The Wolfpacker

July 2012

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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2012 FOOTBALL PREVIEW BY JACEY ZEMBAL senior starter James Washington, redshirt sophomore backup Tony Creecy, fifth-year senior Brandon Barnes, and former lead- ing rusher and redshirt sophomore Mustafa Greene. NCSU also has added freshman power back Shadrach Thornton of Hines- ville, Ga. New running backs coach Des Kitchings N inherits a trio — Washington, Creecy and Greene — that could be one of the best in the ACC. The former Vanderbilt and Air Force assistant coach is the third running backs coach in as many years after taking over for Everette Sands, who left to coach the running backs at South Carolina. |||||||||||| RUNNING BACKS One prevailing theme in offensive coor- dinator Dana Bible's attack, no matter who the running backs coach has been, is that the players need to be good at every facet of the game. "Our backs have to be great runners," Kitchings said. "What does that mean? He has to be as efficient running between the tackles as he is running on the perimeter to make big plays for us. Then they have to be a pass catcher and have good eye-hand coordination. "They have to run routes and separate from the linebackers. That is a matchup that is really not as noticeable to the normal fan, but that running back versus linebacker can be a positive for the position if you have that guy to create a mismatch." Perhaps the most important part of the position is to make sure fifth-year senior quarterback Mike Glennon remains healthy. "We are involved in the pass protection and must protect the quarterback," Kitchings said. "There are two ways with one being in the pass protection or being the guy out on a route and having to catch in case of a blitz. We have to have some strength and some- thing about us to get up in there and block. You have to have the will to do it. "We can always improve on pass protec- tion and always improve on catching the ball." Kitchings will bring a different perspec- tive to the position group, which also in- cludes redshirt sophomore fullback Logan Winkles and junior fullback Tyler Purvis. "When I got here, my impression was it was a group of guys that work hard and are competitive," Kitchings said. "It's a good room and the guys get along well. I went back and watched the previous tapes, even 42 ■ THE WOLFPACKER C State won't have to worry about depth at running back this season. The Wolfpack return nearly ev- ery ball carrier on the roster — EXPERIENCED OPTIONS First-Year Coach Des Kitchings Inherits A Deep Group going back two years before to see Mus- tafa in action. I wanted to see what I had. I wanted to see what their strengths and weak- nesses are and things to improve." Each of the backs brings something a little different to the table. "James is the faster guy," Kitchings said. "He has that experience, and James has run the ball between the tackles for us. "Creecy made some plays for us in both the pass and the run. He took another big step during the spring of really understand- ing the running back position and the block- ing schemes, and how to attack and run the football." Greene missed portions of the spring due to disciplinary reasons, but Kitchings is en- couraged by what he has seen both on film two years ago, and in person. "When Mustafa was playing, he is a vio- lent runner," Kitchings said. "He is an explo- sive guy and extremely competitive." Kitchings feels he's already seen im- provements since what he watched on video from the Belk Bowl win over Louisville and the rest of the 2011 games. "I think individually they've gotten bet- ter in spring practice about being finishers running the football and getting that extra yardage," Kitchings said. "The work they are doing in the weight room is changing their bodies in a positive way." Having three experienced running backs creates some solid options for Kitchings. "Not only is it good for me as their coach, NC State's Top Rusher Yards The Past 10 Seasons Year Name 2011 James Washington 2010 Mustafa Greene 2009 Toney Baker 2008 Andre Brown 2007 Jamelle Eugene 2006 Toney Baker 2005 Andre Brown 2004 T.A. McClendon 2003 T.A. McClendon 2002 T.A. McClendon 1,101 897 597 773 767 667 688 667 770 608 but I think it's good for our offense," Kitch- ings said. "Those three guys all have experi- ence, and they are competitive guys, or they wouldn't be here at this level. That contin- ues forward by creating inner competition amongst our room. In turn, those three guys should get better individually, which in turn will help our offense get better. That is what you want." Greene, a 6-0, 213-pounder, led the Wolfpack with 597 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 134 carries, plus snagged 30 receptions for 272 yards and two scores. However, he injured his foot during 2011 spring practices and ended up redshirting last year. Greene had two of his best games against two of NC State's toughest opponents in 2010. He rushed for a season-high 88 yards on 10 carries against Virginia Tech and had 73 on 17 attempts against Florida State. Greene's knack of making defenders miss and physical running style was missed last year. Washington and Creecy emerged to fill the void. Washington had 1,212 yards of total offense last year — 897 rushing yards and 315 receiving yards — and became a steadying force. The 6-0, 195-pound Wash- ington rushed for seven touchdowns and had at least 20 carries in six games (227 for the season) and was in double figures in carries in all but one contest (at Cincinnati). "James Washington, being a senior, is very smart and very knowledgeable and savvy about the offense," Kitchings said. "He has that whole dynamic. He is a quiet kind of guy. His leadership could come by just the way he performs and goes about his day-to-day business." Washington's 17 career starts and 27 games played also come in handy in pass protection. "He understands just from being experi- enced and a fourth-year guy what his pre- Senior James Washington amassed 1,212 yards (897 rushing and 315 receiving) of total offense and rushed for seven touchdowns last year. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN

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