Monday, February 22, 2010

Tebow seeks advice of ex-Pack coaches

Tim Tebow won't throw at the NFL Combine, instead scouts will have to wait for his "pro day" at Florida.

In the interim, the Heisman winner and two-time national champion will try to repair his loopy throwing motion with the help of two former N.C. State assistant coaches, Noel Mazzone and Marc Trestman.

Perhaps Tebow should talk to Jay Davis and Marcus Stone first, or better yet, buy a Babe Laufenberg instructional video.

-- J.P. Giglio

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Duke leads Academic All-ACC selections

Duke still is trying to build a consistent winner on the field after two seasons under David Cutcliffe, but there's no doubt the Blue Devils remain strong in the classroom.

With 11 selections, Duke leads all ACC schools in players named to the ACC All-Academic Team, which was announced Wednesday morning. Linebacker Vincent Rey and wide receiver Johnny Williams were some of the on-field standouts selected.

Duke also leads the conference with 33 ACC All-Academic selections over the past five years.

Clemson was next with seven honorees. N.C. State's three All-Academic selections included quarterback Russell Wilson, who led the ACC with 31 touchdown passes last season. North Carolina and Wake Forest each had one All-Academic selection.

In order to be selected to the team, players had to have maintained a 3.0 grade-point average during the previous season and a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 over their entire academic career.

The complete list of All-Academic picks is here:

Ken Tysiac

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Q&A with new N.C. State LB coach Jon Tenuta

N.C. State linebackers coach Jon Tenuta spoke Thursday about his new job with the Wolfpack.

Tenuta, 52, earned notoriety as one of the nation’s top defensive assistants in 16 years as a coordinator at seven different schools, including North Carolina and Georgia Tech. He most recently coached at Notre Dame.

Q: What interests you in N.C. State?
A: First and foremost, [coach] Tom O’Brien. I’ve known Tom for 29 years and always would have liked the opportunity to work for him. Tom O’Brien and [Boston College coach] Frank Spaziani are good friends of mine and have been since I was a GA with them at Virginia back in the early ’80s. And obviously I’m an ACC guy. I’ve coached at a lot of ACC schools. So getting my chance to come back in the ACC is exciting.

Q: What is your philosophy in terms of how you like to coach linebackers?
A: I’m an aggressive guy, and everybody knows that. I just want to be aggressive and play within the scheme of what we do. I just met the players today for the first time, and obviously it’s a feeling-out process. But I like to be aggressive and get after the offenses.

Q: There are people who will be excited about this hire because you have a reputation of being one of the best defensive minds in the business. Does it flatter you that you’re thought of that way?
A: Obviously I’m flattered that you brought that up. I never thought of myself in that aspect. I’m excited to have the opportunity to work with Mike [Archer, the defensive coordinator] and everybody else, assistant coaches, and get going and put out a good product for next season. It’s an exciting aspect for me. I love defensive football. I’m passionate about the game and these young men that I’ll get to know, and they’ll get to know me, and I’ll move forward in that direction.

Q: How much do you know about the talent that’s in place here? Have you had a chance to look at who’s coming back?
A: Again, I just started learning guys’ names, and I had a chance to watch some film with Coach Archer and the defensive staff. And then I got a chance to meet some of the guys and watch them run and work out. It will take me a while to see what we have. But obviously they’re excited about it, so once we get going, I’ll get excited about it.

Q: How does your philosophy fit into Mike’s scheme?
A: Obviously Mike’s been around a long time and he’s an excellent coach. And I’ve been around a while. With Mike and Keith [Willis, the defensive line coach], you work together and put out the best product you can. So obviously if there are holes we’ve got to fix, we’ll fix those and move on and put out the best product we can put out.

Q: Were there ever any thoughts that, you would only want to take a coordinator job? How did you decide not to do that?
A: I think that you do what’s best for you and your family. And obviously my passion for the game of football, I just love to coach. Having the opportunity to come to N.C. State and work for Coach O’Brien and the other coaches, that’s a great opportunity for me. So that’s really the basis of why you coach. You coach because of your passion for the game and these young men and giving them the chance to be as good as they possibly can be. And that’s why I’m here.

