NC STATE BASKETBALL
Joe Giglio (N&O)
History in the remaking
Tommy Burleson is an optimist.
One of the stars of N.C. State’s 1974 national title team, Burleson understands just how good the Wolfpack can be in basketball.
Maybe it was the nostalgia, or a tinge of wishful thinking, but Burleson left the alumni reunion at coach Mark Gottfried’s house in mid-September with a familiar feeling.
Burleson stopped short of making a prediction for this N.C. State team, picked to win the ACC and ranked in the top 10 in the country – a position N.C. State hasn’t been in for 37 years – but he couldn’t hide his optimism.
“This could be one of those rides you really enjoy,” Burleson said. “It could be a beautiful thing.”
N.C. State has taken its fans on two of the most memorable rides in NCAA history. The 1974 team that featured Burleson and David Thompson, still recognized as the best player in ACC history, went 30-1 and ended UCLA’s streak of seven consecutive national titles.
The 1983 team finished fourth in the ACC during the regular season and needed to win the ACC tournament just to make the NCAA tournament.
That team, driven by the personality of coach Jim Valvano, made one unbelievable comeback after another and stitched together enough last-second wins to define the modern version of “March Madness.”
But it will be 30 years in March since Valvano’s “Cardiac Pack” shocked Houston in the title game. The Wolfpack hasn’t been back to the Final Four since.
And to compound N.C. State’s futility, North Carolina and Duke have become the twin ruling powers of college basketball. North Carolina and Duke have made 20 Final Four trips, and won seven national titles between them, since N.C. State’s last Final Four appearance.
Which is what makes the convergence of forces behind this season so compelling, especially for N.C. State fans, who are preconditioned to expect the worst.
But can this Wolfpack team deliver on the hype and get to the Final Four?
“Why not?” asked junior guard Lorenzo Brown. “That’s every team’s goal.”
But not every team has the necessary talent or experience, to get there. The Wolfpack just might have both this season.
Joe Giglio (N&O)
Pack’s young pups happy to add to talented, veteran lineup
As the most decorated freshmen class in N.C. State’s history, there is pressure on Rodney Purvis, T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis to perform this season.
There’s no doubt about that, junior forward C.J. Leslie said, but no one’s asking the trio of McDonald’s All-Americans to carry the program, not yet anyway.
“We are already on the right steps,” Leslie said. “We are looking to keep going forward from here.”
Leslie was comparing this class to his, with guards Lorenzo Brown and Ryan Harrow, who has since transferred to Kentucky.
Leslie, Brown and Harrow entered the program in the midst of a four-year NCAA tournament drought and with the challenge of saving coach Sidney Lowe’s job.
Purvis, who will likely start for departed guard C.J. Williams, Warren and Lewis enter a program coming off a Sweet 16 appearance and with four returning starters.
“All of our freshmen are going to help us in some way at some point of the season,” Leslie said.
But they won’t be asked to be the focus of the program, which is fine with the three newcomers, who each bring a distinct need to this year’s roster.
Go-to guy: guard Lorenzo Brown runs N.C. State’s offense but forward C.J. Leslie is No. 1 scoring option. Leslie was particularly effective once he started taking bigger defenders off the dribble from the mid-post. Leslie spent the offseason working on his mid-range jumper, which will make him even more difficult to defend.
Impact rookie: Rodney Purvis won’t be asked to fill C.J. Williams’ leadership void, but he will be asked to fill his shooting guard role. Purvis is strong and quick and can get can the ball to the rim or get to the foul line. There will be a learning curve on defense, and his outside shot will need to improve, but there’s a reason N.C. State devoted so much energy in getting Purvis cleared by the NCAA to play this season.
Best case: The experience is there and so is the talent and the opportunity to win the ACC. Either a regular-season title, the first since 1989, or the ACC title, the first since ’87, would be a major accomplishment for the program.
But some of the players have used the words “Final Four” and Gottfried has talked about playing on “Monday night in April,” so there are bigger goals than ACC out there for this team.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to the Final Four, or more, is the potential matchups in March. Big, long teams are going to bother N.C. State, but the question is how many of them are there out there in college basketball and will the Wolfpack have to go through them to get to Atlanta?
