Monday, November 29, 2010

All-ACC team announced

N.C. State linebacker Nate Irving and tight end George Bryan joined North Carolina defensive tackle Quinton Coples as the only players from North Carolina schools to earn first-team All-ACC honors in media voting announced today.
Clemson and Maryland led the conference with four first-team selections each. Duke kicker Will Snyderwine, named a first-team All-American today by the American Football Coaches Association, was a second-team All-ACC selection behind Virginia Tech’s Chris Hazley.

Here is the complete All-ACC list, with votes in parentheses:


QB Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech (77); RB Montel Harris, Boston College (122); RB Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech (108); WR Leonard Hankerson, Miami (118); WR Torrey Smith, Maryland (96); TE George Bryan, NC State (92); OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College (79); OT Chris Hairston, Clemson (69); OG Rodney Hudson, Florida State (116); OG Brandon Washington, Miami (50); C Sean Bedford, Georgia Tech (91); K Chris Hazley, Virginia Tech (100); Spc. Tony Logan, Maryland (69)


DE Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson (120); DE Brandon Jenkins, Florida State (101); DT Quinton Coples, North Carolina (101); DT Jarvis Jenkins, Clemson (63); LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College (112); LB Nate Irving, N.C. State (105); LB Alex Wujciak, Maryland (78); CB Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech (112); CB Chase Minnifield, Virginia (57); S DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson (99); S Kenny Tate, Maryland (78); P Matt Bosher, Miami.


QB Russell Wilson, NC State (75); RB Damien Berry, Miami (37); RB Keith Payne, Virginia (30); WR Conner Vernon, Duke (70); WR Owen Spencer, NC State (41); TE Dwayne Allen, Clemson (31); OT Orlando Franklin, Miami (65); OT Blake DeChristopher, Virginia Tech (39); OG Jaymes Brooks, Virginia Tech (41); OG Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech (35); OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina (35); C Ryan McMahon, Florida State (47); K Will Snyderwine, Duke (38); Spc.David Wilson, Virginia Tech (61).


DE Allen Bailey, Miami (51); DE Steven Friday, Virginia Tech (42); DT John Graves, Virginia Tech (46); DT Joe Vellano, Maryland (33); LB Bruce Carter, North Carolina (43); LB Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech (41); LB Sean Spence, Miami (37); CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State (49); CB Brandon Harris, Miami (45); S Davon Morgan, Virginia Tech (48); S Ray-Ray Armstrong, Miami (25); P Brian Saunders, Virginia Tech (48).


WR Dwight Jones, North Carolina (20); OT Jake Vermiglio, NC State (34); Paul Pinegar, Maryland (27). OG Thomas Claiborne, Boston College (34). C Beau Warren, Virginia Tech (22). TE Cooper Helfet, Duke (24); Andre Smith, Virginia Tech (23); RB Johnny White, North Carolina (22). QB T.J. Yates, North Carolina (21). PK Casey Barth, North Carolina (20). SP Marcus Gilchrist, Clemson (24).


DT J.R. Sweezy, NC State (26). LB Colin McCarthy, Miami (34); Abraham Kromah, Duke (30). CB Greg Reid, Florida State (20).

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ACC refs' boss says Pack call handled correctly

ACC officiating coordinator Doug Rhoads said today that Ron Cherry's officiating crew handled the spot of the ball correctly on a key fourth-down play during the final minute of Maryland's 38-31 defeat of N.C. State on Saturday.

The play has caused controversy because the N.C. State defense appeared to stop running back D.J. Adams short of the first-down marker on a rush on a fourth-and-1 at the N.C. State 32-yard line.

But the officials gave Adams what appeared to be a generous spot of the ball, and coach Tom O'Brien was visibly frustrated when the officials' measurement showed Adams gained the first down that clinched the win for Maryland with 48 seconds left.

"The play is handled correctly as well as can be done by human beings," Rhoads said this morning in a telephone interview.

Rhoads said the line judge and head linesman ran in hard like they're supposed to after the play to mark the spot of the ball when Adams was stopped. He said on short-yardage plays where many large bodies are present, it's difficult to determine the spot of the ball.

The officials estimated as accurately as possible where the forward-most point of the ball was, according to Rhoads. He said the TV replay official did review the spot, and the first governing principle of replay reviews is the presumption that the call on the field is correct.
"The standard to overturn or reverse that is very high," Rhoads said. "That’s irrefutable video evidence. And I personally looked at the video of that, and you cannot ascertain the forward-most point of the ball, and it’s obscured because of all the bodies in there."
Had Adams been ruled short of the first down, N.C. State would have taken possession at its own 32-yard line with 48 seconds remaining, trailing by seven points. Although the Wolfpack didn't have any timeouts remaining, there would have been time to attempt to work quickly to get the ball down the field for a tying touchdown.

