GAMEDAY: NC State vs. East Carolina

NC State (5-1) returns to the field today looking to knock off East Carolina (3-2) in Dowdy Ficklen Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:00 pm, and the game will be televised on CBS College Sports.

NC State vs. East Carolina
Saturday, October 16, 2010
12:00 pm (EST), CBS College Sports
Greenville, NC
Dowdy Ficklen Stadium

NC State Links
Official Site

East Carolina Links
Game Notes

CFN's Take

NC State (5-1) at East Carolina (3-2) Oct. 16, 12:00 ET

Here's The Deal … Separated by only 80 miles, NC State and East Carolina lock horns for the 27th time in an intriguing non-conference rivalry with a rich history. The Wolfpack got back on track in a big way following the Virginia Tech loss, hammering Boston College for Tom O'Brien's first win over his former employer. It was the exact response the program needed if it plans on keeping pace with the likes of Florida State in the Atlantic Division. The Pirates continue to surprise in Ruffin McNeill's first year. The same thrill-a-minute school that brought you a Hail Mary to win the opener and 100 points in the first two games, just got done shocking Southern Miss, 44-43, in Hattiesburg. In this supposed rebuilding year, the two-time defending Conference USA champs are 3-0 in league play and poised to defend that crown.

Why NC State Might Win: In a league not known for its defensive prowess, East Carolina is pulling up the rear at 42 points and 457 yards allowed per game. Uh-oh. The Pack will feast on the rebuilt Pirate D behind QB Russell Wilson, who's thrown three touchdown passes in each of the last four games and has a deep and dangerous corps of receivers at his disposal. When Wilson isn't distributing through the air, he can hand the ball to Mustafa Greene, the program's talented rookie back. East Carolina has allowed at least 42 points in each of the last three games, a trend that's likely to continue.

Why East Carolina Might Win: The Pack is going to score. The Pirates are capable of going stride-for-stride. Yeah, the picks have to be eliminated, but Dominique Davis has gotten a grasp of Lincoln Riley's pass-first system, throwing four touchdown passes in last week's upset. In Dwayne Harris and Lance Lewis, East Carolina harbors a pair of dangerous receivers, with the ability to win the battles with a beatable NC State defensive backfield. RB Jon Williams has hardly had a starring role, but he's a seasoned veteran who'll get the tough yards when they're needed.

What To Watch Out For: While not air-tight, the NC State defense has the speed and tenacity to make big plays, especially against a mistake-prone quarterback, like Davis. Eighth in the nation in sacks and second in the ACC in takeaways, the Wolfpack will attack from all angles, especially with linebackers Nate Irving, Audie Cole, and Terrell Manning. FS Brandan Bishop has three picks in the last two games and CB C.J. Wilson has two touchdowns off interceptions, so Davis better be extra careful on Saturday.

What Will Happen: Both teams can score, but the difference here is that NC State can make occasional stops and the momentum-shifting plays on defense to hold off East Carolina. Plus, Davis' penchant for forcing passes is the antithesis of Wilson's cerebral, conservative approach to the game. The Pack will get better play from behind center and enough takeaways to pull away in the final 30 minutes.

CFN Prediction: NC State 41 … East Carolina 24 … Line: NC State -7

Must See Rating: Jackass 3D – 5 … The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town -1 … 2

NC State Game Notes

The Wolfpack will face the second of three teams with "Carolina" in their names, when it travels 83 miles to Greenville to take on the Pirates of Conference USA. NC State opened the season with Western Carolina and will play North Carolina in November.

Although NC State and East Carolina have met 26 times on the gridiron, this will mark just the third game played on the Pirates' home field. The Wolfpack lost the first meeting in Greenville, 6-23, in 1999.

The two teams first played in 1970 with the Pack winning 11 of the first 15 meetings between the two schools (all of which were played at Carter-Finley Stadium).

The two teams met every season from 1970-1987, but since then have played just eight times, with three of those contests being played at neutral sites. In 1992, the Pack played the Pirates in the Peach Bowl, losing 37-34. In 1996 and 2004, the two teams played regular-season contests in Charlotte, with ECU winning 50-29 in ‘96 and the Pack gaining a 52-14 victory in 2004. The Pack has taken each of the last two matchups, winning in Greenville, 34- 20, in 2007 and defeating the 15th-ranked Pirates, 30-24, in Raleigh in 2008.

