Gameday: NC State vs. North Carolina

NC State (3-7) faces North Carolina (1-9) today in the biggest game of the season for both teams.

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NC State (3-7) vs. North Carolina (1-9)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

12:00 pm Kenan Stadium

Chapel Hill, NC


NC State Game Notes


  • Chuck Amato is 2-1 in Chapel Hill, winning in 2000 (38-20) and 2002 (34-17) and losing in the last meeting at Kenan Stadium, 24-30, in 2004.
  • All seven of the Wolfpack's conference games have been decided by eight points or less this season.
  • Darrell Blackman leads the ACC and ranks second nationally in kick return average at 31.4 yards-per-return. He is the Wolfpack's career-leader in kick return average as well.

    The series started in 1894 and is the Wolfpack's oldest rivalry among ACC teams and fourth-most played series in the ACC. The Tar Heels hold a 62-27-6 overall mark over the Wolfpack and a 33-16-2 advantage in Chapel Hill.

    Chuck Amato is 2-1 in Chapel Hill, winning in 2000 (38-20) and 2002 (34- 17) and losing in the last meeting at Kenan Stadium, 24-30, in 2004. In Amato's three wins against the Heels, the average margin of victory has been 16 points including a margin of 17.5 points in the two wins in Chapel Hill.

    In Amato's three losses, the average margin of victory for the Tar Heels has been seven points, as each of the three games have been decided by eight points or less.

    This is the first meeting in the month of November between the two teams since Nov. 11, 1999 when the Heels won, 10-6, in Charlotte, N.C.

    NC State has 57 players that hail from the state of North Carolina on the roster and a high percentage of those kids are listed on the Wolfpack's depth chart as the team readies to play in-state rival, North Carolina.

    In fact, all four captains - Leroy Harris, Tank Tyler, Pat Lowery and William Lee - are in-state products.

    Including special teams, a total of 22 kids from North Carolina are listed on the Wolfpack's depth chart. On offense, 12 in-state kids are listed on the two-deep, while nine more fill the defense's depth chart and Lee, the team's longsnapper, is also from North Carolina.

    Over the last 14 meetings between NC State and North Carolina, the team that has more rushing yards has been the victor 13 times.

    NC State put up 304 yards to UNC's 164 on the ground in the 24-30 loss in 2004, the only time during that streak that either the Pack or Heels lost when out rushing its rival.

    The 304 yards were the most for a Wolfpack team in a game since the Maryland contest in 1994 when NC State put up 327 yards on the ground.

    NC State has faced the 16th toughest schedule nationally according to the Sagarin ratings and the second toughest in the ACC this season. Wolfpack opponents hold a combined 71-31 record (.696) so far in 2006.

    All seven of the Wolfpack's conference games this season have been decided by eight points or less and three have been by four points or less.

    In Chuck Amato's 55 ACC contests, he has posted a 25-30 record. In 32 of those 55 games, the final outcome has been decided by a touchdown (seven points) or less, 37 have been decided by eight points or less and 41 have been decided by 10 points or less.

    Amato is 11-16 on the road in ACC matchups and in 17 of those 27 games the score has differed by seven points or less, with NC State posting a 6-11 record in those games after a pair of six point losses to Maryland and Clemson and a seven point loss to Virginia over the last three road ACC games this season.

    Amato's ACC record includes a 14-14 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.

    Junior return specialist and wide receiver Darrell Blackman injured his knee on the opening kickoff of the Southen Miss game and missed the remainder of that contest and the Boston College game. Since his return from injury, Blackman has been a valuable piece of the Wolfpack's offensive unit, and his play on special teams has been just that - special.

    He is the only player in the top-10 in the ACC in returns to score on both a punt and kickoff this season. Blackman leads the conference in kickoff returns and ranks second nationally, averaging 31.4 yards per return. His punt return mark (9.9) is sixth in the ACC.

    If his season kick return average holds, Blackman will have the secondhighest single season average in school history.

