N.C. State players' quotes
But while State held Wake Forest to zero yards in the third quarter after trailing 14-0 at the half, its offense seemed to click as well in last Saturday's 27-21 overtime win over the Demon Deacons.
State has not been shutout in 108 games, the fifth-longest scoring streak in ACC history.
Running the ball has been a deciding factor in its three wins over Carolina since Amato took over the reigns four years ago. State averaged 207 yards on the ground in those games, but could manage just 52 yards in its 17-9 loss to the Tar Heels in 2001. The 2002 ACC Rookie of the Year, T.A. McLendon (#44, 5-11, 232, Jr.), is a punishing runner with speed, who appears to be as healthy as he has in a long time. The league's rushing leader ran for 139 yards and two touchdowns against the Deacs, including the game winner. McLendon has rushed for 326 yards and four touchdowns in three games, for a 4.7-yard average. But it's his 108.7 yards per game statistic that has him just ahead of Georgia Tech's P.J. Daniels in conference rushing rankings this week. Bobby Washington (#26, 6-1, 200, Fr.) and Darrell Blackman (#2, 6-0, 205, Fr.) provide solid relief behind McLendon, and have each reached the end zone once this season. Reggie Davis (#20, 6-1, 233, So.) is the fourth tailback option, and fullback Chance Moyer (#49, 6-2, 242, Sr.) provides solid leadership and strength in paving the way for the rushing game and in pass protection.
Rumbling T.J. Williams (#80, 6-3, 260, Jr.), who had three catches for 69 yards in the Wolfpack's 47-34 win over the Tar Heels in Raleigh last year, has fully recovered from injury setbacks in previous seasons. Williams has six catches this year for 61 yards. His co-starter is John Richter (#15, 6-3, 244, Jr.), the son of two-time N.C. State All-America center Jim Richter.
Left tackle Chris Colmer (#70, 6-6, 325, Gr.) was the top blocker before being diagnosed with a rare condition known as Parsonage Turner Syndrome, which causes numbness, burning and pain through his shoulder and arm. He returned this season for the first time since playing in the 2002 Gator Bowl. He has already been in on 211 snaps this season. Left guard Leroy Harris (#64, 6-3, 295, So.) was named a freshman All-America by The Sporting News. Center Jed Paulsen (#53, 6-2, 290, Sr.), a candidate for the Rimington Trophy, in his third year as a starter. James Newby (#78, 6-5, 281, So.), who started in Colmer's absence, has made tremendous strides in conditioning his body. Right tackle Derek Morris (#71, 6-6, 340, So.), who can bench press 500 pounds, came on as the starter in the last five games of the 2003 season. John McKeon (#75, 6-5, 300, Jr.) started 10 games in Colmer's absence, but moved to the right guard position this year.
Last year's youth has become today's experience, as prior to the 2003 season opener none of the current starters had ever played in an collegiate game. Now they make one of the best front fours in the country. Left end Mario Williams (#9, 6-7 291, So.) earned freshman All-America honors with 21 tackles for loss last season. Speedy Manny Lawson (#91, 6-5, 220, Jr.), a former outside linebacker, already has five sacks and eight tackles for loss to his credit from the right end position. Tackles' Demarcus "Tank" Tyler (#72, 6-2, 294, So.) and John McCargo (#90, 6-2, 289, So.) stuff up the middle on a team allowing opponents just 2.5 yards per rush.
John Deraney (#12, 6-4, 202, So.) handles all the kicking duties for the Wolfpack. He has converted three of his six field goal attempts this season, while punting for a 44.0 average. Hall, Hudson and Washington are the returners. Hudson is averaging 25.7 yards per kickoff return and Hall is getting 8.1 yards per punt return, but no one has taken it to the house yet this season.