Q: Where is your family right now?
A: They’re back in South Bend.

Q: I presume they’re moving to Raleigh at some point?
A: Yes.

Q: Are you excited to get them some place warmer?
A: That’s a big thing for my wife. And obviously my sons play baseball. They had some great years in Georgia where they play a lot because of the weather. And right now up there they have about 12 inches of snow. So we’re excited about coming back to the South. And the ACC.

Q: Being away from the ACC, did you learn some things up there – sometimes they say when you get away from some place and you get back, you’ve learned some things. Did you learn things that will help you now getting back to it?
A: I think anytime you change jobs or whatever, there’s always a learning curve. Something good. Something bad. Something different. So going back up to Notre Dame and more in the Big Ten, which I was accustomed to the Big Ten having been at Ohio State and playing similar teams, and all that did come back to me. But offensive philosophies and the spread offenses and things have spread like wildfire. So that’s the new trend and everybody’s doing it. A lot of things are similar, but players are different in different aspects at different schools. It all comes in complete circles.

Q: One of the things they’ve done here is use the hybrid outside linebacker/safety. Are you seeing a lot more of that to deal with the spread?
A: You just answered the question. You’re spreading the field, getting the vertical and horizontal separations you need to get. It’s still back to football, counting the number of guys in the box, seeing how they can attack you. Vertical separation in the passing game. West Coast or underneath passing game. Whatever fits them and their personnel. But the game is more spread out, so you have to have guys that can play in space and can run.

Ken Tysiac

Pack hires Tenuta as linebackers coach

Jon Tenuta, who was on Notre Dame’s staff the last two seasons and is one of the nation’s most respected defensive coaches, will replace Andy McCollum as N.C. State’s linebackers coach.

Wolfpack head coach Tom O’Brien announced the hiring Thursday.

Before going to Notre Dame in 2008, Tenuta built a reputation as one of the nation’s best defensive coaches over 16 years as a coordinator at seven different schools.

In 2001, he coordinated a North Carolina defense that included future Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers. It was at Georgia Tech from 2002 to 2007, though, that he became renowned for his system under coach Chan Gailey.

Utilizing a Yellow Jackets roster that was short on size but had plenty of speed and brains, Tenuta used a dazzling array of blitzes to confuse opponents. Georgia Tech ranked in the top 30 in scoring defense, total defense and rushing defense in Tenuta’s last five seasons there.

After Gailey was fired following the 2007 season, Tenuta took over as interim coach for the Humanitarian Bowl as Georgia Tech lost 40-28 to Fresno State. He was not retained by Paul Johnson, who took over for Gailey, and went to Notre Dame.

He coached linebackers and was assistant head coach for defense in 2008 and 2009, and served as defensive coordinator in 2009. Notre Dame improved statistically on defense in 2008, giving up 6.6 fewer points per game than the previous season. But the Irish slid defensively in 2009, allowing 25.9 points per game after allowing 22.2 ppg in 2008.

When coach Charlie Weis was fired after last season, Tenuta was searching for a job again. He found one after McCollum left earlier this week to become recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach.

“We lost a heck of a football coach and a great person in Andy McCollum,” O’Brien said Thursday. “He will be missed by our staff and our players and we wish him the best. But we have been very fortunate to be able to hire someone with the experience and wealth of knowledge that Jon Tenuta brings to our staff.”

Tenuta played in college at Virginia, where he was a three-year letterman at defensive back.

Ken Tysiac

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

McCollum leaves Pack for Georgia Tech

Andy McCollum, who had coached linebackers for three seasons at N.C. State, is leaving to join Georgia Tech’s staff.

Pending formal approval by the school, McCollum will serve as defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator for the Yellow Jackets.

McCollum, 50, grew up in Marietta, Ga., where his father still lives. He had recruited Georgia for N.C. State.

"It's a great opportunity to come back home to Georgia and work at an outstanding school,” McCollum said in a statement released by Georgia Tech. “I'm also excited about continuing the relationships within the state that I have developed over the years. Without question, some of the best high school football programs are in the state of Georgia.”

McCollum had served as Middle Tennessee State’s head coach from 1999 to 2005. He helped N.C. State land eight players from Georgia in the Class of 2009.

