Saturday, September 10, 2011
3:30 pm (EST), RSN
NC State (1-0) at Wake Forest (0-1) Sept. 10, 3:30
Here's The Deal … The ACC portion of the schedule kicks off with a couple of familiar rivals facing off. NC State will be making the I-40 trip to Winston-Salem to face Wake Forest for the 105th time, with both programs looking to get an early jump on the rest of the Atlantic Division.
The Wolfpack was fortunate to have opened against the Big South's Liberty, which was unable to capitalize on its sloppy performance. State survived, 43-21, on the effort of an opportunistic defense, but understands it'll need to execute far better in order to win a conference game on the road.
The Demon Deacons will have more than just NC State to contend with on Saturday... they'll be looking to get past Thursday's demoralizing collapse in the Carrier Dome. Wake blew a 15-point fourth quarter lead before falling to favored Syracuse, 36-29, in overtime. Adding insult to, well, injury, sparkplug quarterback Tanner Price will spend the week trying to get his sprained knee close enough to 100% so that he can suit up.
Why NC State Might Win: The Wolfpack's new-found offensive balance is going to cause problems for a Deacon D that yielded five touchdowns to Syracuse last week. The combination of Mike Glennon's tight spirals and the running of Curtis Underwood and James Washington will keep Wake guessing. Underwood is coming off a career-best effort, rushing for 114 yards and a score on only 14 carries.
The host must also pay special attention to the attacking, ball-hawking NC State defense. The Pack has a knack for flying all over the field and creating havoc; in the opener, it forced seven Liberty turnovers, including two picks from sophomore cornerback David Amerson.
Why Wake Forest Might Win: With a couple of extra days to rest, there's hope that Price will get the green light for this weekend. The sophomore was outstanding before getting hurt, dissecting the Orange for 289 yards and three touchdowns on 18-of-31 passing. When he's on, it allows WR Chris Givens and RB Josh Harris to operate at full speed. Givens was unstoppable in the opener, making seven grabs for 170 yards and two scores.
A rather ordinary NC State O-line will have its hands full with the quickness of the Deacons front. NG Nikita Whitlock, DE Tristan Dorty and LB Kyle Wilber all possess the get-off to flush Glennon from the pocket.
What To Watch Out For: Where was Wolfpack TE George Bryan in the opener? For the first time since the end of 2009, the Mackey Award candidate failed to register a catch in a game. Glennon needs to get on the page with his senior, who sports some of the surest hands on the roster. Plus, Bryan rates a significant edge over a group of Wake Forest linebackers that struggles in pass defense.
Demon Deacons P Alex Wulfeck would be well-advised to angle away from T.J. Graham, a dangerous return man who took one back 82 yards for a score over the weekend.
What Will Happen: With Price at full strength, Wake Forest wins its home opener. With the southpaw a little gimpy with a left knee sprain, he'll be an easier target for linebackers Terrell Manning and Audie Cole and the rest of the NC State defense. The Pack will continue collecting turnovers, giving short field opportunities to the offense. Glennon is poised to raise the level of his play in Week 2 following a marginal debut as Russell Wilson's successor.
CFN Prediction: NC State 27 … Wake Forest 23
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: NC State -2 O/U: 49.5
NC State-Wake Forest: 5 Questions
Glennon spent far too many plays getting hit or getting hurried during the Pack's opener. The first-time starter ended up sacked four times, one of which led directly to a Liberty touchdown, and often rushed his throws as a result of pressure. He looked far better in the second half after the Wolfpack got a running game going and the offensive line started picking up Liberty's blitzes.
But that doesn't change the fact that for a large portion of the game NC State couldn't keep Liberty out of its own backfield. Wake Forest will throw better athletes and more sophisticated blitz packages, presenting an even bigger challenge. The line's performance should help to answer whether Liberty was first-game jitters or the start of a trend. Another struggle by the offensive line could point to some real problems in a unit that was supposed to help anchor the offense.
2. Which offensive skill players can establish themselves as go-to options?
Other than at tight end, the Pack doesn't really have a go-to player at any skill position on offense. On the ground, Curtis Underwood might be the more consistent runner but he has a tendency to put the ball on the ground. James Washington is the better pass blocker but has too many runs of zero or negative yards.
Wide receiver is even more of a mystery. The two starting receivers were targeted 10 times against Liberty and ended up with just two completions. You cannot move the ball on offense if your top two receivers catch 20 percent of the passes thrown their way. Either Jay Smith or T.J. Graham need to get open more often or O'Brien needs to find other options. The lone bright spot at receiver on Saturday was Tobias Palmer, who caught three of four passes thrown his way and showed the ability to create separation with his quickness.