O'Brien declined to comment this morning about the call. Immediately after the game, he refrained from second guessing the officials.
"It sure looked like [we stopped them] from where we were and we were right on the chains," O'Brien said Saturday night. ". . .[The call] was confirmed, so I guess it wasn't a stop. We thought we had him stopped, but my opinion doesn't count."

Ken Tysiac

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pack LB Cureton out for season

N.C. State has lost reserve linebacker Asante Cureton for the remainder of the season with a knee injury, according to the team injury report released today.
Cureton has played 71 snaps on defense and made 18 tackles this season. He was hurt during last week's 29-25 defeat of North Carolina.
The Wolfpack (8-3, 5-2 ACC) will visit Maryland (7-4, 4-3) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Ken Tysiac

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Charlotte's ACC title game nearing sell-out

The ACC's football championship game in Charlotte appears to be nearing a sell-out.

More than 65,000 tickets have been sold by Wednesday morning for the Dec. 4 game in 72,778-seat Bank of America Stadium. And that's with just one of the participating schools -- Virginia Tech -- known. The other team will be either N.C. State or Florida State. If the Wolfpack beats Maryland on Saturday, it will go.

The championship game has sold out just once in six seasons, the inaugural game in 2005 between Virginia Tech and Florida State in Jacksonville, Fla.

“We couldn’t be happier to be where we are in ticket sales at this point,” said Will Webb, the Charlotte organizing committee's executive director in a statement. “We are striving for a sellout, which is what we always believed the ACC deserves. The fact that we are almost there, given we don’t know the final matchup, is a testament to the game and the conference.”

The game has struggled at the gate in its other four years in Jacksonville and Tampa, Fla.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fewer than 12,000 tickets remain for ACC title game

Tickets sales for the ACC championship game Dec. 4 at Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium have passed the 60,000 mark, according to Will Webb, executive director of the local organizing committee.

Sales have picked up since Virginia Tech clinched its spot in the game on Saturday. The Hokies will play either N.C. State or Florida State for the title. -- David Scott

No ACC suspensions for UNC's Reddick, N.C. State's Williams in scuffle

No suspensions will be assessed to North Carolina's Kevin Reddick or N.C. State's Jarvis Williams for their roles in an end-zone scuffle Saturday, ACC associate commissioner Michael Kelly said Monday.

Both players were given personal fouls and ejected from the 29-25 N.C. State win, but referee Brad Allen's report categorized them as flagrant fouls, not fighting fouls. The latter would have warranted one-game suspensions.

Asked Monday if there would be any follow-up punishment for Reddick, North Carolina coach Butch Davis said, "He got thrown out of the game," and left it at that. N.C. State's Tom O'Brien, meanwhile, said he expected Williams to be available when the Wolfpack takes on Maryland on Saturday.

The ejections occurred in the third quarter after N.C. State wide receiver Owen Spencer grabbed a tipped ball in the end zone for a pivotal touchdown on a fourth-and-goal play. Williams pushed Reddick in the chest with two hands and Reddick responded by throwing a punch at Williams.

O'Brien credited his team with again displaying good discipline against the Tar Heels in a contentious rivalry game and praised the work of Allen's officiating crew.

"I think the officials did a great job," he said. "They've got control of the game. What I'm really pleased is, the last two years we've been punched (by UNC players). And our kids haven't retaliated. ...

"I can only coach my football team. You get into that situation and their first reaction is to retaliate but we haven't done it, which shows the discipline we now enjoy and the character we have in our program. ...

"We took (tight end) George Bryan out of the game Saturday because he was on the verge of an incident. But I'm proud of the way our kids have handled that situation after being punched two years in a row."

Through a team spokesman, Davis declined to respond Monday.

After last year's game in Raleigh, North Carolina's Donte Paige-Moss took a swing at State's Sterling Lucas. Moss was suspended for one game and missed North Carolina's appearance in the Meineke Car Car Bowl in Charlotte.

Davis said last year that Moss pushed away a player who was "kind of taunting him and in his face" on the field after the Wolfpack's 28-27 win.

O'Brien then took issue with Davis' comments, replying that "in no way, shape or form did I see any of our players exhibit inappropriate behavior."

-- Luke DeCock

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Duke freshman Kelby Brown will miss season finale

Duke coach David Cutcliffe announced on Sunday that freshman Kelby Brown suffered a season-ending knee injury at Georgia Tech and will miss the team's season finale against North Carolina on Saturday.

Brown, a linebacker from Charlotte, tore his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in the Blue Devils' 30-20 loss to Georgia Tech. Brown will undergo surgery at a date to be announced.

"It is unfortunate that Kelby's fine freshman season ends prematurely," Cutcliffe said. "It is really tough for a freshman to arrive on campus in June and start seven games at middle linebacker, and he did just that. We know he is in great hands with our medical staff - it is the best in the country - and we're confident Kelby will overcome this obstacle and be back as soon as possible."

In nine games, Brown, at 6 foot 2 and 215 pounds, made an impact for the Devils in his first season.

