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Nc State

Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:41am
By: Accsports Staff

August 25, 2003 The Big Picture The school that nearly wasn't included in the ACC more than 50 years ago because of its traditionally weak football program has positioned itself for — potentially — the best season in school history. N.C. State appears ready to be a real post-expansion player in the league, thanks to Chuck Amato's recruiting ties to the state of Florida, which have given the Wolfpack more speed and talent than any team in the league not named Florida State. The PooP Is the Wolfpack really a title contender? It'll boil down to the trips to Columbus and Tallahassee. Beating FSU and Notre Dame saved last season, so the Pack knows it can compete in big-game situations. Wins over the Seminoles and Buckeyes would put the Pack into BCS contention if, and only if, it doesn't have the slip-ups it suffered in a three-game losing streak last fall. Amato has to find a way to get by Maryland, a team he hasn't beaten in his three years in Raleigh. If this is going to be a dream season, QB Philip Rivers and TB T.A. McLendon must stay healthy. Building Blocks State's skill players are as good as any in the country. Rivers will be a legit Heisman candidate if the Wolfpack can win the ACC or get itself into a BCS game. McLendon is a scary double-threat if he can avoid the nicks and bruises he suffered as a rookie, when he gained 1,101 yards rushing and was second on the team with 42 receptions. Jerricho Cotchery, though not as physically gifted as some, is as consistent as any Pack receiver in recent history. Amato also has depth at the speed positions and big-time (though unproven) talent in some of the places where he has holes, thanks to a recruiting class that was considered the best in the ACC. Coming On Strong For the last three years, the Wolfpack has relied on star playmakers on defense, namely LBs Levar Fisher and Dantonio Burnette. The next one in line, though relatively unknown, is Pat Thomas, who was second to Burnette in tackles last fall. If Thomas isn't the linebacker of the year, then Manny Lawson might be. Tall, fast and talented, the 6-6 Lawson has unbelievable leverage when making tackles and getting to the ball. On offense, the Pack will need for receivers Richard Washington and Tramain Hall to live up to their considerable hype to augment the productivity of Rivers, McLendon and Cotchery. Done For Me Lately  

Year

ACC

Overall

Postseason

1993

4-4 (5)

7-5

Hall of Fame (L)

1994

6-2 (2)

9-3

Peach Bowl (W)

1995

2-6 (7)

3-8

None

1996

3-5 (6)

3-8

None

1997

3-5 (6)

6-5

None

1998

5-3 (4)

7-5

MicronPC Bowl (L)

1999

3-5 (5)

6-6

None

2000

4-4 (5)

8-4

MicronPC Bowl (W)

2001

4-4 (4)

7-5

Tangerine Bowl (L)

2002

5-3 (4)

11-3

Gator Bowl (W)

ACC: 39-41 (.488): No. 6 in ACC
Overall: 67-52 (.563); No. 5 in ACC Cause For Concern? With six players who accounted for nearly 80 percent of the snaps along the defensive front gone from last year, the Wolfpack desperately needs some young players to step forward. At least three of the regulars up front will be talented but untested players: true freshmen Mario Williams (end) and Tank Tyler (tackle) and redshirt tackle John McCargo. Amato believes in strong special teams, relying for three years on blocked kicks and big plays. However, the guys who kick the ball have not performed up to the same level. If the Pack is going to be a national contender, either Adam Kiker or Austin Herbert must prove he can put the ball through the uprights, beginning with extra points and going beyond field goal attempts of 40 yards. The Whole Truth “Our defensive players have got to do what they are supposed to do and stop thinking what the hell happened last year.”

— N.C. State coach Chuck Amato CHART BY: THE NCSU INSIDER