, then you’re going to be restricted on the other two games.”
Fewer games could mean fewer home games, which is less than ideal.
“I think the first thing that you want to do is make sure you have enough home games,” N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien. “… It’s still better if you can be seven [home games] and five [away]. I think one year we had eight home games. If you can do that – you know, those days are getting more difficult to do.”
Previewing South Alabama
NOTES: Home Opener For State
NC STATE SPORTS
N.C. State’s undefeated run ended against the team picked to win the ACC men’s soccer championship. But if the Wolfpack’s first foray against a nationally ranked opponent is any indication, it looks like a contender in the ACC, and maybe beyond.
Junior forward Alex Martinez maintained his torrid scoring pace with both N.C. State goals, but they weren’t enough as top-ranked Maryland rallied for a 3-2 victory Friday night at Dail Soccer Park.
N.C. State (6-1, 0-1), which was ranked 14th nationally by Soccer America and off to its best start since 1982, had hardly let the near-capacity crowd of more than 2,300 settle into its seats when Martinez struck less than five minutes in.
No. 14 Pack Edged 3-2 Against No. 1 Maryland
No. 14 NC State dropped a 3-2 decision to No. 1 Maryland Friday night at Dail Soccer Stadium despite a two-goal effort from junior Alex Martinez.
The Wolfpack (6-1, 0-1 ACC) suffered its first defeat of the year, which results in the 2012 squad coming up one game short of equaling the best start in program history, set in 1982.
“I was pleased with the way we started the game,” said NC State head coach Kelly Findley. “But I was equally disappointed with the way we opened the second half. We fought hard against the best team in the country tonight, and while we’re obviously disappointed to let this win slip away, we competed in a way that we can build on for the rest of the season.”
Martinez granted the Pack a 1-0 lead over Maryland (5-0-1, 2-0 ACC) in the fifth minute. Ryan Metts set the table with a cross that found Martinez at the top right corner of the box. Martinez shimmied his way past a defender and sent a bullet along the ground into the bottom right corner of the goal.
For the second time in coach Bryan Bunn’s three-year tenure, N.C. State’s volleyball team won its ACC opener, beating North Carolina 3-1 (25-23, 25-16, 21-25, 25-17) Friday night at Reynolds Coliseum.
The Tar Heels avoided the sweep with a strong third set following a string lineup tweaks by North Carolina coach Joe Sagula.
N.C. State sophomore Brie Merriwether had 18 kills and 21 points. Junior Meredith Richardson and sophomore Dariyan Hopper had eight kills each. Senior Alexa Micek led the team with 14 digs, followed closely by sophomore Nikki Glass with 13.
Cyr had 38 of N.C. State’s 42 assists.
Volleyball Rolls Over North Carolina, 3-1
For the second time in head coach Bryan Bunn’s three-year tenure, NC State’s volleyball team won its ACC opener, beating North Carolina 3-1 on Friday night at packed Reynolds Coliseum.
It was, however, a more joyous outcome in the raucous contest between old rivals than the 3-0 victory over Boston College in 2010, since it’s the first time the Wolfpack has beaten the Tar Heels in a conference opener since 1983 and the first time UNC has lost its first ACC contest since 1996.
“We came out really strong,” Bunn said. “Early on, North Carolina gave us some points and we were certainly happy to take them. They made some changes in the third set and played really great.
“I thought we got tentative for a little while. We played really well in the fourth set.”
The Pack (10-1 overall, 1-0 ACC) fell behind early in the opening set, but stormed back by controlling play at the net. The front line outblocked the Tar Heels 3.5-2, which made up for UNC’s hitting advantage (.163 to .130).
Bunn’s team led the entire second set, finishing off a 25-16 win with back-to-back service aces by sophomore Hannah Thompson.
Just when the Pack started thinking about getting its first sweep of the Tar Heels since 1991, UNC coach Joe Sagula tweaked his lineup and the Tar Heels finished strong in a 25-21 third-set win.