He leads the nation in fumble recoveries and his 7.3 tackles per game are ranked second in the ACC. His four recoveries are a single-season freshman record and the most for the Devils since 2002.

-- Edward G. Robinson III

ACC bowl projections

Orange (Miami): Virginia Tech

The Hokies (9-2) have won nine straight and with the return of running back Ryan Williams, who ran for 142 yards and two touchdowns against Miami this week, they don't have the look of a team that's going to lose in any of its final three games.

The Hokies' opponent in the BCS bowl game will either be Texas Christian or the Big 12 title game loser, either Nebraska or Oklahoma State.

Chick-fil-A (Atlanta): N.C. State

At 8-3, N.C. State's one win away from the Atlantic Division title and a return to Atlanta for the first time since the 1994 season.

State has made seven trips to the Peach Bowl, as it was known pre-corporate sponsor, with a 4-3 record. Its last trip was a 28-24 win over Mississippi State on Jan. 1, 1995.

The Bulldogs (7-4) would likely be the SEC pick, since South Carolina (8-3) is going to Atlanta for the SEC title game on Dec. 4.

Florida State (8-3) would jump the Wolfpack with a win over Florida and an N.C. State loss to Maryland.

Champs (Orlando, Fla.): Florida State

The Seminoles haven't left the state of Florida for a bowl game in three years but the Orlando game can line up Notre Dame (6-5) on one side and the Noles on the other and win at the box office and television ratings.

This would likely be N.C. State if the Pack loses to Maryland and FSU beats Florida but Clemson, with a win over South Carolina, is also a possibility.

Sun (El Paso, Texas): Miami

Miami (7-4) is a colossal disappointment and it has no traveling fan base -- or one that shows up for its home games -- but the Canes can still draw a television number and that's all the Sun Bowl cares about.

Oregon State (5-5), Cal (5-6), Washington (4-6) are the possible Pac-10 opponents but have yet to qualify. The wild card is Notre Dame.

Obviously, CBS would renew the Catholics vs. Convicts series in a heartbeat but Notre Dame (6-5) has to finish 7-5 to qualify for the Pac-10's spot.

The Irish play at USC (7-4), which is banned from the postseason, on Saturday.

Meineke (Charlotte): Clemson

Technically, Charlotte picks before the Music City and has the ability to select UNC, which beat Clemson, but the Tar Heels have been to Charlotte two years in a row and Clemson (6-5) hasn't been yet.

The Tigers, who close with South Carolina, would sell more tickets with a win over the Gamecocks, but a matchup with West Virginia (7-3) would continue bowl executive Will Webb's string of unbelievable luck in finding compelling matchups.

Music City (Nashville): UNC

The Tar Heels (6-5) would be jumped by Maryland (7-4) if UNC loses to Duke and the Terps beat N.C. State. That would trigger the "BC rule" -- which doesn't allow a team with two or more losses to jump ahead in the bowl order.

That also requires UNC losing to Duke, which has happened once in the past 20 years.

On the SEC side, Tennessee (5-6) -- oh the irony, the team that backed out of a regular-season series in 2011 and 2012 with UNC because it was scared to lose -- is closing strong but needs to beat Kentucky (6-5) to qualify.

Georgia (5-6), which has to beat Georgia Tech, is another possibility.

If neither the Vols nor Dawgs qualify, Kentucky would go back to Nashville for the fourth time in five years.

Independence (Shreveport, La.): Georgia Tech

I think they've already started printing tickets for this game between Georgia Tech (6-5) and Air Force (8-4).

They should call it the Time Machine Bowl -- with both teams playing the option, it will look like the 1960s.

Military (Washington): Maryland

The Terps (7-4) need help from Duke to get out of this game at RFK Stadium in D.C.

Short of finishing two games ahead of UNC, the Terps will be relegated to this game against a Conference USA opponent, likely East Carolina (6-5), which given the Pirates' fan base, offense -- and defense -- could be a fun bowl game.

Kraft Fight Hunger (San Francisco): Boston College

The Eagles (6-5) became bowl eligible with Saturday's win over Virginia and will likely fill the Pac-10's spot in this game.

The WAC will fill its side of the equation and probably with Nevada (10-1), although there's a possibility this could be Boise State (10-0).

-- J.P. Giglio

ACC title game tickets pass 55,000 mark

Ticket sales for the ACC championship game Dec. 4 at Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium have surpassed the 55,000 mark, thanks in large part to a buying surge this weekend after Virginia Tech clinched a spot in the game.

Hokies fans have bought more than 5,500 tickets overnight and today after their team's victory Saturday against Miami, according to Will Webb, the game's executive director.

Webb says he's concerned that fans of the Hokies' opposition -- either N.C. State or Florida State -- will have a limited chance to buy tickets because of the pace of sales the game has experienced all season. -- David Scott

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Czajkowski to kick for N.C. State

CHAPEL HILL - Senior Josh Czajkowski, who had been ruled out for the rest of the regular season with a hamstring injury, will kick field goals and extra points for N.C. State in today's game at North Carolina, which kicks off shortly after noon.

