December 6, 2011
NC STATE FOOTBALL
CHIP ALEXANDER (N&O)
No rest for bowl bound Pack
It was just before noon on Thanksgiving Day when N.C. State football coach Tom O’Brien was spotted jogging near Carter-Finley Stadium.
Told that it was a holiday, that he should be home eating turkey, O’Brien smiled and replied, “It’s a work day. We’ve got a game to win. We want to go to a bowl.”
Two days later, the Pack won in Carter-Finley, and in dramatic fashion. Trailing Maryland 41-14 midway through the third quarter, the Wolfpack reeled off 42 unanswered points for a 56-41 victory that was N.C. State’s seventh of the season and qualified it for a bowl.
The Pack will face Louisville in the 2011 Belk Bowl on Dec. 27 (8 p.m.) in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium. That gives State (7-5, 4-4 ACC) a shot at an eighth win, and in a game televised by ESPN.
“Certainly we’re excited about the opportunity to continue our season,” O’Brien said Monday. “At a point, probably seven games ago, it looked like we may not be on anyone’s (bowl) radar.
“But we finally started getting healthy, got our guys back and we said that’s what we’ve got to do. …The character of this football team was revealed during that seven-game stretch when we had to win five.”
N.C. State Prepares For Belk Matchup With Louisville
North Carolina State isnâ€™t satisfied with the improbable, late-season surge that made the Wolfpack bowl eligible.
Now that they know where theyâ€™re headed and who theyâ€™re playing, theyâ€™re ready to get to work.
A day after N.C. State was selected to play Louisville in the Charlotte-based Belk Bowl, the Wolfpack began the process of preparing for the matchup of two teams that came on strong down the stretch.
â€œTwo pretty hot teams coming into this,â€ Oâ€™Brien said Monday. â€œTheyâ€™ve found their stride.â€
So has the Wolfpack.
N.C. State (7-5) turned things around by winning five of seven games, capping off the rally by clawing back from a 27-point second-half deficit to beat Maryland in the finale and become bowl eligible.
The Cardinals (7-5), one of the nationâ€™s youngest teams, bounced back from a horrible start that included losses to Florida International and Marshall to win five of their last six and claim a share of the Big East title.
The playersâ€™ familiarity with Louisville generally has been limited to the game film of the Cardinalsâ€™ loss to North Carolina, which they studied ahead of their win over the Tar Heels.
Amerson Wins 2011 Jack Tatum Award
NC State cornerback David Amerson has been named the recipient of the 2011 Jack Tatum Award, which is given annually to the top defensive back in college football by The Touchdown Club of Columbus. Amerson, a first-team All-ACC performer who is also a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, is the FBS leader in interceptions with 11 this season, setting a new school record and tying the ACC single season mark.
Wolfpack Celebrates Bowl Bid
With the dust finally settled from NC State’s tumultuous final month, and the Wolfpack’s Belk Bowl bid secured, Director of Athletics Deborah A. Yow and head coach Tom O’Brien addressed the media Monday.
“It’s a terrific venue for our fans, because we have so many thousands living within a four-hour radius of Charlotte,” said Yow. “We expect to sell out, and we’ll probably be asking for extra tickets.”
Down the closing stretch, NC State’s emotions ran the gamut as the Wolfpack knocked off North Carolina for the fifth-straight year, suffered an upset at Boston College, followed with a thunderous upset of No. 7 Clemson, and closed with the largest comeback in school history to outlast Maryland.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to continue our season,” said O’Brien. “At a point, seven games ago, it looked like we might not be on anyone’s radar. Thanks to this football team, we got our guys healthy, and we did what we had to do. I think it’s a tribute to the character of this team. You don’t build character in adversity, adversity reveals character.”
Cavan Fosnes (GoPack.com)
Program Spotlight: J.R. Sweezy
The genesis of a diehard springs not overnight, but from a constant accumulation of memories, experiences, and sensations focused narrowly on one collective unit. For some, that accumulation may begin the moment they step onto campus as a freshman. For others, the process commences part way through a memorable game. For J.R. Sweezy, the transformation occurred near birth.
The senior defensive tackle came into this world with two parents crazy for Wolfpack athletics, and a grandfather, Roger Sweezy, who suited up at linebacker and fullback for NC State.
“I grew up a State fan. Papa went here,” said Sweezy. “I’ve been bred Wolfpack all the way.”
