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NC State versus South Carolina pre-game notes

Posted Thursday, September 3, 2009

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Raleigh, NC - 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 5-17 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.

NC State and South Carolina 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.

OUT FOR SEASON
Mario Carter, TE - knee
Denzelle Good, OL - shoulder
Nate Irving, LB - leg
Colby Jackson, FB - knee
Everett Proctor, QB - shoulder

Prior to last season, the two teams hadn’t placed since 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 - 26-25-4, and posts a 10-3-1 mark over the Gamecocks in Carter-Finley Stadium.

SHUTOUT CITY VERSUS GAMECOCKS

NC State and South Carolina have met on the gridiron 55 times and 13 of those meetings have resulted in a shutout by one (or both) of the teams. The Wolfpack has shut out the Gamecocks seven times (including 10-0 the last time the teams met in Carter-Finley Stadium) and have been held scoreless seven times (the 1904 game ended in a 0-0 tie, so the shutout counts for both teams).

The last two times the two teams have met, the visiting team has been shut out (South Carolina, 10-0 in 1999 and NC State, 34-0 in 2008).

PACK PLAYS NOTABLE GAMES VERSUS GAMECOCKS

NC State has played several notable games with South Carolina in the history of the series.

√ On November 23, 1957, the Wolfpack clinched its first ACC title in one of the most memorable games in the program’s history in Columbia, S.C. Halfback Dick Christy scored all 29 of NC State’s points in the 29-26 victory, including the 47-yard field goal to win the game - his FIRST attempt in a game. With the score 26-26 and the Pack driving, South Carolina intercepted a pass and the Gamecock fans began spilling out of the stands to celebrate the tie. But a defensive pass interference call gave NC State one more play and Christy connected for the win.

√ On October 8, 1966, NC State played its first game in the new Carter-Finley Stadium. There were 35,200 fans there to witness the first game in the new facility, but the Wolfpack lost, 22-31.

√ On September 4, 1999, NC State and South Carolina met on the gridiron for the first time in eight years - a hiatus which was emphasized by the fact that the two teams had faced each other 34 of 35 years between 1956-1991. The game was played in Raleigh and although it was the Wolfpack’s second game of the season (NC State had defeated 16th-ranked Texas in Austin on August 28), it was the Gamecock’s first. Standing on the sidelines for South Carolina was 62-year-old Lou Holtz, who was coaching his first game for the Gamecocks, but had coached many games in Carter-Finley Stadium, serving as Wolfpack head coach from 1972-75. NC State won the game, 10-0, in a constant, driving rain - the remnants of Hurricane Dennis.

DEFENDING ITS (NEW) TURF

For the first time since Carter-Finley Stadium opened against the Gamecocks in 1966, the Wolfpack will finally be playing on a level playing field when South Carolina comes to town. Two days after NC State’s 2009 spring game, the process began to remove the crown from the Wayne T. Day Family Field.

Crews lowered the field some three-and-a-half feet at the center, less around the edges. It took about three weeks to haul thousands of cubic yards of topsoil from the stadium. After installing drainage sand and gravel that met United States Golf Association specifications for golf greens, the crew spent weeks making sure the field was as level as a pool table.

Some 240 rolls of sod were used to cover the 68,400 square feet of the field, which has a synthetic buffer around the playing surface, 10 feet away from the wall surrounding the field on the sidelines and five feet away from the wall everywhere else.

IRVING OUT FOR SEASON

NC State’s football team suffered a big blow in late June, when linebacker Nate Irving was injured in a car accident. He suffered a collapsed lung, broken rib, separated shoulder and a compound fracture in his leg and has been told by doctors that he will need to spend the next six months rehabbing from the injuries.

An honorable mention All-ACC performer a year ago, Irving told reporters in August that he felt ‘blessed’ to be alive after the single-car accident. He missed three complete games and most of a fourth last season with an ankle injury, but still ranked third on the team in tackles and set a record for an NC State linebacker with four interceptions.

A STAFF WITH STAYING POWER

NC State is one of only five BCS teams that will return its entire coaching staff (fulltime assistant coaches) for the third consecutive season in 2009. Only 27 schools return the same staff from last year.

Six members of Tom O’Brien’s staff at Boston College picked up and followed him when he made the move to NC State in December of 2006. Two of those coaches, Don Horton and Jerry Petercuskie, had been with O’Brien all 10 of his years with the Eagles. Two others, Dana Bible and Jason Swepson, had been there for eight years. Keith Willis spent six years at BC as an assistant under O’Brien, while Jim Bridge was there four years.
 