G Scott Wood
Sr., 6-6, 169 pounds
12.4 ppg, 2.3 rpg
N.C. State is at its best when Wood is at his best. There’s a pretty clear correlation between Wood’s scoring — State was 20-5 last season when he hit double-figures — and when he’s not. Wood led the ACC in 3-pointers (95), 3-point percentage (40.9) and he would have led in free-throw percentage (90.7), if he had the qualifying number of attempts.
“There’s no reason he can’t have a great year,” said assistant coach Rob Moxley, who worked with Wood this summer on shooting more off the dribble.
F Richard Howell
Sr., 6-8, 257 pounds
10.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg
Howell continues to change his body, he dropped 30 pounds last offseason, and he has toned up this summer. He ranked third in the ACC in rebounding last season, despite only playing an average of 27 minutes per game. Foul trouble plagued Howell as a junior, he fouled out of five ACC games and had four fouls in 14 other games. Without the transfer of forward DeShawn Painter, staying out of foul trouble is point of emphasis for the forwards.
“We definitely can’t get in foul trouble again,” Howell said in reference to him and Leslie. “We know that.”
Luke Decock (N&O)
Who will win the ACC – and why
1 2011-12: 27-7, 13-3 ACC (2nd), lost to Lehigh in opening game of NCAA tournament.
1. The extremely disappointing finish to last season obscures the fact that a Duke team that played very little defense, had massive chemistry issues and no point guard to speak of still won 27 games and returns almost its entire roster.
2. The chemistry issues last season weren’t Austin Rivers’ fault – a lack of senior leadership was as much to blame – but his departure should fix them, especially if Ryan Kelly and Tyler Thornton assert themselves.
3. One of Duke’s biggest weaknesses last season was defending big shooting guards and small forwards on the perimeter. Redshirt freshman Alex Murphy and incoming freshman Amile Jefferson, both 6-foot-8, should fill that void nicely, as will freshman guard Rasheed Sulaimon, who at 6-4 has the potential to be a bigger version of Nolan Smith.
MVP: Mason Plumlee. Mike Krzyzewski has played the Kyrie Irving card with Plumlee, talking him up in the offseason as an ACC and national player-of-the-year candidate. Plumlee has the talent; can he exert his authority and take over games?
Unsung hero: Because of injuries both before and during the season, Quinn Cook never really had the chance to show what made him so highly regarded coming out of high school. Fully healthy, he should give Duke the true point guard it hasn’t had since Jason Williams (11 games of Kyrie Irving aside).
Realistic expectations: Compete for the ACC title, advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
Best-case scenario: Compete for the national title, if the whole turns out to be more than the sum of its parts.
2 2011-12: 24-13, 9-7 ACC (t-4th), lost to Kansas in Sweet 16 of NCAA tournament.
1. How will the Wolfpack handle expectations? Picked to finish first by the coaches and the media, they’ll have to learn how to play as favorites after playing the underdog card for all it was worth last season. (“They’ve got to guard us, too, pal.”)
2. There’s probably as much talent here as any team in the league. Lorenzo Brown and C.J. Leslie could start for any team in the league, Richard Howell and Scott Wood are quietly effective, and the freshmen – Rodney Purvis, T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis – are full of raw ability.
3. For all the buzz about the freshmen, the departures of C.J. Williams, DeShawn Painter and Alex Johnson will hit the Wolfpack particularly hard on defense, where Williams was one of the ACC’s best perimeter defenders and Painter’s transfer leaves the Wolfpack extremely thin at forward.
MVP: If Leslie continues to grow and develop, this might end up being him, but Brown holds the Wolfpack together, a true combo guard who is as dangerous a passer as he is scorer.
Unsung hero: When Wood scored in double figures, N.C. State was 20-5. He worked hard this summer to find ways to get off more shots without relying on his teammates, screens, etc.
Realistic expectations: Compete for the ACC title, return to the Sweet 16.
Best-case scenario: If they find some depth at forward and the freshmen click right away, the Wolfpack could hang another banner.
