N.C. State Archive

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Cary’s Chris Castor, former Duke player, among ACC football legends

Chris Castor.

Chris Castor.

Led by two members of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, two members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and one of the most successful coaches in Atlantic Coast Conference history, the ACC announced the 2014 Class of Legends for its 10th Annual Dr Pepper Football Championship Game, which will be played in Charlotte Dec. 6.

In addition, players representing Triangle teams are Chris Castor of Duke, Greg Ellis of North Carolina and Jesse Campbell of NC State.

Castor (1979-82), a second-team All-America selection by the Associated Press as senior in 1982, enjoyed one of the most prolific seasons by an ACC wide receiver that year, averaging 20.7 yards per catch on 46 receptions with a then ACC-record 13 receiving touchdowns. That year, he became the first wide receiver to be named ACC Player of the Year, helping the Blue Devils to finish second nationally in passing offense. He established a school record for season yards per catch (20.7), a mark that stood until 2007. He also was named the Duke team MVP and his career yards-per-reception average of 18.96 is still the seventh-best mark in ACC history. A fifth-round draft choice in the 1983 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks, he played in 23 games in two seasons (1983-84) for Seattle with eight career catches for 89 yards. Born in Burlington, N.C., he grew up in Cary, N.C., which is also his current hometown.

Ellis (1994-97) was one of the lynchpins of a stifling North Carolina defense for Coach Mack Brown that led the ACC in total defense for three consecutive years in 1995, 1996 and 1997 and led the nation in scoring defense in 1996. He earned honorable mention All-American honors as a sophomore, second-team All-America accolades as a junior and was a consensus first-team pick as a senior. He is still the all-time career leader at North Carolina in quarterback sacks and his career total of 32.5 sacks is still the fourth-best in ACC history. During his four seasons in Chapel Hill, he helped lead the Tar Heels to an overall 36-12 record including a 21-3 mark in his final two years and four consecutive bowl appearances. UNC was ranked seventh in the nation following his senior season. He was the eighth overall selection in the first round in the 1998 NFL Draft by Dallas and went on to enjoy a 12-year NFL Career, the first 11 with the Cowboys. From 1998 through 2008, he started 155 of 162 games for the Cowboys and finished his career in 2009 with the Oakland Raiders. He totaled 84.0 quarterback sacks and 525 tackles with 23 forced fumbles and returned both a fumble (98 yards) and pass interception (87 yards) for touchdowns. He was named to the 2007 NFL Pro Bowl and was also named that year as the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year. A native of Wendell, N.C., he played for East Wake High School and was named the North Carolina Male High School Athlete of the Year in 1993. He currently lives in Dallas, Texas.

Campbell (1988-90) was one of the defensive standouts for the Dick-Sheridan-coached Wolfpack teams in the late 1980s. He earned first-team All-ACC honors in each of his three varsity seasons and was also named ACC Rookie of the Year in 1988. As a freshman, he led the Wolfpack in tackles (83), tackles for loss (11), pass breakups (11) and interceptions (5). A second-team All-America selection by the Football News in 1989, he earned first-team honors in 1990. During his three seasons at State, the Wolfpack compiled a 22-13-1 record which included three consecutive bowl game appearances. He still holds the school career record for fumbles forced with 15. He had 269 career tackles, including 22 for loss, 30 pass breakups and seven interceptions. A second-round selection and the 48th overall pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1991 NFL Draft, he played eight seasons in the NFL, including one with Philadelphia (1991), five with the New York Giants (1992-96) and two with the Washington Redskins (1997-98). He also had seven career interceptions as a professional. A native of Vanceboro, N.C., he currently resides in Havelock, N.C., where he is an assistant principal at New Bern High School.

Leading this year’s class are former Virginia and Navy head coach George Welsh (Coaldale Pa.), Florida State’s two-time consensus All-American linebacker Derrick Brooks (Pensacola, Fla.), four-time Pitt All-American defensive end Hugh Green (Natchez, Miss.), and Syracuse All-American wide receiver Art Monk (White Plains, N.Y.).

Welsh finished his coaching career as the winningest coach in league history compiling a 189-132-4 record which included reclamation projects at the U.S. Naval Academy and at Virginia. In his near two-decade stint in Charlottesville, Welsh built the Cavaliers into one of the nation’s premier football programs, winning seven or more games for 13 consecutive seasons.

Brooks, a 2014 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is considered to be one of the greatest players in college and professional football history. The 1993 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, he was named to the NFL’s Pro Bowl an astounding 11 times and led FSU to a national championship and Tampa Bay to the NFL title.

Green, a 1996 inductee into the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, is also considered by many to be one of the greatest collegiate players in history. He was a three-time consensus All-American and earned All-America honors in all four of his collegiate seasons for the Panthers.

Monk is one of the few players to earn selection to both the College Football Hall of Fame (2012) and the Pro Football Hall of Fame (2008). He ended his 15-year professional career as the first wide receiver in NFL history to top 900 receptions, finishing with 940 career catches.

The Legends are each selected by their respective schools and will be honored during this year’s Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game weekend. They will be honored at the ACC Night of Legends sponsored by the Belk Bowl on Friday, Dec. 5, and on Saturday Dec. 6, during ceremonies at Bank of America Stadium for the 10th Annual Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship, which will be nationally televised with either a 7:45 pm (ESPN) or 8 p.m. (ABC) kickoff.

The group of 14 former gridiron standouts from current ACC schools includes a former ACC Football Player of the Year; an ACC Defensive Player of the Year, 12 former All-Americas, including 10 first-team and six consensus All-American honorees and 12 players who combined for 118 years in the National Football League. Twelve of the Legends were drafted into the NFL, including nine first- or-second-round draft choices.

In all, the collection of players combined for three national championships, eight ACC championships, 11 Super Bowl appearances, eight Super Bowl championships and 26 Pro Bowl appearances. Three of the Legends were named to their respective NFL All-Decade teams.

Joining Welsh, Brooks, Green and Monk as this year’s Legends are Boston College offensive lineman Chris Snee (Montrose, Pa.), who earned second-team All-America honors (AP) as a senior at guard; Clemson cornerback Donnell Woolford (Fayetteville, N.C.), a consensus All-America and key defensive figure for the Danny Ford-coached Tiger teams in the late 1980s; Duke wide receiver Chris Castor (Cary, N.C.), the first wide receiver to earn Player of the Year honors in ACC history; Georgia Tech offensive lineman John Davis (Ellijay, Ga.), who earned first-team All-America honors as a tackle and as a center for the Yellow Jackets; and Louisville cornerback Frank Minnifield (Lexington, Ky.), who led the nation in kickoff returns and was an excellent cover cornerback for the Cardinals.

