Scouting Report: North Carolina State

Vanderbilt will play in back-to-back bowls for the first time ever when it faces North Carolina State in the Franklin American Mortgage Company Music City Bowl. After finishing 7-5 overall the Wolfpack decided to part ways with head coach Tom O'Brien. Dave Doeren, who led Northern Illinois to consecutive MAC titles and the first BCS appearance by a MAC team in its history...

.. has been named the new head coach for NC State. In the mean time, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Dana Bible will step up as interim head coach for NC State for the bowl game. North Carolina State started the season off slow but saw its offense score 30 points or more six times throughout the season. The Wolfpack stunned Florida State in a 17-16 home victory in the first weekend of October. A pair of losses down the stretch, including an uncompetitive 33-6 homecoming loss to Virginia, sealed the firing of O'Brien.

The Wolfpack's pro-style offense is led by senior quarterback Mike Glennon who has completed 295 for 511 pass attempts for 3,648 yards passing, with 30 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. The 30 touchdowns in 2012 made Glennon the only player in Wolfpack history to throw for 30 or more touchdowns in a season. NC State is tied for tenth in the ACC, allowing 36 sacks this season.

NC State's rushing attack is led by freshman running back Shadrach Thornton--who leads the team with 655 yards rushing while averaging 4.6 yards per carry, with three rushing touchdowns. The Wolfpack rushing attack has recently picked up steam. 329 of Thornton's 655 rushing yards came during the final three games of the season. Sophomore running back Tony Creecy leads the team with four rushing touchdowns and has ran for 433 yards rushing.

The Wolfpack have an excellent amount of experience in the middle of their offensive line with Camden Wentz leading the bunch at center. Fellow graduating seniors R.J. Mattes and Andrew Wallace provide additional awareness on the inner line at the guard positions. As a team the Wolfpack are averaging 3.1 yards per carry and 116.9 yards rushing per game.

Redshirt sophomore Bryan Underwood set a school record with a touchdown catch in eight consecutive games; he has 43 receptions for 615 yards receiving and a team high 10 touchdowns. Junior receiver Quintin Payton leads the wide receiving bunch, with 48 receptions for 761 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Senior Tobais Palmer follows closely with 46 receptions for 670 yards receiving and six scores.

Defensively the Wolfpack field a 4-3 defense with senior safety Earl Wolff leading the team with 110 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 8 passes defended. The Wolfpack's secondary ranks 94th in the country, allowing opponents 261.8 yards passing per game. Junior cornerback David Amerson leads the team in interceptions (5), passes broken up (11), and passes defended (16). Free safety Brandan Bishop is second on the team with 99 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 9 passes defended.

Weakside linebacker Rickey Dowdy leads the defense with 13½ tackles for a loss, including 3½ sacks. Graduated senior Sterling Lucas holds down the middle linebacker position after redshirting 2011 with a knee injury.

Sophomore Rodman Noel has started five games at strong side linebacker and has 42 tackles, including 6 for a loss. Noel's five starts were due to the Wolfpack lining up primarily in the nickel package for the first part of the season. In the nickel, redshirt freshman cornerback Juston Burris had made quite an impression with 44 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 8 passes defended.

At defensive end, Darryl Cato-Bishop is second on the team with 10 tackles for a loss and leads the team with 6½ sacks. Opposite Bishop is Vanderbilt running back Warren Norman's brother Art, who is a pass rushing specialist for the Wolfpack. Art has tallied 8 tackles for a loss, including 5½ sacks, and leads the team with 7 quarterback hurries.

Sophomore placekicker Niklas Sade has hit 12 of 21 field goal attempts and made every attempt inside 37 yards. He has a long kick of 50 yards.

Senior receiver Tobais Palmer set an ACC record, with 496 all-purpose yards against Clemson including 277 yards on kickoff returns. Palmer returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown against Wake Forest and averages an impressive 25.2 yards per kickoff return.

Redshirt junior Rashard Smith returned a punt 73 yards for a touchdown against Citadel and averages 9.4 yards per punt return.

Vanderbilt will have its hands full against a deep backfield and a quarterback capable of burning the 'Dores both through the air and on the ground. Following the completion of the 2012 season, the future for the Wolfpack is unknown with a new coach arriving to take over the reins. The Commodores can put a stamp on the end of head coach Franklin's second season, with the first bowl win since 2008 and the chance at the first nine-win season since 1915.

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