Luke Decock (N&O)
Devon Bookert, Florida State
Shaquille Cleare, Maryland
Marcus Paige, North Carolina
Rodney Purvis, N.C. State
Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke
Rookie of Year
Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke
3 sharpest shooters
1. Scott Wood, N.C. State – To date largely a spot-up shooter, has worked in offseason on developing new ways to get open.
2. Reggie Bullock, North Carolina – So tough to defend with his length (6-foot-7) and quickness. Will get more looks this year.
3. Michael Snaer, Florida State – Just as dangerous with the jump shot as he is putting it on the floor. Clutch.
Caulton Tudor & Luke Decock (N&O)
Burning questions for ACC basketball
HOW WILL N.C. STATE HANDLE THE BURDEN OF EXPECTATIONS?
Luke: Teams that are put in this kind of situation without any experience rarely handle it well. That doesn’t mean N.C. State is doomed to fail, just that anything but perfection will be considered falling short. While perfection is unlikely, all the ingredients are there for a really good season. Question is, will people accept “really good” given the expectations floating out there?
Tudor: The thing that worries me most about N.C. State is the tendency for C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell to get into deep foul trouble and often in unison. It’s not just a concern, either. It’s a valid opposing strategy that rival coaches have seen succeed too often to ignore.
If I’m coaching against the Pack, my Plans A and B are to draw a foul on each big man before the first TV timeout and a second on each before the third TV break, thereby forcing Mark Gottfried to juggle or bench the two for the final eight minutes before intermission and probably into the second half.
But at the same time, Leslie and Howell need to be reasonably aggressive. Otherwise, they surrender the interior. The Pack will be a good team but keeping the two bigs on the court in tight games will determine how far this team will go.
Luke: I’m curious to see how Jordan Vandenberg and Thomas de Thaey do, because if they perform well, it might defray some of that concern at forward. At the least, they can soak up some fouls. A bigger issue might be overall defense, where C.J. Williams, Alex Johnson and DeShawn Painter will all be missed and the freshmen will have an understandable learning curve.
CAN FRIDAY AT THE ACC TOURNAMENT BE SAVED?
Tudor: It’s hardly a secret that Friday in the ACC tournament was losing steam long before this spring. With little fan enthusiasm and lots of empty seats in Atlanta’s Philips Arena, March 9, 2012 wound up rating as the most forgettable Friday in the tournament’s history – a radical departure from the many years when the event began on Friday with four routinely intriguing games. The lure of those games was such that the day equated to an unofficial regional holiday. Tickets were all but impossible to score and television ratings high.
Luke: Expansion killed Friday, because you can’t sell every ticket before the tournament starts and expect four fan bases to show up for love of the game after their teams lose Thursday. It’s only going to get worse with 14 and 15 teams, especially adding schools with no historic ties to the ACC.
Tudor: At least for this year, thanks to the 2013 locale in Greensboro and the likelihood that N.C. State will be in the hunt for its first league championship since 1987 (Landover, Md.), “Frantic Friday” can be saved on March 15, 2013. If so, it would be a delightful development for ACC purists – particularly so if the three Triangle schools are seeded 1, 2, 3 and if Wake Forest somehow qualifies for a Friday appearance.
Luke: As nice as that would be, I think ticket tradition needs to change. Here’s the solution: Sell the lower bowl by tournament books, the traditional way, but make the upper deck general admission, and sell tickets only to fans of the teams that are actually playing. With modern technology, you can print all the tickets, and only the correct ones would scan at the door. Or deal with a half-full building with zero atmosphere as the price paid to expand the league.
NC STATE FOOTBALL
Why NC State Might Win: The Pack has more depth and talent, but especially on passing downs.
Mike Glennon brings stability and downfield potential to the NC State passing game, something Virginia has lacked all year. Glennon is a next-level quarterback, with a cadre of gifted receivers, such as Bryan Underwood, Quintin Payton and Tobais Palmer. That trio could have its way with a Cavaliers secondary that’s allowed 14 touchdown passes and picked off just one. The Cavs will also be on high alert whenever their own quarterback drops back to throw. The Pack ranks No. 12 nationally in sacks, producing pressure from myriad different angles.