Completing the ACC Football Legends Class of 2014 are Miami’s Darrin Smith (Miami, Fla.), one of one-third of the famed Hurricane linebacker trio dubbed the “Bermuda Triangle” that helped lead “the U” to a pair of national championships in 1989 and 1991; North Carolina defensive end Greg Ellis (Wendell, N.C.), a two-time All-American who earned consensus All-America honors in 1997 playing for the Mack Brown-coached Tar Heel teams of the mid-1990s; NC State safety Jesse Campbell (Vanceboro, N.C.), a three-time All-ACC and two-time All-America defensive back for Coach Dick Sheridan’s teams of the 1980s and 90s; Virginia Tech center Jake Grove (Forest, Va.), a unanimous first-team All-America in 2003 who was the winner of the Rimington Trophy, given annually to the nation’s top pivotman; and Wake Forest running back Alan White (Elm City, N.C.), the runner-up for 1961 ACC Player of the Year who led the conference in rushing that year and went on to an award-winning career in athletic administration as director of athletics at Elon University.

Snee (2001-03), one of the most effective offensive linemen in Boston College history, earned second-team All-America honors and first team All-Big East accolades at guard for the Eagles in 2003. His blocking helped pave the way for BC’s Derrick Knight to finish fourth nationally in rushing with 1,721 yards. In his three years as a starter for BC and head coach Tom O’Brien, he helped lead the Eagles to a 25-13 record, including bowl wins over Georgia, Toledo and Colorado State. An early-entry into the 2004 NFL Draft, he was selected in the second round as the 34th overall pick by the New York Giants. Snee enjoyed a 10-year NFL career with the Giants, starting in 141 games, four times earning selection to the NFL Pro Bowl (2008, 2009, 2010, 2012) and three times being named an All-Pro (2008, 2009, 2010). He helped lead the Giants, under coach Tom Coughlin, to a pair of Super Bowl triumphs in Super Bowl XLII (2007) and Super Bowl XLVI (2011). Snee, originally a native of Montrose, Pa., and his wife, the former Katie Coughlin, the daughter of the Giants head coach, now reside in Finger Lakes, N.J.

Woolford (1985-88) is a two-time All-America who earned 2nd team honors in 1987 and consensus All-America honors in 1988. He helped lead Clemson, coached by Danny Ford, to a 28-6-2 record in his final three seasons, including national Top Ten rankings in 1987 (10th, UPI) and in 1988 (8th, UPI; 9th AP). A two-time first-team All-ACC selection, he helped Clemson to ACC Championships in each of his final three varsity seasons, recording 10 pass interceptions in his career. An excellent punt returner, he led the ACC and finished third nationally with two touchdown returns and a 15.5 yard average in 1987. The 11th overall selection in the first round of the 1989 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears, Woolford played ten seasons in the NFL, the first eight with the Bears (1989-97) followed by one each with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1997) and Carolina Panthers (1998). He earned selection to the NFL Pro Bowl in 1993 and was named an All-Pro in 1994. He finished his career with 36 interceptions, the most at the time in Bears history. Originally a native of Fayetteville, N.C., he now resides in Charlotte.

Brooks (1991-94) earned consensus All-America honors in 1993 and 1994, leading the Seminoles to their first national championship as a junior in 1993. He earned first-team All-ACC honors three times (1992, 1993, 1994) was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year as a junior. A finalist for the Butkus, Lombardi and Football Writers Defensive Player of the Year Awards in both 1993 and 1994, he was as highly regarded off the field as well earning first-team Academic All-America honors in 1994, receiving the NCAA’s Postgraduate Scholarship and being named one of the National Football Foundation’s Scholar-Athletes. The 28th player elected in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft by Tampa Bay, he played 14 NFL (1995-2008) seasons for the Bucs, earning selection to the Pro Bowl 11 times—including 10 straight seasons from 1997 through 2006. He was honored as an All-Pro nine times and was chosen as the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press in 2002 and led the Buccaneers to their first Super Bowl victory in Super Bowl XXXVII. During his NFL career, he started 221 of 224 games, made 1,715 tackles and his six career touchdowns on interceptions returns tied an NFL record. He was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team As a professional, Brooks was the recipient of several prestigious awards, including the 2000 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, the 2003 Bart Starr Award, the 2004 Byron “Whizzer” White Award, and the 2008 JB Award through the NFL Players Association, all of which honor an NFL player annually for the commitment to their communities. In 2007, Brooks was named to the Florida High School Association All-Century Team, which selected the top 33 players in the history of high school football in the state of Florida. Currently, he is co-owner and president of the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League and he resides in Tampa, Fla.

Davis (1983-86), a four-year starter on the offensive line for the Bill Curry-coached teams of the mid-1980s, is one of the best offensive lineman in Tech history. Davis started at offensive tackle as a true freshman in 1983; started at center in 1984; earned first-team All-America honors by The Sporting News in 1985 at tackle; and completed his collegiate career earning first-team All-America honors (Scripps-Howard) back at center in 1986. He earned the nickname “The Refrigerator Mover” for his play in 1984 against Clemson consensus All-American William “The Refrigerator” Perry when he was named Sports Illustrated’s National Player of the Week following Tech’s 28-21 upset of the 13th-ranked Tigers, snapping a 20-game Clemson ACC win streak. Drafted in the 11th round of the 1987 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers, he played two years with Houston and six seasons with the Buffalo Bills at guard, playing in three Super Bowls (XXV, XXVII, XXVIII), missing one (XXVI) with an injury. A native of Ellijay, Ga., he is currently serving as National Scouting Coordinator for CSA Prepstar 360 and currently resides with his family in Marietta, Ga.

Minnifield (1979-82) was originally a walk-on who earned a scholarship and became a four-time letterman for the Cardinals. He led the nation in kickoff return average (30.4) as a junior in 1981. A superb cover corner, he had seven career interceptions. After college, Minnifield signed with the Chicago Blitz of the USFL (1983) and played two seasons including the 1984 campaign when the team moved to Arizona. He sued to move to the NFL, signing as a free agent with the Cleveland Browns in 1985. Minnifield played eight seasons for Cleveland, earning four selections to the NFL’s Pro Bowl from 1986 through 1989. He was selected to the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 1980s and was credited, along with fellow Brown cornerback Hanford Dixon, in originating and naming Cleveland’s “Dawg Pound” cheering section. After his professional career, he founded Minnifield All-Pro Homes in his hometown of Lexington, Ky. and was named to the Lexington Chamber of Commerce Board in 1993. In 2011, he was named Chairman of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees. A native of Lexington, he currently resides in his hometown.

Smith (1989-92), one of the top linebackers in Miami history, he keyed a Hurricane defense that allowed Miami to win a pair of national championships (1989, 1991) under coach Dennis Erickson during his time in Coral Gables. Along with Jessie Armstead and Michael Barrow, he composed one third of the linebacker corps for Miami known as the “Bermuda Triangle”. As a junior he earned first-team All-America honors by the Football News and second-team by the Associated Press while also named co-Defensive Player of the Year in the Big East Conference. He finished his career as the fourth-leading tackler in UM history. He was named a first-team All-American by UPI as a senior in 1992. During his four varsity seasons, Miami compiled a spectacular 44-4 record. An excellent student, Smith also became UM’s first National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Scholar-Athlete recipient. A second-round pick and the 54th overall selection by Dallas in the 1993 NFL Draft, he played 12 seasons in the NFL, the first four with the Cowboys (1993-96) where he helped Dallas to triumphs in Super Bowls XXVIII and XXX. He also played one year with Philadelphia (1997), two seasons with Seattle (1998-99) and five years with New Orleans. In his NFL career, he compiled 749 tackles, 24.0 sacks and 11 interceptions. A native of Miami, he currently resides in Pembroke Pines where he owns and operates a real estate investment and development company. He also serves as the team chaplain for the Miami Dolphins.

