Impacting The Game

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Sophomore defensive tackle Thomas Teal will play a major role in the outcome of Saturday's game, and he is more than ready to do so.

Sophomore defensive tackle Thomas Teal will play a major role in the outcome of Saturday's game, and he is more than ready to do so.

"We just have to stay disciplined," said Teal. "Everyone has an assignment, and if we all take care of our assignments it should be a good game."

A massive, 6-foot-2, 315-pounder, Teal played in six games last year while missing some time with a foot injury and managed to record 11 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, a sack, a forced fumble, and a quarterback pressure.

Through three games this year he has totaled four tackles, two tackles for a loss, and six quarterback pressures.

"He missed a lot of time in training camp and he's still trying to get back in game shape," Wolfpack defensive coordinator Mike Archer said of Teal. "He's a force in there. He's a 320-pound man, and he's hard to move. He's starting to get the rust off.

"He's made some plays... he made a bunch of big plays against Connecticut, and he was very solid Saturday night against South Alabama. We really didn't get tested inside on the run, they didn't try to run it much inside, but again, he's getting better."

Teal has stressed the importance of playing assignment football because of The Citadel's triple-option attack. The Wolfpack defenders must be prepared for a team that is going to run right at them and Teal, who must team up with T.Y. McGill to take away the dive and fullback, must play well.

"We have to take the dive," said Teal. "We need to take care of that and everyone else has to worry about their position.

"Their offense is unique, but most of it is trickery. Like I said, it's going to come down to us playing disciplined."

"They will be huge in this game," Tom O'Brien said of the defensive tackles. "The thing with them is they are lost in the shuffle in the middle, but they better tackle the fullback.

"That's where all this starts. They are primarily responsible in there and they have to keep linemen off the middle linebacker because it's key that the middle linebacker be able to run to play defense against these guys.

"They whole thing starts with the fullback. They may get one, they may get two, they may get three, and all of a sudden they pop a thirty because they forget what they are doing. They are the first part of the defense against the wishbone, the tackle position."

For Teal and McGill, two sophomores who were reserves last season, the maturation over the first three games has been critical to their development.

"We're young guys, and this is our first year starting together," said Teal. "The more we play the better we'll be together. We're just getting used to each other. We'll keep getting better."

"We just want to make our presence felt. Last year we had guys like J.R. [Sweezy] and [Markus] Kuhn... they were the leaders of the team. We want to do our part and play like we can but also be leaders on the team like they were."

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