What Will Happen: State will need to have a short memory after last week’s gut-wrenching loss. Glennon and head coach Tom O’Brien will make sure of it.
The Pack is a veteran team that’s grown accustomed to the ebbs and flows of a campaign. They’ll rebound in a hurry against a Virginia squad that lacks the talent and the motivation to pull a road upset. Glennon will throw a pair of scoring strikes, while the defense harasses Sims into repeated mistakes. State will easily win the turnover margin, coasting in the second half of a comfortable victory.
CFN Prediction: NC State 31 … Virginia 16
Andrea Adelson (ESPN.com)
NC State laments dropped passes
There are plenty of woulda, shoulda, coulda moments in any football game, most especially the heartbreaking losses.
So you have to wonder whether NC State’s game against North Carolina would have turned out differently had the Wolfpack not had so many dropped passes.
Ten to be exact.
Could a couple of catches instead of so many drops turned stalled drives into scoring drives?
“Certainly you can’t be happy with dropped passes,” coach Tom O’Brien said on the ACC coaches call. “Once again, I think that’s a matter of concentration. We had 10 on Saturday. We have a quarterback that threw for 460 yards. If you catch some of those passes, some of those are game-changing passes. He might have had 600 yards passing the ball.”
Thursday Football Notebook
NC STATE VERSUS VIRGINIA
Saturday’s meeting will mark the 57th meeting between NC State and Virginia in the series that dates back to 1904. The Wolfpack holds a 34-21-1 advantage in the series and has won four of the last six – including the last three games played in Raleigh.
State and Virginia played every year from 1960 – 2003, but have met just three times since ACC expansion, with the ‘Hoos winning in Charlottesville in 2006 (14-7), the Pack taking the victory against the No. 18 Cavaliers in Raleigh in 2007 (29-24) and then winning at Charlottesville in 2011, 28-14. The Pack’s win on the road against UVa last season was its first in Charlottesville since 1994. Tom O’Brien was the offensive coordinator/quarterback coach for that Cavalier team that finished the season 9-3 and won the Independance Bowl.
PACK-CAVALIERS PLAY IT CLOSE
Half of the last 10 games between NC State and Virginia have been decided by a touchdown or less, including two of the last three (7-14 in 2006 and 29-24 in 2007). State won by two TDs a year ago, 28-14.
In 2003, NC State won by two touchdowns in Raleigh (51-37), but that game may have actually been the closest in recent history. In a battle of two quarterbacks who are now NFL starters, Philip Rivers and Matt Schaub, there were four ties and eight lead changes before the Pack went on to win, 51-37.
Close games between the two teams are nothing new, however. In 1944, in a game played in Norfolk, the Wolfpack gained a 13-0 victory in a driving rainstorm by recovering two UVa fumbles in the endzone for touchdowns. State failed to make a first down and had just 10 yards of total offense in that game, an NCAA record for fewest yards gained by a winning team and one of only two games in bowl subdivision history where the winning team failed to make a first down.
Ryan Tice (TheWolfpacker.com)
Tom O’Brien: Virginia is not a 2-6 team
Any thoughts to keep R.J. Mattes at left tackle and put Rob at right tackle to get the best five guys on the field?
That’s where we think we are right now, our best five are on the field. We started the year with [Rob] at left tackle, R.J. at left guard and [Camden] Wentz at center. That side of the ball is the best we can be on that side of the ball. [Tyson] Chandler started at right tackle, then [Andrew] Wallace got hurt – he was backing Wallace up – so he’s back to the spot he was in preseason when we set the original line-up to get there [to the best five on the field]. The only change is [Duran] Christophe because we lost Allen, who was our best run blocker and our most experienced guy up front. We moved Christophe from left [guard] to right, so that’s the only change, and they’re kind of getting used to each other over on the right side.
How has Tyson developed over there?