Green (1977-80), one of the most honored defensive players in Pitt history, is a four-time All-American who earned consensus first-team All-America honors in each of his final three seasons as a defensive end. He led Pitt to a four-year 39-8-1 record. As a senior in 1980, he was named the Walter Camp Player of the Year, the Maxwell Award Player of the Year, the UPI National Player of the Year and The Sporting News Player of the Year. Additionally, he was also presented with the Lombardi Award as the nation’s best lineman or interior linebacker. He was also voted the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy, at the time the highest finish be a defensive player in the history of the Heisman Trophy. He accumulated 460 tackles and 53 sacks in his collegiate career and Pitt retired his jersey, No. 99, at halftime of his final home game in 1980. Selected by Tampa Bay with the seventh overall pick in the 1981 NFL Draft, he played 11 seasons in the NFL, the first five with the Buccaneers and the last six with Miami. A two-time All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection as a linebacker (1982-83) he was named to the NFL’s All-Rookie team in 1981. Inducted into the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 1996, he was named the fifth greatest college football player of all-time by the collegefootballnews.com. Named to the all-time All-American team by The Sporting News in 1983, Green was ranked No. 14 among ESPN’s Top 25 College Football Players in history in 2007, and was also named to Sports Illustrated’s College Football all-century team in 1999. Originally a native of Natchez, Miss., he is now retired and resides in Fayette, Miss.

Monk (1976-79), one of the most productive wide receivers in National Football League history, is one of the few players to be inducted into both the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame (2012) and the Pro Football Hall of Fame (2008). He still ranks ninth on the Syracuse reception list and is 10th in receiving yards. He still holds the school record for most catches in a game, with 14 against Navy in 1977. He was a first-team All-America selection by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and a two-time Lambert Trophy winner given to the best collegiate player in the East. The 18th overall selection in the first round of the 1980 NFL Draft by Washington, Monk played 16 seasons in the National Football League, the first 14 with the Redskins. A three-time Pro Bowl selection (1984-86), he was a first-team All-Pro in 1984 and second team in 1985. He set an NFL single-season receiving mark, which was later broken, with 106 catches in 1984 and became the first NFL receiver with 900 or more career receptions, completing his career with 940 catches. He helped the Redskins to four Super Bowl appearances as Washington captured Super Bowl titles in Super Bowls XVII, XXII and XXVI. He was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 1980s and has been named to the Washington Redskins Ring of Fame. Originally a native of White Plains, N.Y., he now resides in Great Falls, Va.

Welsh (1982-2000) retired in 2000 as the winningest coach in ACC history having compiled 189 wins in a 28-year career as head coach at Navy and Virginia. His total of 134 wins at Virginia is still the second-best mark of any ACC head coach, trailing only Florida State’s Bobby Bowden, and his overall total ranks 31st among all coaches in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision. His 85 ACC wins in conference games is also the second-highest total in league history. His rebuilding job at UVa stands as one of the great coaching accomplishments in modern collegiate football. Welsh inherited a Virginia program that had a 1-10 record and had averaged less than three victories a year in the previous 11 seasons. In his 19 years in Charlottesville, Welsh’s teams averaged seven wins a year, including a stretch of 13 consecutive seasons when Virginia won seven or more football games. Six of his Cavalier teams finished ranked in the nation’s Top 20, two tied for ACC championships, and he led UVa to 12 appearances in bowl games. His 1990 squad earned a No. 1 national ranking for three straight weeks. Prior to his arrival in Charlottesville, Virginia had never been to a bowl game.

While at Virginia he was named ACC Coach of the Year four times (1983, 1984, 1991, 1995) and National Coach of the year once (1991). His 1989 and 1995 Virginia teams tied for the ACC football title and his 1990 team was ranked No. 1 nationally at midseason. His 1995 UVa squad was the first ACC team to beat Florida State, ending the Seminoles’ 29-game conference winning streak after joining the league. An All-American quarterback at the U.S. Naval Academy in 1955, Welsh began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Penn State under Rip Engle and then Joe Paterno (1963-72). He became head coach at Navy in 1973 and rebuilt that program into a consistent winner, inheriting a program that had won just 12 games over the previous five seasons. He compiled a 55-46-1, taking the Midshipmen to bowl games in three of his final four seasons in Annapolis. Originally a native of Coaldale, Pa., Welsh now lives in Charlottesville, Va.

Grove (2000-03), the winner of the 2003 Rimington Trophy which is given annually to the nation’s best center, earned unanimous Al-America honors as a senior for Coach Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech. Grove played on Tech teams that compiled a 37-14 record and went to four consecutive bowl games. After playing center as a freshman and guard as a sophomore, Grove moved back to the center position as a junior in 2002, and was a natural fit, starting all 14 games and grading out to 90 percent for the season. In 2003, he graded out to 91.8 percent in over 700 offensive plays, recording a team-high 48 knockdown blocks. That year, he was a first-team All-American selection by the Associated Press, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), the Walter Camp Foundation and The Sporting News. He also earned first-team All-Big East honors. Selected by the Oakland Raiders in the second round and the 45th overall pick of the 2004 Draft, Grove played seven seasons in the NFL, the first five with Oakland and the final two with Miami. He started 56 of his 66 NFL games in his career. His jersey, No. 64, was retired by Virginia Tech in 2006. Born in Johnson City, Tenn., Grove is a native of Forest, Va., and he currently resides in his hometown.

White (1959-61) was a first team All-ACC running back and Wake Forest MVP in 1961 after leading the ACC in rushing. That year he carried 93 times for 586 yards, an average of 6.3 yards per carry. As a senior he rushed for 131 yards vs. Virginia and added 113 yards in a win over North Carolina. White was a third team Academic All-America selection following his senior season. After graduation, he embarked on a coaching career that included stops at Elon and Mississippi State. White returned to the Elon coaching staff in 1974 and became director of athletics in 1979. He served in that position until his retirement in 2006. While leading the Elon athletics program, Dr. White helped the Phoenix transition from the NAIA to NCAA Division II and eventually to the Football Championship Subdivision. He was named the NAIA National Athletic Administrator of the Year in 1989 and was a five-time NAIA district administrator of the year. During his tenure at Elon, the Phoenix won 56 conference championships, 12 conference Excellence Awards and four national championships. A 1962 graduate of Wake Forest, Dr. White has previously been inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, the Elon Sports Hall of Fame, the South Atlantic Conference Hall of Fame and the NAIA Hall of Fame. Originally from Elm City, N.C., he and his family now reside in Burlington, N.C.

