Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Michel leads LBs; more from Pack's media day

N.C. State held its media day Monday.

Here are more notes from the interviews with coach Tom O'Brien and players:

・With Nate Irving out indefinitely because of injuries from a June 28 car crash, senior Ray Michel has emerged as a team leader among the linebackers.

"He is the oldest there, and he's got to be the leader of that group, and right now I think he's doing a pretty good job of that," O'Brien said. "You look around him and there's nobody else even close to him as far as experience goes. He's taken it upon himself to be the leader. He spends a lot of time watching film, but he spends a lot of time with the younger kids, trying to help them understand what they're supposed to be doing."

・Freshman Chris Ward admitted that a fortunate bounce aided him in Sunday's scrimmage, when he punted twice for 97 yards.

He estimated the bounce added 10 yards to his second punt. He said he considers his leg acceleration to be his strength, but wants to work on improving his flexibility and his drop.

Flexibility is a specialty of N.C. State strength and conditioning coach Todd Rice.

He is a former soccer goalie and said that helped him with his punting and also his hands.

"Shots coming at me and all, it's just like a snap coming back there," Ward said. "So I'm able to catch any type of snap that comes back to me."

・Give junior DeAndre Morgan an assist in the recruiting of fellow cornerback Jarvis Byrd, who's one of the most highly regarded freshman N.C. State signed in February.

Both players are from Florida, and Byrd knew Morgan before coming to N.C. State.

"He was telling me about N.C. State and how great it was," Byrd said. "So I decided to come to N.C. State for that reason, too."

・Each year O'Brien asks all of his assistant coaches to rank their top 20 players on offense and on defense.

"Then I compile them," O'Brien said. "It's pretty interesting to see how the defense looks at the offense and how the offense looks at the defense. And then they rate their own players."

Coming out of spring practice, quarterback Russell Wilson was rated No. 1 on offense by the coaches, O'Brien said. Irving, the injured linebacker, was the top-rated defensive player, followed by defensive end Willie Young.