The hope is that one of the running backs or one of the wide receivers, preferably one of both, distinguish themselves against Wake Forest and provide consistent production.
3. Is Tanner Price a good quarterback?
The coaching staff thought enough of Price last season to eventually turn the reigns over to him as a true freshman, starting nine games for the Deacons. But Price struggled late in the season, finishing the year with just seven touchdowns to go along with eight interceptions.
Price is bound to improve over his true freshman season in 2011, and the question is simply how much he will improve. Before suffering a knee injury that forced him out of the game (and allowed Syracuse to rally for a win), Price had put together the best performance of his college career. Was his game against Syracuse a fluke or a sign of significant progress for the sophomore?
4. Has Wake Forest's defense improved?
For several years, Wake's calling card was a defense that created turnovers and made life generally frustrating for opposing offenses. It was their defense that won them an ACC Championship in 2006, and that defense continued to help them win games until 2009 happened.
Wake Forest Defense 2007-2010
|Category||2007 (9-4)||2008 (8-5)||2009 (5-7)||2010 (3-9)|
|Points per Game||22.2 (28)||18.3 (16)||26.3 (65)||35.8 (110)|
|Yards per Play||4.6 (13)||4.6 (14)||5.7 (77)||5.8 (76)|
|Yards per Pass Attempt||5.9 (14)||5.9 (16)||7.2 (66)||7.3 (74)|
|Yards per Rush||3.2 (18)||3.5 (26)||4.6 (93)||4.7 (93)|
|Turnovers||35 (4)||37 (1)||15 (111)||17 (95)|
As you can see, the defense fell off a cliff in 2009. Just look at the turnover line – they went from the best defense at creating turnovers in 2008 to one of the 10 worst. But Riley Skinner and the offense managed to do enough to keep the team from having a really horrific year. No such luck in 2010 as the offense went back to normal levels and the general awfulness of the defense stood out.
The Deacons enter the year with far more experience on defense, but essentially the same personnel. They might never reach those 2006-2008 levels of defensive dominance again, but can they at least pose something of a challenge to offenses this year?
5. Can the Pack defense keep forcing turnovers?
Against Liberty, the Pack defense was arguably responsible for more points than its offense. They scored seven on their own and set the Pack up with great field position all evening. Thanks to their seven takeaways the offense didn't have a single touchdown drive over 60 yards.
But seven turnovers a game is an unsustainable pace – even the best turnover-generating teams in the country only manage an average of about three takeaways a game. Can this be the kind of defense that generates multiple turnovers a game – even against good competition? Wake Forest will be a good test because even as they went 3-9 last year the Deacons had one of the lower turnover totals in the league. If the Pack can generate turnovers against a team like Wake, it bodes well for them going forward.
NC State Game Notes
NC STATE MEETS WAKE FOREST IN OLDEST SERIES
Saturday's matchup will mark the 105th meeting between NC State and Wake Forest, making it the longest running series in Wolfpack football history. NC State holds a 62-36-6 record overall.
Groves Stadium has not been kind to State in recent years, as the Pack has lost the last four games played on the Deacons' home field. The last Wolfpack victory in Winston-Salem was a 17-14 win in 2001. That was the only State win in the last seven tries at Wake.
NC State has won 15 of the last 22 meetings, but only one of the last five. Of the last 12 games played in Raleigh, the Pack has won 11.
PACK ON THE ROAD AGAIN FOR ACC OPENER
For the fifth straight season, Tom O'Brien and company will open conference play on an opponent's home field. The Pack dropped the first three league openers during O'Brien's tenure, but won handily in last year's ACC opener at Georgia Tech, 45-28.
TEAM EFFORT IN OPENING WIN
The Wolfpack's 43-21 victory over Liberty to open the season could truly be called a team effort, as the State offense, defense and special teams each put points on the board. In fact, of the team's 43 points, one could say the offense scored 24 points (3 rushing TDs and 1 pass TD), the defense scored six (on a fumble return) and special teams scored 13 (one field goal, a punt return for a score and four PATs).
OPEN A BAKERY...
Because the Wolfpack is making turnovers. Or at least it did in the season opening victory over Liberty. State's defense gave up 406 total yards in the win, but allowed just one offensive touchdown while forcing an incredible seven turnovers - a mark which tied the school record (South Carolina, 1983) and was the nation's best for the first weekend of play.
The least experienced member of the secondary, sophomore quarterback David Amerson, picked off two passes in the contest (and barely missed a third), while junior Earl Wolff and D.J. Green also had picks. One of Liberty's three fumbles was scooped up by defensive tackle Brian Slay and taken back for a score. Slay also recovered another fumble and caused one miscue.