Here’s a list of the BCS schools whose staffs are intact for the third straight season:

  • East Carolina
  • Michigan State
  • NC State
  • Penn State
  • Virginia Tech

TEAM ELECTS CAPTAINS

One of the first orders of business for the NC State football team every season is to elect team captains. At the very first team meeting of 2009 fall camp, the team voted on the players would represent it for the upcoming season. The players elected halfback Jamelle Eugene, offensive tackle Jeraill McCuller and defensive end Willie Young.

“These three young men are great choices,” said head coach Tom O’Brien. “They have shown great leadership throughout spring practice and in our summer workouts and their hard work and dedication has earned them the respect of their teammates.”

LARSEN HOME IN THE CENTER

A year ago, Ted Larsen had never snapped the ball in a game - not in Pop Warner, not in middle school, not in high school and not in college. Now after just a year playing
center, and just a year playing on offense at the collegiate level, Larsen is a candidate
for the national award given to the nation’s BEST center.
Larsen’s development was a key to the Wolfpack’s success over the second half of
the 2008 season. NC State rushed for more than 90 yards per game more in the last
six games of the regular season than in the first six.
Larsen, who graduated from NC State in May, spent his first three years at NC State
at defensive tackle, where he redshirted in 2005, then played in 23 games, starting five,
in 2006 and 2007 combined. He was named the team’s Most Outstanding Offensive
Lineman in 2008.

THE ULTIMATE GOAL

Eight members of the 2008 Wolfpack football squad earned their degrees from NC
State in graduation ceremonies in May: Andy Barbee, Harrison Beck, Jamaine Clemmons,
Teddy Larsen, Bradley Pierson, Matt White, Keith Willis and Willie Young.
Tom O’Brien’s squad will boast four players on the 2009 roster who are postgraduates:
Barbee, Larsen, Young and Julian Williams, who graduated in December of 2008
prior to the Papajohns.com Bowl.
In the last four graduation ceremonies (December of 2007, May and December of
2008 and May of 2009), 31 Wolfpack football players have earned their degrees.

DOING THEIR HOMEWORK

The quarterback position obviously requires a great deal of homework. The ‘field
general,’ as the quarterback is known, must know all the plays and know what all of the
other positions on offense are doing as well.
If the QB spot requires an even greater amount of study than any other position,
then the Wolfpack is definitely in good hands for 2009. All three quarterbacks who saw
action for NC State in spring drills and are listed on the depth chart heading into fall
camp were named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll for the 2008-09 academic year.
Russell Wilson, Mike Glennon and even walk-on Daniel Imhoff all posted cumulative
GPA’s over a 3.0 for the 2008 fall semester and 2009 spring semesters combined.
The group isn’t just known for it’s prowess in the classroom. The Sporting News
tabbed the Wolfpack’s quarterback corps as one of the top five in the nation for 2009.

KEEPING THE HOME FIRES BURNING

For the first time in school history, NC State will play eight football games at home
in 2009. The Wolfpack, will open the season with four consecutive home contests for
the first time since 1984, and won’t travel in the month of September and just once in
November.
The Wolfpack kicks off the 2009 campaign against South Carolina on Thursday,
September 3 in a game televised by ESPN. Tom O’Brien and his squad will not travel
outside the state of North Carolina until October 17, as the Pack’s first road game (Oct.
3) is at Wake Forest.
For the first time since 1998, NC State will face North Carolina in the regular season
finale, as the Tar Heels travel to Carter-Finley Stadium on Thanksgiving weekend. NC
State hasn’t closed the regular season against UNC at home since 1995.

BAKER’S BACK

It’s been a long time since #22 has put on a Wolfpack uniform and run out onto the
field. In fact, if all goes according to plan, when Toney Baker finally gets back on the
playing field in the season opener with South Carolina, it will have been two years, two
days and and hour or so since the last time he played in front of the Wolfpack faithful.
On September 1, 2007, Baker’s life and football career took an unexpected turn
when he limped to the sidelines after playing just 26 snaps. The knee injury ended up
being a type that makes a torn ACL seem minor. He knew early in the recovery process
that it could end up being two years before he could see action again, but Baker, who
had rushed for 1,272 yards in his career to that point, approached his rehab just as he
does an opponent’s linebacker: he met it head-on.
Baker was cleared to return to drills in November of 2008 and went through full
contact spring practice with the Wolfpack. He currently ranks sixth among active ACC
players in career rushing yards and has more than any other NC State player.
Baker is listed as the starter at half back for the South Carolina game.

