The Wolfpacker

September 2012

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 33 of 95

sophomore Rodman Noel on the strong- side and redshirt junior Rickey Dowdy on the weakside. However, the coaches spent the entire preseason shuffling the players around, trying to find the best combination, and Lucas in the middle seems like the only sure thing. "Nobody has a starting position," Dowdy W said. "We're all still fighting, so we never know where we're going to end up. We just have to go out there, produce and make plays." Unfortunately for the Wolfpack, Michael Peek, who was on the two-deep all of last year as a true freshman, tore his ACL dur- ing the preseason and is out for the year. BY RYAN TICE hen fall training camp began, NC State listed its starting linebackers as fifth-year senior Sterling Lucas in the middle, Lucas, who was elected a team captain alongside of quarterback Mike Glennon, redshirted last season after he suffered a knee injury in preseason camp. However, the 6-2, 231-pounder spent games in the coaching box next to Tenuta, and immersed himself in learning the defense. The vet- eran of 36 games, including two starts, is by far the most experienced at his position — the eligible linebackers on the squad (junior D.J. Green will redshirt after test- ing positive for a banned substance) have combined for just 43 career snaps from scrimmage, 29 of which belonged to Peek. "I think [Lucas being elected captain] But Coaches And Players Are Confident "Losing Michael Peek doesn't help, we The Linebackers Are The Biggest Question Mark On The Team, MYSTERY MEN don't have a lot of depth there right now," defensive coordinator Mike Archer noted. "We're kind of moving guys around, trying to find the best three, the best two — that's going to be continuous until we play. We'll come up with three guys that will be able to play, they'll be well-coached and they'll do a good job; we just don't have a lot of experience." The presence of Archer, a 37-year vet- eran of coaching and linebackers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1996-2002, and linebackers coach Jon Tenuta, a 32nd- year coach who added the title of associ- ate head coach for defense this offseason, gives head coach Tom O'Brien confidence in the group. "That's still an area of concern for all of us, but I think we're getting better," O'Brien said. "We're feeling a lot better than we did starting camp. We've got to mix and match some things with them, but I think between Mike, who coached all of those All-Pros in Pittsburgh, and Jon, with all of his schemes, they'll put those guys in position where they can be successful for us on defense." 34 ■ THE WOLFPACKER The inexperienced linebackers have noted how much help Lucas has been since he has returned to the field, while the coaches contend that there is not a better option to get the entire defense lined up, which is a great thing to have in the middle of the defense. Lucas is looking forward to leading not just the linebacking corps, but also the en- tire team to new heights this fall. "It's an honor, and I don't take it lightly," he said. "God allowed this [fifth year] to happen for a reason, and I feel like this is going to be the year. Our goal is nothing less than an ACC championship. That was our goal coming in, and I feel like we're all on the same page. The mentality has really changed around here, and I feel like we're ready to go. "I feel like last year was a blessing, I just got to pick [Tenuta's] brain, and I think it's Fifth-year senior Sterling Lucas, who is the most experienced linebacker on the roster despite missing last year due to a knee injury, was elected a team captain and will likely start in the middle. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN speaks to his dedication," O'Brien said. "Even last year when he couldn't play, he gave support to everybody and was a de facto coach. I think he has really good leadership qualities, and [his teammates] recognized that."

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