GLENNON GETS UP
The most memorable statistic that came out of Mike Glennon's first career start at quarterback was the ‘1' in the win column. The remainder of his stats were respectable, as he completed 18 of his 31 attempts (.580) for 156 yards, threw for a touchdown and did not get picked off. Glennon was sacked four times in the game, including a blind-side hit that jarred the ball loose (that fumble was returned for a touchdown). But most importantly, Glennon took his licks and got right back up, despite the fact that it was his first time getting sacked since 2009 (he was sacked twice that season) and his first full game played in almost four years. The graduate student hit nine different targets in the game, including six wide receivers, two halfbacks, a tight end and a fullback.
Glennon, who is tied as the second-tallest QB in the nation at 6'6 was one of 22 FBS quarterbacks making his first career start in the opening week. Prior to saturday, Glennon had played in 10 games during his two years behind All-ACC signal caller Russell Wilson, but had been in for just 100 career snaps over two years. He saw action in 65 plays from scrimmage against Liberty.
Despite his lack of experience, he was named to the preseason ‘watch' list for the Maxwell Award. He was ranked the No. 3 quarterback in the nation by ESPN coming out of high school and was the Gatorade and AP Player of the Year in Virginia. His older brother, Sean, played quarterback at Virginia Tech from 2004-08.
SLAYING THE OPPOSITION
Defensive tackle Brian Slay said on Saturday night after the win over Liberty that he's always dreamed of returning an interception for a touchdown in front of the home crowd at Carter-Finley Stadium. But he said his fumble return for a score on Saturday "would do." The junior, who was making his second career start, scooped up a ball in the third quarter and returned it 52 yards to hit paydirt. That ranked as the fourth-longest fumble return in school history and the longest in 16 years. It also marked State's first fumble return for a score since 2007.
For the night, Slay tallied six total tackles, including two sacks, and caused a miscue and recovered a second one.
Senior T.J. Graham has already made a name for himself as a kick returner. He entered the season as the school record holder in kickoff return yards for a single game (202), single season (1,028) and career (he now has 2,266). That career mark ranks fifth in ACC history.
Lately, Graham is picking up his pace as a punt returner as well. In the last four games (including last three games of 2010), he has posted two of the top six singlegame punt return totals in school history. He had two returns for 88 yards and a touchdown in the 2010 win at UNC and had three for 88 yards and another score on Saturday versus Liberty. His big return in the opener was an 82-yarder, the 11thlongest in school history.
Graham now boasts 521 career punt return yards, the sixth-best mark in school history. He has tallied 3,486 all-purpose yards for this career, which ranks 10th on the Wolfpack career list.
Sophomore D.J. Green's move to strongside linebacker for spring drills is already reaping dividends for the Pack early in the 2011 campaign. Green, who saw action mainly on special teams as a safety last season, "really played well" in the season opener according to head coach Tom O'Brien. In the opener, Green tallied five tackles and picked off a Liberty pass. He posted the highest coach's grade among the starting linebackers.
Green's move also paved the way for veteran Audie Cole to make the move to middle linebacker, where he tallied a team-leading 10 tackles in the season opener.
Tight end George Bryan isn't one of the flashiest players in the ACC. He isn't even one of the flashiest players on his own team. But what he lacks in flash, he has more than made up for in production, as he has been one of the Wolfpack's biggest playmakers at tight end each of the past two years.
A preseason second-team All-America pick by Lindy's and a third-team choice by Rivals, Bryan is on the early ‘watch' list for the Mackey Award for the third straight year. For the third straight year, he's also hoping to earn first-team All-ACC honors and is the first tight end in school history to have won two such awards.
Bryan, who was selected as a team captain by his teammates prior to preseason camp, enters his senior campaign tied for ninth in school history with 13 career touchdown receptions, the highest mark among returning players. He currently ranks 17th in school history with 93 career receptions and with just six more grabs will have more career catches than any tight end in school history.
Bryan didn't get any closer to that tight end mark in the season opener. He was held without a catch for the first time since the final game of the 2009 campaign.
Tom O'Brien has been in coaching for a long time - 36 years to be exact. But this season, his team has something that he's never come across in almost four decades in the profession: true freshman starters at placekicker, punter and long snapper.
NC State is one of only two schools starting true freshmen at both kicking spots and the only school that has a rookie at all three positions: Niklas Sade at placekicker, Wil Baumann at punter and Scott Thompson at long snapper. Each saw their first action in the season opener - making NC State the only FBS school in the country that started true freshmen at those three positions. Sade was good on his only field goal, a 33-yarder, hit four extra points, missed one and had one blocked.