    He is even better against conference foes with a league-leading 33.5 yards per kickoff returns and is third in punt returns (10.6).

    Blackman is the Wolfpack's career leader in kickoff return average at 29.7 and is fourth in yards with 1,099.

    Darrell Blackman currently leads the ACC in conference games only with an average of 125 all-purpose yardsper- game and ranks second overall at 112.9 yards-per-game. He collected a career-high 234 all-purpose yards in the Georgia Tech contest, the eighthbest single game total in school history. Those yards included a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, the seventh longest kick return in school history and the 11th longest overall play.

    Blackman currently ranks 14th in school history with 2,598 career allpurpose yards and is the first Wolfpack player with back-to-back 1,000 allpurpose yard seasons since Jerricho Cotchery (2002 and 2003). Blackman is also on pace to post a top-10 season in terms of all-purpose yards.

    NC State will play its final road game of the season against North Carolina this Saturday and is 0-4 in road contests in 2006. The Pack has lost three of the four games by a touchdown or less.

    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 played five of its first six games at home this season and posted a 3-3 mark. 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.

    NC State has used a different starting lineup along its offensive line for two straight games after playing the first eight with the same starting five. Luke Lathan is starting at center and Meares Green starting at tackle, with Leroy Harris moving over to guard after starting the first nine games at center.

    With both starting guards (Harris, 19 plays, and Curtis Crouch, 23 plays) knocked out of the game early with injuries, the Wolfpack was forced to shuffle it's alignment. Kalani Heppe, who started the first eight games at guard, replaced Harris when he went down, and Green was moved inside to guard once Crouch was injured. Holt replaced Green at tackle, a spot where Holt started the first eight games this season.

    Redshirt freshman Jeraill McCuller (16 plays) and redshirt senior Merci Falaise (seven plays) also saw action at tackle in the game.

    Offensive line coach Pat Meyer used a season-high nine offensive lineman in the contest.

    NC State ranks ninth in the ACC in scoring offense, averaging 18.5 points-per-game. If that average holds, it will be the Wolfpack's lowest scoring output since 1985 when the team averaged just 16.9 points-pergame.

    The Wolfpack has failed to score more than 24 points in all 10 games this season. The last time an NC State team failed to score more that 24 points through 10 games to start a season was also in 1985 when that squad went all 11 games without scoring more than 23 points as it finished 3-8 on the season.

    Dating back to last season, NC State has not scored over 24 points since the Eastern Kentucky game, a span of 20 straight contests. That is the longest Wolfpack streak since 1969-71 when those Pack teams went 24 straight contests without scoring more than 24 points in a game.

    NC State is happy to see the start of the second quarter. The team has scored just 15 points in the first quarter all season and has converted on only 9-of-36 (25%) of third down plays in the opening quarter.

    NC State is being outscored 47-15 in the opening frame and has scored in just three of the 10 first quarters. Nine of the Wolfpack's 15 points were scored in the opener against Appalachian St. and the Pack has had only a field goal in the first quarter in the Boston College and Georgia Tech game since. NC State has scored just one touchdown all season in the opening quarter.

    NC State has trailed at the half in each of the last nine games after leading in the ASU game, 16-7, to open the season.

    The Wolfpack has trailed by an average of only 5.5 points per- game in the nine games it trailed at the half.

    Sophomore tailback Toney Baker had a career-day against Clemson, rumbling for career-highs of 174 yards and 34 carries. It was the first 100-yard rushing game of his career and the Tigers were third in the conference in rushing defense, giving up just 85.4 yards-per game.

    Baker became the 22nd Wolfpack player to rush for 1,000 career yards with his performance against Clemson and he did it in 21 games, the 12th fastest to 1,000 career rushing yards in school history.

    Baker has 11 career touchdowns (10 rushing and one receiving) and 1,114 career rushing yards to his name. He has 568 yards and is averaging 56.8 yards rushing a game this season with five touchdowns.