We’ve asked a lot from him. He’s gone to right, he had to go to left, which is tough, then he’s gone back to right. He’s much more comfortable at right tackle. He has shown progress the last couple of games. The off week, I think, helped. He studied some tape and talked about some of the techniques, fundamentally worked with him to get better. He’s more comfortable over there at right tackle. That’s where you want those two kids now and going forward.
Matt Carter (TheWolfpacker.com)
Brian Slay: Quick start is a focus this week
Senior defensive lineman Brian Slay has been through a lot since he’s been at NC State, and the latest was the heartbreaking loss at archrival UNC last Saturday.
“It’s kind of going to stay with you a little bit, but you got to move on,” Slay stated. “There’s still games to be played. You can’t really let last week carry over to this week and not be prepared and not be ready and catch another loss.”
Slay, who at some point during his career has probably played every position on the NC State defensive line, is taking to heart one of the painful lessons from the UNC defeat, as well as State’s other two losses.
The Pack trailed Tennessee 22-7 at the end of the first quarter in the season-opener in Atlanta Aug. 31. State was down 23-7 after the opening frame at Miami Sept. 29, and entering the second quarter at UNC last Saturday the Heels were up 25-7.
During his Monday press conference, NC State head coach Tom O’Brien pinpointed the defensive line as a unit that must be more consistent to avoid getting off to slow starts.
Slay does not disagree.
Ryan Tice (TheWolfpacker.com)
C.J. Wilson weathers storm to make big impact
Wilson, who kept himself from a year-long suspension by posting a 3.4 grade-point average during summer school, was thankful for the ruling because there were several times when he thought he would never be able to play college football again.
“I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t worried, but I just had to have faith,” he said. “I kept thinking, ‘if I keep doing the right things, keep doing what I’m supposed to and keeping believing in what I believe in, I’ll be fine.’ The Lord blessed me with the opportunity to play again.
“I’m more than thankful, I’m thankful to this day. It was just a wake-up call that tomorrow isn’t promised. You never know when you’re going to be able to play again. Just the opportunity to come back and play again was a blessing. I take every practice and every drill seriously because I don’t want to take it for granted.”
The native of Lincolnton, N.C., noted that he was helped through the difficult time by a strong support system made up of his teammates and family. He repaid his teammates by working as hard as he could during his time on the defensive scout team at the beginning of the season and, although he wanted to stay out of the public eye during games to avoid becoming a distraction, he gave his fellow players as much support as he could before games.
“It was rough going through training camp and seeing everybody playing, knowing that I couldn’t be out there playing with my brothers,” he remembered. “It was hard, I’d get emotional, especially in the first couple of games. Against Tennessee, I was down and out of it, but my real close friends – Earl Wolff, Tobais [Palmer], Sterling [Lucas], Dontae [Johnson] – they were all right beside me. They told me, ‘it’s all right, man, we’re going to need you when you get back. Stay focused.’
“My teammates had my back. It was overwhelming love from the team that helped me through. My teammates and my family helped me overcome a lot. By the third game, I was just ready to get out there, I couldn’t wait.”
O’Brien: NC State Players ‘Angry’ After UNC Loss
“Guys finally were starting to get angry and start taking accountability in meetings for some of the things that have been happening, which is good,” coach Tom O’Brien said Monday.
Added linebacker Sterling Lucas: “I don’t know if it’s, per se, anger, but I know guys just want to win and maybe the emotions showed through that.”
Part of the reason for those short fuses is a troubling knack for making the same mistakes repeatedly – most notably, by falling into deep, early holes.
There’s a common thread in all three losses: giving up at least 20 points in the first quarter. Tennessee put 22 points on them, Miami had 23 and the Tar Heels hung 25, and perhaps so much emotional energy was expended while clawing back that they simply didn’t have enough left in the tank to finish.
“There’s a correlation – we kind of come out to slow starts,” Lucas said. “That can’t happen.”
Ryan Tice (TheWolfpacker.com)
Pack defense must stop slow starts
There has been a clear trend on the defensive side of the ball in NC State’s three losses this year. Tennessee tallied 22 points in the first quarter of their eventual 35-21 win, Miami scored 23 first quarter points in their 44-37 victory and the Wolfpack gave up 25 in the opening frame of their 43-35 loss to North Carolina.