NC State is currently leading the ACC with 37.5 points per game. East Carolina ranks second in Conference USA with 37.6. Those numbers rank 13th and 12th in the nation respectively.

Looking at those numbers it would seem that Saturday's contest could be an offensive exposition. However, the Wolfpack holds a definite edge in the total defense category. NC State ranks eighth in the ACC and is allowing 22 points per game. East Carolina, ranks dead last in Conference USA and 117th nationally in scoring defense and is allowing 42 points per game.

The victory over East Carolina in 2008 marked the first victory as a starting quarterback for then-redshirt-freshman quarterback Russell Wilson. It was also the highest-ranked opponent that NC State has defeated under Tom O'Brien.

Saturday's 44-17 win over Boston College marked the Wolfpack's first game against a league opponent in the Atlantic Division. NC State is 1-1 so far this season against the Coastal half of the league, winning at Georgia Tech and falling to Virginia Tech. The only other contest against a Coastal Division opponent this season will be the Nov. 20 game at North Carolina.

This marks the first season since ACC expansion that the Wolfpack has opened conference play with a non-divisional opponent. In the past four seasons, NC State has dropped it's conference opener - all of which were against Atlantic Division rivals.

The Wolfpack will take an out-of-conference trip to East Carolina, then will have an open week before playing host to Atlantic Division rival Florida State in a Thursday night game on Oct. 28.

NC State enters the seventh game of the 2010 season with some of the best offensive marks in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Wolfpack currently leads the league in scoring offense (37.5 ppg), pass offense (311 ypg) and total offense (448.8 ypg).

Those marks would rank among the top two in school history in each of those categories if the season ended today.

Wolfpack quarterback Russell Wilson enters the East Carolina game leading the ACC in passing yards with 300.3 per game and total offense with 327.5 per contest. Those marks rank seventh and fifth in the BCS this week. His 1,802 total passing yards is the second-highest mark in the nation.

In terms of touchdown passes, Wilson has a whopping seven more than any other ACC signal caller and is tied for third nationally.

All three units of the Wolfpack squad got into the endzone on Saturday. The offense scored three touchdowns and three field goals. The defense scored on an interception return and the special teams unit scored on a blocked punt.

The last time NC State had scored all three ways was on Sept. 20, 2003 against Texas Tech.

NC State's receiving corps was highly touted entering the 2010 season, with senior wideouts Owen Spencer and Jarvis Wililams and tight end George Bryan getting the lion's share of the attention.

And although those three players lead the team in receptions this season with 28, 22 and 17 respectively, they are just three of many who are contributing to the Wolfpack's high-powered aerial attack.

Sixteen different players have caught passes this season and six have tallied double-digit reception totals. In four of the six games in 2010, passes have been caught by 10 or more different players.

Ten different players have at least one touchdown catch this season. Williams leads the way with three TD.

Another interesting note about Russell Wilson: The Wolfpack's redshirt junior quarterback boasts a career touchdown to interception ratio of 3.6:1. The other 15 quarterbacks in ACC history with 50+ TD passes have a collective ratio of 1.6:1. In other words, Wilson's ratio is better than double the average amassed by the 15 most accomplished QBs in league history.

Senior placekicker Josh Czajkowski is now the NC State record-holder for point-after-touchdown kicks with 102 for his career. The redshirt senior also ranks second in PAT percentage with a .981 mark for his career (he's hit 102 of his 104 attempts).

Earlier this season, Czajkowski set a school record for consecutive PATs, connecting on 83 straight, dating back to the 2008 campaign. Czajkowski ranks fourth in school history in field goal percentage (.837) and is tied for fifth in field goals made (36). He currently leads the ACC in scoring with 9.2 points per game.

NC State leads the ACC and ranks sixth nationally in third-down conversion defense this week. The Wolfpack's feisty defensive unit is allowing the opposition to convert on just 27.2% of it's third-down attempts (22 of 81).

The Wolfpack has forced the opposition into 26 three-and-outs this season, an average of 4.3 per game. That mark is tied for 11th nationally this week.