    Andre Brown is 10th in the conference in rushing yards-per-game, averaging 59.8 a contest. He has broken 22 tackles for an additional 195 yards this season, gaining 34% of his total yards after breaking a tackle. He is also averaging an impressive 5.6 yards-per-carry, the third-best mark in the conference among the top-10 rushers.

    On the season, Brown has 598 yards on 107 carries with four touchdowns and is on pace to pass his total of 667 rushing yards as a freshman.

    NC State is third in the ACC in passing defense, allowing just 164.3 yards-per game, the 18th best mark in the NCAA. Opposing quarterbacks are completing 51.6% of their passes, the third lowest in the ACC.

    The Wolfpack defense had allowed just five passing touchdowns (tied for the league-lead in the ACC) coming into the Georgia Tech game but has allowed five more in the last two games against Tech (four) and Clemson (one).

    The Wolfpack defense had just three interceptions in the first eight games of the season, 11th in the league, but had two picks against the Jackets and two more against the Tigers in back-to-back weeks.

    NC State's offensive line has done a solid job protecting the quarterback this season. Through 10 games this season the line is allowing an average of just 1.5 sacks a game and is ranked second in the ACC in fewest sacks allowed with 15.

    The line nearly doubled that last season, giving up an average of 2.9 sacksper- game in 2005.

    Offensive line coach Pat Meyer is in his first season with the line after serving six seasons in strength and conditioning for the Wolfpack.

    NC State has committed nine or more penalties in five of its seven losses this season but had just two penalties for 10 yards against Clemson, the lowest penalties and yards since the 2002 Virginia contest. The Wolfpack is averaging 5.3 penalties a game in the three wins and 7.6 penalties in the seven losses.

    The Wolfpack is ranked 10th in the ACC in penalties, averaging 55.5 yards a game and getting flagged 69 times, third most in the league.

    North Carolina Quick Facts

    Chapel Hill, N.C.
    Enrollment: 26,800
    Nickname: Tar Heels
    School Colors: Blue & White
    Stadium: Kenan (60,000)
    Conference: ACC

    Head Coach:
    John Bunting
    Record at UNC: 25-45 (5+ years)
    2005 Record: 5-6
    2005 Current Record: 1-9
    2006 Ranking: None

    North Carolina Game Notes

    Saturday's game is the final home game for 18 seniors, including starters Shelton Bynum, Brian Chacos, Larry Edwards, Jon Hamlett, Jesse Holley, Ronnie McGill, Brian Rackley, Kareen Taylor, D.J. Walker, Jacoby Watkins, David Wooldridge and Victory Worsley. McGill ranks 10th at Carolina with 2,260 career rushing yards, while Holley is ninth with 1,698 career receiving yards.

    Other seniors to be honored on Saturday include Melik Brown, Roger Heinz, Joe Kedra, Jonathan Lane, Patrick Marsh and Ryan Salone.


  • Six of the 10 opponents Carolina has faced this season are ranked in this week's AP Top 25 poll.
  • ACC Rookie of the Year candidate Hakeem Nicks is second in the ACC in receiving yards with 543. He needs just six catches and 66 yards to set Carolina's single-season marks for receptions and receiving yards by a freshman. He set a UNC single-game freshman record with 171 receiving yards at Notre Dame.
  • WR Jesse Holley has caught at least one pass in 28 consecutive games, the secondlongest active streak in the ACC behind Clemson's Chansi Stuckey.
  • Former walk-on Durell Mapp had back-to-back games with at least 10 tackles (14 vs. ND, 10 vs. GT) and now leads the team with 70 stops.
  • Ronnie McGill leads the team with 42 points. The last non-kicker to lead Carolina in scoring was Leon Johnson in 1996 (72 points).


  • An F-15 fly-over will take place at the conclusion of the national anthem prior to kickoff of the NC State game. Practice runs will take place over Kenan Stadium on Thursday, Nov. 16 between 3-4 p.m. The F-15C's are part of the 2D Fighter Squadron from Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida.

