Gameday: NC State vs. South Carolina

NC State opens the season tonight with a road game against the South Carolina Gamecocks. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 at Williams-Brice Stadium, and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN.

NC State (0-0) vs. South Carolina (0-0)
Thursday, August 28, 2008
8:00 pm (EST) ESPN
Columbia, SC
Williams-Brice Stadium

NC State Links
Official Site
2007 Statistics
Game Notes

South Carolina Links
South Carolina Official Site
2007 Statistics
Game Notes

NC State Game Notes

The series with South Carolina is one of the oldest in the history of NC State football. The two teams met for the first time in 1900, with the Pack losing 17-5 in Columbia. The two teams faced each other four times in the first decade of the 20th century, then played each season from 1923-35.

The two schools were both charter members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, which was founded in 1953. The Wolfpack and the Gamecocks met on the gridiron every year from 1956 - 91 (with the exception of the 1967 season), even though South Carolina left the ACC in 1971.

The last time the teams played was on September 4, 1999, in what was former Wolfpack head coach Lou Holtz's first game at the helm of the Gamecock program.

NC State won that game that was played in the driving rains of Hurricane Dennis, 10-0, at Carter-Finley Stadium. NC State holds a slight advantage in the series - 26-24-4, and posts a 10-3-1 mark over the Gamecocks in Carter-Finley Stadium.

Redshirt freshman Russell Wilson will start at quarterback for NC State in the 2008 season opener against the South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia, S.C, head coach Tom O'Brien announced on August 22.

Russell Wilson

Wilson, from Richmond, Va., will be just the third Wolfpack signal caller since 1971 to start as a freshman in his first collegiate game. He is also just the eighth freshman quarterback to start a game over that time frame.

"As I've said from the beginning, the decision would be made on who we feel gives us the best opportunity to win the football game, and right now we feel Russell Wilson will do that," said O'Brien. "He will be our starter as we go but we certainly feel that Daniel [Evans] has some things he can contribute to this football team, as well. Russell is the starter and Daniel is the backup, but as Daniel knows he is one play away from being the starter."

Redshirt freshman Russell Wilson didn't have much of an ‘off' season. Wilson spent the spring and summer competing with the NC State baseball team, which advanced to the Super Regionals of the NCAA tournament. During the five weeks of spring practice and the multiple weeks of 6 am winter workouts, Wilson went through all of the football drills with his gridiron teammates, then spent the rest of his time practicing and competing with the baseball team. On April 12, he threw for 172 yards and three touchdowns in a long, physical scrimmage, then was in uniform at Doak Field for a baseball game that night.

Wilson, who plays second base in baseball isn't the first be the first NC State player to excel in football and baseball. Terry Harvey set career records for passing yards and total offense (which have since been broken) in the early 90s, while also adding career records for pitching wins, innings pitched and games started on the baseball diamond.

When Russell Wilson makes his first career start against South Carolina, he will be the fifth quarterback in the last five seasons to start a game for NC State. Prior to that run starting in 2004, Philip Rivers started an NCAA-record 51 straight games from 2000-03.

Dating back to 1971, NC State has had 22 different quarterbacks start games, but only three (Harrison Beck, Terry Harvey and Kevin Scanlon) has made their first start on the road. Harvey (who ALSO played NC State baseball) was the only one of the three to win his start.

NC State quarterbacks are 11-10-1 in their first career starts.

NC State returns its leading rusher from last season: Jamelle Eugene.

Andre Brown

NC State returns its leading rusher from the season before that: Toney Baker. AND NC State returns its leading rusher from the season before that: Andre Brown.

Senior Andre Brown, redshirt junior Toney Baker and junior Jamelle Eugene all return for NC State in 2008, giving head coach Tom O'Brien and running backs coach Jason Swepson what looks (on paper at least) to be plenty of depth.

However, that didn't end up being the case last season. Baker, who rushed for 688 yards to lead the team in 2006, was named the starter for the season opener, but suffered a knee injury after just 26 snaps and ended up missing the rest of the season.