SLIM PICKINGS

Quarterback Russell Wilson has thrown 249 consecutive passes without being picked
off - a school record and the longest active streak in the nation. Wilson threw just one
INT last season, in the second half of the Clemson game on September 13.
Wilson didn’t set that mark by making short, easy passes. He averaged 13 yards per
completion, the top mark among the ACC passing leaders.
Below is a list of the longest passing attempt streaks without a pick in school history
in a single season (since 1970) and a chart for streaks in the NCAA last season:

NC State Passing Streaks without an Interception
Quarterback Attempts # Games Year
Russell Wilson 249 10 Current
Jamie Barnette 179 6 1998
Philip Rivers 126 5 2003
Philip Rivers 122 4 2001
Terry Harvey 118 5 1995
Jamie Barnette 103 4 1999
NCAA Pass Streaks without an Interception, 2008
Rk Name, School Attempts w/o INT
1 Drew Willy, Buffalo 284
2. *Russell Wilson, NC State 249
3. Robert Griffin, Baylor 209
4. Thaddeus Lewis, Duke 206
5. Tim Tebow, Florida 203
6. Tim Hiller, W. Michigan 189
7. Omar Clayton, UNLV 173
8. Cullen Harper, Clemson 165
9. Greg Alexander, Hawaii 151
10. Drew Willy, Buffalo 133
11. Chris Turner, Maryland 132
12. Levi Brown, Troy 119
* - denotes streak is active

Czaj-WOW-ski

One of the Pack’s most dependable performers last season was placekicker Josh Czajkowski.
As a sophomore, he ranked third in the ACC in field goal percentage with an
.842 (16-19) mark - the ninth best mark in school history for a single season. Only one
other league player returning in 2009 posted better marks than he did in 2008.
For his career, Czajkowski ranks fourth in Wolfpack history in field goal percentage
(.842), sixth in PAT percentage (.981) and tied for 12th in field goals made (16).
Czajkowski is on the preseason ‘watch’ list for the Lou Groza Award.

SENIOR LEADERSHIP

One way in which the 2009 squad will differ greatly from last year’s squad will be in terms of senior leaders. NC State has 20 seniors on its 2009 roster, the third-highest
total in the ACC. Fourteen of those seniors have started games during their tenure with
the Wolfpack.
A year ago, the Pack boasted 17 seniors on the preseason roster, but only 8 had
ever seen starting action and just two were three-year letterwinners. This year, five
members of the squad have earned three varsity letters: Alan-Michael Cash, Jamelle
Eugene, Ted Larsen, Ray Michel and Willie Young.
Here’s a look at the number of seniors on the 2009 rosters of each league school:
Rk School Srs.
1. Wake Forest 24
2. Virgina Tech 22
3. NC State 20
4. Boston College 19
Florida State 19
Clemson 19
7. Maryland 14
Miami 14
Virginia 14
10. Georgia Tech 10
North Carolina 10
12. Duke 9

SENIOR LINEMEN

Not only does the Wolfpack boast 20 seniors this season, but of the nine starting
spots on the two lines, seven are being held down by seniors, giving the Pack leadership
and experience at those important positions.
The offensive line boasts three seniors: Julian Williams at guard, Jerraill McCuller
at tackle and Ted Larsen at center(Williams and Larsen are actually graduates). Those
three players boast 49 starts between thenm
On defense, all four spots up front are being manned by seniors: Shea McKeen
and graduate Willie Young at end and Leroy Burgess and Alan-Michael Cash at tackle.
Those four boast 60 starts among them (Burgess and McKeen were transfers in 2008,
so are just in their second season with the Wolfpack).
OWEN, OWEN, GONE!

Redshirt sophomore Owen Spencer emerged as a big-play threat for the Wolfpack
offense in 2008. Not only did he lead the team with 31 catches, he also set a new ACC
single-season record by averaging 22.3 yards per catch.
Of the Wolfpack’s 55 pass plays of 20 yards or more this season, Spencer was at the
receiving end of 15 of them.

OLD YOUNG LEADS ACC

Willie Young will turn 24 years old in September, making him the grandfather of the
2009 Wolfpack team. Young, who was rated the ninth-best player in the ACC by espn.
com, also enters his senior campaign ranked as the active ACC leader in career tackles
for loss (31.5) and sacks (12.5).
Young, who earned his degree from NC State in May, ranks 11th in school history in
tackles for loss and 15th in sacks. He has been named a preseason candidate for four
national awards: the Bednarik, Hendricks, Lombardi, and Nagurski.

