Gameday: NC State vs. East Carolina

NC State (3-8) faces East Carolina (6-5) today in the final game of the season.

Carter-Finley Stadium
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NC State (3-8) vs. East Carolina (6-5)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

7:00 pm Carter-Finley Stadium

Raleigh, NC


NC State Game Notes


  • Sixteen Wolfpack seniors will be honored on Senior Day against East Carolina.
  • Nineteen of the 23 meetings in the NCSU-ECU rivalry have been played in Raleigh with the Wolfpack holding a 13-6 advantage.
  • Darrell Blackman ranks second nationally and in the ACC in kick return average at 29.8 yards-per-return. He is the Wolfpack's career-leader in kick return average as well.

    NC State holds a 14-9 edge against East Carolina, including a 13-6 mark in Carter-Finley Stadium. The series began in 1970 and was played every season through 1987. Since then, the teams have met just five times with the Wolfpack winning the 2004 meeting, 52- 14, in Charlotte, N.C.

    The two teams last played in Raleigh in 1997, a 37-24 Wolfpack win, and have met in Greenville just once in the series, with the Pack losing 23-6 in 1999.

    Three of the last five meetings were at neutral sites, as the 2004 and 1996 meetings were held in Charlotte, while the teams also met in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta in 1992.

    NC State held a 10-3 advantage to start the series, but the Pirates have won six of the last 10 meetings starting with its last win in Raleigh in the series in 1987, 32-14.

    With Senior Day against East Carolina, the Wolfpack will bid farewell 16 seniors, including 13 who are listed on the depth chart. Those players include the top-three tacklers (DeMarcus "Tank" Tyler, Pat Lowery and Garland Heath), the top offensive lineman (Leroy Harris) and a record holding kicker in John Deraney.

    Five starters on defense will play their final game, as defensive tackle Tank Tyler, linebackers Pat Lowery and Reggie Davis, rover Garland Heath and cornerback AJ Davis close their careers. Two starters will be lost from the offense, with offensive tackle James Newby and guard/center Leroy Harris (who is injured for this game and will not play) listed on the two-deep.

    The Wolfpack will also see its place kicker and punter, John Deraney, and longsnapper, William Lee, finish their eligibilty on Saturday.

    Junior return specialist and wide receiver Darrell 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 and is the only player nationally to accomlish that feat.

    Blackman is second in the conference in kickoff returns and ranks seventh nationally, averaging 29.8 yards per return. His punt return mark (9.9) is fourth in the ACC.

    He is even better against conference foes with a league-leading 30.9 yards per kickoff returns and is second in punt returns (10.6).

    Blackman is the Wolfpack's career leader in kickoff return average at 29.0 and is fourth in yards with 1,132.

    Darrell Blackman currently is second in the ACC in conference games only with an average of 116.3 all-purpose yards-per-game and ranks third overall at 108.0 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 2,662 career allpurpose yards and is the first Wolfpack player with back-to-back 1,000 allpurpose yard seasons since Jerricho Cotchery (2002 and 2003).

    All-American quarterback Roman Gabriel returns to his alma mater at the East Carolina game for a reunion to mark the 45th anniversary of the 1961 season.

    Gabriel was a two-time ACC Player of the Year, one of only five players in the history of the conference to win the award twice.

    The 1961 team went 4-6 overall and 3-4 in the ACC.

    This football season has been relatively injury free for the Wolfpack squad until the last few weeks. The Wolfpack lost both starting guards, Leroy Harris and Curtis Crouch, during the Clemson contest and neither played in the North Carolina game. Defensive linemen DeMario Pressley and Ray Brooks were injured against North Carolina and missed a large chunk of that game. Harris, a senior, has ligament damage in his ankle and missed a game for the first time after 42 straight starts to begin his career, the longest active streak on the team.

    Crouch suffered a head injury against Clemson after playing 23 snaps and didn't play against the Tar Heels. Pressley, a starting defensive tackle, injured his wrist against the Heels and had surgery immediately after the game and won't play against East Carolina. Defensive end Ray Brooks injured his elbow after playing one snap against the Tar Heels and didn't return to that contest. Starting weakside linebacker James Martin broke his wrist in the fourth game of the season against Boston College and is out for the year.

    NC State has used a different starting lineup along its offensive line in two of the last three games after playing the first eight contests with the same starting five.

    Due to injuries to both starting guards (Leroy Harris and Curtis Crouch) in the Clemson game, the North Carolina game saw the third different starting five in the last four games.

    For the North Carolina game, Kalani Heppe, who started the first eight games at guard, replaced Harris 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. Against Georgia Tech and Clemson, Luke Lathan started at center and Meares Green started at tackle, with Leroy Harris moving over to guard after starting the first eight games at center.