2014 ACC Football Legends Roster

Name School Years Position Hometown (Current Residence)

Chris Snee Boston College 2001-03 Guard Montrose, Pa. (Finger Lakes, N.J.)
Donnell Woolford Clemson 1985-88 Cornerback Fayetteville, N.C. (Charlotte, N.C.)
Chris Castor Duke 1979-82 Wide Receiver Cary, N.C. (Same)
Derrick Brooks Florida State 1991-94 Linebacker Pensacola, Fla. (Tampa, Fla.)
John Davis Georgia Tech 1983-86 Center-Tackle Ellijay, Ga. (Marietta, Ga.)
Frank Minnifield Louisville 1979-82 Cornerback Lexington, Ky. (same)
Darrin Smith Miami 1989-92 Linebacker Miami, Fla. (Pembroke Pines, Fla.)
Greg Ellis North Carolina 1994-97 Defensive End Wendell, N. C. (Dallas, Tex.)
Jesse Campbell NC State 1988-90 Safety Vanceboro, N.C. (Havelock, N.C.)
Hugh Green Pittsburgh 1977-80 Defensive End Natchez, Miss. (Fayette, Miss.)
Art Monk Syracuse 1976-79 Wide Receiver White Plains, N.Y. (Great Falls, Va.)
George Welsh Virginia 1982-00 Head Coach Coaldale, Pa. (Charlottesville, Va.)
Jake Grove Virginia Tech 2000-03 Center Forest, Va. (same)
Alan White Wake Forest 1959-61 Running Back Elm City, N.C. (Burlington, N.C.)

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State, UNC volleyballers honored by the ACC

EceTanerNorth Carolina senior libero Ece Taner and NC State freshman middle blocker Kaitlyn Kearney have earned this week’s Atlantic Coast Conference volleyball honors, as Taner was named Player of the Week and Kearney was tabbed Freshman of the Week.

Taner led the Tar Heels to three victories over the weekend in the 18th annual Carolina Classic, including a signature victory over No. 16 Kentucky. In the five set thriller, Ece led the UNC defense with 21 digs and helped hold the Wildcats to a .237 hitting percentage, including a .000 attack percentage in the decisive fifth set. Taner chipped in four service aces on the weekend, including three against Georgia Southern. For her efforts, Taner was named the MVP of the Carolina Classic.

NC State’s Kearney had the best weekend of her young career and was rewarded with Georgia Tournament MVP honors. For the tournament, she averaged 3.27 kills per set and also chipped in with eight blocks. The Frisco, Texas native had her most impressive match of the weekend against the toughest competition in host Georgia. Kearney smashed 15 kills in the contest with only one error to register a .412 attacking percentage. She finished the weekend with 36 kills and a .403 hitting percentage.

- News release

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Monday morning quarterback: Heels, Pack, Redskins, Panthers

mondaymorningqbSo what did the Tar Heels, Wolfpack, Redskins and Panthers do right and wrong this past weekend?

For the second week in a row, North Carolina escaped against an inferior opponent at home. It took three rare plays to beat San Diego State 31-27. A Brian Walker interception at the goal line and subsequent 100-yard return for a touchdown and a Marquise Williams to Mack Hollins 91-yard pass play for a TD the two scores that saved them, along with an interception in the end zone with 14 seconds left.

The interception return was just the third 100-yard interception return in school history while the 91-yard pass play was the longest by the Tar Heels in Kenan Stadium history and the third longest for the Heels anywhere. That’s what it took to defeat San Diego. Exciting, yes but impressive, no.

The big plays saved Coach Larry Fedora a grilling about throwing a pass inside the five yard line on third down and few inches for a first down. The pass completion lost a yard or two and the Heels had to settle for a field goal.

NC State, for the second week in a row, were not impressive against an inferior opponent at home despite scoring 46 points. The Pack gave up 34 points and 504 yards to Old Dominion.

The defense did not really pressure Old Dominion in the backfield or even at the line, and the tackling was atrocious. On a positive note, the running game looks good as Pack runners rushed for 242 yards and scored five TDs (four of them on the ground). Shadrach Thornton got three of those scores while Matt Dayes had a rushing TD and a receiving TD.

The improvement wasn’t lost on Coach Dave Doeren. “Our run game is averaging six yards per carry, no turnovers and one penalty throughout the game,” he said. “On offense, we averaged 6.6 yards on first down on offense. We were 3-for-3 in short yardage.”

Oh, Washington Redskins, here we go again. Untimely turnovers, poor special teams and a supposedly mobile quarterback who keeps getting sacked before getting rid of the ball.

As for the turnovers, all are untimely, but two unforced fumbles inside the 10-yard line are hard to overcome. That’s a minimum of six points and a maximum of 14 points off the board in a 17-6 loss.

The six points makes one who didn’t watch the game assume the Skins could only muster two field goals. But, no, it was due to a blocked extra point. At a time when the league is considering getting rid of extra points because they are supposedly automatic, the JJ Watt middle-of-the-line block changed the momentum of the game.

Up 6-0, the Redskins fell apart with a blocked punt that resulted in a touchdown while Robert Griffin III couldn’t or wouldn’t throw the ball down field. He even held onto the ball so long that he was sacked three times. The guy who is supposed to be so mobile looked anything but. In fact, he intentionally grounded the ball once and rarely looked to throw more than a few yards down the field. When he did throw long, it looked like Hail Mary plays rather than passes that had a good chance of completion.

By the way, did you notice how the in-studio Fox Sports team did everything they could to use the word Washington instead of Redskins. Host Curt Menefee even tossed it to previews of two games by saying “the Bills at the Bears” and “Washington at the Texans.” Not Washington at Houston. He gave three team names and one city name within a minute’s time.

The Carolina Panthers actually looked pretty good in a season opener for a change (they haven’t won one in five years) and they did it with a second-string quarterback. Derek Anderson, though, is a veteran and he threw a pair of touchdown passes to lead the Panthers over Tampa Bay 17-14.

The Panthers did wilt a bit down the stretch and let the Bucs back in the game but it had been a dominating performance for most of the game.

Cam Newton, out with a rib injury, is said to be ready to play next weekend. To get an opening win without Newton in a game in which they were the underdogs, the Panthers did quite well.

Before the game, many thought the offensive line would be a weakness. But coaches trotted out several linemen throughout the game, keeping players fresh, and it worked. You’d think it would disrupt continuity but the line was juggled so much in the preseason, for a number of reasons, maybe they’re used to it.

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NC State coach Doeren’s weekly news conference transcript

Dave Doeren.

Dave Doeren.

“Obviously we’re excited to be 1-0. It was a great comeback for our team, and there’s a lot of things obviously when you review the film that you could have done better. One thing we did is we finished,” said NC State coach Dave Doeren during his weekly news conference.

“Offensively, we took care of the ball except for the one throw by Jacoby that he forced. Turnover margin we came out even. The most disappointing thing probably was that we forced four fumbles in the game and when we got one of them and dropped a gimme pick. Those are plays that being an opportunistic team we need to find a way to move forward. We averaged 4.9 yards of carry in the run game, 2.2 yards after contact so I was proud of that. We only had six of what we consider explosive plays and our goal is to have 10 a game so that’s an area we need to improve.

