TSX: Keep It Rolling

The Wolfpack finally has some momentum under coach Tom O'Brien after a 9-4 season that included a bowl victory against West Virginia. It's the first time in four years that N.C. State posted a winning record with O'Brien in charge.

Sustaining the momentum will be critical to the program's evolution and much of that will fall on the shoulders of redshirt junior quarterback Mike Glennon.

This comes after the awkward departure of record-setting signal-caller Russell Wilson, who had a year of eligibility remaining but was sideswiped by a professional baseball career. With O'Brien proclaiming that Wilson would have to play behind Glennon, Wilson decided to go elsewhere and ended up at Wisconsin.

O'Brien is bound to be judged on his handling of this matter largely on how Glennon performs.

"He has been the guy at spring practice for three years now," O'Brien said. "He can make all the throws."

Glennon fits the mold of the style of quarterback that O'Brien prefers. He's more of a drop-back, pro-style quarterback. He also comes with a family background as older brother Sean Glennon is former Virginia Tech quarterback.

"I don't think a lot of things are going to faze him," O'Brien said.

While the quarterback issue will attract a lot of headlines, there are other areas for the Wolfpack to pay attention to. Yet with six starters returning on offense and eight starters back on defense there's no reason that N.C. State shouldn't expect to stay on track.

"We have some new faces, and we have to start putting the puzzle together," O'Brien said.

-- The Wolfpack suffered a blow in July when CB Jarvis Byrd suffered an ACL injury that will keep him out for the entire 2011 season. This occurred during summer player-only workouts. Byrd was a starter by November of his freshman season in 2009, then was forced to sit out in 2010. He was projected as a starting cornerback coming out of spring practice.

-- OL R.J. Mattes has moved to left tackle from right tackle because coach Tom O'Brien calls him the team's best player along the offensive line. He posted the best grades in games among offensive linemen in eight of the 11 games in which he played in 2010.

The opening month of the season doesn't appear overly daunting for the Wolfpack. There could be a reward by the end of the month because its fourth game of the season comes in a nationally televised Thursday night game at Cincinnati. That game will mark N.C. State's only out-of-state visit until the latter part of October.

The Wolfpack will have time to work some of its new starters into game situations against a relatively weak early schedule. Most of the scrutiny is bound to fall on Mike Glennon on the offensive side. The Wolfpack has moved Audie Cole, who led the 2009 team in tackles and shared the team lead in 2010, to a middle linebacker position that was previously occupied by Nate Irving. Cole was effective on the outside, so the key will be for him to continue his level of production from the inside position.

There's not a senior on the two-deep chart in the secondary and so depth could eventually become an issue in the defensive backfield. But the bigger questions might come on special teams and Tom O'Brien said that's why he's pleased to be starting the season with a home game. The Wolfpack will be lineup up a new punter and new kicker and O'Brien rarely misses a chance to express his concerns about that fact.

"There's a whole different way recruits are looking at us than last year." -- Tom O'Brien on the impact of the Wolfpack finishing with a No. 25 national ranking following the 2010 season.

Tom O'Brien, fifth year at N.C. State, 100-79 career record, 25-25 at N.C. State

MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER: QB Mike Glennon -- The offense has been quarterback-heavy the past few seasons with Russell Wilson at the controls and now it's Glennon's turn. There could be enormous pressure on Glennon after coach Tom O'Brien basically ordained him the starter regardless of what decision Wilson, who went away for a second season of professional baseball, made about his intentions regarding the Wolfpack.

Now with Wilson completely out of the picture, there will be heightened attention and scrutiny on Glennon, who's a strong-armed quarterback who is likely to give the Wolfpack's offense a more pro-style appearance.

BREAKOUT STAR: TE George Bryan -- He became a reliable target for former QB Russell Wilson and his presence could provide a comfort level for QB Mike Glennon. He's already landed All-ACC accolades, and he also has the size at 265 pounds to serve as an extra lineman when the Wolfpack is intent on rushing the ball.

NEWCOMER TO WATCH: RB Tony Creecy -- He's a 196-pound redshirt freshman with the type of athletic ability that makes him a versatile threat in the backfield. With some questions at running back and injuries at the position to start the season, this could carve a path for Creecy to rise into a key role as he's already mentioned among the coaching staff in the same breath as the some of the veterans.

-- RB Mustafa Greene is out until at least Oct. 1 with a foot injury that required surgery in April. He was the team's leading rusher in 2010 with 597 yards.

-- OL Andrew Wallace continues to deal with the aftermath of a knee injury suffered last December in preparation for the Champs Sports Bowl. He was the starter at left in every regular season game in 2010. The team has put the redshirt junior's potential return for around mid-October.

-- RB Curtis Underwood decided to stick around for his senior season after all and with some injuries rattled the running back position he might find a role. He wasn't around for spring practice when he was targeting a transfer to a lower-division program, but he then he decided to finish his playing career with the Wolfpack. He has never been a starter, though he was mainly on special teams in 2010.

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