Larsen: 'I've Improved'

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Less than two years removed from being a back-up defensive lineman, Ted Larsen and the NC State coaching staff have remade the redshirt senior into one of the best centers in the ACC.

Ted Larsen might be the center of a rapidly improving offensive line for NC State, but at one time he was the center of attention it was for the wrong reasons.

Starting his first game at his new position against South Carolina, Larsen threw a couple of snaps over the head of his quarterbacks and had to face a barrage of questions after the game. But that was the last time the media had anything to do with Larsen, which is exactly how most offensive lineman like it.

"It's great to block some guy 15-20 yards down field but the majority of the time the less they talk about you the better it is," Larsen said.

Larsen didn't get talked about much the rest of the season, but he kept getting better. The first game was the last time one of his snaps led to a turnover – the last time it will according to Larsen. Mostly unnoticed, he and the rest of a jumbled together offensive line was a significant reason the Pack finished its season with a bowl game. The ensuing bowl practices, combined with this springs practice sessions have turned him from back-up defensive lineman to one of the better centers in the conference.

"I have the plays down and its just a matter of perfecting everything," Larsen said. "It's just the little tiny things that you just have to focus on and try to improve on every day. Eventually, after 15 practices, you notice a pretty big improvement."

"I've improved a ton I feel like. I think the bowl practices helped iron some things out and then this just being the second go around I feel a lot more comfortable snapping and blocking."

But Larsen's success hasn't stopped his coach from pointing to the offensive line as a problem area this spring. Tom O'Brien, who has something of a reputation for building offensive lines, hasn't had any issues calling out the guys up front as a unit that needs to get better before the Pack opens it season in the fall.

"I definitely feel like [he holds us to a higher standard]," Larsen said. "But I've got no problem with him saying the o-line has to get better. That makes the whole offense go, we've got to be perfect. We have to protect the quarterback, we have to get a good push on runs – if we don't get it going then the whole offense can't get it going."

Larsen also agrees with O'Brien in that the line isn't as good as it could be right now. But in his fifth year with the Pack, he also believes the line has come a long way and should be in its best shape of O'Brien's tenure by kickoff against South Carolina.

"I thought we were getting pretty good in the beginning of [spring]. The injury stuff happens but we still have a ways to go as a unit. But I think with a lot of work this summer and this fall and we should be real good."

The spring has also given Larsen a chance to work more with the Pack's other heralded quarterback, red-shirt freshman Mike Glennon. Because Glennon red-shirted last year, Larsen rarely worked with him in practice. But with incumbent starter Russell Wilson splitting time between football and baseball, the two have had plenty of time to find a rhythm.

"I got a few chances to work with him in the fall during bye weeks and the bowl practices," Larsen said. "I feel comfortable with both him and Russell, whoever we go with. They are both great quarterbacks."

Larsen is looking forward to working with both during tomorrow's spring game, the culmination of the Pack's work this over the last month. It's their only chance to play in front of a crowd, and even more importantly its their last chance to impress the coaching staff this spring.

"It'll be fun, it's always fun to get out there and compete. It's not so much the people there, that's cool but I like to just get out there and compete and have some fun. The coaches aren't there in the huddle telling guys what to do its on the players. In the scrimmages you really see how much guys have improved, you see if they are ready."

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