“One thing I thought we did a good job of was that they didn’t have a single tackle on our backfield in the run game, and no tackles for loss for them. We gave up the one sack, which is one too many. It was a pretty clean game for the first game; there were three penalties throughout the game by the offense. Three procedure penalties; one of them on Matt (Dayes) in our no house stuff. We had a 99-yard touchdown drive coming off of a turnover, which was a turning point in the game.

“On our first down offense we averaged 6.9 yards on first downs so that was a big part of our success. I thought the game and some individual guys played well; Jacoby (Brissett) got in a rhythm had 70 percent on the day. He threw the ball around to nine different people so we were able to distribute the ball pretty well. Defensively for the first game I felt like we tackled well, we had good contact, there was a lot of nice hits. We had 11 freshmen on that side of the ball throughout the game so there were a lot of new people, true or redshirt.

“I thought our “D” line and our corners and Hakim, our free safety, had good games for us. We struggled in some positions with some new guys in there, and really with six plays that defined the game for our defense. There were six plays that lead the 260 yards out of their total offense. We had a 61-yard gain, a 52 yard gain, a 51 yard gain a 29 yard, 37 and a 30 in those six plays, and you can’t take them back. If you take those six plays out it’s a different football game and that’s a great learning experience I think for a young defense, that every snap is the most important play.

“The positives on that side of the football, I thought they were aggressive, I thought in the red zone when they got down there four time and got zero touchdowns on our defense that’s outstanding. Had one take away down there and held them to three field goals on the other drives. The one sudden change after Jacoby’s pick they went three and out and held onto a field goal so I think when the pressure was on those guys even at the end of the game with 1:30 and a timeout left that first down, second down, third down, fourth down stopped them and got us back to football. We’re encouraged by some of those things and by their effort, and we just have to clean up things against a good offense.
“On special teams we covered punts and kicks well. I thought Wil (Baumann) punted the ball extremely well for us. That was a big part of the game; he had great punt out of his own end zone. We missed two long field goals, which I know Nik (Sade) was close on both of them and had the leg and was just outside the right upright.

“We played 20 new guys in the game, so a lot of guys got game experience. It was hot and I’ve talked about our conditioning and how our strength coach did a nice job getting our players ready. Our nutrition staff our training staff had the guys hydrated, and I know their team wasn’t. My hat is off to our staff for taking care of our guys and our guys for working hard at it. I appreciate the fans that stayed throughout the game it means a lot to us. We get to come back this week and play a different type of team.

“Old Dominion is a successful team like Georgia Southern. They’ve had five seasons in a row with eight wins or more. They have probably the most exciting quarterback at their level until they moved up this year, A Walter Payton Award winner, Taylor Heinicke. The guy’s a really good player. He doesn’t throw a lot of picks, throws a ton of touchdowns, understands their offense and just has a lot of savvy to make a lot of throws, and gets out of the pocket and makes things happen. They averaged over 42 points a game in three of the last five seasons. I have a lot of respect for their coaching staff; I know a couple of those guys. They have two receivers that make plays; number 5 (Antonio Vaughan), had got great speed for them. Their tailbacks ran for almost 180 yards on Saturday and number 30 (Gerard Johnson) had 138 yards. Another challenging offense for our defense to play against, and defensively they’ve made some changes and covered schemes on their side. At least in their first game they did compared to last year, so we’ll see if that carries forward.

“Another great game, and I’m excited for our fans to have a night game and get a chance to see the Pack in Black uniform and helmet. I know our fans, players and recruits that have reached out to me were excited about the release yesterday about the look. We’re excited to break those out. It’s Ag Day and it’s a neat deal for agricultural not just alums but the School of Agriculture and all of the partnerships we have.”

On 20 new guys and attributing unfamiliarity to slow start: A lot. I think it’s natural to play not to make a mistake early because you don’t want to screw up, and when you’re playing that way it’s natural to not play full speed. Whether it’s throwing a ball behind or slipped off a block or just not triggering on defense the way you need to trigger. I think that’s a lot of it and the guys settled down as the game went on.

On switching defensive system at end of last season: People ask me that and I don’t really understand where they’re coming from. TCU and Virginia Tech are two of the best rushing defenses in college football on a 4-2-5. We didn’t give up the yardage we gave because of our nickel; we gave it up because the safety misfit a gap or a DM that was supposed to be on a quarterback tackled a guy instead. It had nothing to do with who was in the game at nickel. We went to it so that we could be more versatile in our coverage schemes and this week we’ll have chance to do that. Being able to stop the run earlier at 4-3 and 4-2-5 and 3-4 and 3-3-5 is about gap accountability and tackling. We didn’t do that six times Saturday and we paid for it. I’m excited to get some players back, not having Tim Buckley hurt us a little bit in that game. I think Tim’s a very good athlete who didn’t get to play because he got sick and hopefully we’ll get him back soon. The rotation we had up front I think helped up and helped our linebackers. With M.J. (Salahuddin) being out and Jerod (Fernandez) went down for a little bit, Airius (Moore) was in there for a while, a true freshman playing against a triple option was tough for him. That was part of the problems that we had.

On chart changes with Barr, Nelson and Wright: As the week went on we felt more comfortable with Alex (Barr) being in there mentally. Worried about telling them to lead a little bit early on, and they’ll start to play more and more I think as we go. Monty (Nelson) was hurt for two weeks in training camp so when I released the depth chart I released it based on who was practicing. He came back earlier than we expected and we’re glad he did because he played a great game. Tim (Buckley) was sick so that’s what happened with that change.

On Bra’Lon Cherry as go-to wide receiver:
Bra’Lon made some nice plays and he could have had another one on the sideline, he dropped one that I thought was a pretty easy catch. He’s put on 20 pounds or so and he’s playing more physical, more aggressive and more confident. He did a nice job of getting open in key moments and Jacoby threw some pretty good balls to catch. He almost had another one that got behind him in the red zone on the other side of the field and was just overthrown a little bit.

On alternate uniforms: I don’t know if its just keeping up with the times but the reason we wanted to do them was really two-fold. Excitement for our current team; I think that’s something that gets the guys excited and obviously when you’re doing that for your players its going to help with recruiting as well. I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just throwing something on to throw it on and that it was something that embodied all the principles of our colors and our mascot, the wolf. Using it at night I think matched up really well. Terry Callaway and Adidas did a nice job putting together all the designs. Its not something were going to do a lot because we have a lot of pride in the traditional uniform here. When we get to do it were going to make sure that it really fit and that people understand why we did it.

On young guys stepping up in game one: Well they need to. We brought them in here and brought them in early to play. We needed a lift. Bo (Hines) had nine catches, Stephen (Louis) had a catch. The first play of the season was Shawn Boone on kickoff cover age making a tackle. That was the first play of the season’ a true freshman. That was exciting, and there were some new faces in there; Charlie Twitty, a walk-on we put on scholarship, had a big hit on a punt. I think all of the new guys that are in the room need to step up and play well, and that’s why they came here. Kentavius (Street) was out there and got a lot of reps for us as well.

