Notebook: Amato Strong at Home

NC State hosts Akron tomorrow in a critical nonconference game for both teams. NC State head coach Chuck Amato has had success hosting nonconference teams, and he will be looking for another win this weekend.

When NC State and Akron kick off this weekend, it will mark the first ever meeting between the two teams. NC State has posted an 8-1 record, all at home, against current members of the MAC.

Since 2000 under Chuck Amato, NC State has faced nine different teams for the first time in school history, posting an 8-1 record. The only blemish was a 38-44 at third-ranked Ohio State in three overtimes in 2003.

Three of the wins were in bowl games - Minnesota in 2000, Notre Dame in 2002 and South Florida in 2005.

Chuck Amato
In his first six seasons as the head coach of the Wolfpack, Chuck Amato posted a 46-28 record. Those 46 wins rank fourth in ACC history for a coach in career wins after their sixth year.

Amato tied for fourth among all-time ACC coaches in wins after three years (25), tied for third after four years (34), and sixth after five years (39). He is also tied for third all-time in ACC history with four bowl game wins.

NC State has posted a 15-1 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 24-3 overall record against non-conference opponents under Amato, also losing at third-ranked Ohio State and to Pittsburgh in the 2001 Tangerine Bowl.

The talented NC State backfield certainly lived up to its billing in the opener versus Appalachian State, with sophomore Doak Walker candidates Andre Brown and Toney Baker leading the way on the ground.

Andre Brown
The Wolfpack rushed for 206 yards in the contest, averaging 4.7 yards-per-carry.

Brown posted the third 100-yard rushing game of his young career with 125 yards and a 43-yard touchdown scamper.

Baker chipped in 43 yards on the ground and rumbled to a nine-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to put the game out of reach. Redshirt freshman Jamelle Eugene added thirty yards on the ground in his first collegiate action.

Penalties are usually high in season openers as teams get used to being back out on the field for game day. In the win against Appalachian St., NC State was flagged for only three penalties and 20 yards, tied for the fewest penalties and the second lowest yards in seven season openers under Amato. The Pack was charged with three penalties for 13 yards in 2001 when it opened the season against Indiana.

In the seven season openers under Amato, NC State has been flagged on average nearly eight times a game, with three of the games resulting in double digits.

In the previous two season openers (2004, 2005), NC State had been called for an average of 11 penalties and 97 yards.

Chuck Amato has always contended that the fewer young players who are forced into action early, the better off the team is. In previous seasons, he hasn't had the luxury of being able to let his new players sit and learn - they've been thrown right into the fire.

Donald Bowens
For the second straight year, however, it is a different story, or at least it was in the first game. Fourteen players saw action for the Pack against Appalachian State for the first time, including just one true freshman, wide receiver Donald Bowens.

Of the 14 new players that saw action against the Mountaineers, six were redshirt freshmen - tailback Jamelle Eugene, linebacker Ray Michel, tight end Matt Kushner, defensive end Willie Young and defensive tackles Alan-Michael Cash and Ted Larsen.

Last season in the opener against Virginia Tech, freshman tailback Toney Baker and senior walkon linebacker Marcus Howell were the only players who saw their first action for the Wolfpack in the opener.

From 2001-04, NC State had 33 true freshmen see action in a season opener, an average of over eight a year.

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 six of his first seven career starts, tying as the second-best mark for a Wolfpack QB since 1970. Dave Buckey won his first seven career starts from 1973-1974.


John Deraney
Lou Groza candidate John Deraney, the versatile kicker/punter who has now handled all of the kicking duties for the third straight season, started the 2006 season off in top form. He is one of just eight Division I players currently handling all their team's kicking duties.

Of his four kickoffs, three were for touchbacks, giving him 88 in 185 (48%) career kickoffs. He punted eight times for 303 yards, with a long of 54 yards. Five of the eight punts were inside the ASU 20-yard line.

Though he didn't get a chance to attempt a field goal, his three extra points extended his school record streak to 65 consecutive PAT attempts in his career.

Prior to every season, the Wolfpack coaching staff selects temporary captains to represent the team throughout the year. At the end of the year, the players select permanent This years captains are seniors Leroy Harris on offense, Pat Lowery and Tank Tyler on defense and William Lee on special teams.

The 2006 season opener featured a few key players in new positions. These players obviously handled the change well, as three were starters. Junior defensive end Martrel Brown got the start after spending his first two seasons at defensive tackle and came away with a forced fumble and two tackles for loss, including a sack.

Reggie Davis
Reggie Davis, the starter at weakside linebacker, spent his first three seasons in Raleigh as a tailback before making the change in spring drills earlier this year. He recorded two tackles in the Appalachian St. win, both for losses.

Darrell Blackman moved from tailback to wide receiver in the spring and made the start at wideout in the opener. He caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Stone in the second quarter, his second career touchdown reception. He was the Pack's leading receiver with three catches for 26 yards.

Matt Kushner redshirted as a freshman on the defensive line last year, but moved to tight end this fall. He played three snaps on special teams and could prove to be a valuable blocker for the Wolfpack rushing attack.

When Leading: 31-6
When Trailing: 9-14
When Tied: 3-2

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 14-4 (.777) 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 6-1 in season openers, with the only loss coming to eighth-ranked Virginia Tech, 16-20, last season.

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