by Mike Potter
The Wolfpack is coming off a decent season with a big finish, as Tom O’Brien’s club rose from the dead on three distinct occasions in November to earn a bid to the Belk Bowl and win it to finish 8-5.
And with a now proven starting quarterback in Mike Glennon and one of the most dangerous secondaries in the country returning intact, the Wolfpack is pretty much a known quantity – save for a completely decimated linebacking corps.
Starter Audie Cole and sometime starter Dwayne Maddox who graduated, starter Terrell Manning who declared for the NFL Draft, and rising junior D.J. Green - who lost a season of eligibility after testing positive for a banned substance - all needed to be replaced.
Senior Sterling Lucas, who missed last season with a knee injury after appearing in 36 games in his first three seasons, is the only experienced linebacker returnee. The five others on the depth chart have played a total of 57 snaps.
In today’s contest - which will be played without kickoffs and in touch-football mode when a sack is imminent – the top offensive players will wear white and the top defenders black. They’ll share a white-clad kicking “battery” of punter Wil Baumann, placement man Niklas Sade and snapper Scott Thompson.
This one is a wipeout for the Black team, which rolls to a 32-7 victory before an announced crowd of 24,797.
The Black led 11-7 at halftime before the second half was played with a running clock.
Tony Creecy scored for the Black on a five-yard run early in the second quarter before Sade’s conversion attempt was blocked.
James Washington answered with a one-yard scoring run, one play after Glennon had connected with tight end Asa Watson on a 74-yard pass.
But Isaac Swindell sacked White freshman Brian Taylor for an eight-yard sack and a safety, and Sade hit a field goal on the final play of the half to make it 11-7.
After a scoreless third quarter, the fourth was all Black.
Milton Hall scored on a 1-yard run with just under six minutes left, and then Earl Wolff stepped in front of a Taylor pass and took it 46 yards to the house. The final score came on a 15-yard run from freshman QB Manny Stocker, who will redshirt this season.
Tyler Brosius completed 15 of 27 passes for 184 yards without an interception for the Black, while Bryan Underwood hauled in six passes for 109 yards. Creecy carried 16 times for 45 yards and a TD.
Glennon completed 12 of 20 for 154 yards with an interception for the White. Washington led the White with nine carries and a TD on 26 carries.
They said it …
O’Brien: “I’m concerned not only at linebacker, but a couple of other spots right now. Hopefully we’ll go into the fall practices the way we ended up today and get better. I think (sophomore Rodman) Noel can be very good. We don’t have a Cole or a Manning right now. Those kids – (sophomores Michael) Peek and (Brandon) Pittman are too young at the spots they’re playing. Lucas is giving us a lot of leadership. He can get them lined up up front and get the defense called. He can get us headed the right direction, and he has to provide that for us.”
CB David Amerson: “Our defensive line definitely got after the quarterback today. And the defensive backs and linebackers were flying around making plays. The linebackers we’ve got are athletic. They’ve just got to get into the scheme of the defense and get confident.”
Lucas: “It was tough sitting out last year, but I was kind of like a coach on the field. I was in the press box every game with (linebackers coach Jon) Tenuta and I learned a plethora of new things. I was hoping to play with my boys last year, but now I’m the next man up. There’s a little bit of pressure, but I feel like I was a leader before. I feel like we’re going to be OK.”
What does it all mean?
That the defense looked a little ahead of the offense, and for the Wolfpack that’s a very good thing.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Wolff’s interception return for the TD.
N.C. State vs. Tennessee, Aug. 31, Atlanta