The Wolfpacker

July 2013 Football Preview

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Football 2013 Poised For The Next Level An Experienced Group Could Make Special Teams Units Elite N By Jacey Zembal C State is hoping its special teams can improve from solid or good in certain areas to consistently great. Co-special teams coordinators Eddie Faulkner and Clayton White have veteran players to help bring that change. The junior trio of punter Wil Baumann, kicker Niklas Sade and long snapper Scott Thompson resume their duties for the third straight year. Fifth-year senior punt returner Rashard Smith is one of the best in the ACC and has a touchdown return on his résumé. Linebackers Zach Gentry, a fifth-year senior, and Brandon Pittman, a junior, both recorded 10 tackles apiece on special teams last year. "Our specialists could be the strength of our team," Faulkner said. "Sade kicked the ball well this spring and has a powerful leg. The more confident he gets, the better we will be. "Baumann as a punter has done a great job. He's probably a well kept secret in terms of seeing what he can do in practice. He can pooch the ball inside the 5-yard line and directional kick. He has a strong leg." Sade has proven to have ice water in his veins when it comes to attempting big field goals. He made the game-winning 43-yarder against Maryland last year, and also hit a key 50-yarder, which was his longest on the season, in the eventual loss against Miami. Sade went 13 of 23 on field goals, with seven of his misses from beyond 40 yards, and 44 of 46 on extra points in 2012. He also boomed 41 touchbacks on 70 kickoffs. Baumann averaged 38.9 yards on 74 punts with a long of 60 last year. He had 16 land inside the 20-yard line, 37 were fair 3 6 25 ■ By The Numbers Combined blocked field goals (two) and punts (one) last year by NCSU opponents. Fifth-year senior Rashard Smith's ranking in school history for punt return yards in a season (294). Special teams tackles the last two years by fifthyear senior Zach Gentry — 15 in 2011 and 10 in 2012 — who earned a scholarship for his efforts prior to his junior season. caught and five went into the end zone for a in the past," Faulkner said. "He's a confitouchback. dent guy and probably our most consistent "l'm excited about Baumann, and he playmaker in the spring, and he likes being could have a breakout year and be recback there. ognized by somebody nationally or for "With the ball in his hands, he can be awards," Faulkner said. exciting." Thompson rarely has NC State also showed Year-By-Year had a bad snap the last two some weaknesses on speKicking Stats years. The less he gets nocial teams last year, parYear FG PAT Punt Avg. ticed, the better it is for the ticularly when UNC punt 2012 13-2344-46 38.4 Wolfpack. returner Giovani Bernard 2011 11-1646-47 37.2 "Scotty has really been sprinted down the right 2010 21-2749-50 37.8 working his butt off," sideline for a 74-yard 2009 10-1246-47 37.1 Faulkner said. "You have touchdown to win the ri2008 16-1933-34 38.2 guys like that in the fold." valry game. 2007 16-1825-25 36.7 Darrell Blackman, T.J. Opponents also ended 2006 12-1622-23 39.1 Graham and Tobais Palmer up with three blocked kicks 2005 15-2028-29 38.6 all proved to be upper— two field goals and a 2004 13-2229-29 41.9 echelon kickoff return men punt — and the Wolfpack 2003 12-1756-59 42.7 in rewriting the NC State missed two extra points. record book over the last decade. The WolfOpponents averaged 20.1 yards on kick pack will be breaking in a new return man returns and 8.1 yards on punt returns last to replace Palmer, who had two touchdowns year. last year. "We have some skilled guys that can Smith could end up being a dual return run," Faulkner said. "Gentry is going to threat. He finished sixth in the ACC last year be our special teams demon and he knows with 9.3 yards per punt return, and went 73 he should be on every special teams unit. yards for a touchdown against The Citadel. We have a handful of guys like that on the "He has obviously made some big plays team." ■ Special Teams Roster Starters No.Name Pos. Yr. Ht. Wt. Hometown 36 Wil Baumann P Jr. 6-6 190 Wilmington, N.C. Baumann punted 74 times for an average of 38.9 yards with a long of 60 last season. He landed 16 inside the 20-yard line and had five touchbacks. 32 Niklas Sade PK Jr. 6-3 212 Wake Forest, N.C. Sade went 13 of 23 on field goals with a long of 50, and went 44 of 46 on extra points for 83 points in 2012. He had 41 touchbacks on 70 kickoffs. 57 Scott Thompson LS Jr. 5-11 233 Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. Thompson handles all the long snapping and was recruited with a scholarship from California out of high school. Waiting In The Wings No.Name Pos. Yr. Ht. Wt. Hometown 96 Evan Dunbar PK Jr. 6-2 160 Concord, N.C. Dunbar is a walk-on kicker. LS So. 6-0 225 Charlotte 52 Ben Garnett Garnett is a walk-on long snapper. 47 William Stephenson P R-Fr. 6-3 181 Raleigh Stephenson is a walk-on punter. 99 Ryan Stevens K So. 6-3 190 Raleigh Stevens is a walk-on kicker. 88  ■  the wolfpacker 88-90.STs.indd 88 7/1/13 2:15 PM

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