Freshman Chris Hawthorne, who subbed for Czajkowski last week, will continue handling kickoffs today.

Czajkowski is tied for fourth in career field goals in N.C. State history with 40.

Ken Tysiac

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pack's Czajkowski may kick vs. UNC

Josh Czajkowski may be able to kick for N.C. State this season after all.

Czajkowski previously was ruled out for the rest of the regular season with a hamstring injury suffered Nov. 6 at Clemson. But on N.C. State's weekly injury report, which was released today, Czajkowski was listed as questionable for Saturday's game at North Carolina, which begins at noon.

A "questionable" designation for a game indicates that a player has a 50 percent chance of participating. Czajkowski was in uniform for practice Thursday.

Freshman Chris Hawthorne took Czajkowski's place last week in a 38-3 win over Wake Forest and will kick against the Tar Heels if Czajkowski is unable to play.

Hawthorne made his lone field goal attempt, a 25-yarder, and made all five of his extra point attempts against Wake Forest.

Czajkowski, a senior, has made 14 of his 18 field goal attempts this season. He ranks fourth in school history in career field goal percentage (.866) and is tied for fourth in field goals made with 40.

Ken Tysiac

Monday, November 15, 2010

O'Brien talks about UNC, NCAA and the rivalry

With his team getting ready to visit North Carolina on Saturday, N.C. State football coach Tom O'Brien was asked about the ongoing NCAA investigation taking place at UNC.

"First off, I don’t think you ever want to see anybody in our conference in that situation," O'Brien said Monday at his weekly news conference, "because I believe we pride ourselves [on NCAA compliance] in the ACC, and I don’t know what the outcome is, other than there seems to be something over there going on."

"Second of all, anytime you have an agent thing, I think, certainly you have to evaluate what you’re doing and look at what your program is doing, if you’re doing the right things as far as protecting your players and educating them and making sure that you’re doing the best you can. Because certainly no one in college football lives in a glass house. It could happen a lot of different places."

An NCAA investigation into impermissible benefits provided by agents and academic misconduct at North Carolina has resulted in 14 players missing at least one game this season. Six players are out for the season; six have returned to the lineup and the status of two others has yet to be announced.

"The constant struggle we have as coaches and - I’m not going to speak for [N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow] here - but as administrators is to make sure you’re doing the right things and we’re abiding by the rules and regulations not only of North Carolina State but of the NCAA," O'Brien said.

N.C. State (7-3, 4-2 ACC) needs to win at noon Saturday at UNC and on Nov. 27 at Maryland to be assured of an appearance in the Dec. 4 ACC championship game in Charlotte.

O'Brien said the implications for the ACC title game are important Saturday, but they don't make the rivalry game more significant.

"That’s the carrot to win the game, to get to the ACC championship," O'Brien said. "As I said Saturday, the road to Charlotte goes through Chapel Hill. You have to get through Chapel Hill. Well, if you’re at N.C. State and you’re part of this football program, you have to win in Chapel Hill anyway.

"It’s something that is part of the culture here. We accept that fact and our kids have really risen to the occasion, have played well anytime we’ve played against North Carolina since I’ve been here."

O'Brien is 3-0 against North Carolina as N.C. State's coach.

Ken Tysiac

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pack holds slim lead over Wake Forest at halftime

RALEIGH - Thanks to a big drive from Russell Wilson and Jarvis Williams and a second-quarter goal-line stand, N.C. State led Wake Forest 10-3 today at halftime at Carter-Finley Stadium.

Wilson hit Williams for a 50-yard pass to get the Wolfpack into scoring position for the half's only touchdown. Three plays later, Williams caught a 4-yard touchdown pass on a flanker screen to stretch N.C. State's lead to 10-3.

Wake Forest responded with a 13-play drive, but N.C. State stopped the Deacons on fourth-and-goal from the 2. David Akinniyi and Brandan Bishop teamed to tackle Michael Campanero for a 1-yard loss with 58.2 seconds remaining in the half.

Freshman walk-on Chris Hawthorne made a 25-yard field goal in the first quarter to open the scoring. Hawthorne won a competition with Ellis Flint this week to replace Josh Czajkowski, who's out for the rest of the regular season with a hamstring injury suffered last week at Clemson.

Jimmy Newman tied the score with a 19-yard field goal for Wake Forest with 12:35 remaining in the second quarter.

Ken Tysiac

Hawthorne, Washington to start for N.C. State

Freshman walk-on Chris Hawthorne will start at place-kicker and James Washington will start at running back for N.C. State in today's home game against Wake Forest, which begins at 2 p.m.

Hawthorne, a former Raleigh Leesville Road High player, replaces senior Josh Czajkowski, who suffered a hamstring injury last week at Clemson that will keep him out the rest of the regular season. Hawthorne beat out former Hofstra kicker Ellis Flint in a weeklong competition this week for Czajkowski's spot.

