The Wolfpacker

July 2012

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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2012 FOOTBALL PREVIEW Reload In The Middle during their college careers — the four projected starters own 114 of those. The defensive front also gained valuable N experience when the line went through a plethora of injuries in 2011 that resulted in players being shuffled from end to tackle, as well as possible redshirts being pushed onto the game field, along with some walk- ons. It should be a different story this year with all of last year's ends back, and some exciting youngsters on the inside. The unit boasts a group of versatile linemen that de- fensive coordinator Mike Archer can plug in however he sees fit. The biggest question mark is at line- backer, where the Pack returns only one player with much experience — Sterling Lucas, a veteran of 36 games, who is com- ing off of a redshirt last year due to knee surgery. Others will emerge at the position, but the coach is not sure who yet. The Wolf- packer sat down with the Pack defensive coordinator for an exclusive interview, and here are the highlights. Audie Cole, Terrell Manning and Markus Kuhn were the leaders of the defense. Do you have guys to fill the void left by their departure? "At this stage right now, we don't have Last year, it seemed like J.R. Sweezy, Coordinator Mike Archer Thinks The Front And Back Lines Can Help Bring Inexperienced Linebackers Along BY RYAN TICE C State has one of the most expe- rienced secondaries in the coun- try, with the returning defensive backs combining for 124 starts Archer directed a unit that grabbed a school-record 27 interceptions in 2011 — a mark that led the nation and is tied for the second-best total in ACC history. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN we expect, but to answer your question, we don't have the large number of leaders that have a lot of experience, but we have some guys. "Sterling will be a leader, Earl, Brandan, the number of leaders, we don't have the number of guys that have experience be- cause those four guys right there played a lot of football. Where we do have ex- perience right now is on the back end, in the secondary, with Earl Wolff, Brandan Bishop, David Amerson, Dontae Johnson and those guys. "The one guy at linebacker who has played and has experience is Sterling Lu- cas. He missed last year, but I think that was a positive experience for him because he helped us coach. We sat him up in the press box, and he was on the communica- tions with us, so he understands. He's like a coach on the field because he's done it, and he's heard the conversations between [linebackers coach] Jon [Tenuta] and I. I think that has helped him understand what 64 ■ THE WOLFPACKER David, those guys will be leaders. Up front, we've got some guys there. Art Norman is a young kid, but he has played, Darryl Cato-Bishop has played, Brian Slay has played. They have to take more of an ac- tive leadership. Some of them are young guys who have to step up into more of a leadership role in the absence of those other guys." Do you feel better about the linebacker position after spring practices? "Yes because, going into the spring, it was a crapshoot. It's still very unsettled right now — as to who is going to play in certain packages. Obviously, losing D.J. [Green], who was our most experienced linebacker, hurts, but we've got to move on. As I look at it, number one, they're going to be well coached because Jon is going to do a great job of coaching. I'm not worried about that. "The last three times we put them in the stadium — the two scrimmages and the spring game — as I look at those three tapes, I see progression. When the lights go on in the stadium, you want to see guys perform — some guys do better than what they do in practice, some guys do worse. I felt like in the spring game, both the Black and the White teams' linebackers, in my opinion, played the best they had played all year in the stadium. That's the encouraging part because both of our defenses in that game played pretty well. I know the score, but some of those were defensive touch- downs and that's how I look at it. "Are we ready to play against Tennes- see? No, because they're going to be in a different environment — they're going to be out there in front of 75,000, and they're going to be playing against a pretty good football team. There are a whole lot of

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