Monday, August 4, 2008

Wolfpack kicker confident, coach optimistic

Josh Czajkowski doesn’t seem worried about making his first start as N.C. State’s kicker.

Czajkowski, a sophomore, has yet to kick in a game and will make his debut Aug. 28 at South Carolina.

“I’m really confident,” Czajkowski said. “Our specialists are looking really good, consistently. We’ve been working together for a long time.”

Wolfpack coach Tom O’Brien also sounds optimistic about the kicking game. Czajkowski didn’t miss a field goal from inside 40 yards during the spring. Punter Bradley Pierson returns after averaging 37.2 yards per kick last season.

Both have looked good in the first few practices, though they will be tested more this week as N.C. State begins working out in full pads.

“We kicked field goals (Sunday), and Josh kicked the ball fine,” O’Brien said. “Solid, high, long, true. So that’s positive. And Pierson’s punted the ball well most of the time. So I think they’re on track.”

- O’Brien also has been impressed with the early work of his five quarterbacks.

Daniel Evans, Russell Wilson, Harrison Beck, Justin Burke and Mike Glennon are competing for the starting job. O’Brien said all five seem to understand what’s expected of them.

“We’re much more advanced at that position than we were (a year ago) from a knowledge standpoint, getting out of the huddle, getting everybody headed the right direction, getting the ball where it’s supposed to go,” O’Brien said. “Now it’s a matter of decision making and execution.”

- Senior Antoine Holmes, who moved from defensive end to defensive tackle last season, still is getting used to playing at a heavier weight.

He said he played at 275 pounds last season but is up to 285.

“At first it was a load to pull, but I’m feeling better right now,” Holmes said.

The biggest tactical adjustment at tackle is getting accustomed to the idea that extra blockers can come from different directions. At end, double teams usually came from only one side.“You’ve got to keep your head on a swivel (at tackle),” Holmes said.

- Ken Tysiac