In seven games Maddox has made six starts, recording 27 tackles, three tackles for a loss, one sack, and six quarterback pressures. He played the most snaps defensively against Boston College (67) and totaled five tackles, two tackles for a loss and two quarterback pressures. In the loss, the 6-foot-2, 225-pounder appeared to play faster and be around the ball more than in previous games.
"I think I got downhill more against BC," said Maddox. "A couple of games like Wake Forest I didn't get downhill a lot... I think I was hesitating. Against BC I got downhill faster and attacked the ball instead of sitting back and waiting. If you sit back and wait or hesitate you aren't playing fast. You have to be confident and aggressive, and we're trying to do that more."
It also looked like Maddox played a little more in the box versus the Eagles.
"It depends on what teams running, but I was inside a lot against BC," he said. "I felt real comfortable in there and wasn't really nervous. I was comfortable with the gameplan and knew what I had to do. Things just didn't turn out in that game the way we planned."
Maddox enrolled last year as one of NC State's top recruits in the 2008 class. Because the Wolfpack lacked depth at linebacker, he was asked to play as a true freshman and probably wasn't ready. He gained some experience, particularly when Nate Irving was sidelined with an injury, playing in nine games (four starts) and totaling 32 tackles and .5 tackle for a loss.
Over the past year Maddox has spent time at weakside (his current position) and strongside linebacker and could receive some reps inside at middle linebacker if starter Ray Michel is out an extended period of time with an ankle injury.
"I"m comfortable with all three positions," said Maddox. "They aren't real difficult to learn. Strongside and weakside are about the same thing so if I do move around there isn't a big learning curve.
"Either way it's about picking up your keys and making plays. We have to make plays."
Maddox believes the bye week came at a good time for the Wolfpack. The team used the extra practices to work on fundamentals an pick up the intensity, something he feels State has lacked over the last three games.
"I think those were the best practices of the year," he said. "We came together as a team, and I think we had a lot of intensity on the practice field. That's what we've been needing to pick up.
"Everyone wonders what's been different, but I don't think the intensity has been the same. In the first four games, our intensity was crazy. We just have to find that intensity we had, and if we can get that back there's no telling what we can do."
Maddox could be on to something. If you're not playing intense, you probably aren't playing aggressive or fast which causes you to hesitate or think too much defensively. That leads to slow reads, missed tackles, and busted plays.
"I do think we've got to play more aggressive and faster," he said. "It comes back to swarming to the football, and that's something we've been working on in practice. If we can get everyone running to the ball there won't be many busted, long plays because someone else will be there to make the tackle if the first guy misses.
"I think that's what we were doing more in the earlier games... we might have had a missed tackle but someone else was always there."
The Pack better be swarming this weekend in Tallahassee because Florida State has an offense capable of shredding every defense in the ACC. Led by star quarterback Christian Ponder, the Seminoles average 428 yards per game to lead the league in total offense.
"They have so much speed," said Maddox. "We have to tackle in that game really well because they are so fast and can turn short passes into big plays. If we can make tackles in the open field that will be big for us."
With a 3-4 record overall and a 0-3 mark in league play, NC State is in need of a win. The Pack must win four of its final five games to reach postseason play for the second straight year so this is definitely a huge game for the Wolfpack.
"It's a must-win game," said Maddox. "It's a must-win game for us. Also, it's a game where we can prove that we're better than our record and show we are capable of beating these teams.
"We're a good team that has to get our groove back. It's a real big game because we have to show what we can do."