In today's News and Observer UNC running back Ronnie McGill said he'll be ready to go on Saturday against the Wolfpack. After missing the past two games with an ankle injury, McGill's return gives UNC another top-notch running back.
"He's a big, strong back," Amato said. "I'll tell ya, they've moved the ball on the ground on everybody. Those other backs are salty too."
The "other" backs, Jacque Lewis and Chad Scott, are two seniors with a load of quality experience. If McGill's not able to go, Lewis and Scott will once again be able to pick up the slack.
Rumors have been circulating around Chapel Hill that a poor showing against NC State could affect John Bunting's status as head coach. Are the UNC players concerned about the rumors? Not according to NC State's Chuck Amato.
"I don't think their kids care about the public," Amato said. "A football team only cares about each other."
NC State will practice light on Thursday before taking Friday off to prepare for Saturday's game against the Tar Heels.
After registering three sacks against Virginia Tech, defensive end Manny Lawson failed to get a sack in a game for the first time this season against Wake Forest. Coach Amato labeled his play "fair."
"Fair," Amato said. "The ends didn't do exactly what we wanted them to do on certain things. We could have stopped a lot of little stuff inside."
Two players who did stand out at defensive end were freshman Raymond Brooks and sophomore Maurice Charles. Both came in and made big plays down the stretch for the Wolfpack.
"Maurice is a good football player," Amato said. "Maurice sees things and vision is so important. He sees an awful lot."
"Another kid who came in and did a heckuva job was #33, Ray Brooks," he added. "Ray Brooks is a man. He's a guy that's 270 pounds and played fullback in high school. He rushed for nearly 740 yards, and I think he ran 4 touchdowns back on kickoffs. He's just starting to really grasp everything because he's a true freshman."
Getting consistent play from the reserves only improves what Amato feels every good team has, competition.
"The two of them makes for more competition," Amato said. "Now there's more competition. We were talking about that in the staff meeting today. I told Stroud, on the first defensive line we have three sophomores and a junior, and Manny's a freshman playing that position. Their backups are three freshmen and a sophomore."
Charles Steps Up
Sophomore Maurice Charles came in and did a terrific job against the run on Saturday. He used his instincts and play-making ability to disrupt several Wake Forest plays and provide a spark for the Wolfpack defense. Charles believes that he's as good against the run as he is against the pass.
"Like I tell the coaches, I can play anything," he said. "It doesn't matter if it's against the run or the pass. I do what it takes to help the team."
As Amato said, vision is so important along the defensive line, especially against a team like Wake Forest that specializes in misdirection.
"I think that's big for me because I see the ball quickly and know where it's going," Charles said. "I try to chase it, and after I find it the chasing is the easy part."
Wake's scheme presented NC State's defense some problems early, but after seeing it for two quarters they erupted to limit the Deacons to zero yards of total offense in third period.
"It was hard because they had a different scheme, and they had good players who know what they are doing," he said. "We went over it on defense and got a feel for what they do so we had some good plays to call against them. That made it pretty easy for us later on."
Although he's currently a reserve behind Manny Lawson, Charles knows that he'll get plenty of reps this season and feel that he and Lawson are doing great at weakside defensive end.
"We are both great players and work hard," Charles said. "As long as we keep working hard we'll split reps and get the job done. We both can do what it takes, whether it's the run or the pass, and the coaches know that."
"I always wanted to be on special teams to make an impact for the team. I don't have a black belt yet, but I will get one this next game." -- Maurice Charles