    The 10 teams Carolina has faced this season are a combined 75-26 (.743). Rutgers is 9-0 and ranked seventh in the Associated Press poll, Virginia Tech is 8-2 and ranked 19th, Furman is 8-3, Clemson is 8-3 and ranked 25th, Miami is 5-5, USF is 7-3, Virginia is 4-6, Wake Forest is 9-1 and ranked 14th, Notre Dame is 9-1 and ranked 6th and Georgia Tech is 8- 2 and ranked 18th. In the Sagarin rankings, North Carolina has faced the nation's eighth-toughest schedule thus far.

    Making his third consecutive start, redshirt freshman cornerback Jermaine Strong played an important role in limiting Georgia Tech to just seven points and 221 yards of total offense in Carolina's 7-0 loss. Matched up against All-America wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Strong had five tackles, one forced fumble and one pass breakup. Strong forced Johnson to fumble after a catch (would have been a 4-yard loss) and Carolina recovered the ball.

    Strong also broke up a pass to Johnson, knocking the ball in the air and right into the hands of teammate Chase Rice for an interception. Strong helped hold Johnson to just three catches for 13 yards and Georgia Tech was limited to just 78 yards passing.

    North Carolina wide receiver Hakeem Nicks is making a push for ACC Rookie of the Year honors. The freshman from Charlotte, N.C., ranks second in the league with 543 receiving yards and is averaging 60.3 yards per game. Among ACC wideouts with at least 25 receptions, Nicks is third in yards per catch at 17.0 (32 for 543).

    Against Notre Dame, Nicks set a UNC single-game freshman record with 171 receiving yards on six catches. The previous record was 165 yards by Octavus Barnes vs. Duke in 1994. Nicks caught touchdown passes of 13 and 72 yards against the Irish. The 72-yarder was the the Tar Heels' longest play from scrimmage this year and tied for the 20thlongest pass play in school history.

    With 32 catches, Nicks is just six receptions shy of Kory Bailey's freshman record of 38 in 1998. UNC's freshman record for receiving yards in a season is 609 by Octavus Barnes in 1994.

    Senior linebacker Larry Edwards, who missed three games after fracturing his collarbone in the loss to USF, returned for the Georgia Tech game.

    "Nothing surprises me about that kid," said head coach John Bunting. "He worked very hard to get back before the end of the year."

    Edwards started against the Yellow Jackets, but had to leave the game after spraining his ankle in the first half. Edwards was ruled out of the game for good, but after an x-ray did not reveal a break, he returned in the second half and finished with five tackles.

    Press Conference Quotables
    Head Coach John Bunting

    I'll begin by addressing yesterday's news that Butch Davis is the next head coach here at Carolina. I've met or spoken with Butch on a few occasions, and that is the extent of our relationship. I certainly wish him well here, and I'll do whatever I can to help him if he'd like that help. There are several pieces of our program that are on solid footing, including our team's academic performance, our current recruiting class and the fact that we redshirted almost this entire class. I think he'll be inheriting some good things. He's got some work to do, and I wish him well. Other than that, I want to discuss N.C. State and answer questions related to this week's game and our football team.

    On where he's seen the biggest improvement in the last three games
    Well, I see improvement, but we still have the same problem: inconsistency. We haven't played well together as a team the whole year - not one game where the whole team played together. That's why we're at where we're at. That's what this game is all about. Playing as a team. Working together. One phase will play well; the other phase doesn't. All three phases need to be in sync to have success, and we haven't had success because we have never been able to do that.

