August 23, 2004 The Big Picture
Welcome to life without Philip Rivers. The record-breaking, program-making quarterback is no longer around with his funky but amazingly productive throwing motion, and some believe that will cause the immediate downfall of Chuck Amato's program. With Rivers, the Wolfpack never finished better than fourth in the ACC. How could it possibly do better without him, in a super-charged, 11-team ACC? The company line is that the Pack is better-stocked with talent now and will rely on a more balanced offense and a much-improved defense, and in this (rare) case the company line may be right on target, but that probably still won't be enough for a top-three finish.
There is no doubt that the Pack has some Florida State-like and Miami-like talent on both sides of the ball. One national magazine even said the Pack had more talent than any team in the league, then picked it to finish seventh, hardly an endorsement of Amato's coaching ability. The likelihood is that State will look completely different on offense, relying first on its running attack. That should take some pressure off the two new quarterbacks vying to replace Rivers.
Done For Me Lately
Year ACC Overall Postseason
|1994||6-2 (2)||9-3||Peach Bowl (W)|
|1998||5-3 (4)||7-5||MicronPC Bowl (L)|
|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)|
|2003||4-4 (4)||8-5||Tangerine Bowl (W)|
ACC: 39-41 (.488); No. 5 in ACC
Overall: 68-52 (.567); No. 5 in ACC
With Mario Williams and Manny Lawson, the Wolfpack might have the best pair of rushing ends in the ACC. But can the Pack stop the run? Sophomore tackle John McCargo was dominating in the preseason, and if he can get some help, the defense has to be better, thanks to stalwarts at linebacker (Pat Thomas) and in the secondary (Andre Maddox). Offensively, T.A. McLendon seems to be thriving with the additional competition in camp, which should put him in better shape when the season comes. That alone should reduce his risk of injury. The offensive line is experienced, and it will benefit from having sixth-year tackle Chris Colmer back in top shape. The Pack still has game-breaking receivers, something defenses might forget as they load up to stop the run.
Coming On Strong
McCargo is a budding star on the defensive front, which will rely on as many as a half-dozen freshmen and sophomores. DeMario Pressley, the top signee in the freshman class, is likely to play immediately. Linebacker Stephen Tulloch, who impressed in 2003 as a true freshman, could take over as a starter. On the offensive line, sophomores James Newby and Jon Holt conceivably could move ahead of massive Derek Morris, who continues to disappoint. The two freshman running backs, Darrell Blackman and Bobby Washington, have big-time talent and will be on the field from the get-go.
Cause For Concern?
Neither of the two new quarterbacks, Jay Davis and Marcus Stone, has taken charge in the battle to replace Rivers. They have been OK, but neither has significantly out-performed the other. The defensive line still has no proven depth. Amato still doesn't know about his kicking game. Sophomore John Deraney may end up handling everything, because highly touted recruit Tyler Lewis nursed a leg injury for most of preseason practice, but the staff will consider using a walk-on at punter.
The Whole Truth
"If everybody stays healthy, then yeah, I would love to run the ball more. It opens up play action. It makes things easier up front for the quarterbacks. But again, everybody has to be healthy up front, and everybody has to be healthy (in the backfield). It relieves a lot of pressure off the quarterbacks."
N.C. State coach Chuck Amato
CHART BY: THE NCSU INSIDER
(8-5, 4-4 ACC)
|24||at Wake Forest||38|
|38||at Ohio State (3 OT)||44|
|21||at Georgia Tech||29|
|44||at Florida State (2 OT)||50|
|Sept. 4||Richmond (2-9)|
|Sept. 18||Ohio State (11-2)|
|Sept. 25||at Virginia Tech (8-5)|
|Oct. 2||Wake Forest (5-7)|
|Oct. 9||at North Carolina (2-10)|
|Oct. 16||at Maryland (10-3)|
|Oct. 23||Miami (11-2)|
|Oct. 30||at Clemson (9-4)|
|Nov. 6||Georgia Tech (7-6)|
|Nov. 11||Florida State (10-3)|
|Nov. 27||East Carolina (1-11)|