    Junior Anthony Hill has had a productive season from his tight end position. Hill leads the team in receptions (34) and is second in yards (347). He has led the team in receiving in three straight contests and a team-leading five games this season.

    Hill set career-highs in receptions (7) and yards (82) against Akron this season and if he finishes the season with the team lead in receptions, it will mark the third straight year that a Wolfpack tight end has been the team's 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 or 15 KDs, knocking the same guy down 2-3 times on the same play.

    NC State has faced the 25th toughest schedule nationally according to the Sagarin ratings and the third toughest in the ACC this season. Wolfpack opponents hold a combined 73-40 record (.646) so far in 2006.

    Sophomore tailback Toney Baker is 10th in the ACC in rushing, averaging a team-leading 57.8 yards-per-game. He is even better against ACC foes, ranking seventh in the conference and averaging 64.5 yards-pergame. He had 68 yards on 15 carries against the Tar Heels and has been the Pack's leading rusher in four games this season. Baker has 636 yards rushing this season and has scored 5 touchdowns, tops on the team.

    He had a career-game two weeks ago against Clemson, rushing for 174 yards and 34 carries, both career bests. The 34 carries ranked fourth all-time while his yardage total was good for 18th in school history.

    Baker has 1,182 and is the 22nd player in Wolfpack history - and 12th fastest - to record 1,000 career rushing yards.

    Greenville native Andre Brown will be breaking tackles against his hometown team this weekend. Brown played at Greenville Rose and had a standout high school career before running with the Pack. Brown has broken 24 tackles for an additional 205 yards this season and has rushed for 616 yards while averaging 5.5 yards-per-carry. He is tied for second on the team with four touchdowns. Against ACC teams, Brown ranks 10th in the conference averaging 54.1 yards-per-game.

    The sophomore has 1,283 career-rushing yards and became the eighth fastest in school history to reach 1,000 career rushing yards. He has four career 100 yard games, 11th all-time in school history, after 113 yards against Florida St. and 125 against Appalachian St.

    NC State is third in the ACC in passing defense, allowing just 161.8 yards-pergame, the 15th best mark in the NCAA. Opposing quarterbacks are completing 51.7% of their passes, the second 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 three 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 didn't record an interception or allow a touchdown through the air in 15 passing attempts against the Tar Heels.

    NC State's offensive line has done a solid job protecting the quarterback this season. Through 11 games this season the line is allowing an average of just 1.7 sacks a game and is ranked fifth in the ACC in fewest sacks allowed with 19.

    The Wolfpack was without its two starting guards and it showed, as the Tar Heels notched four sacks in the contest after NC State had allowed just four combined sacks over the previous three games.

    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.

    East Carolina Quick Facts

    Record – 6-5 (.545); C-USA Record/East Division Standing – 5-3 (.625)/2nd East Division
    Last 5 Games – 4-1
    Last 10 Games – 6-4
    Last 15 Games – 8-7
    Streaks – Overall, East Carolina will play the 23rd game of the Skip Holtz Era when the Pirates face off against NC State. ECU's contest against the Wolfpack will be the Pirates' 716th since the start of football in 1932 (362-342-11/.514).

  • Eight winning or .500 seasons in the last 13 years
  • Six bowl appearances since 1990; two since 2000
  • At least 200 yards passing in 18 of the last 22 games
  • At least two forced turnovers in 10 of the last 13 games
  • Surrendered just 92.4 rushing yards per game in the last five contests
  • Scored at least one rushing TD in the last seven consecutive games
  • Allowed just four (4) plays over 40 yards in 734 total attempts this season
  • Recorded at least one sack in eight of the last nine games

    East Carolina Game Notes

    Since joining Conference USA in 1997, East Carolina has recorded a 24-38 (.387) mark when playing away from Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium ... The Pirates' top mark since ‘97 was a 5-2 road record in 1999 (wins over WVU,South Carolina, Miami, Army and Houston) ... The Pirates have won two of five road games in ‘06 (wins at Southern Miss, UCF; losses at Navy, UAB and Rice).

    East Carolina has always been able to claim plenty of hometown support, even moreso when playing at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday's during the fall - establishing itself as one of CUSA's attendance leaders on an annual basis ... In all, a total of 5,519,796 fans have seen the Pirates in action since 1963 - an average of 25,437 per contest ... So far in the Skip Holtz Era, ECU has averaged 35,294 (388,236/11 games) ... ECU opened its 2006 home schedule by drawing 37,431 fans to the Memphis game before following with 40,510 against WVU (seventh-highest total in stadium history), 35,541 against UVA, 34,011 vs. Tulsa, 34,141 vs. SMU Oct. 21 and 41,372 vs. Marshall (fifth-highest total in stadium history) ... In all, the Pirates averaged 37,168 fans per game at home this season ... When it drew 41,372 fans to the Marshall game Nov. 11, ECU set a new single-season Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium total attendance record of 223,006 (previous best was 217,742 set in 2000).

