NC State Game Notes
NOTING THE PACK
NC STATE VERSUS VIRGINIA
NC State and Virginia first met on the gridiron in 1904, with the Wolfpack holding a 32-20-1 advantage in the series, though it has lost 12 of the last 18 to the Cavaliers.
NC State also holds a 14-11-1 edge in Charlottesville, Va. but hasn't played there since 2002 when the Cavaliers won, 14-9, and the two teams have not played since a 51-37 Wolfpack win in Raleigh in 2003.
Amato holds a 2-2 record against the Cavaliers, losing both trips to Charlottesville, 24-17 in 2000 and 14-9 in 2002. NC State won 24-0 in 2001 and 51-37 in 2003.
The Wolfpack has lost the last four contests in Scott Stadium and NC State hasn't won at Virginia since 1994, a 30-27 triumph when current Cavaliers offensive coordinator Mike Groh led No. 13 Virginia as the starting quarterback. NC State and Virginia played every year from 1960 until 2003, but have not played since.
CUTTING IT CLOSE
Chuck Amato has now coached in 52 ACC contests since taking over the Wolfpack program in 2000, posting a 25-27 record in those contests. In 30 of those 52 games, the final outcome has been decided by a touchdown (seven points) or less, 34 have been decided by eight points or less and 38 have been decided by 10 points or less.
Amato is 11-14 on the road in ACC matchups and in 15 of those 25 games the score has differed by seven points or less, with NC State posting a 6-9 record in those games.
His ACC record includes a 14-13 mark at home and the Wolfpack has lost just four conference games by double digits at home in the past seven years. In 14 home ACC wins, six have been by double digits, and the other eight have been by seven or less points, including the two-point win over BC and the fourpoint triumph over FSU.
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.
BLACKMAN ON THE RETURN
Junior return specialist and wide receiver Darrell Blackman is a valuable piece of the Wolfpack's offensive unit, but his play on special teams is just that - special. He is the only player in the ACC that ranks in the top five in the league in both punt returns and kick returns. Blackman is first in the conference in punt return average (14.8) and third in kick return average (26.5). His punt return mark ranks eighth nationally while he is 20th in the NCAA in kickoff returns.
He is fifth in the ACC in all-purpose yards (101.8) as well.
He returned a punt for a 65-yard touchdown against Maryland in the fourth quarter to pull the Wolfpack within 10 points late in the contest, collecting 139 all-purpose yards. It was his second career punt return for a touchdown after a 87-yarder against Florida State in 2004.
Blackman tallied 582 yards in kickoff returns last season, the fifth-highest single-season tally in school history and the best since 1987. He led the ACC and ranked sixth nationally in that category, averaging 29.1 yards per return. Blackman, who was named a second- team all-conference performer as a specialist in 2005, is second in career kickoff return average at 27.7 and ranks fifth in punt returns at 11.4 in Wolfpack history. He has tallied 467 yards in punt returns, the sixth best mark ever. Blackman was injured on the opening kickoff of the Southern Miss game and missed the remainder of that contest and the Boston College game with a MCL sprain. Blackman returned for the Florida St. game and returned a kickoff 64 yards in the second quarter against the Noles to setup a Wolfpack field goal.
WOLFPACK SEEING RED
The team has had its struggles in the red zone this season on both sides of the ball. In the first four games of the season, NC State made just seven trips into the redzone and scored five times (four TDs, one FG). The defense had allowed 14 scores (nine TDs and five FGs) in 16 chances inside the 20-yardline. Those numbers have improved in the last three games.
The offense produced a season-high five trips inside the red zone against FSU, scoring three touchdowns and a field goal while the defense allowed three trips and held the the Noles to one touchdown and two field goals. Against Wake Forest, the Wolfpack offense scored three touchdowns and a field goal in its four trips into the redzone while limiting the Demon Deacons to one trip (a touchdown run) inside the 20-yardline.
Both games marked the only times this season that NC State had more trips inside the redzone than its opponent. Although the Wolfpack only made two trips inside the redzone against Maryland, it capitalized by scoring touchdowns both times. The Terrapins, however, had six attempts in the red zone, scoring on all six (the defense did hold Maryland to four field goals). In its four ACC games, NC State has scored on 11 of its 12 redzone trips, the best mark in the conference.
HIT THE ROAD, PACK
NC State will play three of its final five games on the road after the loss to Maryland in its first foray away from home in ACC play, 26-20, in College Park, Md. Overall, NC State is playing four of its final six games on the road after hosting five of its first six games at home. The last time NC State played four of its final six games on the road was 1995 when the Wolfpack posted a 2-4 record to finish the season. NC State has been outscored 63-37 on the road in two contests this season.