ROOKIE U

With quarterback Russell Wilson’s selection as the ACC Rookie of the Year, NC State
now leads the ACC in all-time rookie of the year selections with nine - three more than
any other school. Wilson joins former Pack standout and ACC record-holder Philip
Rivers as the only quarterbacks ever to win the award for the Wolfpack and he is only
the sixth QB in conference history to win the award.
Here’s a look at NC State’s ACC Rookie of the Year selections:
Russell Wilson, QB - 2008
T.A. McLendon, TB - 2002
Philip Rivers, QB - 2000
Koren Robinson, WR - 1999
Ray Robinson, TB - 1998
Jesse Campbell, DB - 1988
Ray Agnew, DT - 1986
Joe McIntosh, RB - 1981
Ted Brown, RB - 1975

MAKING A STATE-MENT

Just two years into his Wolfpack coaching
career, head coach Tom O’Brien has been particularly
strong when playing against in-state
rivals. O’Brien has posted a 6-1 mark against
FBS teams from the state of North Carolina,
including a perfect 3-0 mark at home.
The Wolfpack won the mythical ‘state title’
in 2008, posting wins over North Carolina, East
Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest. It marked the
first time NC State has defeated all four in-state
FBS schools in the same season since 1986.

SELL OUT CITY

For the ninth straight season, NC State has
sold out of its season tickets for 2009, despite
tough economic times and an additional game
on the schedule.
Here’s a look at the season ticket sales for the
Wolfpack since 1999:
Year Season Tickets Sold
2009 36,526
2008 36,500
2007 38,200
2006 38,000
2005 36,500
2004 35,500
2003 34,500
2002 31,500
2001 30,500
2000 24,425
1999 23,108

QUARTERBACK DEVELOPMENT

Wolfpack head coach Tom O’Brien has now
spent 19 years coaching in the Atlantic Coast
Conference, serving for 15 years as an assistant
coach at Virginia, then spending 10 years as
head coach at Boston College (the Eagles were
members of the ACC for just two of those years)
and now two years as the head coach at NC
State.
During his 19-year ACC tenure, O’Brien has
helped coach six first-team All-ACC quarterbacks.
Here’s a look at the honor-winning ACC signal
callers coached by O’Brien:
Year School Position All-ACC QB
1987 Virginia Off. Line Scott Secules
1989 Virginia Off. Line Shawn Moore
1990 Virginia Off. Line Shawn Moore
1991 Virginia Off Coor/QB Matt Blundin
2006 Boston Coll. Head Coach Matt Ryan
2008 NC State Head Coach Russell
Wilson

GIVING BACK

When Tom O’Brien was named the head
coach at NC State in December of 2006, he
pledged to make the Wolfpack Champions
in the classroom, in the community and on
the football field. That pledge has proven
not to be just rhetoric, as his team has made
strides in all three prongs of that pledge.
One way the Wolfpack has given back to
the community has been the “Toys for Tots”
campaign - something that is near and dear
to the head coach’s heart as he serves on
the Board of Directors for that Marine Corps
Foundation.
Last season, Coca-Cola agreed to donate
$500 for every touchdown the Wolfpack
scored to Toys for Tots and fans were also
asked to bring toys or cash to donate at the
Wake Forest game. The result? More than
3,000 toys and over $34,000 in cash donations
from fans and Coke.
The Wolfpack has also made the trek to
nearby Camp LeJeune each of the past two
years to visit the Wounded Warriors Battalion.
“I think it’s important that [our guys]
are around a bunch of people that are really
special, that have done so much to keep us
free and protect us,” says O’Brien.
And this past spring, a small group of
players and staff spent their spring break
down in Mississippi helping people who are
still rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina.

FORMER PACK PLAYER IS LEGEND

Former Wolfpack All-American Jim
Ritcher, who was the first center in college
football history to win the prestigious
Outland Trophy, has been named the 2009
recipient of the President Gerald R. Ford
Legends Award.
The award will be presented during the
10th Annual Rimington Trophy Presentation
on Saturday, January 16, 2010 at the Rococo
Theatre in Lincoln, Neb. Wolfpack center
Ted Larsen is a candidate for the Rimington
Trophy.
A two-time All-America center at North
Carolina State University, Ritcher provided a
steady hand throughout the 1976-79 seasons.
Twice he was awarded the Jacobs
Trophy as the best blocker at the center
position in the Atlantic Coast Conference
(ACC).
Two of Ritcher’s sons have also donned
the Red and White. John was a tight end
from 2002-05 and is now on the strength
and conditioning staff at Florida State, while
Harrison is a fullback on the 2009 squad.

