WOLFPACK AND EAGLES RENEW OLD RIVALRY
Last year's game between NC State and Boston College was the first meeting between the two schools in almost 70 years. The two teams met in back-to-back years in 1936 and 1937, with the first game being hosted by BC at Boston's Fenway Park, and the second at the old Alumni Stadium. The Wolfpack won in Fenway, 12-7, and lost the next year, 7-3.
Last season's matchup was the first meeting between the two teams as members of the same conference, as the Eagles joined the ACC last season. BC handled the Wolfpack in that contest, 30-10, in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
LAST TIME OUT VERSUS BOSTON COLLEGE
NC State jumped out to a 10-0 lead on Boston College in Chestnut Hill, thanks to a 96-yard strike from quarterback Marcus Stone to wide receiver Brian Clark, the second longest pass play in school history. Stone threw for a career-high 247 yards in the loss, but the Eagles defense held tailbacks Andre Brown and Toney Baker to 18 and 12 yards, respectively, on the ground. Stone was sacked eight times, while the highly-ranked Wolfpack defense managed just one sack and allowed 335 total yards, the third highest total allowed in 2005.
THE PACK IN ACC OPENERS
The Wolfpack posts a 29-23-1 record in its 53 ACC openers, including a 3-3 mark under Chuck Amato. When NC State opens its conference slate at home, the team posts a 11-11-1 record and is 18-12 when it plays its first league game on the road. Of the six openers under Amato, NC State is 2-2 at home with wins against Georgia Tech (2000) and Wake Forest (2002) and losses to North Carolina (2001) and Virginia Tech (2005).
Chuck Amato preaches to his team that they must win the turnover battle each week. The Wolfpack is currently last in the ACC in turnover margin at -7, forcing three turnovers and losing a league-worst 10.
Opponents have capitalized off of the Pack's miscues, scoring 27 points in three games. That accounts for 40.3 % (27 of 67) of the total points allowed by NC State this season.
LOWERY IN THE MIDDLE
Coming in to this season, senior middle linebacker Pat Lowery had made just three starts while playing in all 36 games, averaging just 2.8 tackles-per-game. After the first three games this season, Lowery is averaging 9.7 tackles-per-game, tied for tops in the ACC. That mark also ranks 30th in the NCAA.
His previous season-high in tackles was 39 the last two seasons and Lowery already has 28 after three games.
Three of the Wolfpack's NFL Draft picks, Mario Williams, Manny Lawson and Stephen Tulloch combined for 31.5 of the team's 41 sacks (77 percent) in 2005.
After three games this season, NC State's defense has spread around the sack party and the team is second in the ACC with nine. Seven different players have combined for the team's total, including a team-leading two sacks from defensive end Martrel Brown.
NC State's nine sacks rank 22nd in the NCAA this season.
PASSING DEFENSE PASSES EARLY TEST
NC State is fourth in the ACC in passing defense, allowing just 171.3 yards-per-game. Opposing quarterbacks are completing only 46.3 of its passes, the best mark in the ACC.
The Wolfpack defense has yet to give up a passing touchdown this season, the only team in the ACC not to allow one thus far. NC State is one of just seven teams in Division I-A to not allow a passing touchdown.
NC State has given up only one touchdown passing in the last six games dating back to last season. Only eight touchdowns were scored in the air against the Wolfpack in 2005.
Junior wideout Darrell Blackman is a valuable piece of the Wolfpack offense, as he averages 88.7 all-purpose yards a game, seventh in the ACC.
Blackman was injured on the opening kickoff of the Southern Miss game and missed the remainder of the contest with a MCL sprain. Blackman was listed as doubtful on Monday, and if he isn't 100% on Saturday, NC State will surely miss him.
Blackman also ranks second in kick return average at 26.8 yards-per-return, and has two receiving touchdowns on the season, tops on the team.
CUTTING IT CLOSE
Chuck Amato has now coached in 48 ACC contests since taking over the Wolfpack program in 2000, posting a 23-25 record in those contests. In 26 of those 48 games, the final outcome has been decided by a touchdown (seven points) or less, 30 have been decided by eight points or less and 34 have been decided by 10 points or less.