NC State played five of its first six games at home this season, and 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 en 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 opened with Boston College, Florida State and Wake Forest all visiting Carter-Finley). This season marked the seventh straight that Amato opened the season at home.
SCORING OFFENSE LOW
NC State ranks ninth in the ACC in scoring offense, averaging 20.1 points-per-game. If that average holds, it will be the lowest scoring output since 1987 when the team averaged just 19.3 points-per-game. The Wolfpack has failed to score more than 24 points in each of the first seven games. The last time a NC State team failed to score more that 24 points in its first seven games was in 1985 when that squad went 3-8 withouth scoring more than 23 points in a single game.
Since Daniel Evans took over at quarterback for his first career start against Boston College, NC State has averaged 323.2 total offensive yards-per-game, all against league foes. That mark ranks second in the ACC in the conference games only stats and is tied for second in the league with an average of 5.3 yards-per-play. For the season, the team is still eighth in the ACC in total offense at 299.9 yards-per-game, but averaged just 268.7 yards-per-game in the first three games of the season before Evans took over under center.
NC State is 1-2 when outgaining its opponents, with losses to Wake Forest and Maryland and a win against Appalachian St.
Redshirt sophomore roverback DaJuan Morgan had a strong outing in the win over the Florida State Seminoles, posting nine tackles and the gameclinching interception, the first of his career. Morgan was second on the team in tackles against Maryland, notching 11 tackles, including a bone crunching hit on a Terrapin wideout.
He has 25 tackles in the last three games, an average of 8.3 stops a contest. His career-high is 14 stops last season against Middle Tennessee St. Morgan, who was described as the team's best coverage safety by defensive coordinator Steve Dunlap, made a diving interception after fellow rover Garland Heath tipped a pass from FSU's Drew Weatherford to seal that win with just over two minutes left in the game.
KNOCKING OFF RANKED TEAMS
Since the start of the college football season eight weeks ago, an unranked team has knocked off a ranked opponent just 11 times in the AP polls, and NC State has done it twice. When the Wolfpack beat Boston College it became just the fourth unranked team all season to that point to defeat a ranked team before knocking off Florida State for its second win over a ranked team in as many games.
FIRST QUARTER WOES
NC State is happy to see the start of the second quarter. The team has scored just 12 points in the first quarter all season and has converted on only 4-of-22 (.182) third down plays in the opening quarter. Wolfpack opponents have scored on their opening drive in four of the seven games and NC State is being outscored 26- 12 in the opening frame. Nine of the 12 points were scored in the opener against Appalachian St. with the other three points coming against Boston College.
NC State has trailed at the half in each of the last six ball-games after leading in the ASU game, 16-7, at the break. On a positive note, the Wolfpack has only trailed by an average of 5.5 points-per-game in the six games it trailed at the half.
The big question going into the 2006 season was how the Pack was going to be able to fully utilize two of its most talented players when both played the same position. The solution: split 'em up! Sophomore tailbacks Andre Brown and Toney Baker have combined to help NC State rank second in conference games only in rushing yards and fifth overall in the ACC. Overall the team is averaging 134.7 ypg, 62nd nationally, and averaging 144.8 rushing yards-per-game in ACC play.
Brown missed most of the Akron game after tweaking his knee in the first quarter, but the pair continue to combine for over 125 yards rushing per game.
BROWN WON'T GO DOWN
Andre Brown is sixth in the conference in rushing yards-per-game, averaging 74.6 a contest and is seventh with 89.6 all-purpose yards. He has broken 21 tackles for an additional 194 yards. He is also averaging an impressive 6.5 yards-percarry, the third-best mark in the conference among the top-10 rushers. On the season, Brown has 522 yards on 80 carries with four touchdowns.
DON'T FORGET ABOUT BAKER
While Andre Brown may currently have more career yards, fellow sophomore tailback Toney Baker has the same number of career touchdowns with 10 (nine rushing and one receiving) and 900 career rushing yards to his name. Baker posted 95 yards rushing, a career-high, on 20 carries against Maryland, including a one-yard plunge for his fourth rushing touchdown of the season.
Baker had two rushing touchdowns and 57 yards rushing against Wake Forest, including a rumbling 13-yard run that pulled NC State within two points with just over five minutes left in the game. It was his third multiple rushing touchdown game after he scored three (two rushing and one receiving) touchdowns against Eastern Kentucky, and two more against North Carolina last season.
Baker has 354 yards and is averaging 50.6 yards rushing a game this season with four touchdowns.
PASSING DEFENSE PASSING TEST
NC State is fourth in the ACC in passing defense, allowing just 164.4 yards-pergame. Opposing quarterbacks are completing only 52.8% of their passes, the fourth-best mark in the ACC.
The Wolfpack defense has allowed just five passing touchdowns, tied for third in the ACC, while picking off three passes.