Enter Brown, who was the Wolfpack's leading rusher in 2005, gaining 667 yards. Brown started the next five games before breaking his foot at Florida State. Enter Eugene, who would start the last six contests and ended up rushing for 667 yards (ironically the exact same number of yards Brown gained as a sophomore). Baker missed spring drills as he continued to rehab from knee surgery and Brown reinjured the foot in spring practice, so Eugene and sophomore Curtis Underwood, Jr., were once again the only backs left standing. Baker (1,272), Brown (1,772 - 12th in school history) and Eugene (726) have combined to gain 3,770 yards and rush for 31 touchdowns in their careers.

Redshirt senior tight end Anthony Hill and graduate cornerback Jeremy Gray have been named captains for the 2008 football season. The team voted on captains during a team meeting and Hill and Gray will lead the Wolfpack this season.

From the day he took the job at NC State, Tom O'Brien and his staff made a commitment to sign the top talent in the state of North Carolina.

Geron James

That goal has certainly been accomplished in a short period of time, as eight of the top 30 recruits in the state (according to signed to don the red and white in 2008 - three more than any other school (Virginia Tech signed five of the state's top 30 players). The Pack also landed three of the top six North Carolina prospects.

NC State's 2008 signing class ranked higher than any school in the state according to both and

The 2008 Wolfpack roster is made of up 54 players who call the state of North Carolina home.

Only two returning players on defense for the Wolfpack in 2008 have started more than 10 games in their careers, and the combined number of career starts for the entire defensive unit is just 54.

Defensive tackle Alan-Michael Cash and end Willie Young are the only double-digit starters returning for the Wolfpack in 2008. Cash has a dozen starts under his belt and Young has gotten the nod 13 times in his career. Cornerbacks Jeremy Gray and DeAndre Morgan each have started seven contests, while free safety JC Neal has started four. Linebackers Nate Irving and Ray Michel have started four and one games respectively, while safety Javon Walker started four games last year as a rookie.

Of the 25 scholarship players who are returning on defense, nine are freshmen. Add eight incoming signees to that list and 46% (17 of 37) of the scholarship defenders are freshmen, while 65% (24 of 37) are either freshmen or sophomores.

Walk-on football players are an important group on a collegiate roster, as they can provide scout team players for practice, special teams help and sometimes add depth to a roster.

NC State is going to rely on its former and current walk-ons in 2008. Among the 44 players listed on the two-deep depth chart for the offense and defense, seven have started their career as a walk-on, including three starters among the 22 positions.

Koyal George

Meares Green has started at guard and tackle in his career and is the starting right guard in 2008. Green, the most experienced walk-on for the Pack, has played in 23 games, including 14 career starts.

Starting strongside linebacker Robbie Leonard has played in 24 contests, including 12 from scrimmage. A converted safety, Leonard will make his first career start against South Carolina.

Fullback Harrison Ritcher - son of 1979 Outland Trophy winner and four-time Super Bowl participant Jim Ritcher and brother of former Wolfpack tight end/fullback John - is slated as the starting safety, although he has never played a snap in college.

In addition, Matt White (backup left tackle), Taylor Gentry (backup FB), Koyal George (backup cornerback) and Bobby Floyd (backup safety) are all current or former walk-ons. Both long snappers - Corey Tedder and Michael Maurer - and punter Bradley Pierson also started their careers as a walk-on.

When looking at the number of key players who missed time with injuries last season, it's almost surprising that the Wolfpack managed to turn the second half of its season around.

Thirteen players who were starters at some time last season (or in the case of tight end Anthony Hill, a projected starter) missed a total of 44 games with injuries in 2007. Six of those starters missed multiple games. Several key reserves also missed time with injuries last season. In all, the Wolfpack medical staff performed 10 knee surgeries between the spring of 2007 and the end of the year.

Toney Baker

A handful of the players who were injured last season were also forced to miss 2008 spring workouts. Hill, TB Toney Baker and SS Javon Walker all continued to recover from knee surgery this spring, while quarterback Daniel Evans sat out with a shoulder injury.