Those players included Rashard Smith, who started at cornerback as a freshman before a season-ending injury, and promising center Camden Wentz.

"We will be happy to have a coach with the experience and knowledge that Andy will bring to our program," Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. "I have coached against and recruited against him for a long time, and I am confident he will do an outstanding job here at Tech."

Ken Tysiac

Pack assistant may leave for Georgia Tech

Linebackers coach Andy McCollum has been considering an opportunity to leave N.C. State and join Georgia Tech's staff.

N.C. State athletics director Lee Fowler confirmed Tuesday morning that McCollum has interviewed for the job and said McCollum hadn't made up his mind as of Monday afternoon.
McCollum is from Marietta, Ga., and his father still lives there, Fowler said.

"I know he's very interested," Fowler said. "It would be like going home."
McCollum, 50, is a former head coach at Middle Tennessee and has spent three seasons on Tom O'Brien's staff at N.C. State.

- KenTysiac

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Day-after signing observations on N.C. State

Now that national signing day is over, here are some leftover points on N.C. State’s class, with quotes from coach Tom O’Brien.

- Bryan Underwood and junior college transfer Tobais Palmer will provide the Wolfpack with a different look at slot receiver than it’s had under O’Brien. They’re both small (5-foot-11) and super-quick.

In the past, N.C. State has had primarily tall wideouts during O’Brien’s tenure.

"It looks a lot different from the Owen Spencers and the Jarvis Williamses we’ve had in the past, the big, tall rangy guys out there," O’Brien said. "So it’s going to be interesting. I think Dana (Bible) is excited about the challenge to coach those kids.”

- Without a lot of depth at quarterback in the program, N.C. State helped itself by picking up the state’s top-rated player at the position in Waynesville Tuscora’s Tyler Brosius.
He passed for 3,454 yards and 34 touchdowns as a senior and was committed to Virginia before changing his mind.

"Tyler is a big, strong-armed kid,” O’Brien said. “A lot of the qualities that the quarterbacks we’ve had in the past, I think he has. He did an excellent job in the Shrine game. One thing a lot of the coaches in the Shrine Bowl came out saying was they were amazed at how quick of foot he was, because he had to do the wing-T and it’s something he’s never done before.”

- With 2009 rushing leaders Toney Baker and Jamelle Eugene gone, freshman Mustafa Greene might have a chance to help at running back immediately.

Unproven players such as James Washington, Brandon Barnes and Curtis Underwood are the other candidates for time in the backfield. Greene’s chances to play will hinge on how well he can learn pass protection.

"You look at the running back situation, and in his mind he probably feels like he has a great chance,” O’Brien said. “That’s probably why he’s coming. You look at it, there’s not a lot of carries or a lot of yards by the three guys that are there. As with all freshmen, who knows who’s going to play and who’s going to be able to play? It’s been explained to him that the faster he learns the offense, and as a running back that means he’s going to have to learn some pass protection because he’s going to be in there when we pass and he can’t whiff on that. Certainly a lot of those young kids can carry the ball. The ball is in their hands and they can carry the ball, but he’s going to have to learn how to protect the quarterback, too."

- Raleigh Athens Drive’s Robert Crisp is the best offensive line prospect the Wolfpack has signed in a long, long time.

"He has really good feet. . . .He’s not on the ground a lot,” O’Brien said. “With our evaluation, when you looked at the guys, a guy like Teddy Larsen who was here and played, if you can move your feet and get good body position and don’t end up on the ground all the time because you’re off balance, I think balance is the key to being a good offensive lineman. And he’s got great size and great reach with his arms. If you draw up a prototype body, he’s got what you want in an offensive lineman. Certainly he’s got to come in and learn his right from his left and know which way to go and who to block. But if he can do those things, he’s got physical skills that look like he can be a really good offensive lineman.”

- N.C. State signed one player who’s been in some trouble in defensive back Pete Singer – whose father also is Crisp’s guardian.

Singer has an April 7 court date in Chatham County on charges stemming from a June 16 traffic stop. The charges – all misdemeanors – include carrying a concealed weapon, possessing a handgun by a minor, driving after consuming alcohol under age and simple possession of marijuana.