Washington is one of three running backs who have been in N.C. State's rotation, along with Mustafa Greene and Dean Haynes. Haynes suffered a head injury Oct. 28 against Florida State. He didn't play against Clemson, although he had been medically cleared for that game and is cleared for today's game, too.

Ken Tysiac

Thursday, November 11, 2010

UNC severs ties with former football tutor

The University of North Carolina has sent a disassociation letter severing ties with Jennifer Wiley, the former tutor associated with the school and NCAA's investigation into possible academic misconduct within the Tar Heels football program.

In the letter, dated Nov. 5 and signed by athletic director Dick Baddour, states that Wiley provided impermissible academic assistance to some of the school’s student-athletes in 2009 and 2010.

The letter also states that Wiley provided impermissible financial assistance in excess of $2,000 in connection with travel and transportation issues. The university released the letters to the media this afternoon as the result of public records requests.

In a statement sent to the media by her lawyer, Joseph B Cheshire V of Raleigh, Wiley acknowledged her role in the investigation. The statement said the providing of funds mentioned in the letter she received from UNC related to allowing one individual to use her credit card where a credit card was required. According to the statement, bank deposit would show she was immediately repaid for the cost applied to her card, and she did not realize such a transaction was impermissible.

"She did not intend for her work to 'provide impermissible academic assistance' and to the extent it did, she is deeply saddened, particularly as it has affected the young men she cared so much about," the statement read.

Through Cheshire, Wiley requested privacy and said she would have no further comments at this time.

"Disassociation" from the program means that the school will not accept any assistance from Wiley or permit prospective or enrolled athletes to have contact with her, among other things.

Wiley is the third person whose disassociation letter has been released to the media in connection with the investigation. Former UNC player Chris Hawkins, who’s been labeled an agent by the NCAA, and Miami jeweler A.J. Machado are the others who have been disassociated.

UNC also released a document providing additional details of the investigation.

Reinstatement requests sent by the university to the NCAA indicate that impermissible gifts, including cash, jewelry and travel and entertainment expenses were provided to football players by:

•Former UNC player Hakeem Nicks ($3,300).

•Former UNC player Omar Brown ($1,865).

•Former UNC player Mahlon Carey ($140).

•Vernon Davis ($20).

•A person from Miami whose full name is not known to the university
Some of the benefits provided were repaid by the UNC players before they or their hosts knew that receipt of the benefits violated NCAA rules, according to UNC.

J. Andrew Curliss and Ken Tysiac

N.C. State LB Lucas questionable for Wake Forest

Backup middle linebacker Sterling Lucas is listed as questionable for N.C. State's game with Wake Forest, which is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Lucas has a knee injury.

N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien said after practice today that he had not decided yet how the place-kicking duties will be assigned for the game. After losing senior starter Josh Czajkowski to a hamstring injury, the Wolfpack has auditioned sopohomore Ellis Flint and freshman Chris Hawthorne this week.

O'Brien said the players' teammates spent time during practice trying to distract the kickers to prepare them for game conditions.

"It's been a good competition," O'Brien said. "The kids have put a lot of pressure on them and had a lot of fun with it, and we'll see how it goes on Saturday."

Ken Tysiac

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

No decision on UNC's Houston

North Carolina running back Ryan Houston might play against Virginia Tech. Then again, he might not.

Tar Heels coach Butch Davis said the decision to use Houston against the Hokies, or maintain his redshirt, will likely be made on Saturday.

"We haven't decided any of those right now," Davis said Wednesday on the weekly ACC coaches' teleconference, in answering a question about options at running back.

Houston, the team's leading rusher in 2009, has not played this season. He missed the first five games because of the NCAA investigation and has been held out of the past four games with the intent of redshirting.

With a season-ending injury to running back Johnny White in last Saturday's 37-35 win at Florida State, UNC's depth at running back has taken a hit.

"I've had conversations with Ryan," Davis said. "That will probably be a potential game-time decision."

Davis also played coy with the health of Shaun Draughn, who suffered an ankle injury in the fourth quarter of the Florida State win. Davis said UNC would release an injury report on Thursday with an update of Draughn's health.

Draughn was held out of the first game because of the NCAA investigation and lost the starting job to White. Draughn has rushed for 386 yards and four touchdowns but has 82 carries, compared to 130 for White (team-best 720 yards).

Senior Anthony Elzy, who is technically a fullback, and sophomore Hunter Furr are the other options at running back.

-- J.P. Giglio

Pack's Wilson says he's undecided about football in 2011

N.C. State junior quarterback Russell Wilson said this morning that he is looking forward to taking part in senior day festivites Saturday, but hasn't decided whether he will return for his senior season.

Wilson already has his bachelor's degree in communications and played professional baseball last summer in the Colorado Rockies organization. He has a year of football eligibility remaining after this season.