... AND 2008?
NC State's injury troubles were well documented in 2007, and so far during 2008 camp NC State has already lost a trio of projected starters for the season. Junior wideout Donald Bowens, the team's top returning receiver by yardage and per catch in 2007, has a back injury that will keep him sidelined in 2008. Clem Johnson, a junior college transfer who could have started at safety for the Pack, broke his jaw in the team's second scrimmage and will most likely miss all of 2008. Safety Javon Walker, who started much of 2007, will also miss the year with a knee injury.

In addition, redshirt junior tailback Toney Baker had knee surgery to clean out some residue in his knee and could be sidelined for a few more weeks. Baker had a season-ending knee injury in the opener last season and had to redshirt.

Finally, starting tailback Jamelle Eugene is now out for the opener with an ankle injury and it is unknown how long he will be sidelined.

South Carolina Game Notes And Depth Chart

Record (2007) 6-6 (3-5 SEC)

South Carolina Final National Statistical Rankings (2007)

Rushing offense...101

Passing offense...37

Total offense...77

Rushing defense...110

Passing defense...4

Total defense...56


Stadium: Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)


Play-by-Play: Chris Fowler

Analyst: Craig James, Jesse Palmer

Sidelines: Erin Andrews

Radio at the stadium: WNKT (107.5 FM)

Play-by-Play: Todd Ellis

Analyst: Tommy Suggs

Sidelines: Duce Staley

Satellite Radio: XM 200

Series Information

Series Record: NC State leads 26-25-4

In Columbia: South Carolina leads 18-9-1

In Raleigh: NC State leads 17-7-3

Last Meeting: NC State 10, USC 0, 9/4/99 in Raleigh

Last Meeting in Columbia: NC State 38, USC 21, 11/2/91

Last Carolina Win: 23-7, 10/29/88 in Raleigh

Last Carolina Win in Columbia: 48-0, 10/31/87

Current Streak: NC State has won the last 4 meetings

Steve Spurrier versus NC State

South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier owns a 2-1-1 record against NC State, with the first three meetings while he was the head coach at Duke. He dropped a wild 47-45 decision in Durham in 1987, battled to a 43-43 tie in Raleigh in 1988, then posted a 35-26 win in Durham en route to an ACC Championship in 1989. While at Florida, he led the Gators to a 27-10 win over NC State in the 1992 Gator Bowl.

South Carolina returns a veteran squad

The Gamecocks officially return 18 starters from the 2007 squad (six on offense, 10 on defense and one specialist). The returning offensive starters are OG Seaver Brown, OG Lemuel Jeanpierre, WR Dion LeCorn, WR Kenny McKinley, OT Jamon Meredith and OT Justin Sorensen. The returning defensive starters include DT Ladi Ajiboye, S Emanuel Cook, DT Marque Hall, LB Cliff Matthews, CB Captain Munnerlyn, DE Eric Norwood, LB Rodney Paulk, LB Marvin Sapp, FS Darian Stewart, and CB Carlos Thomas. Senior Ryan Succop is the returning punter and placekicker. The list does not include middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley, who started all 13 games in 2006 and the fi rst four games of the 2007 season before suffering a season-ending knee injury, or defensive tackle Nathan Pepper, who started 12 games in 2006 andeach of the first three games in 2007 before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

South Carolina just misses national poll

The South Carolina Gamecocks open the 2008 season just outside the nation’s top 25 in the two national polls. They are 26th in the Preseason Associated Press poll with 84 points, just one point behind Pittsburgh, and are 27th in the USA Today/Coaches Preseason Poll with 64 points. The Gamecocks are the seventh-highest ranked SEC school in both preseason polls behind Georgia (1st in AP, 1st in USA Today), Florida (5/5), LSU (7/6), Auburn (10/11), Tennessee (18/18) and Alabama (24/26).