The common thread between the three contests has been that those games came away from the friendly confines of Carter-Finley Stadium. Coach Tom O’Brien noted that no ACC team has played at home as few as NC State’s three games in Raleigh so far this year. He expects the slow starts to change down the stretch, with three of the Pack’s four final games at home.
“That’s something we’ve talked about and we’re going to emphasize,” he said of getting off to a better start. “Sometimes it’s easier to do it when you’re at home.
“We have to be much more consistent on defense, up front. I think that’s where we’re getting off to the bad starts. When we lost five of the front seven from last year, all of the linebacker core and those two guys – [J.R.] Sweezy and [Markus] Kuhn – in the middle, we don’t have the consistency on defense that we had. Sometimes we’re really good and sometimes we’re really bad. We have to play our techniques and be much more consistent. You just can’t fall behind like 25-7, that’s a big score, you just can’t do it.”
Once the defense has calmed down in each of the three losses, though, they have played pretty well. The key is getting the unit to play like that for all four quarters. The Pack have allowed 83 points in the opening frame of games this year – 70 of it in the three losses – compared to just 101 in the other three quarters combined.
“I don’t know why it has happened, I wish I had that answer,” defensive coordinator Mike Archer said. “I’ll give credit to our kids for fighting back. There were some wide-eyed looks on Saturday when it was 15-0 and 25-7. It took a while, but they settled down. After it was 25-14, we basically played pretty good in the second, third and half of the fourth quarter, until we didn’t get it done late in the fourth quarter.”
“We have to get it corrected,” O’Brien agreed. “[The players] have to take accountability for their actions and get it done on the football field. Certainly, you don’t want that to be going on.
“I have faith if we take it one game at a time and figure out how we can play the best that we can, we can achieve anything, so that’s what we’re going to do.”
O’Brien: “We Have To Regroup”
What do you see about Virginia that potentially they could jump up and bite you?
They have a great tailback. They have two of them in (Perry) Jones and (Kevin) Parks. They’re playing with basically (Phillip) Sims as a first-year quarterback. The open week can do wonders for a quarterback, to go back, research what he’s done. He’s got some things in their offense they can correct. It gives chances to the quarterback coach and their offensive staff to emphasize and to make him successful.
Still have huge guys up front. Three of their starters are back from last year, functional offensive line.
Defensively they’re the third-best defense in the conference. We already played Florida State and Maryland two of the last three games we played. So they’re third best in the conference statistically on defense. Coach (Jim) Reid does a great job of putting them in position to be successful.
They’re a good football team that’s had some misfortune. Hopefully we can make sure we take care of ourselves and win the football game on Saturday.
David (Amerson) gets a lot of credit at corner. Can you talk about C.J. Wilson?
C.J. had to sit out the first four games of the year, then played him in the Miami game a little bit. Didn’t have the type of game he wanted to have or we wanted to have.
He kind of backed up Juston Burris, especially in our substitution defense. Juston dinged himself up a little bit Saturday. C.J. got in, had a chance to play, intercepted the ball in the end zone, stripped the ball from the receiver downfield, had a chance to make a third play.
Ball bounced off his fingertips. If he catches that one, it’s a pick-six, there’s nobody, he’s running 35 yards for a touchdown.
Like a lot of our kids, we preach to them, when you get your opportunity, you have to make the most of it. He’s been a great team guy, working hard in practice. Got his opportunity on Saturday, made the most of it.
London Talks NC State
You have a young secondary going against Mike Glennon, an older quarterback. Is this a concern?
Well, any time the quarterback is a guy that’s been around the system for a while, Mike has been around Dana Bible offense and Tom O’Brien offense for a while, and he’s demonstrated he’s got a great arm. I think he’s thrown for about 3,000 yards, I believe over 31 touchdowns, and so he’s a guy that is engineers a lot of scores like the scoring drive at the end of the game when they beat Florida State.
So there’s a lot of things that he has going on for him being an experienced fifth year guy. As far as from a coverage standpoint, obviously we’re going to have to play really good coverage, and I think most of the teams that go and play NC State, the game plan is to try to get him off the spot.