Though many share the experience of growing deliriously attached to a program during childhood, few possess the ability to one day add to their chosen team’s legacy. That unique opportunity occupies a special place in Sweezy’s heart. Growing up in Mooresville, N.C., Sweezy spent weekends hanging on his grandfather’s stories and coveting Roger’s vast collection of NC State memorabilia.
“My grandpa would wear NC State gear all the time,” said Sweezy. “He had some Bill Belichick-type sweatshirts with the sleeves cut off that he passed down to me. He gave me a bag they used to carry their cleats in. I spent a lot of weekends with him, just asking him questions about NC State, asking for NC State stuff, I was completely infatuated with it. He had his scholarship letter framed with a team picture. He finally broke down and gave it to me a couple of years ago and now I’ve got it hanging in my room.
Matt Carter (TheWolfpacker.com)
George Bryan appreciates bowl opportunity
Fifth-year senior tight end George Bryan had a sense that NC State had a comeback in them after redshirt junior receiver Tobais Palmer caught a six-yard touchdown pass with 5:57 left in the third quarter to cut Maryland’s lead to 41-21.
Bryan appreciated how Palmer handled the score. Palmer simply tossed the ball to the referee and clapped a couple of times as he headed straight to the sideline.
“Everybody was basically like, ‘It’s time to go to work,'” Bryan noted. “‘We just scored a quick score, we can do it. No celebrations, the job’s not done.’ That’s to me when the mindset kind of changed as a team realized we can come back and do this.”
JIM YOUNG (accsports.com)
ACC Bowl Matchups – Initial Reaction
Oh, you wacky, zany, ACC.
Just when I think Iâ€™m on top of things, the most unpredictable league in the land once again zigs when everyone else thought it would zag.
Or maybe you saw that second BCS bid for the ACC coming.
If so, kudos to you â€¦ and Iâ€™d like to discuss my investment portfolio with you as well.
Now that weâ€™ve had some time to wrap our minds around Virginia Techâ€™s Sugar Bowl bid – and the chain reaction that set off among the other ACC bowl bids – Iâ€™ve got a few quick thoughts on the leagueâ€™s postseason matchups.
Belk Bowl: N.C. State vs. Louisville
Iâ€™ve always thought Charlie Strong would make a good head coach. Iâ€™d hoped that an ACC team or two would hire him. Instead, the Cardinals have and theyâ€™ve made two straight bowl games under Strong. This season was particularly satisfying, because Louisville got off to a dreadful 2-4 start before turning things around. And Strong and the Cards did it by relying on a true freshman – former Miami commitment Teddy Bridgewater – at quarterback.
Youâ€™d be tempted to say that the futureâ€™s bright for Louisville â€¦ except that Louisvilleâ€™s still stuck in the Big East. So itâ€™s all relative.
As for N.C. State, itâ€™ll have the home crowd and should have a relatively healthy defense by the time this game rolls around. So the Wolfpack should win â€¦ in theory.
NC STATE BASKETBALL
JP GIGLIO (N&O)
Gottfried: Wolfpack close to being a good team
Eight games have offered Mark Gottfried enough evidence to convince him that N.C. State’s basketball team is headed in the right direction.
Almost daily, since Gottfried was hired in April to coach the Wolfpack, he has preached that the N.C. State program, more than five years removed from its last NCAA tournament appearance and coming off a 15-16 season, had a “long way to go.”
After Sunday’s disappointing 76-72 loss at Stanford, the second-straight close call against a major conference opponent, Gottfried admitted Sunday that the Wolfpack, with a 5-3 record, is “close” to being a good team.
That’s why he was so frustrated to watch his team let a 12-point lead evaporate against Stanford in the second half, three days after it let a seven-point lead go against Indiana.
“It’s frustrating, because I think this team is close,” Gottfried said. “We’re close, but until we learn, we’ll be sitting here doing the same thing every game.”
End-of-game execution and turnovers cost the Wolfpack on Sunday against an improving Cardinal team, which improved to 8-1 for coach Johnny Dawkins.
Inside Wolfpack Sports
In today’s episode, Don Shea travels to the Wal-Mart in Cary with State football players to spend money that has been donated by fans and select toys that will be given to children over the holidays.
NC State excited, ready for bowl opportunity
Glennon excited for extra game
Sweezy going back home for Belk Bowl
Gottfried focused on late-game situations