O’Brien said he has had extra talks with Singer about the charges.

"Certainly - that’s why we signed him,” O’Brien said. “We’re very comfortable in signing him and happy he’s part of the Wolfpack.”

O’Brien also said he is still recruiting defensive lineman Fre’Shad Hunter, who was dismissed from the Cary High football team and apparently won’t sign a letter of intent with anyone this spring. Hunter is probably headed for junior college or prep school.

- Billy Bennett, the former Boston College place-kicker, will be asked to help immediately on kickoffs.

N.C. State’s returning kicker, senior Josh Czajkowski, will continue handling field goals and extra points.

"Certainly we’ll have to address the kicker in another year because Josh is going to be a senior,” O’Brien said. “Josh did as well as he could last year, but we need to get somebody to kick the ball to the end zone, or certainly inside the 5- and 10-yard line with some hang time on it, not just a line drive. That was one of the things that certainly when you look at the defensive side, if they keep coming in and the ball is on the 35-, 40-yard line, they’re still two first downs down from where they ought to be starting. . . .We think he has the leg strength to get the ball in the air so that we can cover and hopefully we can get them inside the 25-yard line.”

Ken Tysiac

2010 ACC football schedules released

Let the tailgate planning begin. Here's the release from the ACC regarding the 2010 ACC football schedule:

GREENSBORO, N.C.--The 2010 ACC football schedule released today by Commissioner John Swofford is an ambitious slate which has conference teams playing 11 games against teams ranked in the final 2009 AP poll, 14 against opponents that are projected to be in the nation’s pre-season Top 25 and 26 games against teams which participated in 2009 post-season bowl games.

In all, the schedule is comprised of 97 games, including 48 conference match-ups, over a span of 13 weeks and is capped off with the Sixth Annual Dr Pepper Atlantic Coast Conference Football Championship Game, which this year will be played on Saturday, Dec. 4 in Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.

ACC teams will face 48 non-conference opponents who had a combined winning percentage of .614 in 2009, including 35 games against FBS opponents who won 62 percent of their games last fall.

Twenty-six of the league’s 48 non-conference games (54 percent) are against 22 teams that earned bowl berths in 2009. This includes 11 games with teams which finished ranked in the nation’s final Top 25 (AP) in 2009 in defending national champion Alabama (Duke), third-ranked Florida (Florida State), fourth-ranked Boise State (Virginia Tech), 5th-ranked Ohio State (Miami), 8th-ranked Cincinnati (NC State), 12th-ranked BYU (Florida State), 15th-ranked Pittsburgh (Miami), 17th-ranked LSU (North Carolina), 22nd-ranked Southern California (Virginia), 23rd-ranked Central Michigan (Virginia Tech) and 25th-ranked West Virginia (Maryland).

ACC teams will also play 14 games against 11 teams selected by in their early pre-season Top 25 including matches with the projected top three teams in Alabama, Ohio State (2nd) and Boise State (3rd).

Non-conference opponents who earned bowl bids this past season are Alabama, Auburn, Boise State, Brigham Young, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, East Carolina (3 games with ACC), Florida, Georgia, LSU, Middle Tennessee, Navy (3 games with ACC), Ohio State, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Carolina, South Florida, Southern California, Stanford, UCF and West Virginia.
The Conference will again enjoy national exposure on the opening weekend of the season, as North Carolina will face LSU in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic played before a national TV audience on Sept. 4 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Two days later, on Sept. 6, the ACC will be involved in a nationally-televised Labor Day doubleheader on ESPN, with Maryland meeting Navy at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., at 4 p.m., followed by Virginia Tech, projected as the pre-season 6th-ranked team in the rankings, playing Boise State,’s third-ranked team, at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. at 8 p.m.

