TAKING ON THE CHAMPS
When 2005 NCAA I-AA national champion Appalachian State comes to Carter-Finley Stadium on September 2, it will mark the ninth time that the Wolfpack has played a defending national champion.
In such previous matchups, all which were versus IA opposition, NC State has posted a record of 1-7, with the lone win coming in the 1991 season against Georgia Tech, after the Yellow Jackets won a share of the national titlein 1990. The last time NC State has faced off against a national champion was in2003, when the Pack traveled to Ohio State and fell 44-38 in a triple overtime affair.
The game against Appalachian State also marks only the second time inschool history that NC State has faced a defending national champion inthat team's next game. After Michigan State won a share of the national title in 1965, the Pack traveled to East Lansing for the first game of the 1966 season, falling 28-10.
NC STATE VERSUS APPALACHIAN STATE
The Wolfpack has played the Mountaineers of the Southern Conference five times. The Wolfpack opened the 1932 season with a 31-0 win over App. State in Raleigh, then played host to the squad in 1980, 1983, 1990 and 1992. NC State has shut out Appalachian State twice in the five times the squads have met, as the Pack also blanked the Mountaineers 56-0 in 1990. The 56-0 defeat of Appalachian State in 1990 marks the ninth-largest margin of victory for a Wolfpack squad in school history. However, eight of those high-scoring games came between 1904-1920.
The only other contest NC State had a larger victory margin after 1920 was a 67-0 defeat of Western Carolina also in 1990.
FORMER WOLFPACK CENTER LEADS APPALACHIAN STATE
NC State football has a huge presence at Appalachian State University. Former Wolfpack center Charlie Cobb, who lettered for Coach Dick Sheridan from 1987-89, is beginning his second year as the Mountaineers' Director of Athletics. Cobb, whose wife Lindsay was an All-ACC goalkeeper for the Wolfpack women's soccer team, served as Senior Associate Athletics Director for External Operations at NC State from 1998 - 2005.
BLACKMAN ON THE RETURN
THE WOLFPACK IN SEASON OPENERS
NC State has won eight of its last nine season openers, including five of six under head coach Chuck Amato. The five season-opening wins under Amato's seasons were by an average of 25.8 points and the loss to eighth-ranked Virginia Tech last season was by just four points. The Wolfpack took Arkansas State to double-overtime before winning 38-31 to open Amato's first season (2000), but trounced Indiana, 35-14, in 2001, beat New Mexico 34-14 in 2002, defeated Western Carolina, 59-20, to open the 2003 campaign and won over Richmond, 42-0 in 2004.
Most prognosticators expected Eugene to move to the defensive secondary when he arrived in Raleigh last fall. Eugene, however, wasn't deterred by the fact that there were two other highly-recruited running backs in front of him. Eugene asked to remain at running back and he's certainly turned heads in preseason camp. In the Wolfpack's second scrimmage, he gained 169 all-purpose yards.
PACK STRONG AGAINST NON-CONFERENCE OPPOSITION
NC State has posted a 14-1 home record against non-conference competition under Chuck Amato, with the only loss coming to ninth-ranked Ohio State in 2004. The Wolfpack posts a 23-3 overall record against non-conference opponents under Amato, also losing at third-ranked Ohio State and to Pittsburgh.
AMATO RANKS AMONG ACC LEADERS
After six years as the head coach of the Wolfpack, Chuck Amato has posted a 46-28 record. Those 46 wins rank fourth in ACC history for a coach in career wins after their sixth year.
Each season, the coaching staff comes up with a team motto that is announced at the beginning of fall camp. This season, the theme for the team is "TOGETHER: It's Up to Us." Amato says that this theme is testament to the closeness of his 2006 Wolfpack squad and the fact that there are no real individual superstars on the team - just players who are team-oriented.
DERANEY HAS IT DOWN PAT
Senior placekicker/punter John Deraney has handled all of the team's kicking duties each of the past two years, and has excelled at every area of the kicking game. He's averaged 40.9 yards on punts, the sixth-best mark in school history. Of his 51 career kickoffs, 49% (25) have resulted in touchbacks.