You hear about that on the TV games they play, not letting it be kind of be seven on seven where he jumps back and he can stay in the pocket and just throw the ball. That’s been the game plan for a lot of the teams that have played him. But he’s done a good job staying on the spot, he’s done a good job moving out of the pocket, and it’s evident when you watch him play, that experience of a fifth year guy in that system has done him well.
He’s definitely a major concern for us.
Looking at NC State and David Amerson last year took away a side of the field. He’s still up there with interceptions. What are your plans in attacking him?
He’s a great player. I mean, I think last year he had 13 in interceptions, and this year I think he has three. But he’s a 6-3, you look at their secondary, they’re all 6-2, 6-3 across the board. They are tall and thick when we say thick, I mean in a complimentary way. Their defensive line, they’re heavy guys that are athletic guys that can move.
When you look at David, you look at him as a guy that, when teams go three receivers to one side and then a single receiver back to the backside, most of the time you put your best receiver over there. Well, they put him over there and say, all right, I’m one on one over here, I’ll cover him. And he does that under nickel packages.
So they move him around a lot, but they always end up putting him on your best receiver, and he has a penchant for finding the ball and playing the ball in the air. So I don’t know if it’s as much as trying to throw away from him or whatever you try to do, but I think you have to recognize where he is because he is a very talented player. He’s a high draft pick, an All American and all those things that you talk about.
But for us it’s more about attacking the coverages as opposed to just the one individual, but you have to be cognizant of where he is at all times because he’s a dynamic player.
Andrea Adelson (ESPN.com)
What to watch in the ACC: Week 10
3. Can Duke play better against Clemson? Speaking of this matchup, the Blue Devils get their third crack at a Top 25 team this season and hope for much better results. Their first two games did not exactly go well, as they lost to then-No. 25 Stanford and then-No. 12 Florida State by a combined 98-20. But those two games were on the road, and Duke has played much better at home. In fact, Duke is averaging 42.6 points per game at home, compared to just 13.3 points in its three road games. Duke has now scored 213 points in its five home games in 2012, the highest five-game home total in school history.
5. Now or never. Virginia (2-6) and Boston College (2-6) have to win out in order to keep their bowl hopes alive. The Eagles travel to play Wake Forest, a team that had major problems slowing down the Clemson passing game. That could be problematic for the Deacs this week, as Boston College has a good quarterback in Chase Rettig and one of the most productive receivers in the ACC in Alex Amidon. As for the Hoos, they got an extra week to prepare to play NC State, which has won three of the past four meetings in the series. Their young secondary is sure to be tested by Mike Glennon, who threw for 467 yards last week against North Carolina.
6. Bowl eligibility. On the flip side, NC State is the only team playing this weekend with an opportunity to clinch bowl eligibility. The Wolfpack are coming into the game off a tough loss to in-state rival North Carolina and could very well feel the effects of a “letdown” game as they are playing an overmatched opponent. But after previous losses this season, NC State bounced back the following week with a win.
Heather Dinich (ESPN.com)
ACC predictions: Week 10
Wake Forest 21, Boston College 14: The Eagles were able to squeak by Maryland and its fourth-string quarterback last week, but they have to travel to Winston-Salem this week and have yet to win on the road. Boston College’s strength has been its passing game, but the Deacs have more playmakers on defense and will make the stops.
NC State 38, Virginia 10: The Hoos have more problems than a bye week can fix, starting with turnovers and inconsistency at quarterback. Virginia is dead last at No. 120 in the country in turnover margin. The Wolfpack, meanwhile, know they can still win the division with some help and can’t afford any missteps. NC State is the better team this season and has the better quarterback.
Andrew Jones (FoxSports)
ACC Capsules: Week 10
Virginia (2-6, 0-4) at N.C. State (5-3, 2-2)
Where: Raleigh, N.C., Carter-Finley Stadium (57,583)
When: 12:30 p.m.