On Old Dominion last season against Carolina: I think for us, where we’re at we’re so young we can’t compare ourselves to other people. We have to really worry about our own problems and we had enough of them Saturday and that’s where our focus will be. You don’t go far to turn on the film to see how good their (Old Dominion) quarterback is and snap end if you’re a defensive player. We didn’t defend the pass the way we need to Saturday so there’s going to be a lot of emphasis on getting better there. Old Dominion is a team that played poorly in that one game last year and played really well in a bunch of other ones so it’s going to be easy to find other moments.

On “compete and finish” happening in game one: I think that was huge on a lot of fronts. We were well documented on the fourth forehand we lost last year and to be able to get into one and win and make clutch throws and catches and stops. All of those things had to happen and they did. Second thing is we changed a lot in our conditioning program and it was hard on the guys and I think what he did really created some buy in there on why we work the way we do because it was obvious in that game who the best shape team was and who was the most physical and conditioned not just physically but mentally. Our guys were fresh in the fourth quarter and it wasn’t because of a rotation. We were going no huddle and our receivers never left the field and I know our offensive line never stopped the entire game.

On Jacoby Brissett and demeanor changing between first and second half: I don’t feel like it did. I just think he got hot. He needed to make a mistake probably and bounce back from it and get in a rhythm and get going. I think he started doing what he was supposed to do. He was aggressive and it looked like he was having some fun. I think he saw the guys making plays for him, which makes it easier.

On Bryan Underwood and large rotation of players in key positions: I was disappointed he didn’t get the ball. We had some plays for him in there and just when we called them it didn’t happen. There were a couple of deep plays we wanted to run to him and a couple of jets and just they way they were lining up it wasn’t going to be there. Sometimes that happens. They were playing really soft coverage and everything was underneath him in the game and that’s not his deal, catching it and getting hit right away is not what he does well. He’s more of a separation guy, a jet guy, an across the field type guy. We haven’t forgotten about him; the first thing I said to Coach Canada after the game is that we need to make sure he’s touching the ball more. Sometimes things are working and then in the second half they start throwing the ball underneath him. As far as rotating players I think that if guys practice well they deserve to play. There’s a bunch of guys that worked their butts off at camp and when you play a lot of guys you get better practice out of your team because they know they’re going to get in. I also think when you get a hot hand you have to go with the hot hand. I think you saw that with Shad (Shadrach Thornton) as the game went on. That’s how it works; you try to use their skill sets and you try to work their hard work and then you have to go with the guys that are going to make the plays.

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Wolfpack comes back late for first win since last September

statehelmetJacoby Brissett found Matt Dayes for a 35-yard strike down the right sideline with 1:37 left, as the Pack completed its comeback in the fourth quarter to start the 2014 season with a 24-23 win over Georgia Southern. The Pack’s two TD drives in the fourth quarter covered 99 yards and then 75 yards to send the 54,273 Wolfpack faithful home happy.

WOLFPACK DRIVE OF THE GAME
NC State’s 9 play, 75 yard TD drive in the fourth quarter to put the Pack up 24-23 with 1:37 left.

Down by six, NC State took possession of the ball at the 25-yard line. The Pack marched down the field in just 1:58 to score the go-ahead TD, a 35-yard Brissett to Dayes TD pass. Brissett’s third TD pass of the game gave the Pack its first lead of the game, 24-23, with 1:37 left to play.

On the drive, Brissett went 8-of-9 for 75 yards, with all the plays on the drive a pass.

WOLFPACK DRIVE OF THE GAME – PART II
NC State’s 12 play, 99 yard TD drive in the fourth quarter to cut the Eagles lead to 20-17 with 6:55 left.

After the Pack defense forced a Georgia Southern fumble on the Pack’s 1-yard line, NC State went 99 yards in 12 plays in 4:08 to bring the Pack closer at 20-17 with 6:55 left in the game. Bra’Lon Cherry capped the drive with his second TD reception of the game, 11 yards from Jacoby Brissett.

On the drive, Brissett went 6-of-7 for 56 yards, with the last six plays of the drive all Brissett completions.

PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jacoby Brissett: 28-of-40 for 291 yards and 3 TDs.

Making his first start in a Wolfpack uniform, and playing in his first game in 651 days, Brissett led the Wolfpack comeback thanks to his play in the fourth quarter. On the Pack’s two TD drives in the quarter, Brissett was 14-of-16 for 131 yards, leading the Pack on scoring drives of 99 and 75 yards.

NOTABLES
• #Wolfpups: A total of 10 true freshmen made their NC State debuts in today’s game: Shawn Boone, Bradley Chubb, Cole Cook, B.J. Hill, Bo Hines (starter at WR), Stephen Louis, Airius Moore, Germaine Pratt, Jaylen Samuels, Kentavius Street.

• #FirstTimeAction: Other NC State players who made their Wolfpack debuts today: Jacoby Brissett (starter at QB), NaQuan Brown, Jerod Fernandez (starter at LB), Kenton Gibbs, Josh Jones (starter at S), Bryce Kennedy, Malcolm Means, Ernie Robinson, Josh Sessoms, Charlie Twitty, Lucas Wilson.

UP NEXT
NC State returns to home action next weekend, hosting Old Dominion on Saturday, September 6 at 6 p.m.

- News release

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NC State’s Dave Doeren’s news conference prior to Saturday’s opener

doeren3“It’s good to be back at game week and I’m excited for an opportunity to compete against a team that we have a lot of respect for,” NC State football coach Dave Doeren said. “Georgia Southern obviously last season they had a very good football staff that left to go to Army and they have a new staff brought in from Sam Houston State.

“I know Willie (Fritz) extremely well from when he was at Central Missouri and I was at Kansas. He’s a very good football coach, and obviously a team that had an upset victory on the road at Florida, so we know that going on the road for them is not going to be something that startles their football team.

“Our team I know is excited just to get back out there and play a game and we need to play a game. We practice and practice and practice, and there is no substitute for game day. So were really excited to get out there and watch our guys. They’ve put in a lot of work and we want to see where they’re at. Game one is the best way to judge where you’re at with your football team. We’ve got a lot of young players; everybody knows that. Jacoby (Brissett) has been taking a lot of reps and doing all the things he can do to get better and now its time to see him on game day with his teammates, and we’re excited about it.

“It’s Wolfpack Club Day and we’re honoring the Wolfpack Club and all that they do for us and all the members. What Bobby and his staff do for our facilities and for our scholarships we appreciate that. Mario Williams is coming back and we’re excited about honoring his number as well and have him be a part of the event.