In all, the ACC will play four games on Thursday night throughout the year that will be nationally televised by ESPN beginning with NC State hosting Cincinnati on Sept. 16, but also including Miami at Pittsburgh (Sept. 23), Florida State at NC State (Oct. 28) and Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech (Nov. 4). Each of the ESPN Thursday night appearances are set for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

The 2010 ACC football schedule is as follows:

Thursday, September 2

Florida A&M at Miami

Presbyterian at Wake Forest

Saturday, September 4

Weber State at Boston College

North Texas at Clemson

Elon at Duke

Samford at Florida State

South Carolina State at Georgia Tech

LSU vs. North Carolina (Atlanta)

Western Carolina at NC State

Richmond at Virginia

Monday, September 6

Navy vs. Maryland

(Baltimore), ESPN, 4 pm

Boise State vs. Virginia Tech,

(Washington), ESPN, 8 pm

Saturday, September 11

Kent State at Boston College

Presbyterian at Clemson

Duke at Wake Forest

Florida State at Oklahoma

Georgia Tech at Kansas

Morgan State at Maryland

Miami at Ohio State

NC State at UCF

Virginia at Southern California

James Madison at Virginia Tech

Thursday, September 16

Cincinnati at NC State, ESPN, 7:30 pm

Saturday, September 18

Clemson at Auburn

Alabama at Duke

BYU at Florida State

Georgia Tech at North Carolina

Maryland at West Virginia

East Carolina at Virginia Tech

Wake Forest at Stanford

Thursday, September 23

Miami at Pittsburgh, ESPN, 7:30 pm

Saturday, September 25

Virginia Tech at Boston College

Army at Duke

Wake Forest at Florida State

NC State at Georgia Tech

Florida International at Maryland

North Carolina at Rutgers

VMI at Virginia

Saturday, October 2

Notre Dame at Boston College

Miami at Clemson

Duke at Maryland

Florida State at Virginia

Georgia Tech at Wake Forest

East Carolina at North Carolina

Virginia Tech at NC State

Saturday, October 9

Boston College at NC State

Clemson at North Carolina

Florida State at Miami

Virginia at Georgia Tech

Central Michigan at Virginia Tech

Navy at Wake Forest

Saturday, October 16

Boston College at Florida State

Maryland at Clemson

Miami at Duke

North Carolina at Virginia

Middle Tennessee at Georgia Tech

NC State at East Carolina

Wake Forest at Virginia Tech

Saturday, October 23

Maryland at Boston College

Georgia Tech at Clemson

Duke at Virginia Tech

North Carolina at Miami

Eastern Michigan at Virginia

Thursday, October 28

Florida State at NC State, ESPN, 7:30 pm

Saturday, October 30

Clemson at Boston College

Duke at Navy

Wake Forest at Maryland

Miami at Virginia

William & Mary at North Carolina

Thursday, November 4

Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech, ESPN, 7:30 pm

Saturday, November 6

Boston College at Wake Forest

NC State at Clemson

Virginia at Duke

North Carolina at Florida State

Maryland at Miami

Saturday, November 13

Boston College at Duke

Clemson at Florida State

Miami at Georgia Tech

Maryland at Virginia

Virginia Tech at North Carolina

Wake Forest at NC State

Saturday, November 20

Virginia at Boston College

Clemson at Wake Forest

Duke at Georgia Tech

Florida State at Maryland

Virginia Tech at Miami

NC State at North Carolina

Saturday, November 27

Boston College at Syracuse

South Carolina at Clemson

North Carolina at Duke

Florida at Florida State

Georgia Tech at Georgia

NC State at Maryland

South Florida at Miami

Virginia at Virginia Tech

Wake Forest at Vanderbilt

Saturday, December 4

Dr Pepper ACC Championship Game


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Three Pack upperclassmen gone

N.C. State upperclassmen Donald Bowens, DeAndre Morgan and Jeff Ruiz will graduate and won't return to the program in the fall, coach Tom O'Brien said Wednesday afternoon. All three would have been seniors in 2010.

Bowens led N.C. State in receiving yards in 2007 but missed 2008 and part of 2009 because of injuries. Morgan started 24 games in his career, including six last season.

Ruiz was N.C. State's starting punter last season, but O'Brien said redshirt freshman Chris Ward will start at punter in 2010.

O'Brien said N.C. State offensive coordinator Dana Bible, who's battling cancer, plans to return to full-time duty in May. Tests have shown that the cancer is in remission, but Bible is going through continued chemotherapy treatments.

Currently, Bible is having treatment in the morning and then comes into the office in the afternoon.

Ken Tysiac