South Carolina Coaching Changes

Steve Spurrier made a pair of changes to his coaching staff in the off-season, bringing in Ellis Johnson to be the new defensive coordinator and Ray Rychleski to coordinate the special teams. Johnson has spent the past four seasons as the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State under Sylvester Croom. He actually comes to Carolina following a very brief stint on Bobby Petrino’sstaff at Arkansas. Rychleski takes over as special teams coordinator and tight ends coach, a role similar to what he held for the past seven years at the University of Maryland.

The Gamecock Offense

WR 11 Kenny McKinley (6-0, 187, Sr.***) Preseason first-team All-SEC pick by the coaches and media... needs 17 catches to break the school career record.

15 Matt Clements (6-0, 188, Fr.-RS) Redshirt freshman who was hampered by a knee injury that kept him sidelined for much of the 2007 season.

12 C.C. Whitlock (5-10, 169, Fr.) True freshman who went through spring drills after graduating from Chester (S.C.) High School.

WR 18 Dion LeCorn (5-11, 220, So.*) Made six starts and caught 27 passes for 315 yards as a true freshman in 2007.

4 Jason Barnes (6-4, 204, Fr.-RS) Lanky receiver who started the LSU game last season but gained a medical redshirt.

WR 9 Moe Brown (6-0, 184, Jr.**) May be the fastest of the Gamecock receivers and the deep-ball threat... has made fi ve career starts.

85 Joe Hills (6-4, 201, So.) Tall receiver who appeared in one game in 2007 but was denied a medical redshirt.

82 Freddie Brown (6-3, 208, Jr.**) Possession-type receiver who has caught 31 passes over the last two seasons.... father coaches at Woodruff HS.

LT 66 Hutch Eckerson (6-6, 292, So.*) Played in 10 games as a true freshman, then was redshirted during the 2007 campaign... from Lumberton, N.C.

76 Jarriel King (6-7, 285, So.) Junior college transfer who has three years to play three at South Carolina... originally signed with USC in 2005.

72 Quintin Richardson (6-4, 290, Fr.-RS) Local product from Spring Valley HS... redshirted as a true freshman... expected to push for playing time.

LG 57 Lemuel Jeanpierre (6-3, 305, Jr.**) Former defensive lineman who was converted to offense in 2007... made 5 starts at right guard in 2007.

62 Pierre Andrews (6-3, 288, So.) Redshirt sophomore who has worked his way into the two-deep for the fi rst time in his career.

C 70 Garrett Anderson (6-4, 310, Jr.**) Has played in 22 of 25 games over the past 2 seasons, making eight starts, all at offensive guard.

63 Seaver Brown (6-5, 302, So.*) Made six starts at left guard in 2007, the most of the three players who earned starting assignment at that spot.

RG 74 Heath Batchelor (6-7, 309, So.*) Came to USC as a tackle but was moved to right guard... became a fi xture over the fi nal 4 games of the ‘07 season.

60 Terrence Campbell (6-3, 277, So.) Former defensive lineman who has made the conversion to the O-line.

RT 78 Justin Sorensen (6-7, 316, Sr.**) Big Canadian offensive lineman who has made 18 consecutive starts at right tackle... selected in the CFL Draft.

68 Kyle Nunn (6-6, 306, Fr.-RS) Redshirt freshman who has worked his way into the two-deep... from Sumter, S.C.

TE 84 Jared Cook (6-5, 240, Jr.**) Preseason third-team All-SEC pick by the coaches... excellent speed for a TE... figures to be a big play threat.

88 Weslye Saunders (6-5, 274, So.*) Big target at tight end... caught 12 passes for 151 yards in 2007... Named Most Improved Tight End in the spring.

QB 6 Tommy Beecher (6-1, 220, Jr.*) Slated to make his fi rst collegiate start against NC State... has completed 16-of-25 passes for 194 yards.

7 Chris Smelley (6-2, 211, So.*) Owns a 4-2 record as a starter... has completed 57.1 percent of his passes for 1,288 yards and 9 touchdowns.

FB 47 Patrick DiMarco (6-1, 238, So.*) Nephew of professional golfer Chris DiMarco... could see some time at tight end as well.

