Notebook: Wofford Up Next

NC State (0-2) returns to the gridiron this weekend against Wofford (2-0). Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m.

Although this isn't the first time that NC State has met Wofford College on the gridiron, it IS the first time the two teams have faced each other in almost a century. In 1920, the squad from Spartanburg, South Carolina came up to Raleigh to take on the North Carolina A&T "Farmers" (the Wolfpack name came one year later). The Terriers definitely went home with their tails between their legs, as NC State won 90-7. That was the second-highest scoring output in school history and no team has scored more since.

The Wolfpack's Darrell Blackman is definitely the man of all purposes for the Wolfpack. Blackman leads the ACC by almost 20 all-purpose yards and ranks ninth nationally in that category two weeks into the season - averaging 207 yards per game.

Thus far in 2007, Blackman has 164 receiving yards on nine grabs, six punt returns for 98 yards and eight kickoff returns for 152 yards. His 90 yards in punt returns in the season opener marked the fourth-highest single game total in school history (he now holds three of the top five marks on that list).

Blackman caught six passes for 128 yards (all in the first quarter) in the loss at Boston College. That marked the first 100-yard receiving game for a Wolfpack player since the 2005 season.

Blackman ranks 11th in the NC State record books with 3,156 career all-purpose yards.

NC State currently leads the ACC in passing offense, averaging 311 yards per game. That mark ranks 14th nationally. Two quarterbacks combined for 351 passing yards in the loss at Boston College, the highest for the Wolfpack since the 2003 Mazda Tangerine Bowl. Starter Harrison Beck threw for 321 of those yards, the highest since Philip Rivers had 475 in that same bowl game. In the season opener, NC State tallied 272 passing yards (207 by Harrison Beck and 65 by Daniel Evans). That passing tally was the highest for a Wolfpack squad in 23 games (since a 286 yard total against Eastern Kentucky on Sept. 17, 2005).

The Wolfpack completed 24 passes in the season opener, which was the most since the season opener versus Virginia Tech in 2005 (27). When that number was topped by 29 at BC, it was the highest since that 2003 bowl game.

Although the passing numbers for the Wolfpack offense have risen, the number of passing yards allowed by the Pack "D" has dropped. NC State leads the ACC and ranks ninth nationally this week in passing defense, allowing a lowly 117.5 yards per game. That number is even more impressive when factoring in that the Pack faced one of the nation's top QBs last week, holding BC's Matt Ryan to just 142 passing yards - his lowest total since midway through his sophomore campaign. In his previous game, Ryan had thrown for 405 yards and five touchdowns. He threw for just one TD versus the Pack.

If you take a look at the Wolfpack depth chart today, and what it looked like in the preseason media guide, you can see that the Pack has definitely been KNEE-ed.

Three Wolfpack starters, all of whom were honors candidates heading into the season, have been sidelined by knee injuries. NC State has lost its leading receiver and rusher from last season, as well as one of its top defensive players.

In the last week of July, tight end Anthony Hill underwent reconstructive knee surgery for a torn ACL, just a few days after he was named to the preseason ‘watch' list for the John Mackey Award. His injury will keep him out for the entire 2007 campaign.

In the season opener, just a few days after he was named to the preseason ‘watch' list for the Doak Walker Award, Toney Baker suffered a knee injury that also brought his season to a close. Baker will undergo reconstructive surgery at a later date.

And just two days before the Boston College game, defensive tackle DeMario Pressley twisted his knee and underwent surgery on Sunday. Although his injury is not season-ending, it came just after an elbow injury that kept him from starting the season opener. Fortunately, all three players still have a redshirt year remaining.

The point of most concern on this year's Wolfpack squad is undoubtably the offensive line. Of the 10 players on the two deep, FIVE had never player in a collegiate game heading into the season opener with Central Florida, while another had just seen action in two career contests. Two of those five are true freshmen this year - Jake Vermiglio and Desmond Roberts.

Only four players had ever started a game before the Central Florida and those four had combined for just 38 starts. The 10 players on the two-deep at offensive line had only played in 72 career games combined heading into the opener.

Despite gaining 407 yards of total offense at Boston College, turnovers killed Wolfpack drives time after time in the 37-17 loss. The Wolfpack turned the ball over seven times, most since a seven TO game in 1995 versus Clemson.

Harrison Beck, making his first career start at quarterback, threw five interceptions in the game and also fumbled, while redshirt freshman punter Nathan Franklin also fumbled a snap.

Turnovers are anathema to any football coach, but especially to the 2007 Wolfpack staff. Head coach Tom O'Brien's 2006 Boston College squad led the ACC and tied for second nationally in turnover margin, while defensive coodinator Mike Archer's Kentucky squad led the SEC in that same category last season and tied BC to rank second nationally.

NC State only turned the ball over twice in the season opener, but has forced just one turnover so far this season.

It took the Wolfpack a while - in fact a whole half - to get rolling in the season opener. NC State was sluggish on both sides of the ball in the first half against Central Florida, allowing 25 points while scoring three, rushing for -14 yards while giving up 169 and tallying just 62 yards in total offense. After the break, however, the State offense tallied 295 yards, while the defense allowed just 38 total yards (just seven yards in the third quarter!).

The most important stat, however, was that NC State scored 23 unanswered points in the second half. The Wolfpack ended up with 357 total yards to Central Florida's 299.

Although his interception numbers may be the stat that stands out, quarterback Harrison Beck has posted some impressive numbers in other passing categories. Although he's really only played a game and a half (he came in late in the second quarter in the season opener), Beck ranks third in the ACC with 264 passing yards per game. His 321 passing yards against Boston College was the most for a Wolfpack signal caller since the 2003 season. Behind his throwing, NC State had a 100-yard receiver (Darrell Blackman) for the first time in two seasons and his 49-yard throw to Blackman was the longest NC State completion since 2005 as well.

Beck also drove the Pack down the field 98 yards for a score in the first quarter at Boston College, tying as the longest scoring drive for the Wolfpack since a 99 drive versus Florida State in 1998.

In the second half against Central Florida, Beck led the Pack to 23 unanswered points. He threw 16-26 (.615) for 195 yards and two TDs in the half (his one interception was on his last pass of the game) and drove State down to the UCF 40 before the clock ran out.

The game marked Beck's first ever in action in the red and white and his first of any kind since the 2005 season, when he played in two games (Kansas State and Colorado) for Nebraska.

The last time an NC State quarterback had made his first career start on the road before last Saturday was on November 16, 1991, when Terry Harvey got the nod against Duke and led his team to a 32-21 victory.

Since that time, six Wolfpack players had started at quarterback before the bC game, but all had played in the friendly confines of Carter-Finley Stadium in their first outing as a starter.

Dating back to 1971, NC State has had 22 different quarterbacks start games, but only three (Beck, Harvey and Kevin Scanlon in 1976 at Wake Forest) had made their first start on the road.

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