The Wolfpacker

July 2013 Football Preview

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Strength Of The Defense Football 2013 "T.Y. is explosive and quick. He's a good pass rusher and plays with good leverage. Thomas is really, really quick. That's probably his greatest strength: his quickness off the football." Depth will be provided by senior A.J. Ferguson, redshirt sophomore Carlos Gray and redshirt freshman K'Hadree Hooker. Ferguson, whom Nielsen noted had a "real good spring," made 11 tackles and a sack in 2012. Gray, labeled by Nielsen as perhaps the strongest player on the line, had 12 tackles and assisted on a hit in the backfield last year. could see the confidence level raised." At end, four players are battling for startLeading the way inside are ing jobs — fifth-year seniors junior T.Y. McGill and redCato-Bishop and Forrest Year-By-Year Darrylredshirt junior Art Norshirt junior Thomas Teal. Teal West, started 12 games last year, Sack Totals man and redshirt sophomore while McGill opened 10. McMike Rose. Year SacksYards Gill led all defensive linemen Cato-Bishop, whom Nielsen 201233 225 with 50 tackles and 10.5 hits for credited for using his smarts 201138 242 loss. He also had five sacks and to his advantage, is a two-year 201042 284 200924 159 eight quarterback pressures. starter who tied for the team 200823 144 Teal added 37 tackles, includlead with Norman (5.5 sacks) 200727 177 ing 10 for loss and 2.5 sacks, last season. Norman has 12.5 200624 193 and posted 13 quarterback hursacks in his first two seasons at 200541 292 ries. NC State. Nielsen also praised 200433 237 "They play very well with Norman's leadership. 200327 182 each other," Nielsen noted. West had 5.5 sacks as a soph- A Veteran Line Is Anchored By A Talented Tackle Duo A By Matt Carter s far as defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen is concerned, the moment may be now for his unit. He has potentially one of the best defensive tackle combinations in the ACC and a veteran group of defensive ends. A deep depth chart is good because, as Nielsen noted, he played up to 12 guys on the line at times last season for Northern Illinois. "From where we started spring to where we finished, I think we made huge strides in the right directions," Nielsen said. "Towards the middle to the end of the spring, they started having a lot of success, pass rushing and making plays in the backfield. They kind of understood what we wanted, and then you Quick Facts Position Coach: Ryan Nielsen (1st season) Returning Starters: Darryl Cato-Bishop (22 career starts), T.Y. McGill (12) and Thomas Teal (14) Starter Lost: Brian Slay (24) FYI: Both redshirt junior Art Norman and McGill were picked on Athlon's preseason third-team AllACC unit … The same publication rated the defensive line unit as the fourth best in the ACC … Lindy's and Phil Steele's both also listed McGill as a preseason third-team All-ACC choice … Phil Steele's also had Teal as a fourth-team preseason all-conference selection, and the magazine listed the unit as the sixth best in the ACC and 33rd best nationally … Teal was also ranked as the No. 21 defensive tackle nationally and McGill No. 44 by Phil Steele's … Cato-Bishop's father, Darryl Bishop, was the first African-American to earn a scholarship to play basketball at Kentucky, where he would become a two-sport star before playing professionally in the NFL … Redshirt sophomore Carlos Gray is a rare player that signed to play with one archrival, but ended up with the other: he signed with UNC in 2010, prepped a year at Oak Ridge (N.C.) Military Academy and enrolled at NCSU in 2011 … Norman's older brother, Warren Norman, ran for 1,317 yards and eight touchdowns in his career at Vanderbilt, but he did not play in last season's Music City Bowl between the two teams … When walk-on lineman Jacob Kahut played seven snaps on the offensive line and 13 on the defensive line against Cincinnati in 2011, he became the first of three players to play both sides of the ball that season (receiver/ corner Rashard Smith and fullback/defensive end Taylor Gentry). Getting To Know: A.J. Ferguson Fifth-year senior defensive tackle A.J. Ferguson has worked himself into being a valued cog in the defensive line rotation, playing at least 21 snaps in five different games last year. The 6-2, 301-pounder from Southport, N.C., finished with 11 tackles, one sack and four quarterback hurries in 194 plays over 11 contests. Ferguson easily eclipsed his numbers from previous seasons in carving out a steady role. "I think, with the talent we have now, we can be one of the best in the ACC, let alone the country," Ferguson said. "We are staying humble and continuing to work hard." Ferguson called the 17-16 win over Florida State last year his favorite game, even if he only played a pair of snaps in the upset. "Our backs were against the wall, and it was on ESPN," Ferguson said. "We had no shot. Even guys on the team had given up on us. We just came through and overcame adversity. That was a great night." Ferguson originally signed with NC State in the class of 2009, but needed an extra year of academics at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy. His career has gone by quickly, and he's adjusted well to new head coach Dave Doeren and defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen. "It's been real exciting and team oriented," Ferguson said. "They care, just like the old staff, but are more hands-on and personal. I actually got a text from Coach D telling me how I needed to step it up in one class. He cares and wants to see me succeed." Nielsen played on the defensive line at USC and has brought enthusiasm to his players. "He is never down; he's always up," Ferguson said. "He has a high motor, and he wants us to succeed. We have hard practices, but he says that when we are in a game, it will feel like we've been there before. I like how he is pushing us and grinding us." Another change for Ferguson will be his uniform number. He has gone from No. 65 to No. 98 this season. "I always thought No. 65 was an offensive line number," Ferguson said. "I talked to the coaches, and they said if I can keep my stuff straight, I'd get a new number. I'm now in a defensive line number." Ferguson estimated he gained about 18 pounds during the winter conditioning program, but called it "good weight." "Under coach Jason Veltkamp, we are doing great things and are working hard," Ferguson said. "They are motivating us to be ACC champions." NC State went 7-6 last year and reached a bowl game for the fourth time in six years. Ferguson has noticed the expectations have changed around the program, and the players want to break "the average barrier." "We are holding everybody accountable, and I like that a lot," said Ferguson, who credits former defensive line coach Keith Willis for helping him learn how to become a man. "There are no more late nights. It's more healthy for us. "I'm just happy to be where I'm at right now, and to put on the red." — Jacey Zembal 76  ■  the wolfpacker 76-78.DLs.indd 76 7/1/13 9:37 AM

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