Baumann punted seven times for a 36.4 yard average and placed two inside the 20 (his worst punt - a shank - actually was his longest, as it ended up rolling for a 50-yard measurement). Thompson had one bad snap on the missed PAT but was otherwise solid.
NC State is one of only two schools who started true freshmen at both the punter and placekicker positions in 2011.
The defensive line is down two bodies following the season opener - both defensive tackles. Senior captain J.R. Sweezy underwent surgery two weeks before the opener for a broken bone in his foot and redshirt freshman Thomas Teal, who moved up the depth chart because of Sweezy's injury, underwent surgery following the game Saturday night for the same injury. Teal was in for 15 snaps and had a four-yard sack prior to the injury.
That leaves the depth at defensive tackle practically non-existent. Behind starters Brian Slay and Markus Kuhn are sophomore A.J. Ferguson and true freshman T.Y. McGill.
During his 14 years as a head coach, Tom O'Brien has mentored 22 assistant coaches. Seven of those have gone on to be collegiate head coaches. Three of his former protégés are now head coaches in the Atlantic Coast Conference: Al Golden at Miami, Mike London at Virginia and Frank Spaziani at Boston College. In other words, the Tom O'Brien coaching tree makes up a third of the entire league.
WIDEOUT WIDE OPEN
Throughout Tom O'Brien's tenure as a head coach, players from a variety of positions have populated the receiving stats. In 2010, the five team leaders in receiving yards were two wideouts, two halfbacks and a tight end.
Spreading the ball around will be beneficial to the Pack in 2011, as the top three wide receivers from last season have all completed their eligibility. The most experienced returnee at that spot is T.J. Graham, who now has 11 career starts and 26 career catches to his credit. Senior Jay Smith started a pair of contests last season and pulled in 10 catches, while senior Steven Howard has never earned a starting nod and had a dozen grabs a year ago. Entering the 2010 campaign, returning wide receivers had tallied a combined 243 career catches and combined for 62 career starts. Pack wideouts returning for 2011 started a combined three contests last season (12 overall) and pulled in just 104 career catches.
Wake Forest Game Notes
Wake Forest will make its BB&T Field season debut and open Atlantic Coast Conference play when the Demon Deacons host longtime rival NC State on Saturday afternoon in Winston-Salem. The game is set to kick off at 3:30 p.m. and will be televised on Fox Sports Carolinas.
The game can also be heard on the Wake Forest Sports Network From IMG College. The Deacons are coming off a heartbreaking 36-29 overtime loss at Syracuse on Thursday, Sept. 1. Wake Forest led by 15 points with 11 minutes remaining in the game, but the Deacons could not maintain the lead after hitting a field goal to go up 29-14 at the 11:02 mark of the fourth quarter. Deacon starting quarterback Tanner Price left the game just before the field goal with a knee injury, which proved to be a momentum changer. Price was 18-of-31 for 289 yards and three touchdowns before leaving.
Chris Givens caught seven passes for a career-high 170 yards and two touchdowns. Michael Campanaro set new career-highs with seven catches for 80 yards and a touchdown.
Jimmy Newman tied a career high with three field goals, though his miss from 33 yards in the first quarter snapped his school-record streak of 12 consecutive field goals made.
NC State is coming off a 43-21 defeat of FCS foe Liberty last Saturday in Raleigh. The Wolfpack defense forced seven turnovers for the first time since 1983 to tie a school record and returned one for a touchdown. Halfbacks Curtis Underwood and James Washington combined to rush for 181 yards and three touchdowns to pace the offense for NC State.
LAST TIME OUT
Syracuse rallied from a 15-point fourth quarter deficit to edge Wake Forest 36-29 in overtime in the Sept. 1 season opener at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.
The Demon Deacons led for most of the game, building up a 29-14 advantage on a Jimmy Newman field goal with 11:02 remaining, but an apparent leg injury that forced starting quarterback Tanner Price to leave the game just before the score proved to be a momentum changer.
The Orange scored two touchdowns in a 1:19 span to tie the game at 29-29 with 7:07 to play. It looked like Syracuse might earn the win in regulation, but Kyle Wilber blocked a late 32-yard field goal attempt by Ross Krautman, leaving the game to be decided in overtime.
Syracuse went on offense first in the extra frame and scored on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Nassib to Vad Chew. Josh Harris picked up two yards on the ground on the Deacons' fi rst offensive play in overtime, but three incompletions by Ted Stachitas ended the game. The Deacons put up 419 yards of offense in the contest, led by Price who completed 18-of-31 passes for 289 yards and three touchdowns before being forced to leave the game.