Head coach Tom O'Brien has preached the importance of controlling time of possession since coming to NC State, but prior to this season, the Wolfpack was on the short end of that statistical category all three years that he has been the head coach.

The 2010 campaign is a different story, as the Wolfpack holds the edge in that category over its opponents by almost six minutes. NC State currently ranks first in the ACC and 13th nationally in TOP, averaging 32:55 minutes of offense per game.

O'Brien's squad has controlled the time of possession in all six games this sea- son. Last season, the Wolfpack won the TOP battle in six games all season.

NC State and East Carolina have battled in various athletic competitions for years, but last year, the two schools were united as each had one of their own battling horrible illness. While he was undergoing his debilitating therapy, he frequently ran into friend and colleague, Thomas "Rock" Roggeman, an East Carolina assistant coach. Bible and Roggeman's father, Tom, had coached together at Cincinnati in 1994 and against him in the Pac-10 a decade later. Roggeman had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in the summer of 2009.

Roggeman took medical leave last season to battle his disease, but the 47-year-old passed away on June 14, 2010.

His death hit Bible, who was declared cancer-free in July, hard.

Except for a stint in the hospital right after the diagnosis, Bible was never gone for long. During spring drills, he was on the field following chemo treatments.

In June his two primary oncologists told him that the treatments had resulted in a "complete molecular response," meaning that his body is free of cancer. With a heightened sense of excitement and anticipation about the upcoming season, Bible is looking forward to working non-stop with the Wolfpack offense and calling plays on game day – free of cancer, chemo and antibiotics.

NC State turned the ball over three times in the loss to Virginia Tech, a season- high in that category. It marked just the second time this season that the Wolfpack had more turnovers than its opponent.

However, Tom O'Brien's squad still boasts a +4 mark in the turnover margin col- umn, the second-best in the ACC and a mark that ties for 21st nationally. NC State has seven interceptions in six games this season, after having eight in 12 games a year ago.

The Pack's success in holding onto the ball is even more impressive considering that in 2009, NC State finished the season ranked 114th nationally in turnover margin, with 25 turnovers to just 14 takeaways.

Quarterback Russell Wilson has thrown for 300+ yards five times in six games this season, already tied with Philip Rivers as the second-best single-season total in school history. For his career, he's crossed the 300-yard mark nine times, which also ranks second ever for a Wolfpack player and a mark that ties for eighth-place in the ACC record book. Wilson has thrown for three or more touchdowns in five games this season as well, a dozen times in his career and in 11 of his last 17 contests.

Senior wide receiver Owen Spencer entered the Boston College game ranked 10th in school history in receiving yards. Following the contest, he had vaulted up to fifth place. Spencer had eight catches for 70 yards in the contest and now ranks 16th in school history in receptions with 94. Spencer ranks sixth in the ACC in receiving yards per game this week with 71 per game and seventh in receptions per game with 4.67.

For his career, Spencer has averaged 20.7 yards per reception (1,955 yards on 94 grabs), and is on pace to challenge the ACC career mark of 22.0 as well (currently held by Herman Moore of Virginia).

He set an ACC single-season record for yards per catch in 2008, averaging a whopping 22.3 yards on 31 grabs. In 2009, he bettered that mark by over three yards, leading the nation with 25.5 yards per catch and in the process, breaking his own school and conference mark.

Spencer led the team with 16 plays of 20+ yards last season. He also led the team in 2008 with 13 plays that went over the 20-yard mark. This season, he ranks second on the team with eight (the leader has nine).

The Wolfpack started the season with a young secondary. Six games into the season and that group has gotten younger and younger. Against Boston College, two sophomores and two true freshmen started in that unit which helped hold the Eagles to just 272 yards of total offense. True freshman Dontae Johnson started the game at field safety, tallying four tackles and breaking up a pass. That game marked the second career start for true freshman David Amerson, who is playing at boundary corner.

The sophomores who started last week, C.J. Wilson and Earl Wolff, have gained great experience during their brief careers. Wilson (field corner) played in all 12 contests last season, and has now started 12 games, while Wolfe (boundary safety) started four of the 12 games in which he played last season and all six games of 2010. Sophomore Brandan Bishop, the regular starter at field safety, has played in 17 career games, starting 13.