46 Bryan Kingrey (6-1, 241, Sr.**) Former walk-on who has earned a scholarship... does not have any offensive statistics.

TB 25 Mike Davis (5-9, 207, Sr.***) Senior who has rushed for 1,658 yards in his career... owns three 100-yard rushing games.

10 Brian Maddox (5-10, 224, So.*) Sophomore who saw limited time in the backfi eld in ‘07... named the Most Improved Running Back in the spring.

-OR- 20 Taylor Rank (6-0, 216, Jr.**) Posted a 101-yard rushing game against Florida Atlantic in 2006 in his lone career start

The Gamecock Defense

DE 41 Jordin Lindsey (6-3, 266, Sr.***) Fifth-year senior... named the Outstanding Defensive Player in the 2006 Liberty Bowl in his last game.

96 Clifton Geathers (6-7, 284, So.*) Brother of Bengals’ defensive end Robert Geathers Jr and the nephew of former All-Pro Jumpy Geathers.

DT 95 Nathan Pepper (6-1, 287, Jr.**) Missed most of the 2007 season after injuring his knee while scoring a TD against SC State.

42 Travian Robertson (6-4, 281, So.*) Sophomore defensive end who could also slide into the middle of the line.

79 Marque Hall (6-3, 292, Sr.***) Fifth-year senior... suffered a knee injury in 2006... played at less than 100% for the 2007 campaign.

DT 91 Ladi Ajiboye (6-1, 298, So.*) Second team Freshman All-America by the Sporting News in 2007... considered the best defensive lineman.

99 Jonathan Williams (6-2, 296, Sr.*) Former JC player who was named the Most Improved Defensive Tackle in the spring.

79 Marque Hall (6-3, 292, Sr.***) Fifth-year senior... suffered a knee injury in 2006... played at less than 100% for the 2007 campaign.

DE 83 Cliff Matthews (6-4, 259, So.*) Played linebacker most of ‘07 as a true freshman... started 9 games... was an All-Freshman SEC performer.

92 Byron McKnight (6-5, 231, Fr.-RS) High school teammate of Travian Robertson at Scotland Country in North Carolina... redshirted last season.

-OR- 98 Devin Taylor (6-6, 232, Fr.) True freshman from Beaufort, S.C. who could work his way into the rotation.

MLB 52 Jasper Brinkley (6-2, 269, Sr.*) Preseason fi rst-team All-SEC by the media and second-team pick by the coaches... led the team in tackles in ‘06.

45 Rodney Paulk (6-0, 227, Jr.**) Has made 22 starts over the past two seasons, third among the returning players on the team.

44 Dustin Lindsey (6-4, 251, Sr.**) Fifth-year senior... twin brother of defensive end Jordin... has played in just one game since the 2005 season.

WLB 40 Eric Norwood (6-1, 267, Jr.**) Preseason 2nd-team All-SEC pick by the coaches & media... on the Lombardi, Hendricks, Nagurski and Lott lists.

53 Marvin Sapp (5-11, 229, Sr.***) Has appeared in 33 games over the past three seasons including a dozen starts.

16 Shaq Wilson (5-11, 197, Fr.) Joined the squad in January and went through spring drills... named the Most Improved Linebacker in the spring.

SPUR 24 Darian Stewart (5-11, 219, Jr.**) Started 10 games as a sophomore in 2007... has missed several practices after injuring his left foot in fall camp.

8 Larry Freeman (6-1, 228, Sr.*) Converted wide receiver who moved to the defensive side of the ball in the fall... former junior college quarterback.

CB 36 Stoney Woodson (5-11, 200, Sr.***) Fifth-year senior... can play both cornerback and safety... has 4 career interceptions.

5 Carlos Thomas (5-11, 199, Sr.***) Veteran cornerback who has made 20 career starts... has 3 career interceptions.

3 Akeem Auguste (5-9, 180, Fr.) True freshman who earned the Big Play Award for the defense during the spring drills.

FS 17 Chris Culliver (6-0, 199, So.*) Played wide receiver in 2007... moved to safety in the spring...’s 19th-best prep prospect as a senior.