"I'm not sure yet [about 2011]," Wilson said. "I'm focused on Wake Forest. I'll follow what the Lord takes me to, wherever that is. If it's here, awesome. If it's somewhere else, awesome. It's going to be a great situation for me no matter what. But I'm focused on winning against Wake Forest. That's the most important thing."

He said he hasn't talked with the Rockies about his plans for the future or what they expect from him. Coach Tom O'Brien said earlier this week that he doesn't expect to talk to Wilson about the future until the season is over.

Wilson and N.C. State's seniors will be honored before the Wolfpack plays host to N.C. State at 2 p.m. Saturday. O'Brien has said he is honoring Wilson because this may be his last home game with the Wolfpack.

Ken Tysiac

Monday, November 8, 2010

Junior QB Wilson to be honored with Pack seniors

N.C. State junior quarterback Russell Wilson will be honored with the Wolfpack seniors on senior day before Saturday's 2 p.m. game with Wake Forest at Carter-Finley Stadium.

Coach Tom O'Brien said Monday that he doesn't have any information on whether Wilson, who played pro baseball last summer in the Colorado Rockies organization, will return for more football in 2011.

Wilson already has his bachelor's degree in communications and is taking graduate school classes this semester. O'Brien said he hasn't discussed 2011 with Wilson and doesn't plan to discuss it until after this season is over.

"There are too many things for us to play for right now to be worried about next year," O'Brien said.

Wilson has declined on numerous occasions to discuss what he plans to do after the 2010 season ends.

O'Brien's decision to honor Wilson on Saturday partly is a result of missing an opportunity to honor running back Toney Baker after the 2009 season. Baker was cleared to return for a sixth season and had told O'Brien he planned to return for 2010.

But Baker changed his mind after the season and didn't get honored.

"Russell is going to go out, and this could very well be his last game," O'Brien said. "If it is, we're going to honor him with everybody else who's going to play their last game."

-- Ken Tysiac

UNC's Houston might return against Virginia Tech

It's possible that running back Ryan Houston might play against Virginia Tech on Saturday, UNC coach Butch Davis said today.

Houston, the team's leading rusher in 2009, has not played this season, missing the first five games because of the NCAA investigation. Houston had planned to redshirt the season before starter Johnny White was injured against Florida State last Saturday.

White broke his right collarbone and will miss the final three games of the regular season. UNC, at 3-2 in the ACC, can still win the Coastal Division but must beat Virginia Tech, 5-0 in the ACC, on Saturday.

Davis said Houston told him he would have played against FSU if he had made the trip to Tallahassee. White and running back Shaun Draughn (ankle) did not finish the 37-35 win for the Heels.

Sophomore Hunter Furr ran three times for 27 yards on the final drive. Davis said Furr, who had been the scout team running back, will play a significant role against the Hokies. Draughn is listed as the starter but his injury status is unknown.

Houston ran for 713 yards and nine touchdowns last season.

-- J.P. Giglio

Pack kicker Czajkowski out with hamstring injury

N.C. State senior place-kicker Josh Czajkowski will miss at least the remainder of the regular season because of a leg injury, Wolfpack coach Tom O'Brien announced today at his weekly news conference.

Czajkowski injured his hamstring on the Wolfpack's final kickoff in Saturday's 14-13 loss to Clemson. It's unclear whether he will be able to return for N.C. State's bowl game.

Sophomore Ellis Flint and freshman Chris Hawthorne will compete for the starting position in practice this week. Flint is a former Hofstra player who transferred after that school dropped its football program at the end of last season.

Czajkowski had attended kicking camp with him and brought it to the N.C. State coaching staff's attention that Flint needed to find a place to play.

Hawthorne is a freshman from Leesville Road High who has impressed O'Brien with his strong leg and improvement this season. O'Brien said it's possible that one of the kickers will kick field goals and extra points, and the other will handle kickoffs in Czajkowski's absence.

Czajkowski was injured on a 76-yard kickoff return by Clemson in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game. He was 12-for-16 on field goal attempts this season. He ranks fourth in school history in field goal percentage (.866) and is tied for fourth in career field goals (40).

Ken Tysiac

N.C. State at UNC will kick off at noon Nov. 20

The annual N.C. State vs. North Carolina football rivalry game will kick off at noon on Nov. 20 at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill and will be televised on the ACC Network, the ACC announced today.

N.C. State (6-3, 3-2 ACC) and North Carolina (6-3, 3-2) both will be bowl eligible heading into the game.

In other Nov. 20 games, Duke will visit Georgia Tech at 1:30 p.m. and Clemson will play at Wake Forest at 2 p.m. Both of those games are scheduled for Internet-only broadcasts.

Ken Tysiac

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pack leads 7-0 at half

CLEMSON, S.C. - In a game filled with mistakes and a stadium full of boos No. 23 N.C. State leads Clemson 7-0 this afternoon at Death Valley.

