Notebook: Pack Hosts Tribe in Home Opener

NC State (0-1) faces William & Mary (0-0) tomorrow night in the home opener for the Wolfpack. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Starting quarterback Russell Wilson suffered a Grade Three Concussion in the second quarter of the season opening loss to South Carolina and was transported to Richland Memorial Hospital. It was determined at the hospital that Wilson suffered no injury to his spinal cord.

Graduate quarterback Daniel Evans will get the start against William & Mary on Saturday, the third season that the veteran has started at least one contest. He started nine games as a redshirt sophomore then eight games last season.

Daniel Evans

Evans is 6-11 overall and 4-5 at Carter-Finley Stadium. Evans won four straight last season. He is 1-2 against non-conference opponents, with a win against East Carolina and a loss against Central Florida in 2007. He also lost to ECU in 2006.

Evans needs just 90 yards passing for 4,000 in his career, which would make him just the seventh quarterback in school history to reach that mark.

He currently ranks fifth in school history in pass completions, seventh in yards, ninth in percentage and 15th in pass efficiency.

NC State will open its 2008 home slate against the William & Mary Tribe. The Wolfpack holds an 11-8 all time record in the series, including a 9-3 mark in Raleigh and a perfect 2-0 record at Carter-Finley Stadium.

The Pack has outscored the Tribe 80-9 in the two meetings in Carter-Finley Stadium, a 38-9 win in 1999 and a 42-0 shutout in 1980.

The two teams met 14 times in 19 years from 1940 until 1958, but didn't meet again until 1980.

NC State is 64-12-3 all-time in home openers.

Senior running back Andre Brown's performance was perhaps the lone offensive highlight for the Wolfpack in the loss to South Carolina.

Andre Brown

Brown ran for 101 yards on 21 carries for his sixth career 100-yard rushing effort, tied for ninth in school history with the legendary Dick Christy. Brown now has 1,873 yards rushing, good for 11th all-time in school history. He ranks fourth in the league in rushing and 34th nationally after the first round of games.

Brown needs just 48 yards to move into 10th place all-time, and 127 yards for 2,000 career rushing yards.

The senior from Greenville, N.C. ranks second in the ACC among active players in career yards and rushing touchdowns (15).

True to head coach Tom O'Brien's comments during the week, nearly every NC State player on the South Carolina travel roster played. Only eight players did not see action out of the 66 players who made the trip, and one of those was freshman quarterback Mike Glennon, who the coaches plan on redshirting.

Twenty-two players saw their first career action for NC State, including four true freshmen - wide receiver/returner T.J. Graham, fullback Taylor Gentry and linebacker's Dwayne Maddox and Sterling Lucas.

NC State's pass defense was solid for most of the night against South Carolina, allowing just 106 yards through the first three quarters and picking off four passes.

DeAndre Morgan
The four interceptions are tied for the second-most nationally. Each of the four interceptions had a common theme - it was the interceptor's first of their career.

In fact, redshirt freshman Jimmaul Simmons had his pick on his first career play, which came on third down of the Gamecock's first drive.

Redshirt Justin Byers added an interception in his first career game. A pair of redshirt sophomores - linebacker Nate Irving and DeAndre Morgan - each had the first pick of their careers.

Granted, NC State only had five pass receptions for 49 yards in the opener, but sophomore Owen Spencer led the team with three of those five catches and 27 of the yards.

The speedy Spencer, from Leland, N.C., had just five catches for 73 yards as a true freshman, and didn't have more than a single catch in a game last year.

The NC State linebackers are an inexperienced bunch, as outlined in the note below. The three starters against South Carolina - Nate Irving, Robbie Leonard and Ray Michel - had combined for just five career starts heading into the opener.

Nate Irving

All three responded to the challenge and were the leading tacklers in the contest for the Pack. Irving led the team with 10 tackles, including two for loss and his first career interception.

Leonard notched nine tackles in his first ever game as a linebacker and had two quarterback hurries.

Michel had eight tackles and a quarterback pressure.

The six players listed on the two-deep at linebacker have combined for just eight career starts, and redshirt sophomore Nate Irving has five of them. Redshirt junior Ray Michel has started two.

Redshirt senior Robbie Leonard, a former walkon, not only has never PLAYED linebacker in a collegiate game until the opener against South Carolina, but the converted safety had played in only 12 games from scrimmage in his career.

He earned his first start at linebacker against USC and had nine tackles and two QB hurries.

Before fatigue set in after being on the field for 10 full minutes longer than the offense against South Carolina, defensive coordinator Mike Archer had to have been pleased with the performance.

Markus Kuhn

NC State allowed 369 total yards, but 208 of those came in the fourth quarter alone as cramps and bad field position took its toll. Through the first three quarters, NC State had allowed just 55 rushing yards and 106 yards through the air.

The 2007 unit allowed over 186 yards on the ground - last in the ACC - and was 11th in the league in total defense. Against USC, NC State allowed just 198 passing yards and intercepted a leaguehigh four passes in the game. Those four picks were the most since 2000.

The defensive unit also notched five sacks in the game, tied for second nationally.

Freshman wideout T.J. Graham has instantly added speed to the Wolfpack. Graham won the North Carolina 4-A title in the 100 and 200 meters with times of 10.44 and 20.82, respectively. He also posted the nation's fastest time in the 200 meters at one point during the season.

In 2007, Graham finished third nationally in the 100 meters at the Nike Nationals.

Graham was back as a punt returner and in on kickoff return, in addition to earning the start at wide receiver. He returned two kickoffs for 42 yards and caught the first pass of his career, a 10-yard reception.

One of the best personnel moves that the Wolfpack coaching staff decided to make last season was at the defensive end position midseason.

Willie Young

Instead of the ends lining up on the left or right side, they decided to put speedy Willie Young on the side away from the tight end - in other words, to let him operate "in space." Space is definitely where Young belongs.

In the last six games, Young tallied 12 tackles for loss, including six sacks and pressured the opposing quarterback 20 times (including eight in the win over North Carolina).

Young tallied 16 tackles for loss for the season, the seventh-best mark in school history and was one more than #1 NFL pick Mario Williams had for the second-best mark ever for a Wolfpack sophomore.

The talented redshirt junior posted four tackles, including 1 1/2 sacks and two quarterback hurries in the season opener.

For the second straight season, NC State will have a new player handling the placekicking duties in 2008.

Last season, the man who would end up with his name in the Wolfpack record books wasn't even in the preseason media guide. Steven Hauschka came to the Wolfpack as a graduate student after earning his degree from Middlebury College.

He ended up leading the ACC in field goal percentage (.889, 16-18), tying for sixth in NC State history. He was also a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award. He went from not even being on the roster, to signing an NFL free agent deal with the Minnesota Vikings, and now with the Baltimore Ravens.

Redshirt sophomore Josh Czajkowski will handle the kicking duties after solid spring and fall camps. Senior Bradley Pierson, who took over as the Wolfpack's starting punter in the third game of last season, will back up Czajkowski and also punt.

Although Pierson had punted 62 times heading into 2008, neither player has ever kicked off, kicked a PAT or a field goal in a college game until South Carolina.

Czajkowski missed his first career field goal attempt - 49 yards - but didn't have any other kicking chances. Pierson averaged 42.7 yards per punt, the best single-game average in his career, against South Carolina. He handled the kickoffs as well, booting his only attempt of the opener to the goal line.

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