    On N.C. State:
    I feel their pain. They have, recently, some of the same problems. I think their defense has played very well. Their offense has played well at times. They've made some big plays at times. The way they controlled that football last week versus Clemson, particularly in the first half, was absolutely very impressive. They've got a couple good runners. I think their quarterback has done a fine job coming in mid-way and taking over. Mistakes are what hurt you in any game, and, occasionally, they'll break down. We've seen a lot of that on our end, last week being no exception - with great protection and receivers open and us not finding the connection. Defensively, they're always good despite the changes on the back of the jerseys. They play hard. They're in your face. They're aggressive. They've had a break or two not go their way. They've lost several close games, which we can relate to here some. They're playing hard, they're playing physical and they're in the games each week until the end, which I can relate to some last year - matter of fact a lot last year - and a little bit this year. You want to come out on the winning side of those things. Lately, they've not been able to do it. This game now between us is a great rivalry game, and it's not hard to get your players ready to play emotionally. Hopefully, they play smart and together and for 60 minutes.

    On what this game means to him:
    I take every game very, very personally. But the N.C. State-North Carolina rivalry is special. It's unique.

    On if he has any special emotions about this being his last home game:
    Not really. Each day I come to work or each day I leave work I know that there's a limit to how much this will continue. When you deal with finality in things, you begin to deal with them. I've dealt with that a while ago.

    On watching players he recruited play their final home games:
    Well, that will be difficult, and it always is. These are pretty much one of my first full classes - this class. They are some special kids in this class, and I certainly never envisioned that we'd be here talking like this. But it's still something that's extremely important to me that they have some success this season. They deserve it in some ways, and of course, you always have to go out and earn it. I'm hopeful that they will play their best games here at home in front of their people, in front of their fans, and have some success. That would give me great pleasure.

    On if Larry Edwards is full strength:
    He will practice limited today. He did some things last evening. This is a different injury than he had, so we're going to watch how he practices today, see how he gets around, and then see what he's like tomorrow. We're thinking this is more like a bruise than a sprain, so hopefully, as the week progresses, he'll get better.

    On N.C. State's running game:
    They come in the Clemson game and they just are running the ball. Out of multiple personnel groups, tight formations, spread formations. [Toney] Baker who we all know is a great back. A couple plays to Andre Brown. They absolutely dominated that first half running the football. A lot of third-and-shorts - just what you want. So they did a tremendous job beginning that game, and then Clemson managed somehow to get back some control of it themselves.... They are a team that has been so close so many times. Those things just start to really gnaw at you as a player and as a coach. But this week will be a different story.

    North Carolina Two-Deep Depth Chart


    Wide Receiver

    9 - Jesse Holley (6-3, 210, Sr., Roselle, N.J.)

    87 - Brandon Tate (6-1, 190, So., Burlington, N.C.)

    Left Tackle

    65 - Brian Chacos (6-4, 310, Sr., Darien, Conn.)

    94 - Andre Barbour (6-6, 298, Fr.*, Atlanta, Ga.)

    Left Guard

    77 - Charlston Gray (6-3, 295, Jr., Fort Worth, Texas)

    76 - Bryon Bishop (6-3, 300, So., Union, S.C.)


    64 - Scott Lenahan (6-1, 290, Jr., Marietta, Ga.)

    63 - Ben Lemming (6-5, 300, So., Houston, Texas)

    Right Guard

    79 - Calvin Darity (6-3, 295, So., Tallahassee, Fla.)

    63 - Ben Lemming (6-5, 300, So., Houston, Texas)

    Right Tackle

    63 - Ben Lemming (6-5, 300, So., Houston, Texas)

    75 - Garrett Reynolds (6-7, 300, So., Knoxville, Tenn.)

    72 - Kyle Jolly (6-6, 305, Fr.*, Powhatan, Va.)

    Tight End

    86 - Jon Hamlett (6-4, 260, Sr., Lynchburg, Va.)

    94 - Andre Barbour (6-6, 298, Fr.*, Atlanta, Ga.)


    12 - Joe Dailey (6-1, 205, Jr., Jersey City, N.J.)

    11 - Cam Sexton (6-1, 190, Fr.*, Laurinburg, N.C.)


    43 - Nick Starcevic (6-2, 245, So., Charlotte, N.C.)

    4 - Bobby Rome (5-11, 240, Fr.*, Norfolk, Va.)