13 Mark Barnes (6-2, 196, Fr.-RS) Gained a medical redshirt from last season despite playing three games at wide receiver... caught two passes.

SS 21 Emanuel Cook (5-10, 203, Jr.**) Preseason second-team All-SEC pick by the coaches... leading tackler in 2007 with 92 stops... on the Thorpe list.

29 Chris Hail (5-10, 193, Jr.**) Played wide receiver and was converted to cornerback as a freshman in 2006.

CB 1 Captain Munnerlyn (5-9, 185, Jr.**) Preseason fi rst-team All-SEC pick by the coaches and media... also on the Thorpe and Nagurski list.

7 Addison Williams (5-8, 178, So.*) Earned the Most Improved Cornerback Award in the spring.

NC State Two-Deep Depth Chart

2008 NC State Organizational Chart
16Russell Wilson5-11/191Fr.*
7Daniel Evans6-2/200Gr.*
24 Andre Brown 6-0/228Sr.
3 Curtis Underwood 6-0/215So.
27 Harrison Ritcher 5-11/215So.*
47 Taylor Gentry 6-2/215Fr.
Wide Receiver
13Owen Spencer6-3/180So.
15 Darrell Davis 6-4/212So.*
Wide Receiver
5 Jarvis Williams 6-4/205 So.*
80 Geron James 6-3/220Jr.*
Tight End
83 Anthony Hill 6-6/265Sr.*
89 Matt Kushner 6-4/265Jr.*
Left Tackle
73 Julian Williams 6-5/305Jr.*
61 Matt White6-6/325Sr.*
Left Guard
75 John Bedics 6-4/295Sr.*
70 Jake Vermiglio6-5/315So.
58 Teddy Larsen 6-2/295Jr.*
74 Andy Barbee6-3/310Jr.*
Right Guard
60 Meares Green6-4/306Sr.*
76 Henry Lawson 6-3/290Fr.*
Right Tackle
50 Jeraill McCuller6-7/330Jr.*
71 Gary Gregory6-4/305So.*

Special Teams
Place Kicker
36Josh Czajkowski5-9/184So.*
26Bradley Pierson5-9/163Sr.*
38Jeff Ruiz6-2/185Jr.
Long Snapper
56Corey Tedder6-1/212Jr.
57Michael Maurer5-11/225Jr.
26Bradley Pierson5-9/163Sr.*
16Russell Wilson5-11/191Fr.*
Kick Returner
24 Andre Brown 6-0/228Sr.
Punt Returner
6 T.J. Graham 6-0/180Fr.
88 Geron James 6-3/220Jr.*
Left Defensive End
91 Markus Kuhn 6-5/280So.
98 Shea McKeen 6-5/250Jr.
Left Defensive Tackle
96 Antoine Holmes 6-2/281Sr.
94 Keith Willis Jr. 6-1/284Sr.*
Right Defensive Tackle
49 Alan-Michael Cash 6-1/286Jr.*
95 LeRoy Burgess 6-1/300Jr.
Right Defensive End
97 Willie Young 6-4/243Jr.*
11 Audi Augustin 6-2/253So.*
Weakside Linebacker
56 Nate Irving 6-1/225So.*
41 Dwayne Maddox 6-2/225Fr.
Middle Linebacker
44 Ray Michel 6-0/224Jr.*
7 Sterling Lucas 6-2/220Fr.
Strongside Linebacker
34Robbie Leonard 6-0/205Sr.*
42 Audie Cole 6-5/229Fr.*
30 Jeremy Gray 6-2/188Gr.*
20 Dominique Ellis 5-11/190Fr.
14 J.C. Neal 5-11/195Sr.
32 Jimmaul Simmons 6-2/200 Fr.*
28 Justin Byers 6-0/185Fr.*
31 Bobby Floyd 5-9/211 Jr.
21 DeAndre Morgan 5-10/170So.*
33Koyal George 5-11/175Jr.*

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

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