The Wolfpacker

May 2012

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 39 of 79

could be tougher than any unit he sees next fall. The quarterback had no qualms about calling the Wolfpack's secondary the best in the country after the spring game, and that group should lead the way for State's defense in 2012. Under defensive coordinator Mike Ar- N cher, the Pack's goals are to put pressure on the quarterback and create turnovers. The unit was very good at doing exactly that last year — State led the nation with 27 interceptions, ranked second with 39 turnovers forced, tied for eighth with 40 sacks and averaged seven tackles for loss per game. BY RYAN TICE C State quarterback Mike Glen- non will be the first one to say it, the first-team defense he went against every practice this spring including one behind the line of scrim- mage, and Cato-Bishop finishing with a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss. Redshirt freshman Mike Rose, who had a sack in the spring game, redshirt junior Sylvester Crawford and redshirt sopho- more Theo Rich, who finished the spring contest with two sacks, round out the edge rushers. The Pack must replace both starters along the interior, but some youngsters showed promise last season. Redshirt soph- omore Thomas Teal and T.Y. McGill, the only true freshman to start a game in 2011, currently man the top of the organizational chart. Junior college transfer Deylan Buntyn NC State's Defense Flashes High Ceiling In Kay Yow Spring Game Which players flank Lucas remains a TURNOVER MACHINE enrolled at NC State this spring and has two years of eligibility remaining. Junior A.J. Ferguson, who finished the spring In the Kay Yow Spring Game April 21 at Carter-Finley Stadium, the defense picked up where it left off during the 2011 season, racking up 10 sacks, 19 tackles for loss and three interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown. Here is a breakdown of how the Wolf- pack defense lines up after the spring. ■ Defensive Line The Pack has several game-tested and versatile players along the defensive line to choose from, the coaches just need to find the right combination of players up front for 2012. The plethora of injuries suffered along the line last fall meant that several young players received valuable playing time. State used six different starting combina- tions up front in 2011, and eight returning lettermen have combined for a total of 32 starts during their NC State careers. Redshirt junior Darryl Cato-Bishop and senior Brian Slay, two players who have experience at both end and tackle, are pen- ciled in as the starters at the end of the spring. Transfer Forrest West, a redshirt junior who sat out last year due to NCAA rules, and redshirt sophomore Art Norman are also expected to see heavy action. West paced all linemen with six tackles in the spring game, including two for loss and a sack. Slay and Cato-Bishop were also disruptive, with Slay tallying three stops, 40 ■ THE WOLFPACKER game with five tackles, including one for loss, and redshirt freshman Dave Mann complete the depth chart. "The biggest question mark right now is tackle," Archer said. "We had to put T.Y. McGill in there last year when we were planning on redshirting him. That experi- ence now turns out to be a plus. T.Y. and Teal are both young, they're both sopho- mores, and they still have a ways to go. "We have to find backups. Buntyn is a junior college guy; he's got to learn the sys- tem and where to line up. Ferguson played a lot last year because of the injuries until he got hurt. "The guy that has been a pleasant sur- prise has been Forrest West, we got him as a transfer from Colorado. He was on the scout team last year, and he's done a good job for us. At end, Cato-Bishop, Norman and those guys have played, so we've got to count on them for big things." ■ Linebacker The biggest question mark heading into the 2012 season will be linebacker, where the Pack is looking for a trio of new start- ers. The spring game starters were fifth- year senior Sterling Lucas in the middle, sophomore Rodman Noel on the strongside and redshirt junior Rickey Dowdy on the weakside, although the starters are far from being decided for the fall. "We've got a lot of work to do there, I don't think anything is settled," head coach ■ Defensive Backs The rock-solid foundation of the Pack's defense in 2012 will be its secondary. After getting thrown into the action as wide-eyed rookies three years ago, it's now a senior- laden group stocked with experience. Cornerback C.J. Wilson and safety Earl Wolff, both fifth-year seniors, started at least four games as rookies and have been full-time starters for the last two years. Meanwhile, senior safety Brandan Bishop is entering his fourth year as a starter, and All-American junior cornerback David Amerson is coming off of a record-break- ing, 13-interception campaign. Junior cornerback David Amerson leads the way for a starting secondary that has combined for 663 tackles, 11 forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries, 29 interceptions and six defensive fluid situation with the possibilities includ- ing Dowdy, Noel, redshirt junior Ryan Cheek, and sophomores Brandon Pittman and Michael Peek. Dowdy tallied four stops in the spring game, including a sack, while Noel finished with two tackles and a pair of pass breakups. "I don't think we'll know about the line- backers until we get through the August practices," O'Brien noted. "There isn't a lot of experience, so guys are going to be rushed into playing a little sooner." Tom O'Brien said. "The biggest thing we have to solve in August is the linebacker position. We lost four kids and we planned on losing two." The one starter that is pretty much writ- ten in stone is Lucas, who led the Black team with five tackles in the spring game. O'Brien has referred to him as a coach on the field after the 6-2, 238-pounder red- shirted last season with a knee injury. He sat in the coaches' box with linebackers coach Jon Tenuta during the 2011 cam- paign, and the coaching staff is already seeing the payoff for the 36-game veteran. "I think he's given a lot of leadership because he understands," O'Brien said. "He can get them lined up, he can get the defense called and he can get us headed in the right direction. He has to provide that for us if we're going to have any success." touchdowns during their NC State careers. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN

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