    25 - Ronnie McGill (5-11, 220, Sr., Clover, S.C.)

    29 - Justin Warren (6-1, 198, Junior, Germantown, Md.) OR

    5 - Barrington Edwards (6-0, 220, Jr., Bowie, Md.)

    Wide Receiver

    88 - Hakeem Nicks (6-1, 210, Fr., Charlotte, N.C.)

    1 - Brooks Foster (6-3, 200, So., Boiling Springs, S.C.)


    Left End

    42 - Brian Rackley (6-5, 270, Sr., Tallahassee, Fla.)

    58 - Melik Brown (6-2, 260, Sr., Camden, N.J.)

    Defensive Tackle

    90 - Kentwan Balmer (6-5, 288, Jr., Weldon, N.C.)

    74 - Kyndraus Guy (6-2, 280, Jr., Hope Mills, N.C.)

    Defensive Tackle

    75 - Shelton Bynum (6-5, 300, Sr., Ellenwood, Ga.)

    93 - Cam Thomas (6-4, 315, Fr.*, Eagle Springs, N.C.)

    Right End

    33 - Hilee Taylor (6-3, 241, Jr., Lauringburg, N.C.)

    92 - E.J. Wilson (6-2, 260, Fr.*, Lawrenceville, Va.)

    89 - Bowen Chapman (6-3, 245, Jr., Lexington, Ky.)

    Sam Linebacker

    32 - Larry Edwards (6-2, 235, Sr., Tampa, Fla.)

    51 - Wesley Flagg (6-0, 215, Fr., Fayetteville, N.C.)

    Mike Linebacker

    54 - Victor Worsley (6-1, 235, Sr., Battleboro, N.C.)

    41 - Mark Paschal (6-0, 225, So., Charlotte, N.C.)

    Will Linebacker

    48 - Durell Mapp (6-2, 225, Jr., Burlington, N.C.)

    44 - Chase Rice (6-3, 220, So., Asheville, N.C.)

    36 - Kennedy Tinsley (6-0, 210, Fr.*, Greensboro, N.C.)

    Right Cornerback

    16 - Jacoby Watkins (6-0, 180, Sr., Laurinburg, N.C.)

    35 - Bryan Bethea (5-10, 185, Jr., Fayetteville, N.C.)

    Free Safety

    28 - D.J. Walker (6-0, 185, Sr., Pisgah Forest, N.C.)

    2 - Cooter Arnold (5-10, 190, So., Mocksville, N.C.)

    Strong Safety

    27 - Kareen Taylor (6-0, 200, Sr., Hopewell, Va.)

    28 - D.J. Walker (6-0, 185, Sr., Pisgah Forest, N.C.)

    Left Cornerback

    38 - Jermaine Strong (5-10, 185, Fr.*, Shelby, N.C.)

    3 - Quinton Person (5-11, 185, Jr., Greenville, N.C.)



    10 - Connor Barth (6-1, 190, Jr., Wilmington, N.C.)

    38 - Lane Clemmons (5-10, 220, Jr., Fayetteville, N.C.)


    45 - David Wooldridge (6-2, 215, Sr., Advance, N.C.)

    17 - John Choate (6-2, 180, Jr., Charlotte, N.C.)

    Deep Snapper

    91 - Michael Murphy (6-2, 231, Jr., Goldsboro, N.C.) - FGs,PATs

    63 - Patrick Marsh (6-1, 225, Sr., Mooresville, N.C.) - Punts

    Kick Off Return

    87 - Brandon Tate (6-1, 190, So., Burlington, N.C.)

    37 - Kendric Williams (5-11, 190, Jr., Charlotte, N.C.)

    88 - Hakeem Nicks (6-1, 210, Fr., Charlotte, N.C.)

    Punt Return

    87 - Brandon Tate (6-1, 190, So., Burlington, N.C.)

    3 - Quinton Person (5-11, 185, Jr., Greenville, N.C.)

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    Thanks to NC State and North Carolina Athletics for much of the information in this preview.

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