His ACC record includes a 12-12 mark at home. 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.
Under Amato, NC State has lost by 20-or-more points just three times and by more than 10 points just seven times in ACC games.
CLOSE AT HOME
Chuck Amato says that it is imperative that teams win their home games. His teams have posted a 27-14 slate at Carter-Finley Stadium in his seven years with the program. However, in 10 of those 14 losses, the score was decided by single digits and in seven the margin was seven points or less including the three point loss to Akron on the last play of the game two weeks ago.
PROTECTING THE QUARTERBACK
Maybe going against the Wolfpack's sack happy defense (currently second in the ACC with nine sacks) has helped NC State's offensive line protect the quarterback this season. Through the first three games the Pack O-Line has allowed just four sacks, an average of just over one-per-game. The line allowed an average of 2.9 sacks-per-game last season, including a season-worst eight against Boston College.
The offensive line coach is Pat Meyer, who in his first season with the line after serving six seasons in strength and conditioning for the Wolfpack.
STAYING AT HOME
NC State will not be racking up any frequent flier miles early in the 2006 season. Besides last weeks jaunt down to Hattiesburg, 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, (NC State's 2006 conference slate opens 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 fared well playing at Carter-Finley early in the season under Amato, posting a 14-5 (.739) mark in home contests played in August or September. This season marked the seventh straight that Amato opened the season at home.
BROWN NEARING 1,000
With 49 yards rushing against Southern Miss, sophomore Andre Brown now has 850 career rushing yards. With his next 150 yards on the ground, Brown will be the first Wolfpack player since T.A. McLendon, and one of just 21 players in school history, to compile 1,000 career-rushing yards in a career.
DERANEY GOES LONG
Senior kicker/punter John Deraney has done it all on special teams for NC State in his career and he keeps adding accomplishments.
Deraney kicked a career-best 54-yard field goal against Southern Miss, tied for the second longest kick ever at NC State and the longest field goal for the team since 1990.
Damon Hartman kicked a 54-yarder against North Carolina in 1988, then kicked the school record 56-yarder in 1990, also against the Tar Heels.
HILL LEADS TEAM IN RECEIVING
Junior Anthony Hill has had a productive season from his tight end position. In three starts, Hill leads the team in receptions (11) and yards (103) and has led the team in receiving the last two games.The bruising blocker tallied six pancake blocks in the season opener against Appalachian State, paving the way for the Wolfpack's 206 yards rushing, and has seven on the season.
Though Hill didn't record a knockdown against Akron, he set career-highs in receptions (7) and yards (82).
Hill tied for the team lead in receptions against Southern Miss with four catches for 21 yards.
If Hill finishes the season with the team lead in receptions, it will mark the third straight year that a Wolfpack tight end has been the leading receiver. T.J. Williams led the team in 2004 and 2005 before being selected in the NFL Draft by Tampa Bay.
Hill, who had 15 receptions for 140 yards last season, was a key to the resurgence of NC State's running game last season due to his powerful blocking. In the win at ninth-ranked Florida State, Hill was credited with eight knockdown blocks, but his position coach Curt Cignetti said that he actually had 14-15 KDs, knocking the same guy down 2-3 times on the same play.
TRUE FRESHMEN WIDE OPEN
NC State has played just two true freshmen so far in 2006, both wide receivers. Donald Bowens has played all three games and is third on the team in receptions (6) and second in yards (88). He started the Southern Miss game for his first career start, and caught a 46-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to get the Pack on the board.
Jarvis Williams saw the first action of his collegiate career against Southern Miss, playing the majority of the fourth quarter and making two catches for 17 yards. His second catch was a 12-yarder for a first down as NC State moved into the Eagles territory to help set up a late Wolfpack touchdown.
DANIEL EVANS UNDER CENTER
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Daniel Evans entered the game late against Southern Miss and put up solid numbers.
In just his third game ever under center (he saw six snaps in two games last season but didn't attempt a pass), Evans completed 8-of-11 passes for 97 yards and his first career touchdown.
Evan's dad Johnny played quarterback and was an All-American punter at NC State from 1974-77 and currently provides color analysis for the Wolfpack Radio Network.