There is one Wilson on the 2010 Wolfpack squad who gets a lot of attention: the one on offense wearing #16 on his jersey who has thrown for 17 touchdowns this season.

But there is another Wilson, playing on the defensive side of the ball, who is also helping the Pack put up points in 2010. Redshirt sophomore cornerback C.J. Wilson has now returned two interceptions for touchdowns this season - a 43-yarder at Central Florida and a 28-yarder in the win over Boston College.

Wilson is the first NC State player to return two interceptions for touchdowns in the same season since 1966. That season, Greg Williams had two INT returns for scores.

NC State halfbacks Dean Haynes and Mustafa Greene had never played in a collegiate game before September 4. Now, just over a month later, the redshirt freshman and true freshman are playing like seasoned vets.

Haynes has started every game of the 2010 campaign, although he moved over from the defensive side of the ball just two weeks before he was named the starter. He has tallied 254 yards on 62 carries, scored two touchdowns and caught nine passes for 85 yards and another TD. Haynes redshirted last season at safety and started off 2010 preseason camp playing in the secondary. The Tunnel Hill, Ga., native played quarterback and running back in high school, leading his area in rushing with 878 yards and 18 touchdowns as a senior.

Greene has come off the bench to rush for a team-high 344 yards on 69 carries, crossing the goal line four times. He is the Wolfpack's fourth-leading receiver with 17 catches for 161 yards. He was named the ACC's Rookie of the Week after the win over Cincinnati. He rushed for a touchdown in each of his first four games - the first time a Wolfpack player has done that in his first four games since quarterback Tol Avery in 1980.

Greene was ranked the 26th-best running back in the nation by last season at Irmo High School in South Carolina. He rushed for 1,387 yards and 18 touchdowns in eight games, averaging nine yards per carry.

The young tandem has combined for 844 all-purpose yards in 2010, an average of 140.6 per game.

The Georgia Tech game proved what the Wolfpack faithful have believed all along: Nate Irving is a game-changer on defense. Evidence of that fact might be that when the senior middle linebacker is in the starting lineup, the Pack posts a 14-5 record.

In the win over Georgia Tech, Irving tallied a career-high 16 tackles, including 4.5 behind the line of scrimmage and two sacks. He was named the National Defensive Player of the Week by Walter Camp Football Foundation for his performance. He followed that game with another strong outing against Virginia Tech, tallying 13 stops, including two for loss and a sack.

Irving leads NC State and ranks eighth in the ACC in total tackles and sixth in the league in tackles for loss. His 26.5 career tackles for loss has moved him into 14th-place in school history.

It was a long time, 644 days to be exact, since No. 56 had run out of the tunnel at Carter-Finley Stadium prior to the 2010 season opener against Western Carolina. Irving was a huge key to the NC State defense heading into 2009. In 2008, he was an honorable mention All-ACC performer, but would have battled for first-team honors if he hadn't been slowed by injuries. He tied for third on the team in tackles despite missing three complete games and most of two more, and he led the team in interceptions with four -- the most ever by a Wolfpack linebacker. He was looking forward to a huge campaign in 2009 and was on several preseason All-ACC squads.

However, early in the morning of June 28, 2009, his season came to a standstill. He decided to leave his home in Wallace, N.C., in the wee hours of the morning to make the hour-and-15-minute drive back to Raleigh, where he would begin summer school classes the next day. Just 20 minutes from his destination, he fell asleep and ran off the road. The mammoth SUV he was driving flipped multiple times, hit several trees and when he came to he was in a hospital.

Irving sustained a multitude of injuries, including a collapsed lung, broken rib, separated shoulder and a compound fracture in his leg. He spent three days in the hospital and months rehabbing.

East Carolina Game Notes

East Carolina will play the last of three Atlantic Coast Conference opponents on its 2010 schedule when it welcomes North Carolina State to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium Saturday for a 12 noon nationally-televised contest. With their last non-conference game scheduled against Navy next month, the battle against the Wolfpack also represents the final matchup against automatic Bowl Championship Series (BCS) qualifying members this season for the Pirates, who dropped earlier meetings at Virginia Tech and North Carolina. ECU also returns to Greenville for the first time since defeating Memphis on Sept. 11 and will open a two-game homestand that also includes a Conference USA tilt against the Marshall Thundering Herd on Oct. 23.

