Notebook: Seminoles Up Next for Pack

NC State (1-4) returns to the gridiron this weekend against Florida State (3-1). Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. and the game will be televised on ABC.

NC State and Florida State have met 27 times on the gridiron, with the Seminoles holding a 18-9 advantage. The squads met from 1952-57, from 1963-69 and then resumed a yearly rivalry when Florida State joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1992.

In 2001, NC State became the first ACC team to beat Florida State in Tallahassee since FSU joined the ACC with a 34-28 win, then followed that up with a 20-15 win in 2005 to become the only ACC team to defeat the Seminoles at their house twice.

The last six games between NC State and Florida State have all been nail-biters.

The largest margin in those six contests was the Wolfpack's 10-point victory (17-7) in Raleigh in 2002. The last six games, in which NC State has posted a 4-2 mark, have been decided by an average of just 6.2 points. Last season in Raleigh, Florida State was up 20-10 late in the third quarter when Daniel Evans, in just his second career start, threw a pair of touchdown passes to Geron James and John Dunlap. The Wolfpack defense never allowed the Seminoles back into the endzone and the Pack edged out a 24-20 win.

In 2005, NC State's victory over the ninth-ranked Seminoles came down to the last play of the game, when Garland Heath had to pick off a pass to seal a five point win. In 2004, FSU won 17-10 in a contest that saw just 16 combined first downs and 244 yards of total offense (for both teams!).

In 2003 at Tallahassee, it was an offensive shootout, with the 'Noles winning 50-44 in double-overtime.

The 2002 Wolfpack win was another defensive fight, while NC State's win in 2000 was a more offensive battle (34-28).

After playing four of its first five games at home in Carter-Finley Stadium, the Wolfpack has just one home game between now and November 11. NC State will play three of its next four games on the road, traveling to Florida State this week, then to East Carolina on October 20 following an open week. The Pack will be back at home on October 27 for a Homecoming contest against Virginia, then will be back on the road at Miami on November 3.

The Wolfpack will be without the services of quarterback Harrison Beck in Tallahassee, as the starting signal caller in the last four games has been sidelined with a separated shoulder. Beck suffered the injury in the third quarter of the loss to Louisville. He was sacked for a nine-yard loss on a first down play and was called for intentional grounding. Although he got up holding his arm gingerly, on the next play, a second-and-19, Beck completed his longest pass of the year, a 53-yard beauty to Donald Bowens down the Wolfpack sideline that moved the Pack to the Louisvile 14. After that throw, Beck came out of the game and went straight to the X-Ray room, and missed it when four plays later, Daniel Evans hooked up with fullback Ced Hickman for the Pack's only touchdown of the day.

Beck sat out last season after transferring from the University of Nebraska, but was named the Wolfpack starter after leading the Wolfpack to 20 unanswered points and a near comback (23-25) to Central Florida in the opener. Against Clemson, he played just 10 snaps before hobbling out of the game with a knee injury.

Daniel Evans led NC State to just two victories as a starter in 2006, but both of those wins were against ranked teams and both were thrillers. After throwing the winning ball to John Dunlap with eight seconds left in the game the week before against Boston College, Evans did it again versus No. 17 Florida State on October 5, 2006. He threw for three TDs in the game, going 13-22 for 190 yards and no interceptions.

Evans, who started the 2007 season opener against Central Florida, has come off the bench in each of the past two games for NC State. In those two contests, he has completed 64% of his throws (23-36) for 191 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

The junior now ranks 15th in school history with 2,129 career passing yards, 13th in completions (196), and ninth in completion percentage (.549).

Nine! That's the number of knee surgeries that have been performed on Wolfpack players since the spring of 2007.

Six! That's the number of players who were listed as starters on the preseason depth chart (or have since become starters) that have undergone knee surgery.

Although the Pack has been hampered by various other injuries as well, that particular body part has definitely been the biggest problem. Over the spring and summer, wide receiver John Dunlap and quarterback Harrison Beck both had their knees scoped and walkon Zach Williams had reconstructive surgery. Beck and Dunlap missed training time during the offseason (Dunlap missed part of fall camp as well) but were back for the first game.