The blitz: Big game for the Wolfpack, as they can’t afford a slip up to a team they should handle with relative ease. N.C. State has a tendency of losing a game like this, so getting on the board early and often is vital, but won’t be so simple given that Virginia’s defense has been solid — though the Cavaliers don’t force turnovers, which has been the Wolfpack’s biggest bugaboo in its defeats. How much of the play book did Phillip Sims learn during the open week?
Pick: N.C. State, 28-16.
No. 10 Clemson (7-1, 4-1) at Duke (6-3, 3-2)
Where: Durham, N.C., Wallace Wade Stadium (33,941)
When: 7 p.m.
The blitz: Another big night game at home for the Blue Devils should mean a large crowd and a rare buzz at Wallace Wade. Duke certainly has the ability to make this game interesting, as it’s been much better at home than on the road thus far. And there’s always the possibility that Clemson pulls a Clemson. But this is a different Tigers team and the matchups strongly favor the visitors. Clemson is too talented and too fast, and while Duke may score some points, Dabo Swinney’s team is just too potent.
Pick: Clemson, 42-24.
Last week: 3-2
Season record: 56-13
NC STATE ATHLETICS
No. 11 Florida State (21-2, 12-1) at NC State (19-5, 9-4)
7 p.m. | Friday | Nov. 2, 2012
Series record: Florida State leads, 40-5
Last meeting: Florida State won 3-0 in Tallahassee, Fla., on Oct. 7.
No. 23 Miami (20-3, 12-1) at NC State (19-5, 9-4)
1 p.m. | Sunday | Nov. 4, 2012
Series record: Miami leads, 15-1
Last meeting: Miami won 3-1 in Coral Gables, Fla., on Oct. 5.
NC State’s 2012 Results
Overall: 19-5; Home: 14-1; Away: 3-4; Neutral: 2-0.
Atlantic Coast Conference: 9-4; Home 7-0; Away: 2-4.
Looking to bounce back from a pair of narrow 3-2 losses on the road, the NC State volleyball team will return to Reynolds Coliseum this Homecoming weekend to face a pair of ranked teams who are sitting at the top of the ACC standings.
The Wolfpack (19-5 overall, 9-4 ACC) will host No. 11 Florida State on Friday night at 7 p.m., in a contest that will be broadcast on ESPN3. The Seminoles (21-2, 12-1) own the ACC’s best overall record and have a 40-5 all-time record against the Wolfpack.
On Sunday, State will host Miami at 1 p.m. The Hurricanes (20-3, 12-1) are tied with the Seminoles for first place in the ACC and are 15-1 all-time against the Wolfpack.
“Both of these teams are at the top of the conference,” said NC State third-year coach Bryan Bunn. “We will face a big challenge this weekend.”
Admission is free for all spectators. The team will have a post-match autograph session following Friday’s contest and the first 200 fans at Sunday’s match will receive the second set of NC State volleyball trading cards.
The Wolfpack dropped a pair of 3-2 ACC matches, losing to Wake Forest on Friday and Duke on Saturday. Against the Demon Deacons, the Pack fought back from a 2-1 deficit to tie the match, but Wake scored six of the final seven points in the fifth set to take the match.
Sophomore Dariyan Hopper led State with 15 kills, followed by sophomore Nikki Glass with 14, sophomore Alesha Wilson with 13 and junior Brie Merriwether with 12. The Deacons outhit the Wolfpack throughout the match, posting a higher hitting percentage in four of the five sets, owning an overall advantage of .230 to .190.
Against the Blue Devils, junior Brie Merriwether had 20 kills with a .655 hitting average for the Wolfpack, while sophomore Alesha Wilson had 16 kills. State also had three regulars with negative hitting averages for the match and hit .134 as a team. Senior Megan Cyr had 51 assists on the night.
The Pack will hit the road again next weekend to face Clemson on Friday in Clemson, S.C., and Georgia Tech on Saturday in Atlanta. Both matches are slated to begin at 7 p.m.
The Pack defeated the Yellow Jackets 3-2 on Sept. 28 and followed the next day with a 3-1 win over the Tigers at Reynolds Coliseum.
Harper endorses the red heels
Shoe deals are nothing new in the world of coaching, but NC State women’s head coach Kellie Harper is really taking the idea to new heights.