NOTES: Pack Back In Action

NC State returns to action Saturday against Richmond. Here are some pregame notes on the Wolfpack.

NC State has faced the Spiders of Richmond 19 times in history, dating back to 1895. The Wolfpack has posted a 17-1-1 mark against Richmond since that first meeting, with the most recent victory a 42-0 shutout in 2004.

Thirteen of the contests have been played in Raleigh and the Pack's only loss was in 1970, when Earle Edwards squad dropped the opener, 21-6.

Saturday's game against Richmond will be NC State's annual "Military Appreciation" game at Carter-Finley Stadium. This event has become a fan favorite for the Wolfpack faithful, as the university pulls out all the stops to honor those who protect our freedom.

There are many special events planned for the day:
• Adopt-A-Serviceperson - Wolfpack Club members will be hosting troops at their pregame tailgates. The Athletics Department is providing complimentary game tickets

• Pregame Tailgate - Coca Cola and NC State Athletics are hosting a pregame tailgate party for 400+ military personnel, including the Wounded Warriors

• Wounded Warriors Walk of Champions - Escorted by the Patriot Guard motorcycles, fans are asked to join the band, cheerleaders and dance team at the North entrance at 5:00pm as the Wounded Warriors enter the stadium. The Wounded Warriors will be honored on the field during the game

• Halftime Ceremony - Will include a special military tribute by the NC State Marching Band, a full-field sized flag and parachute team jumping into the stadium.

• Pregame flyover

• Select ROTC cadets will be recognized on the field

• Military tug of war contest

• Military ‘shout-outs' on the video board.

The Dave Doeren era at NC State got off to an aupicious beginning, as the Wolfpack soared to a 40-14 win over Louisiana Tech. The Wolfpack offense tallied 542 yards in the opener, the most for State in a season opener in over 20 years (The Pack had 592 against Western Carolina to open the 1990 season). The 40 points were the most in a Wolfpack coach's debut game since Monte Kiffin led the 1980 squad to a 42-0 win over William & Mary.

v Four quarterbacks saw action for NC State in the season opener. None of the four had ever taken a snap for the Wolfpack before Saturday and two had never taken a collegiate snap.

v Nineteen players saw action for the first time at NC State on Saturday - including 11 true freshmen.

v The Wolfpack's defensive front should have fresh legs in 2013 if the opener is any indication. Eleven players saw action on the line in the win over Louisiana Tech.

v 10 players earned their first career start in the opener.

v Matt Dayes' three touchdown runs vs. La Tech was second-highest tally for a true freshman in school history.

v Niklas Sade's four field goals in the opener were a career-high.

v 10 wide receivers dressed in the opener and nine saw action from scrimmage. Four of the nine were true freshmen.

v Pete Thomas will be starting his 22nd career game at quarterback but his first with the Wolfpack against Richmond.

The big question for the Wolfpack heading into last weekend's season opener with Louisiana Tech was: "Who will be the starting quarterback?" Perhaps the question should have been "Who will be the Pack's No 3 at QB?"

That number 3 is now going to play a more significant role as the backup after Brandon Mitchell, who won the starter's job, is out for at least several games with a foot injury.

Mitchell, a graduate student who transferred from Arkansas, won the tight preseason battle and stood under center in the opener for three offensive series - two of which were 65 and 75 yard touchdown drives. He completed all three of this throws for a quick gain of 93 yards before a foot injury sent him to the sideline.

Pete Thomas, a junior who started 21 games under center at Colorado State, came in and completed 15 of 27 throws for 212 yards and directed the offense to 23 more points in a solid effort.

One of the Wolfpack's team goals for 2013 is to win the turnover battle. That goal was definitely achieved in the season opener. The Wolfpack forced four fumbles in the victory, recovering all four.

State's only turnover in the game was a scratch. In the second quarter, with third and goal from the Bulldog four, Pete Thomas was picked off at the two and the ball was returned 15 yards. That's when center Quinton Schooley went for the stop and forced a LA Tech fumble and Thomas jumped on it to give the ball back to the Pack.