LAST TIME OUT VERSUS THE GAMECOCKS

South Carolina 34, NC State 0
August 28, 2008 • 8:00 p.m.
Williams-Brice Stadium Stadium • Columbia, S.C. • 80,616
The final score said 34-0, but this game was a defensive struggle well into the third quarter before South
Carolina finally pulled away. Neither team scored until the Gamecocks took advantage of an NC State
turnover at the Wolfpack 12-yard line. That drive produced zero net yards and resulted only in a field goal
with 20 seconds left before halftime, giving South Carolina a 3-0 lead at intermission.
The Wolfpack held the upper hand in field position throughout the first half. The Gamecocks' deepest
penetration into NC State territory prior to their field goal late in the half was to the Wolfpack 34. Before
the NC State defense finally wore out in the fourth quarter, South Carolina's longest drive of the game
was just 34 yards. The Gamecocks' first four drives combined to yield just 32 total yards. USC had just
102 total yards at halftime and just 127 yards with 5:37 left in the third quarter.
The roof finally caved in on the NC State defense at that point. South Carolina scored on its final four
possessions of the game — a field goal and three consecutive touchdowns — to make the game a blowout,
but the two defenses dominated most of the game.
The Wolfpack defense, in addition to limiting the yardage for three quarters, picked off four passes from
quarterback Tommy Beecher — the Wolfpack's first four-interception game in eight years — and sacked
Beecher five times. Weakside linebacker Nate Irving had 10 tackles, including nine solo hits and two for
losses, and intercepted Beecher late in the first quarter to stop a South Carolina drive that had reached
the NC State 34-yard line.
Offensively, the Wolfpack ran into a talented, swarming South Carolina defense that held the Pack to just
138 total yards. Senior running back Andre Brown rushed for 101 yards on 21 carries, the sixth 100-yard
rushing game of his career, moving him into 11th-place in Wolfpack history in career rushing yards.
Midway through the second quarter, on NC State's deepest penetration into USC territory of the game,
redshirt-freshman quarterback Russell Wilson suffered a grade 3 concussion when he took an inadvertent
knee to the back of the helmet and was carried off the field on a stretcher. NC State managed just 61
yards of offense the rest of the game.

Head Coach Tom O’Brien
(86-59, 13th year)

√ In 2008, became first coach in ACC history to lose first four league games and then win next four.

√ Served nine years in the Marines following graduation, serving tours of duty at Quantico, Japan, and California.

√ Reached rank of major in Marine Corps Reserve.

√ Led Boston College to eight consecutive winning seasons and seven consecutive bowl victories (his team won the 2006 Meineke Car Care Bowl after he had come to NC State).

√ Posted more wins (75) than any head coach in BC history.

√ Led 2004 BC team to AFCA Academic Achievement Award for posting nation’s highest GPA, team earned honorable mention seven other times.

√ On Board of Directors for Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots Foundation.

COACHING EXPERIENCE
2007-pres. NC State Head Coach
1997-06 Boston College Head Coach
1994-96 Virginia Off. Coor/OL
1991-94 Virginia Off. Coor/QB
1982-90 Virginia Gds/Centers
1975-81 Navy Tackles/TE

PLAYING EXPERIENCE
College - Three-year starter at defensive end for Navy (1968-70); High School -Played at St. Xavier HS in Cincinnati.

EDUCATION
Graduated from St. Xavier HS in Cincinnati in 1967; Earned a BS in management from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1971.

PERSONAL DATA
Married to the former Jennifer Byrd of San Diego. Three children: Colleen, an associate producer at ESPN; Daniel, who is a graduate assistant football coach at Alabama, and Bridget, who is attending graduate school at the College of Charleston.

BOWL QUALIFICATION
At NC State: 2008 Papajohns.com Bowl; At Boston College: *2006 Meineke Car Care Bowl, 2005 MPC Computers Bowl, 2004 Continental Tire Bowl, 2003 Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl, 2002 Motor City Bowl, 2001 Music City Bowl, 2000 Aloha Bowl, 1999 Insight.com Bowl; At Virginia (4-5): 1996 Carquest Bowl, 1995 Peach Bowl, 1994 Independence
Bowl, 1993 Carquest Bowl, 1992 Gator Bowl, 1991 USF&G Sugar Bowl, 1990 Florida Citrus Bowl, 1987 All-American Bowl, 1984 Peach Bowl; At Navy (1-2): 1981 Liberty Bowl, 1980 Garden State Bowl, 1978 Holiday Bowl
* - team qualified for bowl under O’Brien’s guidance, but he did not coach actual bowl game.

 
Related info:
ACC Football News
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NC State versus South Carolina pre-game notes
QB Russell Wilson of the NC State Wolfpack.
photo by Gene Galin


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