After three years with Philip Rivers at the helm, Pack center Jed Paulsen will spend his senior season helping break in a new QB. Paulsen has become a rock for the Wolfpack on offense and he talked with us about the upcoming season.
After being a part of three successful Pack teams, what are the possibilities for the 2004 squad?
"I think the sky's the limit for this team. Our defense is playing great ball out there. They're looking good and they've got some stunt packages that are hard to block. They look awesome out there. Offensively we're just going to keep doing what we always do- throw it, run it, whatever we got to do. This is one of the best teams I've ever been a part of and even without Philip Rivers, we're going to get it done."
Philip Rivers played a huge leadership role when he was at NC State. Who now tries to step up and fill that void?
"It's all around. With the seniors, me being a senior and Chris Colmer as a senior on the offensive line, we hope the team can lean on us because we might be able to take some of that burden away with not having Philip Rivers around. It is a leadership by committee because everyone out there- I mean, Philip was a great player but we'll get it done.
I think the seniors have done a good job of stepping up. We don't have too many seniors on offense but I know on defense, (Andre) Maddox, Freddie (Aughtry-Lindsay) and those other guys have taken it to another level. They're really stepping up and leading the team. The QB's, both of them have been getting in there and showing leadership just like Philip would have."
With so many talented RB's on offense, do you think it will change NC State's offensive strategy any?
"I think we'll still keep a wide-open approach but when you've got guys back there like TA (McLendon), Bobby Washington, Darrell Blackman and Reggie Davis, of course you want to get the ball in their hands because they're playmakers and they want to make plays. That's always an option for us is to run the ball so maybe we run it a little bit more this year or maybe we don't- that's up to the coaches. But I think we're going to get the ball in the hands of our playmakers and those guys are definitely our playmakers."
You go up against them everyday in practice. How much has the defensive line improved from last year?
"It's 100% improvement. It's unbelievable how good they've gotten. They've been coached up to do some things differently now since Coach Herring's been here and you can just tell the defensive line- they're playing harder, they look better as far as playing aggressively and it's just been like night and day."
Are there any new guys that will turn some heads this year"
"Bobby (Washington) and Darrell (Blackman) are two guys that are going to stick out. You're going to see them a lot because those guys are the real deal. They're getting after it. They're young guys but they're so talented and you're going to hear good things about them."
Coming from Missouri and being so far from home, how has your time at NC State been?
"It's been great. I love it. I never question it because people always ask me if I wish I had gone somewhere else and maybe stayed in Missouri but there's no way. I love it here. I love everything about it. I have great friends and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world."
#53 Jed Paulsen