    East Carolina has posted an all-time record of 0-5 when playing on November 25 ... A closer look: 1933 (Appalachian State 14-0), 1939 (Norfolk Navy 7-0), 1966 (Louisville 12-7), 1972 (North Carolina 42-19) and 1989 (Southern Miss 41-27). AIMING FOR FIRST WINNING SEASON SINCE 2000 East Carolina's current 6-5 mark matches the Pirates' previous best "start" - winning six of the first 11 games in 2001 ... In addition, with its win over Marshall Nov. 11, ECU guaranteed itself a nonlosing season for the first time since 2001 (6-6) ... With a win over NC State, the Pirates can lock in their first winning season since 2000 (8-4) ...

    Since playing its first season in Conference USA (1997), East Carolina has produced an all-time 37-35 (.514) league record ... The Pirates matched a school record with its five league wins this year (5-3; joining a pair of 5-2 campaigns in 2000-2001) ... A Marshall win at Southern Miss this weekend would hand the C-USA East Division title to the Pirates - ECU's first championship of any kind since joining the league officially in 1997.

    The Pirates have only surrendered four (4) plays over 40 yards overall (on the ground, in the air) in 737 total snaps in ‘06 - a 60-yard TD catch by WVU's Darius Reynaud (9/23), a 41-yard scoring grab by Marshall's Cody Slate (11/11) and 47 and 40-yard receptions by a pair of Rice receivers last week ... ECU has also allowed just six rushing plays over 20 yards (in 380 total attempts) so far this season (Navy, UVA, Tulsa, USM and Rice/2).

    ECU has allowed just 65 points (17/USM, 10/UCF, 20/Marshall, 18/Rice) in its last four contests - the fewest in back-to-back-to-back-to-back games since giving up 45 in 1996 (21/ETSU, 10/WVU, 7/South Carolina, 7/UCF).

    Press Conference Quotables
    Head Coach Skip Holtz

    On Saturday's loss to Rice
    The Rice loss was probably one of the most difficult losses that I've been through. It was difficult for a number of reasons. When we went back and watched the film we had a tendency to beat ourselves up and second-guess every question, call and personnel decision we made. It is easy to do and it is kind of human nature to do when you lose a game. The goal that we were trying to accomplish was to go 1-0. The bottom line is we failed and we didn't get it done. I failed as a head coach, we failed as a team and we failed as an offense and a defense.

    The great thing about sports is the life lessons that it teaches you and that's what I talked to the team about yesterday. It teaches you to learn how to handle success. It teaches you to stay humble and hungry when things are going your way. It teaches you to keep things in perspective with where you are but maintain that hunger in trying to achieve success and trying to get to the top. It also teaches you a lot about dealing with failure and having to go through adversity. Either you can have a pity party for yourself, feel sorry and bow your head, keep your eyes to the ground and mope around or you can pick yourself up and brush yourself off. Stick your chin up and chest out, stand tall with what you are tying to do. This [loss] was hard and it hurt. It hurt with these players. I have never been involved with a team that sat down the next day and watched game film and cried. This was a very painful loss with this team because of what they wanted to accomplish, because of the hard work an effort they put into this season and how far they have come. They were not satisfied with six wins and they really wanted to have the opportunity to play for a conference championship. That made it a very difficult loss. This team has lost before and these seniors have lost before. The one thing that made this so difficult though is everything that was on the line with it.

    Now we have to push our chin up and our chest out and look at what we have to do to get ready for N.C. State. There have been a lot of positive things that have happened during the course of the year. Right now isn't the time to reflect back and look at what's been positive and what's been negative. The only thing we can do is to control what we can control which is us and what we do to get ready to play N.C. State.

    On N.C. State
    This going to be a challenge for us as a football team. When you watch them on film they are in every game. With the exception of last week's North Carolina game their previous five losses have all been by eight points or less. They have been involved in every game and they are a talented football team. They are very big upfront on offense. They are very physical and they look a lot like Virginia. Their offensive line is much more aggressive than Virginia's as a run blocking unit. Their two tailbacks are very talented and are great players. They are playmakers and they make a lot of things happen. They have five wide receivers that are really good which makes it difficult to defend them. Daniel Evans is doing a very nice job as quarterback and running their offense. On defense, their linebackers are their strength. They have three upperclassmen linebackers that are very active and are not giving up a lot of points. I believe they are giving up an average of 300 yards a game and when you look at their schedule that is pretty impressive. The man upfront is [DeMarcus Tyler] "Tank". He is as good as anybody we've played and we haven't seen many like him. A guy that is as big as he is and can move like him can be extremely disruptive to an offensive line, especially one that is tattered and torn walking into this thing like we are right now. Their secondary has the experience. Their safeties are large linebackers and they try and stop the run. They are an aggressive defensive team. We have a challenge not only with N.C. State being an in-state rival but we have to get these players to get their chins up and their chests out.