N.C. State delivered the only score of the first half on its first drive on a 3-yard pass from Russell Wilson to Mustafa Greene. The drive was kept alive by a controversial third-down pass interference penalty against Corico Hawkins.

Both teams botched numerous opportunities to score after that. Clemson’s Richard Jackson missed a 37-yard field goal attempt, and Tigers quarterback Kyle Parker threw an interception deep in N.C. State territory.

Terrell Manning returned that interception for an apparent touchdown, but the score was called back because of a block-in-the-back penalty. Clemson’s Jarvis Jenkins blocked a 30-yard Josh Czajkowski field goal attempt, and Wilson was intercepted in the end zone by DeAndre McDaniel after the Wolfpack recovered a fumble at the Clemson 7.

The Tigers had a chance to score in the final minute of the first half when they, too, had a touchdown called back because of a penalty. After the holding penalty took away the Clemson's score, J.R. Sweezy and Jeff Rieskamp sacked Kyle Parker on consecutive plays.

Clemson was unable to kick a field goal on fourth down because the clock ran out.

Ken Tysiac

Thursday, November 4, 2010

More on team building from Pack's O'Brien

A comment N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien made in a story in Wednesday’s editions of the Charlotte Observer and News & Observer was jarring enough that other media have followed up seeking further details.

In a story describing team building exercises the Wolfpack did in July, O’Brien said that his first three N.C. State teams might not have benefited from similar exercises because of their lack of character.

Asked about that comment, O’Brien expanded Wednesday on the ACC’s weekly coaches’ teleconference:

“I didn’t paint the whole football team as a character issue, but there were enough guys that, it was all about, ‘Me.’ It wasn’t about team. Nothing was going to change in their mind. That was who they were, and 31 guys, 32 guys aren’t here because they didn’t want to conform to the team concept with what we’re trying to get accomplished here.

“We had great kids when we got here. The Evans twins. I can go down the list of great kids. But there weren’t enough of them. They couldn’t overcome some of the ‘me’ and the ego problems that we had when we got there. If you have an ego, you have no chance to be a teammate. You have to forgo a lot of those ‘I’ and ‘me’ situations if you’re going to be a true teammate. We’ve made great strides in that area with these kids playing for each other instead of playing for themselves.

“[This team], they want to do the right things. They want to be good. They want to do whatever it takes to win within the rules and regulations of the game and the campus and everything else. There was that want-to feeling from a majority of guys. It can’t be just three, four, five guys. You can’t have 25 guys committed to want-to, and 75 not. Now when those numbers change over time, which we’ve had to change by attrition, whatever, and you get that number high enough, then you can absorb all those guys that maybe aren’t the want-to guys. The guys that really want to do it and be leaders, they will lead the rest of the Pack.”

It’s been argued that O’Brien disrespected the players on his first three teams who did have high character because of his initial statement. Nothing could be further from the truth.

O’Brien obviously wasn’t ever saying everybody on his first three teams was a “me-first” guy. Current team leaders such as Russell Wilson, Jarvis Williams and Nate Irving were on those teams, too, and O’Brien clearly appreciates their character.

His initial comment was jarring enough, though, that I asked him if he was comfortable with it during the exclusive interview that led to the story. He said he was.

“We had some bad guys,” O’Brien explained. “I’ll say this. There’s a lot of things we could have done and it wouldn’t have made any difference with them. They weren’t going to listen, and they had no intent on being a team player. They were nothing but ‘me’ kind of guys, and most of them, there’s even more that aren’t in the program because of it.”

O’Brien has said a more team-first attitude is one reason that N.C. State (6-2, 3-1 ACC heading into Saturday’s game at Clemson) is off to its best start in years. And he’s sticking to that story as the Wolfpack seeks its first berth in the ACC championship game.

Ken Tysiac

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Duke's Renfree learns from mistakes

DURHAM -- Duke quarterback Sean Renfree received more palatable questions this week after leading the Blue Devils to a 34-31 victory over Navy on Saturday.

This time reporters at Duke's weekly news conference on Tuesday asked about his precision and accuracy as he completed 28 of 30 pass attempts for 314 yards and a touchdown against the Midshipmen, starting the game by tying a school-record 16 consecutive completions and finding his target 93 percent of the time.

During the previous four weeks, the questions have centered on Renfree's troubles in the pocket as he committed turnovers - including 11 of his 15 interceptions this season.

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound redshirt sophomore walked off the field at Nay-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium without a passing glitch and now looks to duplicate that poise as Duke (2-6, 0-4) hosts Virginia (4-4, 1-3) on Saturday.

"Making smarter decisions," he said of what was learned. "When it's not clearly there, throw it away, run or do something else with it instead of force throws and force interceptions."

"His decision making was much better," said Duke coach David Cutcliffe, whose staff simplified the game-plan to relieve some pressure on Renfree, who had struggled.