NCSU utilizes a multiple offensive attack while employing a multiple defensive alignment. ECU will line up in a spread offense and use a 4-3 when defending.

N.C. State 30, No. 15 East Carolina 24 (OT) Andre Brown's determined 10-yard scoring run on the Wolfpack's third play in overtime lifted NC State to a dramatic 30-24 non-conference victory over No. 15 East Carolina ... Brown's game- winner capped a rally in which the Wolfpack outscored the Pirates 16-3 to close the contest ... After Ben Hartman's 21-yard field goal pushed the ECU lead to 24-17 with 4:27 remaining, NCSU's T.J. Graham sparked the late surge with a 45-yard kickoff return to set up a seven-play, 55-yard scoring march ... The drive culminated with a game-tying five-yard scoring pass from Russell Wilson to tight end George Bryan with just 1:12 remaining ... On East Carolina's overtime possession, Shea McKeen sacked Patrick Pinkney and forced a fumble that Willie Young recovered on a first-and-10 play at the 11-yard line ... Brown then took over, taking the second Wolfpack snap for 16 yards before rumbling into the endzone from 10 yards out moments later ... The Pirates had an opportunity to extend a 21-17 lead early in the fourth quarter but the N.C. State defense stiffened with three straight goal line stops ... After ECU forced the Wolfpack to punt on their next possession, the Pirates quickly drove down to the NCSU three-yard line but had to settle for Hartman's field goal ... East Carolina took 7-0, 14-7, 21-14 and 24-17 leads only to see the Wolfpack rally back on each occasion ... ECU's Norman Whitley enjoyed a career-best effort, racking up 83 ground yards on nine carries - one of those, a 42-yard scoring run midway through the third period.

East Carolina's all-time record at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is 157-79-1 (.664) ... The Pirates opened the facility on Sept. 21, 1963 with a 20-10 win over Brian Piccolo and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in front of 17,000 fans ... Before its current 2-0 mark in 2010, ECU also won 10 of 12 home matchups in 2009 (6-1) and 2008 (4-1) ... ECU has turned in 35 winning seasons at Dowdy- Ficklen Stadium, including 13 "perfect" ledgers (the last in 1995/5-0).

East Carolina has always been able to claim plenty of hometown support, even more so when playing at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturdays during the fall, establishing itself as one of C-USA's attendance leaders on an annual basis ... In all, a total of 6,369,419 fans have seen the Pirates in action since 1963, and in the last five-plus years, ECU has averaged 39,931 (1,237,859/31 games) ... The Pirates set new school records during the 2009 campaign in total attendance (292,191) and regular season average attendance (43,191).

East Carolina's 34 lost lettermen (off the 2009 roster) ranks as the highest number among all FBS programs ... In addition, the Pirates' six returning starters are the fewest among all Conference USA teams.

Eighteen (18) ECU players have already made their first career starts during the first five games of the 2010 season, a stark contrast to the entire 2009 campaign where only a total of eight Pirates made their initial start ... Joining QB Dominique Davis on the offensive unit have been WR Lance Lewis, WR Michael Bowman, WR Dayon Arrington, WR Justin Jones, RB Giavanni Ruffin, C Dalton Faulds, C Will Towery and RT Grant Harner ... Defensively, DT Josh Smith, DE Matt Milner, DE Derrell Johnson, DT Robert Jones, DT Michael Brooks, DE Marke Powell, LB Wes Pittman, LB Lamar McLendon and SS Bradley Jacobs all have opened their first Pirate contest.

Three true freshmen have experienced action in the first five games - DE Derrell Johnson, DB Damon Magazu and H Trent Tignor, thus wiping out potential redshirt seasons for the trio ... Johnson has posted 17 tackles on the line, while Magazu has netted eight stops mostly on special teams so far.

