NC State’s plans for big year start with Tennessee
North Carolina State is looking to move to the top of the
Atlantic Coast Conference.
For Tennessee, the first goal for 2012 is to move out of the
basement in the Southeastern Conference.
Each team hopes to use Friday night’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff at the
Georgia Dome to set a winning pace for 2012. Still, N.C. State
coach Tom O’Brien said while the nationally televised game is
special, it won’t define the season.
”Well, the first game definitely isn’t the end-all game that
you’re going to play, but there are definitely special games and
this is definitely one of them,” O’Brien said. ”It’s a great
opportunity for us and we are looking at it that way.”
N.C. State has 17 wins the last two seasons. The Wolfpack was
8-5 overall and 4-4 in the ACC’s Atlantic Division last season for
a fourth-place finish behind Clemson, Wake Forest and Florida
”I feel like winning this game will finally put us on the map
and finally put us where we’re supposed to be,” said N.C. State
senior safety Earl Wolff. ”The past couple of years, we’ve had an
eight-win season, a nine-win season, and I feel like this year can
be that 10-win season, but we have to start off by beating
Senior quarterback Mike Glennon’s 31 touchdown passes last year
were the second-most in N.C. State history. Philip Rivers threw 34
scoring passes in 2003.
The Wolfpack also boasts a returning star on defense. Junior
cornerback David Amerson led the nation and set an ACC record with
13 interceptions in 2011.
N.C. State apparently will be without another top starter in the
secondary. O’Brien said this week cornerback C.J. Wilson isn’t
available because of an unspecified eligibility issue.
O’Brien said he’s waiting for Wilson to be cleared by the
Wilson has returned each of his three career interceptions for
Tennessee finished 5-7 overall and was last in the SEC’s Eastern
Division at 1-7 in 2011.
The Vols lost top receiver Da’Rick Rogers, who transferred to
Tennessee Tech. He says failed drug tests led to his suspension
Rogers’ exit leaves more pressure on junior quarterback Tyler
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said Wolff, Amerson and Wilson give
N.C. State ”probably one of the best secondaries in college
”You have a first-rounder and probably three or four NFL draft
guys back there,” Dooley said. ”They make you pay for an
inaccurate throw. They make you pay for a mistake. And they set you
up. They can recover and make a play on a ball that most people
can’t. It is going to require some patience from (Bray).”
Bray said N.C. State’s defense has size and speed.
”I wouldn’t say they’re LSU or Alabama, but they can compare to
some of the teams in the SEC,” Bray said.
Tennessee defensive end Darrington Sentimore gave a lukewarm
review of N.C. State.
”They’re a great team, but we’re a great team also,” Sentimore
”They have a great offensive line, they’ve got a good offensive
line. That’s pretty much it. The quarterback, average. The
receivers, average. But the offensive line is pretty good.”
Dooley played wide receiver at Virginia from 1987-90, when
O’Brien was the Cavaliers’ offensive line coach.
O’Brien said Dooley, who earned a scholarship after beginning
his playing career as a walk-on, carried himself like a young
”He was probably the smartest guy on offense when he played and
he did a great job telling everybody else where to go,” O’Brien
Dooley is smart enough to know playing college games on Friday
night is not a good long-term plan if he wants to protect
relationships with high school programs.
”It’s certainly not something you want to do every year,”
Dooley said. ”I know our leadership, it’s not something you want
to do because we support the high schools so much and we don’t want
to ever try to take away from their support. I think it’s a
one-time deal. … Hopefully once this passes we won’t have this
The Chick-fil-A Bowl committee is staging kickoff games on
back-to-back nights at the Georgia Dome, including the
Clemson-Auburn game on Saturday night.
The Clemson-Auburn game is expected to sell out. The conflict
with high school football may be one reason the Tennessee-N.C.
State game has not sold out.
AP Sports Writers Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, N.C., and Steve
Megargee in Knoxville, Tenn., contributed to this report.