    For me it will be a little bit emotional because when I was eight to twelve years old I was always at Carter-Finley running up and down that hill. As far as the in-state rivalry it is huge. It is the closest school we play. We talked with the team about it. They know a lot of guys on this team and used to play with them in high school. There are some natural things with this being an in-state rival that are going to juice these players up and really get them focused. That's going to be helpful after coming off a loss like we did last week. For the coaches it is a big game. It is an opportunity to play an ACC team.

    East Carolina Two-Deep Depth Chart


    No. Player Ht. Wt. Cl-Exp.

    2 Aundrae Allison 6-1 202 Sr-1L

    10 Jamar Bryant 6-2 205 Fr-HS

    82 Juwon Crowell 6-2 190 Jr-1L


    58 Lance Neisz or 6-4 317 Sr-SQ

    78 Eric Graham 6-6 325 Sr-2L


    75 Cory Dowless 6-5 313 Fr-HS

    54 Sean Allen 6-3 303 Fr-HS


    68 Matt Butler 6-4 309 Jr-2L

    72 Stephen Heis 6-5 292 Fr-RS


    76 Josh Coffman 6-7 300 Jr-2L

    61 Tom Wingenbach 6-6 299 Sr-1L


    74 Terence Campbell 6-5 332 Fr-RS

    69 Willie Barton 6-5 350 Jr-TR


    3 Davon Drew or 6-4 247 So-SQ

    91 Jay Sonnhalter 6-5 262 Jr-1L


    7 James Pinkney 6-3 220 Sr-3L

    14 Rob Kass 6-4 250 Fr-RS


    12 Kort Shankweiler 6-2 231 Sr-3L

    13 Pat Dosh 6-3 239 Sr-2L


    21 Brandon Fractious 5-9 200 Sr-1L

    25 Brandon Simmons 6-1 233 So-TR


    83 Steven Rogers or 6-0 186 Jr-1L

    32 Phillip Henry or 6-0 190 Jr-1L

    80 Kevin Roach 6-4 224 Sr-3L


    No. Player Ht. Wt. Cl-Exp.

    95 C.J. Wilson 6-4 265 Fr-HS

    92 Marcus Hands 6-5 277 So-1L


    93 Brandon Setzer or 6-6 303 So-1L

    97 Wendell Chavis 6-2 280 Jr-1L


    96 Mark Robinson 6-3 286 Jr-2L

    99 Dontre Brown 6-1 328 Sr-3L


    41 Zach Slate 6-5 227 So-1L

    53 Scotty Robinson 6-4 247 Fr-RS


    37 Van Eskridge or 6-0 206 Fr-RS

    50 Quentin Cotton 6-2 224 So-1L


    51 Fred Wilson 6-2 250 Jr-TR

    44 Nick Johnson 6-1 226 Fr-HS


    34 Pierre Bell 6-2 238 So-1L

    49 Jeremy Chambliss 6-0 222 Fr-RS


    8 Travis Williams 5-10 182 Jr-2L

    33 Leon Best or 6-0 200 So-SQ

    22 Markeith McQueen 5-9 185 Sr-2L


    1 Pierre Parker 6-0 215 Sr-2L

    4 Kyle Chase 5-8 192 Sr-3L


    6 Jamar Flournoy 6-0 209 Sr-1L

    20 J.J. Milbrook 5-9 203 So-SQ


    17 Kasey Ross 6-0 180 Sr-3L

    35 Jerek Hewett 5-11 184 So-1L



    39 Robert Lee or 5-11 218 Sr-1L

    30 Ben Hartman 5-11 195 Fr-RS


    10 Ryan Dougherty 6-1 232 Sr-3L

    80 Kevin Roach 6-4 224 Sr-3L


    10 Ryan Dougherty 6-1 232 Sr-3L

    39 Robert Lee 5-11 218 Sr-1L


    59 Wilson Raynor 6-2 229 So-1L

    63 Britt Johnson 5-8 239 Sr-SQ


    83 Steven Rogers or 6-0 186 Jr-1L

    32 Phillip Henry 6-0 190 Jr-1L

    20 J.J. Milbrook 5-9 203 So-SQ


    5 Chris Johnson 5-11 200 Jr-2L

    22 Markeith McQueen 5-9 185 Sr-2L

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

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