'They Have So Many Threats'

NC State senior Marcus Hudson is a lockdown cornerback and one of the best in the ACC, but he will face arguably his toughest challenge of the season Thursday night.

Last year in NC State's 24-14 loss to Georgia Tech, Yellow Jacket wide receiver Calvin Johnson set up the go-ahead score by making two spectacular third-down catches and drawing a crucial pass interference penalty.

Johnson is one of the nation's most exciting players and currently leads the ACC in receiving yards per game. He certainly has the attention of NC State and Hudson.

"He's Spiderman," Marcus Hudson said of the 6-foot-4 sophomore. "I remember saying a quote about that after we played them last year. He had one reception where the ball was thrown totally behind him, and he grabbed it with one arm like someone threw a tennis ball at him.

"I just call him Spiderman. When the ball is in the air he can get to it at any point, and he's dangerous in all aspects."

Hudson still played Johnson tough in last year's contest, limiting him to just three receptions for 47 yards. He also recorded one of three Wolfpack interceptions, returning the pick 60 yards for a touchdown. In playing a talented receiver, he believes you can only do your assignment.

"There's only so much you can do at your position," Hudson said. "You can only control yourself. With Calvin Johnson, we were in a position to make the plays, but he made the tough, big plays in that game.

Calvin Johnson

"That's what we're going to try and make him do. We want to make him make tough catches all night. We're going to do our same game plan and hopefully we can stop him."

Helping Hudson and the other Wolfpack conerbacks will be NC State's defensive front, one of the league's best. Facing a youthful Georgia Tech offensive line, NC State will need a huge pass rush to pressure Ball and the Yellow Jackets into making mistakes.

"I'm depending on my defensive line and our coaching," Hudson said. "We have great coaches and an advantage we have is where we can put ourselves defensively.

"If it wasn't for the line's pressure last year, Reggie Ball probably wouldn't have made some bad throws, and we wouldn't have had those interceptions. It's all up to us."

Ball and Johnson aren't the only problems NC State could face Thursday night. Damarius Bilbo is stepping up as a big-time wideout opposite Johnson, and Tech also features a strong running game led by senior P.J. Daniels. The Yellow Jackets also have an opportunistic defense that leads the nation in interceptions.

"They have so many threats," said Hudson. "Their defense gave our offense a tough time last year, and they ended up beating us.

Reggie Ball

"On offense they have Calvin Johnson, but Bilbo is maybe just as good. He's big, he's got speed, and because he used to be a quarterback his chemistry may be better with Reggie Ball than Johnson's is.

"Ball is also a great quarterback. He's a threat, whether running the ball or passing. They've got P. J. Daniels. They've got threats all over the field so we've got to bring our 'A' game."

NC State hasn't won in Atlanta since 1988, and the Wolfpack players know that. However, don't expect them to use that as motivation. They are more concerned with this season and the goal they set prior to the opener against Virginia Tech.

"That's not really motivation for us," Hudson said. "Our motivation is that we're in the hunt for the ACC championship. It's an ACC game, and we have to win. We're in a situation where we have to win."

After playing three games at home, will it be good to finally play a road game and have a chance to face another challenge?

"Probably so because it's going to be different type of adversity to face," Hudson said. "When you play at home, you have the crowd for support. But some players, like myself, just having all odds against you is an adrenaline rush. It makes you step up to the challenge so it could be good to play there."

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