“Talking about Georgia Southern, they have a spread option offense that last year was a triple option under center offense. They would break and get back and then get in some but this year our reports are they’re going to be in the piston. Their guy running their spread option, the quarterback (Kevin) Ellison, number four, is a really good runner. He tough, he’s not a guy that goes down easy. He averages 80 yards a game and has had several big runs and games. A strong-armed guy who didn’t ask to throw a lot but you can see he does have arm strength in his throws. They also have a young man that they’re talking about rotating, (Favian) Upshaw. They said he’s the fastest member of their football team. So we know there’s good skill at the quarterback position, and we’ll probably see anywhere from 20 to 40 quarterback runs based on what happens in the option game.

“The offensive line they have five seniors upfront. Anytime you’re playing a veteran offensive line even though they’re playing a little bit different than they did a year ago schematically, those are guys that have played together and have good chemistry. Their left tackle and their center are probably the best two on film; we watched those guys and they’re tough, they play hard. Their wide receivers that’s going to be probably the biggest position well have to gauge on game day just because they really didn’t ask him to much but block last year and they’re good at that. You can see the speed that they have with the slot backs and how they’re moving out the receiver, how much they’re going to throw and what kind of routes. Obviously we’ve been looking at a lot of Sam Houston film and see the concepts they like to run, but how much of that are they going to do? We’ll probably see a lot of movement type passes and move legs and sprint outs and the play actions that come off their run game and the option. Defensively their middle linebacker, number 40 (Edwin Jackson), is a really good player and makes a lot of plays for them. Number 36 (Matt Breida), a guy that didn’t play last year because of an injury but was a really good player his sophomore year at linebacker, so there’s two good linebackers in their lineup. Their cornerbacks are back; they’re guys that can run on film.

“Anytime you’re in a first game regardless of whether it’s a new staff or a returning staff, you know as a coach there’s a lot of things they studied like us in the offseason about their talents and their recruiting coming in. You know there’s going to be some things you just can’t show them. The first game a lot depends on what your kids know about your system and how they can adapt on the fly to things that you can’t show them. It’s a big focus just on us; the ball security that even though you scrimmage a couple of times it’s not the same with all those guys flying in there, the mental focus of having the fans in the stadium, the pre snap focus on both sides of the football, not jumping off sides and lining up correctly, getting your feet in the grass, ready to play and the finish of plays. On both sides breaking tackles when we’re on offense, running through contact and not getting tripped up, finishing blocks defensively, not tagging guys off like you do in practice you’re wrapping them up and finishing and getting the second and third and fourth guy to the pile to rip the ball out.

“I think you’ll see two teams that both are going to have a chip on their shoulder. I think our team does for sure, and I know just having coached at schools like Georgia Southern. I know what their players are going to be like and both of us in my opinion are going to play that way. For us, it’s been a while since we’ve finished a game and felt good about the end result. That’s what all the work you do is about is the end result. We’re excited for that opportunity to get back and play at home in front of a great crowd against a good football team. The best way to get a taste out of your mouth is to go out there and play. To see the fans to prepare to be in game week again it’s a great week.”

On how depth chart shaped out, any surprises:
Not necessarily, there’s ones and twos, there’s a lot of guys that rotate. I think the depth chart is pretty fluid with a young team and there’s going to be guys that are going to be playing in their first game. Jerod Fernandez, Josh Jones, Tony Adams, Bo Hines and all these guys that have practiced a lot for us are playing in their first game. So we expect to rotate some guys and see where we’re at. There wasn’t any huge surprise; I think probably the most improved player was Stephen Louis, a receiver. He was trying to figure his way out in the spring, and he really had a good fall camp. Walk-on receiver NaQuan Brown has had a really good fall camp for us as well. Those are two guys that just joined our team last spring.

On comparison of preparing for season opener last year versus this year’s opener:
La. Tech lost a lot of seniors the year before so it was really hard to see their personnel on tape. You can turn on Georgia Southern’s film and see a lot of their players and see what they do even though their schemes are a little different on offense. I think that in all opening games there’s a lot of ghost chasing saying, “What if they do this? Well maybe they’ll do that,” but at the end of the day your systems have to have rules built in place to handle whatever they do. So that’s what we really run, and the week before the week we run ours just make sure you show the guys enough things so that they’re ready. At Sam Houston they never run their center or run him at the wishbone offense, but because they do at Georgia Southern maybe they will. They ran more off front at Sam Houston than they did at Georgia Southern but they retained their defensive coordinator. Things like that you just don’t know how much the head coach is going to come in and say well this is how we did it at their school so I want you do it. You have to cover all of your bases in week one regardless of who you’re playing. Even when you have a team that returns a lot of the same people. Like I said in the offseason they all went to clinics, they all did their self-scout, they all studied film, they recruited new players that are different that can do certain things than maybe the year before players could, so you’re going to have to adjust.

On comfort of going in to year two compared to last year:
A lot more comfortable, just because I know what our players are like for the most part except for the true freshman. I’ve seen a lot of these guys on game day and I have a better feel for what they can and can’t do and what all of our coaches do, and it’s just the little things that you do in the offseason to better yourself. I talked about our offseason program, but in year one you’re throwing your guys into a lifting program that you’ve done at other places but you don’t necessarily know their weaknesses they need to work on and whereas in year two the entire thing was built on things we’ve got to do better. We made tremendous strides and made a great healthy training camp because of that. Our strength staff did a great job evaluating the weaknesses of our room, our coaches talked a lot with them about things guys have to do in order to be better and you just can’t do that in year one. So when you get back out there and run your systems you can see improvements because of those things.

On quarterbacks in games, willingness to play McLendon:
A little bit depends on what the game is like, and I think he’ll (Brissett) be great. For the redshirt Jalan I don’t know if that’s real or not, he gets better every time he plays. Garrett is a guy who can go in and run our offense, has a good arm and knows the system. It’s just a matter of what happens; are you talking about finishing a game with a guy or having to play the rest of the season with a guy. And I think that’s where you have to decide what’s best for Jalan. If its finishing a game, there’s no question Garrett can do those things for us. If I want him in for a series, he can do that. If I’m talking about were going to play eight games with those two guys, then were going to have to pull the redshirt and see who is the best guy.

On coming out of preseason camp, feeling better about defense versus offense:

I wouldn’t pick a side, I just feel better about our depth. I think that’s the biggest thing I feel better about is our competition in positions. When you have people behind people that can take their jobs you get better effort in practice from guys. Guys can’t have a bad day; they’re going to be on the next part of the depth chart if they do. If you come in and do your job you earn playing time, and both sides of the ball were like that. There are maybe a couple of positions when we didn’t have that, and they were really our specialists. Other than our kicker, snapper and punter I felt like every position on the team had someone fighting to get on the field.

On other quarterbacks in league:
I don’t really care what the rest of the league has right now. I’m worried about our team and that’s it. We all have our own things that we have to worry about and I’m really not concerned about who is going to play quarterback at Louisville or Boston College right now. That’s for later in the year to worry about. Our focus is on us and will be. Like I’ve told our team, in week one in particular a lot more teams beat themselves and that’s what we cant do. We’ve got to be really good at quarterback and making decisions and putting the ball in the right place. And not just at quarterback across the board you see a lot of first week mistakes and that’s one thing we want to try not to do. We want to go out there and beat Georgia Southern not beat ourselves in the game, and that’s where our focus is.

