Head coach Chuck Amato made it a point to let the media know that on Monday the Wolfpack had perhaps its best practice of the year.
"Last night we had a really good practice on both sides of the ball," Amato said following Tuesday's evening practice. "It might have been [our] best practice... maybe the first day of exchanging scout squads that I've ever been around to be honest with you."
How did the Wolfpack perform today?
"Tonight, if you would look at the whole picture, at the end we ended up on the goalline and the defense waxed the offense," Amato said. "The most disappointing thing on the goalline was the turnovers that we had. We had entirely too many turnovers on the goalline by the offense, which is a plus for the defense. That's the way it is when you do these things.
"That's disappointing. Penalties... we're cutting them down, but we've got to be better at the penalties. They are coaching. Holding is discipline... just a lack of it, a lack of effort, it's against the rules, and they are going to call it."
Receivers Step Up
Last week Amato was upset following a practice because he felt his wideouts had too many drops during an evening workout. Today it seems like they performed a lot better.
"That stuff goes in cycles," Amato said. "One day they [have drops] and then one day make some of the most phenominal catches that they can. They don't like to read bad things about them in the paper. Unfortunately, the defense likes to read good things about them, but it's not any help to them because it doesn't make a crap."
Two of the players battling for playing time at wide receiver are redshirt senior Sterling Hicks and sophomore John Dunlap. Hicks, who redshirted in 2003 after tearing his ACL in the third game of the season, is playing well.
"Sterling is a young man that really has stepped up," Amato said. "We expect Sterling to help us quite a bit. He's having a good camp."
Dunlap also suffered a torn ACL, as he injured his knee this past offseason. Amato feels that they are going to take as much time as possible to make sure that Dunlap is fully ready to go.
"We're taking it real slow with Dunlap, we really are," he said. "A lot of it is mental. You just don't know. You don't know how it's mending inside and everybody mends differently.
"We thought down [at Florida State] that Dan Kendra was going to come back in four months like a couple of people had because he ate good and was a phenominal weight lifter. The inside didn't mend like it should.
"It's only been eight and a half months since Dunlap had his operation, and we want him healthy."
NC State is blessed with a solid group of wide receivers such as Hicks, Dunlap, Lamart Barrett, Tramain Hall, Fred Spann, Brian Clark, Geron James, and Kyle Newell. Because of the quality depth, the Wolfpack can afford to allow Dunlap as much time as possible to return from the serious injury.
When asked specifically about some of his younger players and if any were standing out, Amato probably surprised some of the media with his reply.
"Well, [running backs coach] Dick Portee's stepped up," he joked. "Is that young enough? With all those running backs he has stepped up.
"You know, even with those running backs it's one day this guy, one day that guy... and they are young. It's just so much different and it's going to take time. They are learning terminology, and they are thinking too much at all positions."
He did name three of his talented true freshmen as players who have his caught his attention with their play.
"Curtis Crouch has been a pleasant, 'huge' surprise," Amato said of his 6-foot-5, 354-pound freshman offensive lineman. "Which doesn't surprise us, but it gets to a point where the terminology is so much. I think he's going to be a really, really [good one].
"[Geron] James is good... he's a good wide receiver. His buddy, Levin Neal, he's been on defense ever since he asked to go both ways. When he learns the technique he's gonna be pretty daggone good at corner."
"I'm really pleased. I'm really pleased. You know we're pleased with the effort."