Monday, September 8, 2008

Injuries to TEs could limit Wolfpack

N.C. State’s newest injury problem could limit some things coach Tom O’Brien likes to do on offense.

O’Brien said Monday that the Wolfpack won’t have its top two tight ends for Saturday’s game at Clemson. Starter Anthony Hill also missed last week’s win over William & Mary with an injured chest muscle. Backup Matt Kushner suffered a right knee injury against William & Mary.

Tailbacks Jamelle Eugene [ankle] and Toney Baker [knee] also are out for Saturday.

Redshirt freshman George Bryan is scheduled to start at tight end, and sophomore walk-on Eric Weaver is his backup. Tight ends traditionally have been a big part of O’Brien’s pro-style offense.

“We [were] a big tight end offense,” O’Brien said. “Now we’re not a big tight end offense.”

Bryan showed promise against William & Mary with five catches for 41 yards and a touchdown, and caught the winning touchdown pass in N.C. State’s spring game. O’Brien would have preferred to bring him along slowly behind experienced players, but must count on him immediately.

As O’Brien announced Saturday night, quarterback Russell Wilson will return to the starting lineup this week after suffering a Grade 3 concussion on Aug. 28 at South Carolina. Wilson was cleared to play against William & Mary, but O’Brien limited his participation to one snap holding for an extra point attempt.

O’Brien said there is some concern about how Wilson, a redshirt freshman, will react after taking a hard hit that caused a frightening injury.

“But the only way we’re going to find out is to put him in there and play (him),” O’Brien said.

-- Ken Tysiac