With the nation’s sixth-hardest schedule, N.C. State will undoubtedly have the opportunity to prove itself against some of the strongest teams in the nation. This will not be easy, however, after losing Philip Rivers, one of the most impressive quarterbacks in ACC history and Jerricho Cotchery, the Wolfpack’s leading receiver last season.
Nonetheless, a talented core of receivers and a more experienced defense will help N.C. State, provided Rivers’s replacement, Jay Davis, turns in solid performances.
“Rivers was a person who was just on another level; he was a great quarterback,” offensive tackle Derek Morris said. “But Philip Rivers wasn’t the whole offense. He had a whole offensive line in front of him.... He had a whole team around him. People have got to understand that he didn’t do it by himself. He had 10 other guys out there helping him out. We’ve got nine of those 10 guys coming back.”
Though it seems obvious that the quarterback position is integral for the success of any team, the Wolfpack’s offensive and its growing defensive strength may be able to make up for the departure of a strong quarterback.
With the addition of a new defensive coordinator, Reggie Herring, the Wolfpack are hoping to reinvent and improve their defense this season.
“I think we’ll bounce back this year because of the simple fact that our defensive line has matured,” safety Andre Maddox said. “Mario [Williams], Manny [Lawson], Johhny [McCargo]... I can go on forever. They’ve stepped up, they’ve got a year under their belts and they’re playing excellent. In practice, I see a lot of things that I haven’t seen before. It’s a great situation.”
Two more new additions, tailbacks Bobby Washington and Darell Blackman, have surprised many with strong preseason performances in scrimmages and practice. With T.A. McLendon’s hamstring still a question mark, Washington and Blackman have added much-needed depth in the backfield.
“In practice, they’ve done an outstanding job... that’s in practice where there are no people, no sportswriters, no internet and no television cameras,” head coach Chuck Amato said. “The thing that has impressed everybody is how fast they have absorbed the offense, terminology wise. You can certainly get mixed up listening to a play call... We’ll find out,[though]. You never know what’s going to happen when the lights go on.”
Although the Wolfpack may have lost of couple of key players last season, the players who remain have only improved and shown greater promise for the future. Though Rivers and Cotchery left large shoes to fill, this N.C. State squad seems to be up to the task.
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