On Brissett and length of time out from playing:
I’m worried about all kids that way, but I’m not going to dampen his excitement. I want him to be excited and I want him to have fun. There’s nothing wrong with butterflies; everyone has them when you go out there. You just have to make sure they go away quick and that he makes the same decisions he’s been coached to make in practice when he goes out there to play. He’s ultra competitive; his only nervousness would only be because of how excited he is to play. I’m happy for him to be that way.

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Doeren to speak at Raleigh Sports Club Wednesday

Dave Doeren.

Dave Doeren.

NC State football coach Dave Doeren will be the first luncheon speaker of the Raleigh Sports Club’s new year Wednesday, Aug. 20 at Bradley Hall in Highland United Methodist Church at 1901 Ridge Road.

Buffet lines open at 11:30 a.m. and the meeting is from noon until 1 p.m. Attendance fee for members is $15 while guest fee is $25.

The annual membership fee is $70, which helps to fund the club’s scholarship fund. Each week from late August to early April meetings include a Southern buffet, door prizes, pick sheets and introduction to a deserving Student Athlete as well as hearing from a prominent sports figure as our guest speaker.
Raleigh Sports Club Membership Form

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College football playoff to be exciting… and expensive

cfpSo it’s not exactly like having 64 (or 65) teams vying for a national championship in a tournament like basketball but those who have been clamoring for a playoff will see one for college football this season.

Four teams will face off in two bowls games with the two winners playing a national championship game Jan. 12 at North Texas.

This year and for the immediate future there will be three bowl games played on New Year’s Eve and three on New Year’s Day. The College Football Playoff Foundation hopes this not only keep bowls relevant but it starts a tradition of football watching on New Year’s Eve as well as New Year’s Day.

The semi-final playoff games this year will be on New Year’s Day while the games shift to New Year’s Eve next season.

The Sugar and Rose bowls will host the top four teams this season while the Orange and Cotton host next season and the Peach and Fiesta the year after that. The same combination of bowls will host the semi-finals for at least three more years after that.

A college bowl selection committee, rather than a computer system or a writer’s or coaches’ poll, will choose the top four teams to play for the national title. In addition to record, the blue ribbon panel will consider strength of schedule, head to head competition, results against common opponents and championships won.

The idea behind this entire plan, said Mike Kelly from the College Football Playoff group, is to keep the bowl tradition, not infringe on the academic calendar and still make the regular season count.

Revenues should double or triple what they were under the old BCS system, Kelly said. College Football Playoff merchandising income will go to the Foundation arm, which will support various related causes such as rewarding good teachers.

The championship game itself, which will be held 7-12 days after the semi-final games (this season on Jan. 12), will bring in substantial revenue as well. Tickets won’t be cheap at $450 each. Kelly notes that’s half of the price of a Super Bowl ticket. There will also be an entire championship game experience similar to the Super Bowl activities.

“Of course the ticket price for the CFP championship game had nothing to do with Super Bowl price,” Kelly said. “Last year’s national championship game was $385 at the Rose Bowl and that was proven to be below market value. With a new event and with a stadium of the highest quality we felt that going up to $450 was reasonable.”

In today’s climate, I suppose it could be considered reasonable but certainly not for the average family of four. ESPN will be the way to go for most families.

Look for the first College Football Playoff rankings from the committee to begin on Oct. 28 with the final rankings coming out after the conference championship games are complete.

There will be a selection Sunday similar to announcing the basketball tournament. Announcements will be made about the bowl matchups for the six bowls games on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, including the semi-finalists.

While the committee plans to keep lower ranked teams from getting a home-field edge, it could happen. For instance, with the games being at the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, consider the far-fetched example that if the top four teams in order are Notre Dame, Oregon, UCLA and Southern Cal.

Either Southern Cal or UCLA, both lower ranked teams, would get to play at the Rose Bowl. It will be interesting to see how the next three seasons play out.

2014-15
Fiesta Bowl – Dec. 31
Orange Bowl – Dec. 31
Peach Bowl – Dec. 31
Cotton Bowl – Jan. 1
Rose Bowl – Jan. 1 (semi-final)
Sugar Bowl – Jan. 1 (semi-final)

Championship game at North Texas Jan. 12

2015-2016
Cotton Bowl – Dec. 31 (semi-final)
Orange Bowl – Dec. 31 (semi-final)
Peach Bowl – Dec. 31
Fiesta Bowl – Jan. 1
Rose Bowl – Jan. 1
Sugar Bowl – Jan. 1

Championship game at Arizona Jan. 11

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Photos from ACC Football Kickoff event





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State football not winning yet but making strides

statehelmetOk, NC State didn’t win a football game in ACC play a year ago but there appears to be excitement around the program heading into the 2014 season.

Wolfpack 2nd year coach Dave Doeren said the fans have been “very encouraging” and supportive.

“They want what we want and we want to give ‘em what they want,” Doeren said at the ACC Football Kickoff event Monday in Greensboro. “They were very appreciative of our recruiting efforts. And they came to the spring game and saw our progress. Now we need to go out and play.”

He tempered the enthusiasm a bit by adding that it’s going to take time. “It just is,” he said. “We inherited a team that didn’t have a lot of depth but we’re making a lot of progress – in a lot of areas.”

While rival North Carolina has been taking a beating over academic issues, Doeren is prideful about his team’s academic success and took plenty of time to take about it.

“We had the highest team GPA (a 2.71 grade point average) in the spring that they’ve had in 15 years,” he said adding that it’s the first time in the history of the football program that it hasn’t had a player ineligible going into the summer.”

I didn’t know such stats were kept but that is impressive. “Academically we’ve made a lot of strides,” Doeren said. “We continue to push guys off the field to make those strides. It puts us in a position where we’re not losing players… For instance, we have eight players in post-graduate programs right now, which is great.”

In addition to hiring an additional person to help with academics, the coaches have become very involved on a day-to-day basis, he said. They make sure they are on time for class and generally hold them accountable for academic excellence.

“We get information daily from our academic center and we communicate that information to our athletes and their parents,” Doeren said. “We have a hands-on approach academically with our team. I talk about it a lot – I demand it from them. It’s transparent.”

Doeren said in addition to seeing how much weight they can lift and how many squats they can do, their GPAs are recorded on the wall. “They don’t want to have bad information on the wall. It’s important for them to look good which is part of why we do it,” he said.

Another change this season will be the Wolfpack uniformly, primarily the helmet. “We have a lot of tradition with our uniform and I don’t take that lightly one bit,” Doeren said. “It’s important to respect your tradition. I also know that in today’s world and in recruiting, kids like to have some bling, some flash but I didn’t want it to take away from our tradition.”

The helmet maintains the red, gray and black coloring but not really much white. In addition, a wolf’s eyes peer out the back of the helmet. “It definitely honors the wolf,” Doeren said. “I thought it was a good blend of tradition and flare. Our players loved it.”

New matching uniforms will be coming in soon. Will the wins follow? One thing at a time.