Chris Givens caught seven passes for a career-high 170 yards and two touchdowns. Michael Campanaro set new career highs with seven receptions for 79 yards and his fi rstcareer receiving touchdown.
Josh Harris led the Demon Deacons on the ground, picking up 66 yards on 22 carries. Jimmy Newman tied a career high with three field goals, though his miss from 33 yards in the first quarter snapped his school-record streak of 12 consecutive field goals made.
On the defensive side of the ball, Cyhl Quarles led the Demon Deacons with 10 tackles, tying a career high. Scott Betros set a new personal best with nine tackles.
NOTING THE SYRACUSE GAME
• The all-time series with Syracuse is now even at 1-1 after the loss.
• The Deacons fall to 27-30 under head coach Jim Grobe in games decided by 7 points or fewer.
• Wake drops to 51-20 when scoring 24 or more points.
• The overtime loss drops the Demon Deacons to 2-7 all-time in overtime games.
• It was Wake's third-straight loss in overtime. Wake last won an overtime game on Nov. 1, 2008 when Alphonso Smith intercepted a pass in the endzone to preserve a 33-30 victory against Duke at BB&T Field.
• Senior Cameron Ford tied a career-high with three receptions.
• Senior Cyhl Quarles tied a career-high with 10 tackles.
• Junior Scott Betros made a career-high nine tackles on the night.
NEWMAN CONTINUES FIELD GOAL, PAT STREAKS
Jimmy Newman extended his school-record streak of made field goals to 13 with a 38-yarder in the first quarter at Syracuse, but the junior placekicker missed his next attempt, a 34-yard try in the second quarter, to end his streak.
Newman also saw another impressive streak come to an end at Syracuse, as he missed an extra point attempt for the first time in 68 tries. His streak of 67 is the second-longest in school history, trailing only Sam Swank's record of 121 consecutive PATs made.
For his career, Newman is 26-of-34 on field goal attempts for a 76.5 percentage, which is tops in school history for any kicker with at least 20 successful attempts.
WILBER KEEPS CLIMBING THE CHARTS
In three seasons, redshirt senior Kyle Wilber has put his name on several Wake Forest defensive records lists. Wilber has 10 career sacks which is just one sack shy of moving into the top 10 on the school's career sacks list. The record for career sacks at Wake Forest currently belongs to Mike McCrary (1989-92) with 30 sacks.
Wilber also finished the 2010 season with 14.5 tackles for loss, which was 1.5 tackles for loss shy of moving into the top-8 in school-history. McCrary holds the mark for tackles for loss in a season as well with 24 tackles for loss in 1992.
WILBER DOES IT AGAIN
OLB Kyle Wilber collected the fourth blocked kick of his career when he knocked down Syracuse's field goal attempt with 2:07 to play in the game. Wilber also blocked field goal attempts vs. Baylor in 2009 and Boston College in 2010 and an extra point against Presbyterian in the 2010 season opener.
GIVENS REACHING RECEIVING MILESTONES
Redshirt-senior wide receiver Chris Givens became the 29th player in school history to compile 1,000 career receiving yards when he had three catches for six yards against Maryland last season. Givens now has a total of 87 receptions and is just 13 catches shy of becoming the 23rd Demon Deacon to eclipse 100 career receptions.
Givens recorded 170 reception yards in the season-opener against Syracuse and became the 18th player in school history to record 1,200 career receiving yards. He is currently 18th in school-history with 1,313 career yards.
ON THIS DATE 82 YEARS AGO...
Golfing great and Wake Forest legend Arnold Palmer was born on Sept. 10, 1929 in Latrobe, Penn. Palmer was a three-year letter winner for the Demon Deacons from 1949-50, 1954. He won two NCAA Individual Championships and one ACC Title during his time at Wake Forest. He's also won 62 times on the PGA Tour, including seven majors.
NICE START TO THE YEAR
Chris Givens had a strong debut, making seven receptions for 170 yards and two touchdowns in the opener against Syracuse. For Givens, it marked his second multi-touchdown game as he had two TD catches against Maryland as a redshirt freshman in 2009.
Givens set a career high with his 170 yards receiving. For his career, Givens has 87 receptions for 1,313 yards. Givens is tied for 28th in school history in receptions along with Ira Williams (1998-2001) with 87. Givens' 1,313 yards is the 18th-highest total in school history.
NC State Depth Chart
NOTE: *- Indicates a player has redshirted a season.
|2011 NC State Depth Chart|
Thanks to NC State and Wake Forest Athletics for much of the information in this preview.