Five plays later, Matt Dayes ran in for a two-yard TD.

The collegiate debut of freshman running back Matt Dayes was a promising one. The rookie rushed for three touchdowns in his first collegiate game, while playing 40 snaps.

That was the second-highest rushing touchdown total ever for a Wolfpack freshman (T.A. McLendon had five vs. Texas Tech in 2012)and marked the most rushing TDs in a game for a Pack players since Jamelle Eugene had three in 2007.

Dayes led the team in rushing with 84 yards on 17 carries in the 40-14 Wolfpack win.

At 5-9, 213, Dayes is a compact player who runs low and has great vision, according to his head coach. He rushed for over 1,800 yards last season at Cypress Bay High School, scoring 31 TDs. He played at the 8A level and rushed for 174 yards and five touchdowns in the 8A championship game.

Eleven true freshmen saw action for the Wolfpack in the season opener, including one who started. Another true freshman was the team's leading rusher in the 40-14 victory over LA Tech.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling got the starting nod at wide receiver and led the team in receiving yardage with 87 on four catches. Matt Dayes, who like Valdes-Scantling hails from South Florida, was the team's leading rusher with 84 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries.

Here's a look at the true freshmen who saw action:
Johnathan Alston, WR
Bra'Lon Cherry, WR
Matt Dayes, RB
Monty Nelson, DT
Sean Paul, CB
Jumichael Ramos, WR
Bryant Shirreffs, QB
Josh Taylor, QB
Jack Tocho, CB
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR
Dravious Wright, S

Freshman wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling (hereafter known as MVS) was the only true freshman to get the starting nod in Saturday's opener and showed why he was lined up with the veterans on the first play of the game.

The St. Petersburg, Fla. native was the recipient of the first pass of the Dave Doeren era at NC State, gaining 26 yards on a throw from Brandon Mitchell on the second offensive play of the game. He ended the day with four catches for a game-high 87 yards.

With a career-high four field goals made and another four points on PATs, junior placekicker Niklas Sade outscored Louisiana Tech's team by a score 16-14.

Sade now ranks ninth in NC State history in field goals made after nailing a career-high four kicks in the season opener. Only one player in NC State history has ever kicked more field goals in a game game (Nathan Ritter with five FGs against ECU in 1978).

Sade also hit all four of his PAT attempts in the contest. He is tied for fourth in Wolfpack history with 94 extra points for his career.

The junior also had seven touchbacks in his nine kickoffs for the afternoon.

One area that the Pack seems to have quality depth for 2013 is at running back. Last season's second-leading rusher Tony Creecy, a solid, dependable player for head coach Dave Doeren on and off the field, got the start at running back in the opener. The junior gained 47 yards on 13 carries and scored a touchdown for the Wolfpack.

Last season's leading rusher, Shadrach Thornton, missed the opener due to a suspension, but will be back in action this week against Richmond.

Those two should get plenty of chances to watch their young backfield partner, Matt Dayes, run the ball this season, as Dayes showed he is ready to roll as a true freshman with 84 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Louisiana Tech.

The success of the Pack's new up-tempo, fast-paced offense will rely heavily on having a large group of wide receivers. Dave Doeren dressed 10 wideouts for the opening game of the season - four of whom were true freshmen.

Only five wideouts caught passes for NC State last season and only four of those - Charlie Hegedus, Quintin Payton, Rashard Smith and Bryan Underwood - returned for 2013. That leaves a wide open opportunity for some true freshmen to see the field at that position.

Lanky Marques Valdes-Scantling started the opener and played more snaps (46) than any other wideout. He caught the first pass of the season for the Wolfpack, leading the team in receiving yardage in the opener with 87 yards on four grabs.

Rookie Bra'Lon Cherry played 26 snaps in the opener, while Jumichael Ramos was in for nine snaps and Johnathon Alston had seven.

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