Six (6) Pirates are playing their "senior" seasons as East Carolina University graduates, which ranks among the top 11 at the FBS level ... Graduates on ECU's 2010 roster include Cory Dowless (Spring '10), A.J. Johnson (Spring ‘10), Melvin Patterson (Fall '09), Doug Polochak (Summer '10), Willie Smith (Spring '10) and Norman Whitley (Fall ‘09) ... In terms of a national standing, the Pirates' group of six grads stands 11th

ECU will enter the N.C. State contest with an active streak of 160 games of not suffering a shutout - a new school record (17 points at Rice in ‘06 surpassed the previous mark of 110 set from 1971 to 1981) ... The last time the Pirates were blanked was on Oct. 4, 1997 when they fell to the Syracuse Orangemen 56-0 at the Carrier Dome.

East Carolina is one of eight programs at the FBS level that possesses a 100 percent conversion rate on fourth down this season, yet the Pirates top the nation with eight successful tries (3-of-3 vs. TLS, 1-of-1 vs. MEM, 3-of-3 vs. VT, 0-of-0 vs. UNC, 1-1 vs. USM) ... ECU had seven conversions in 13 attempts the entire 2009 season.

NC State Depth Chart

2010 NC State Depth Chart
16Russell Wilson5-11/201Jr.*
8Mike Glennon6-6/225So.*
29 Dean Haynes 5-11/199 Fr.*
33 Mustafa Greene 6-0/201 Fr.
47 Taylor Gentry 6-2/250Jr.
37 Donavon Counts 6-1/221Sr.
Wide Receiver
13Owen Spencer6-3/185Sr.
6 T.J. Graham 6-0/180Jr.
Wide Receiver
5 Jarvis Williams 6-4/219 Sr.*
15 Darrell Davis 6-4/211Sr.*
Tight End
84 George Bryan 6-5/265Jr.*
82 Asa Watson 6-4/225So.
Left Tackle
70 Jake Vermiglio6-5/325Sr.
78 Robert Crisp 6-7/312Fr.
Left Guard
64 Andrew Wallace 6-5/304So.*
62 Duran Christophe6-6/287Fr.*
53 Camden Wentz 6-3/296So
67 Wayne Crawford6-3/303Jr.*
Right Guard
72 Zach Allen6-3/322So.*
66 Sam Jones6-7/314Fr.*
Right Tackle
79 R.J. Mattes6-6/303So.*
71 Gary Gregory6-4/325Sr.*

Special Teams
Place Kicker
36Josh Czajkowski5-9/184Sr.*
38Andy Leffler5-10/170Jr.*
38Jeff Ruiz6-2/185Sr.*
Long Snapper
59Corey Tedder (punter)6-1/220Sr.*
57Michael Maurer (kicker)5-11/225Sr.*
59Corey Tedder6-1/220Sr.*
Kick Returner
6 T.J. Graham 6-0/180Jr.
Punt Returner
6 T.J. Graham 6-0/180 Jr.
Strongside Defensive End
99 Jeff Rieskamp 6-3/245Jr.*
94 Michael Lemon 6-4/274Sr.*
Defensive Tackle
90 Natanu Mageo 6-3/285Sr.
91 Markus Kuhn 6-4/303Jr.*
Defensive Tackle
52 J.R. Sweezy 6-5/293Jr.*
55 Brian Slay 6-3/290So.
Defensive End
97 David Akinniyi 6-4/262Sr.*
11 Audi Augustin 6-2/256Sr.*
Weakside Linebacker
35 Terrell Manning 6-3/224So.*
41 Dwayne Maddox 6-2/234Jr.
Middle Linebacker
56 Nate Irving 6-1/231Sr.*
7 Sterling Lucas 6-2/238Jr.
Strongside Linebacker
42 Audie Cole 6-5/239Jr.*
26 Asante Cureton 5-11/214Sr.
Boundary Cornerback
1David Amerson 6-3/185Fr.
37 Jordan Monk 6-0/184Jr.
Boundary Safety
27 Earl Wolff 6-0/201So.*
31 D.J. Green 6-4/214 Fr.
Free Safety
30 Brandan Bishop 6-2/210So.
25 Dontae Johnson 6-3/184 Fr.
Field Cornerback
20 C.J. Wilson 5-11/179So.*
28 Justin Byers 6-0/183Jr.*

East Carolina Depth Chart

Thanks to NC State and East Carolina Athletics for much of the information in this preview.

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