Crisp Happy To Be Back

Junior left tackle Robert Crisp entered the 2012 season with high expectations, but a lower back injury in the season opener against Tennessee would sideline him for the next five games.

Junior left tackle Robert Crisp entered the 2012 season with high expectations, but a lower back injury in the season opener against Tennessee would sideline him for the next five games.

Crisp made his return on Saturday at Maryland, starting and playing 63 snaps at left tackle in the Wolfpack's 20-18 win.

"It was great being back out there," said Crisp. "I've been practicing all week and it was great to be back in the football atmosphere.

"It was an away game and just being with the guys and playing to win the game. That's what it's all about."

Heading into the 2012 campaign, the Wolfpack offensive line was one of the most experienced units on the team. All five starters had started games previously during their careers, while four plus a projected backup had been season-long starters.

After seven games, NC State has started five different lineups on the offensive line due to injuries to three of the opening-day starters, including Crisp. Only senior center Camden Wentz has started all seven games at the same position this year.

Even with the turnover, it hasn't prevented the Pack from being productive offensively and recently in wins against two of the top defenses in the country, Florida State and Maryland.

"You've got to give [offensive line coach] Jim Bridge a lot of credit, coaching them and putting them together," said NC State head coach Tom O'Brien. "One of the things in practice, everybody plays every position. You've got guys playing left, right... guard, tackle... in the last couple of weeks, when we were injured to try and create as much depth as we could at different positions in case people started going down.

"Hopefully that line we've got in there now will stabilize and get healthy and they can get better and better as time goes on."

Now the Pack is starting Crisp at left tackle, three-year starters R.J. Mattes and Camden Wentz at left guard and center respectively, and multiple-game starters Duran Christophe and Tyson Chandler at right guard and right tackle.

The Pack has also developed some depth with interior reserves Joe Thuney and Cameron Fordham and also senior Andrew Wallace, who opened the season as the starter at right tackle, is now back from injury.

"Experience is key," said Crisp. "I'm not saying we have guys that lack experience and who aren't talented, but the more guys you have with experience... it's a big thing.

"Bringing back experienced players gives us a better chance at protecting Mike [Glennon] or whoever has the ball. It's going to help the program."

That experience also paid off for the Pack late in the win at Maryland. Even though they were on the road and literally a play or two away from losing the game, Crisp says the offense remained focused.

"Guys were real calm," he said. "The Maryland guys were making great plays, a lot of respect to them, but the biggest thing is to stay calm when the pressure is on, especially for us offensive linemen. That's what were able to do."

It came down to a pair of field goal attempts in the final minute. NC State's Niklas Sade made his kick to give the Pack the lead while Brad Craddock missed a 33-yard game-winner in the final seconds.

What was going through Crisp's mind as Craddock lined up for the kick?

"I wanted to turn my head for a moment," he said. "I wanted to look at it... I wanted to grab somebody. It was in our favor. That's all I can say."

Not only did the win allow NC State to maintain control of its own destiny in the Atlantic, but it also ended a road-winless streak in the division.

Crisp says that he wasn't concerned with the lack of success previous teams have had on the road against division opponents and isn't focused on the title race right now.

"We're just worrying about us," he said. "You're really playing one game at a time and Maryland was the next game. We came out and played our butts off, and what happens within the division, happens. We just had to win another game."

Next up for the Wolfpack is a road game against rival North Carolina. Crisp knows all about the rivalry. A five-star recruit out of Raleigh (NC) Athens Drive High School, Crisp was heavily recruited by the Tar Heels, and he grew up just minutes away from their campus in Chapel Hill.

"I live right down the street from UNC," he stated. "Honestly. it means a lot. It also means a lot to this program, but it's another game.

"We're going to go out there and play hard... bring the intensity."


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