He's made 28 career field goals, the seventh-best mark in the school record books. But despite his fine performance in those categories, the area where Deraney has achieved perfection is on PATs. He has made all 62 of his extra point attempts at NC State to set a school record for consecutive PATs made. That tally also ranks as the most made in school history. Deraney has not missed a point-after since his junior season of high school. He's not sure how many he made at the end of that campaign, but he hit all 21 as a senior at Fayette County High School and how has hit 62 straight for the Wolfpack.
STAYING AT HOME
NC State will not be racking up any frequent flier miles early in the 2006 season. Besides a Sept. 16 jaunt down to Hattiesburg, Miss., to take on Southern Miss, the Wolfpack will not play outside of Carter-Finley Stadium again until October 21. The good news is that five of NC State's first six games will be played at home this season. The bad news is that that means that four of the last six will be played on the road.
The last time the Pack was fortunate enough to begin the season with so many home contests was in 1998, when NC State also played five of the first six at home in route to a 4-2 start. That same season was also the last time NC State opened its ACC schedule with three straight at home, as 2006 sees the Pack begin the conference slate with Boston College, Florida State and Wake Forest all visiting Carter-Finley before the Pack is forced to hit the road for an ACC affair. NC State has faired well playing at Carter-Finley early in the season under Amato, posting a 13-4 (.765) mark in home contests played in August or September.
This season marks the seventh straight that Amato will start the season at home. His teams have gone 5-1 in season openers, with the only loss coming to eighth-ranked Virginia Tech, 16-20, last season.
Junior signal caller Marcus Stone is off to one of the best starts as a starter in NC State history. Stone has gained victory in five of his first six careerstarts, tying as the second-best mark for a Wolfpack QB since 1970. Dave Buckey won his first six career starts from 1973-1974.
CLOSE AT HOME
Chuck Amato says that it is imperative that teams win their home games. His teams have posted a 26-13 slate at Carter-Finley Stadium in his six years with the program, a 12-12 home mark in ACC games. However, in eight of those 12 losses, the score was decided by single digits and and in five by seven points or less. The Wolfpack has lost just four conference games by double digits at home in the past six years. In 12 home ACC wins, six have been by double digits, and the other six have been by seven or less points.
LET'S BET ON IT
Instead the pair has a steak dinner riding on who tallies the highest number of knockdown blocks this season. Brown and Baker, who Coach Amato has compared to Hershel Walker and Earl Campbell respectively, both have the physical build to back up their bets. Baker, who has been lifting weights since he was in junior high school, boasts the team's third-highest bench press mark (450 pounds), while Brown's 415-pound mark ranks among the top 10 on the squad. Baker's 335-pound power clean mark in August was the best on the entire team.
WINNING IS A RUSH
One thing that all seven of the Wolfpack's victories have in common in 2005 was the squad's ability to rush the football. NC State averaged 162.4 rushing yards in its seven victories, just 71.2 in its five losses. With tailbacks Andre Brown and Toney Baker returning, along with talented redshirt freshman Jamelle Eugene and a revamped offensive line, NC State hopes to add to those numbers in 2006.
THE KILLER B'S
Last season, tailbacks Toney Baker, Andre Brown and Darrell Blackman combined for 2,676 all-purpose yards, a number that accounted for a whopping 53 percent of the team's total. That talented trio accounted for 95 percent of the Wolfpack's rushing yards (1,416 of 1,493) and 93 percent of the team's kickoff return yardage (805 of 864). This season, that number could go up, as Blackman will has moved to wide receiver.
For the past two seasons, NC State has ranked in the top 10 nationally in total defense. The Wolfpack led all NCAA Division I teams in 2004 with a 221.36 mark and ranked eighth last season at 298.67. With five starters from last year's squad now NFL draft picks, those rankings might be tough to repeat. The Wolfpack lost five of its top six tacklers from last season and it's top four sack leaders.
Rising senior Reggie Davis has been a key player at running back for the Wolfpack each of the past three years.