Linemen Jon Holt and Luke Lathan performed admirably against the Clemson Tigers last weekend and will be counted on again this week when Georgia Tech comes to Raleigh. Starters Leroy Harris and Derek Morris are expected to miss the game against the Yellow Jackets, but it seems head coach Chuck Amato feels the reserves can get the job done.
"Under the circumstances I thought they did a good job," Amato responded when asked how Lathan and Holt played against Clemson. "I know Holt was called for one penalty, which was huge, but a lot of positives came out of the game. He did a pretty daggone good job."
"The best thing I can say about Luke [Lathan] is the mere fact that there were no bad snaps," he added. "That's the biggest concern you have."
It's often tough for reserves to be thrust into a starting role so late into the season, but when the situation arises they must take advantage of it and play as if they have been starting the entire year.
"It's tough for them, because the big thing is you want to run behind the first team," Amato said. "But, just like I told them before the [Clemson] game, everybody that's a replacement play like a first-teamer. Don't you go out there and play like a second-teamer. Play like a first teamer."
The offensive line will have two more days of practice to prepare for Georgia Tech, as the Wolfpack don't workout on Friday.
Impact Player Needed
Junior wide receiver Richard Washington had been having a super season, leading the Wolfpack with 29 receptions for 348 yards. Washington suffered a knee injury against Clemson, and will miss this Saturday's Georgia Tech game. Coach Amato sees it as a chance for another player to step up and make an impact for the Wolfpack.
"He's an impact player, and somebody's got a chance to show that they can be an impact player," Amato said. "Thank goodness we throw the ball all over the field to different receivers."
There are plenty of options for quarterback Jay Davis. With tight end T.J. Williams and wideouts John Dunlap, Sterling Hicks, Lamart Barrett, and Brian Clark, Davis has plenty of weapons to choose from. However, Tramain Hall could be a player to fill Washington's void, as he's currently second on the team with 25 catches.
How has Hall performed this season?
"Good," Amato said. "He's not had any big punt returns because we go after punts. Tramain's a steady [player]. He's a big part of our leadership."
Whether it's Hall, Williams, Barrett, Dunlap, Hicks or another of NC State's talented skill players, someone has to emerge and make an impact like Washington had been doing this season.
Look Out... Blackman's Gaining Confidence
Freshman tailback Darrell Blackman's gaining confidence, and that could be great news for Wolfpack fans. Blackman, a highly-touted freshman from Hargrave Military Academy, rushed for a career-high 90 yards on just 11 carries against Clemson this past weekend. That game could give him the extra confidence he may have been looking for.
"My confidence has improved a lot because of that game against Clemson," Blackman said. "It was a big game for me. I got settled into it because I was prepared to play, and now I'm looking towards Georgia Tech.."
Blackman, and reserves Reggie Davis and Bobby Washington, have spent the majority of the season backing up junior tailback T.A. McLendon. When healthy, McLendon's going to get the majority of carries because he's arguably the top back in the ACC, and at times that can be tough for a freshman looking to make an impact right away.
"It's kind of tough but in a way it's not," Blackman said. "He can do some things I can't do, and I can do some things he can't do so we kind of feed off each other. It's a learning process for all of us, and it just makes each of us better."
Blackman's really impressed with the versatility he's displayed. He's been solid in pass-blocking and also returns kicks for the Wolfpack. However, his most impressive trait could be his ball skills, as he's shown to be a terrific receiving coming out the backfield. Will Blackman be catching the ball even more as a wide receiver?
"Coming out the backfield, they've got me motioning out more to the receivers," Blackman said. "I'm comfortable with them putting me out there catching the ball because that's more touches I can get during the game to try and help the team out to win."
Quote of the Day: "Because he worked for me." -- Chuck Amato jokingly said when asked why Norm Chow is so successful as an offensive coordinator.