Three other Wolfpack starters, all of whom were honors candidates heading into the season, have been sidelined by knee injuries. NC State 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, tailback Toney Baker suffered a knee injury that also brought his season to a close. Baker, who led the Pack in rushing last season with 688 yards, will undergo reconstructive surgery on October 11.

And just two days before the Boston College game, defensive tackle DeMario Pressley twisted his knee and underwent surgery on September 9. Although his injury was not season-ending, it came just after an elbow injury that kept him from starting the season opener. Pressley, who is on the preseason ‘watch' list for the Lombardi Trophy, missed the Boston College and Wofford games and was not full speed for the Clemson contest.

Those key players aren't the only ones who have had knee problems. True freshman offensive lineman Mike Golder, who was more than likely going to redshirt the season, also suffered a knee injury and will have to undergo reconstruction in October.

Following the Clemson game, starting fullback Patrick Bedics and second-string offensive tackle Jerrail McCuller both went down with knee injuries and had surgery this week. McCuller will be out 3-4 weeks, while Bedics will miss 2-3 weeks.

Obviously, the only number with any real meaning following the Louisville game was the final score, but the Wolfpack defense can still take pride in some of the numbers they turned in against the high-octane Cardinal offense. Louisville came into the contest averaging 50 points and 620 yards of total offense. On Saturday, the Cardinals scored just 29 points and 498 total yards. Quarterback Brian Brohm, who was ranked second in the nation in passing yards and had thrown for more than 300 yards in his last seven outings, was held to 251 yards. Two of Louisville's three touchdowns were on two and four-play drives after the Wolfpack offense turned the ball over.

The defense was on the field almost 17 minutes longer than the offense and at halftime, the difference in the time of possession was Louisville 22:25, NC State 7:35.

NC State is currently tied for dead last in the nation in turnover margin. Through five games, the Wolfpack has committed 18 miscues (12 interceptions, six lost fumbles), while taking the ball away from the opposition just five times (2 INTs, three fumbles). What's even more costly is that 65 of the opposition's total points this season have come following a Wolfpack turnover.

At Boston College, the Wolfpack turned the ball of seven times, negating 407 yards of total offense in that 37-17 loss. That was the most in a game since 1995 (seven versus Clemson). Against Louisville, the Pack turned the ball over five times, with three leading to scoring plays. The other two turnovers, although they didn't lead to Louisville scores, killed NC State drives deep in opponent territory.

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's defense has been solid on third down so far this season, holding opponents to a third-down conversion mark of .333. The Wolfpack was leading the ACC heading into the Clemson game, but has dropped to fifth.

NC State's opposition has gained three yards or less on first down 77 times this season and has gained no yards or been knocked for a loss on first down 49 times. On second down, Mike Archer's defense has held the opponent to three or less 66 times and to zero or negative yards 38 times.

NC State has dug an early hole for itself in its four losses this season. In the games against Central Florida, Boston College and Clemson, the Wolfpack was intercepted on its opening drive and all three times the opponent went on to score after getting the ball. Against Louisville, the Cardinals took the opening kickoff 68 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown.

The only times in five games that NC State has not been picked off on its opening drive was against Wofford, when the Pack scored on a nine-play, 74-yard drive and against Louisville, when the Pack was forced to punt. NC State was intercepted in its second offensive drive against U of L.

In five games this season, the Wolfpack has broken up 32 opponent passes. In other words, 21% of the pass attempts by the opposing quarterbacks have been batted down or broken up by a Wolfpack defender. However, NC State's defense has just two interceptions for the season - Jeremy Gray's 15-yard return against Boston College and Alan-Michael Cash's pick against Louisville.

Free safety Miguel Scott leads the Wolfpack with four PBUs this season, while linebacker Ernest Jones has three.

When the Bedics brothers both started the Central Florida game, it marked the first time brothers have started in the same game for the Wolfpack since 1995. Now, it's happened to another set of brothers just four games later. Redshirt freshman DeAndre Morgan earned his first career start against Louisville, lining up at cornerback, while his older brother DaJuan was at his usual strong safety spot.

The Morgan brothers combined for 17 stops and two pass breakups in the contest. DeAndre blocked a Louisville field goal in the contest.

At the end of the 2005 season, the Wolfpack saw another Morgan brother at the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Darren, their older sibling, played for South Florida at that time.

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