The Devils scripted passing plays to running backs and tight ends to help Renfree find his rhythm. He made more swing passes when things weren't open downfield.

Renfree impressed his Cutcliffe on several occasions when he looked off seemingly open receivers, explaining later that he wasn't completely comfortable with the choice. That equated to progress.

"You can't throw it when you think something," Cutcliffe said. "You have to know something to let that ball out of your hand. When he didn't have that information, he either went somewhere else with the ball or pulled it down."

Renfree said the passing game was simplified, but explained what helped most was making better decisions.

"Not forcing things," he said. "There were a couple times where I could have hit guys, but I couldn't see them perfectly. And I wasn't going to throw something over the middle that I couldn't see completely well and I ended up just running it."

He also used his his legs - rushing for 28 yards and two touchdowns.

Renfree said it's been a learning process for him. He now understand that throwing an incompletion or rushing for one yard is not a negative.

Duke wide receiver Conner Vernon said Renfree was in full command of his skills on Saturday. The quarterback called an audible late in the third quarter that resulted in them connecting on a 29-yard touchdown pass.

Over the past few days, he's watched Renfree's confidence swell.

"That was exactly what he needed," Vernon said.


Cutliffe walked to the podium on Tuesday and started with remarks that spoke to Duke's relief at snapping a six-game losing streak.

"It feels much better to stand up here after a win," he said.

Others were feeling that way, too.

Despite the start to their season, Duke players are looking at the opportunity of finishing out the season 6-6. They are still seeking their first ACC victory, but hope to run the table during their next four games - Virginia, Boston College, Georgia Tech and North Carolina.

So the Devils still have something to play for this season?

"Most definitely," Duke sophomore running back Desmond Scott. "We're going to take them one game at a time. The outcome of these four games will determine our future."

Throughout the season, despite the disappointment with losses, the Devils have remained in high spirits, something Cutcliffe called one of the most "amazing" things he's seen in his coaching career.

He showed his lighter side during Tuesday press conference when a toilet flush interrupted him at the Brooks Football Building.

"That's kind of appropriate," he said. "That should have been here the last six weeks. ... That was a six-game losing streak being flushed."

-- Edward G. Robinson III

Monday, November 1, 2010

UNC cornerback done for season with ACL injury

North Carolina got cornerback Kendric Burney back for Saturday's game against William & Mary, but the 21-17 win over the Tribe cost them another defensive back.

Tar Heels cornerback Terry Shankle tore the ACL in his left knee Saturday, the university's sports information department announced Monday.

Shankle, a redshirt freshman from Norwood, N.C., will have surgery to repair his ACL in the next few weeks and is done for the season, according to the university release.

Shankle had eight tackles and one pass break up this year.

-- Lorenzo Perez

N.C. State's Wilson among ACC Players of the Week

N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson and Boston College middle linebacker Luke Kuechly headlined a list of seven players honored today as the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Players of the Week.

Wilson was responsible for all four of the Wolfpack’s touchdowns, including a career-high three rushing TDs, as N.C. State rallied Thursday night from a 14-point deficit to defeat Florida State, 28-24. It's the third time this season that Wilson has been named the ACC's offensive back of the week.

A pair of Duke players, tight end Cooper Helfet and place kicker Will Snyderwine also drew top league honors this week.

The complete list:

OFFENSIVE BACK – Russell Wilson, NC State, QB, r-Jr.

Wilson completed 18 of 28 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown, and rushed 17 times for 69 yards and three touchdowns. Wilson's three rushing touchdowns were the most by an NC State quarterback since Preston Poag rushed for three scores against Western Carolina on Sept. 3, 1988.

OFFENSIVE LINEMAN – Cooper Helfet, Duke, TE, Jr.

In Duke’s 34-31 win, Helfet caught a season-best and team-high seven passes for a season-high 69 yards. Four of his seven receptions produced 1st downs. He also recovered a Navy onsides kick attempt at the 2:34 mark of the fourth quarter to help preserve the victory.

DEFENSIVE LINEMAN – Luke Kuechly, Boston College, MLB, So.

Kuechly recorded 14 tackles and extended his nation-leading streak to 17 games with 10 or more tackles, while also contributing a late-game interception, as Boston College topped Clemson, 16-10.

CO-DEFENSIVE BACK – Chase Minnifield, Virginia, CB, Jr.

Minnifield had two interceptions and four tackles in UVa's 24-19 upset of Miami at Scott Stadium. He teamed with safety Corey Mosley to help the Cavaliers tie the school record with five interceptions during the game.

CO-DEFENSIVE BACK – Corey Mosley, Virginia, S, Jr.

Mosley tallied two interceptions and recorded four tackles as UVa upset Miami, 24-19.

SPECIALIST – Will Snyderwine, Duke, K, r-Jr.

Snyderwine scored 10 points on two field goals and four PATs as Duke defeated Navy, 34-31. He was 2-of-2 on field goals (30 & 40 yards) and 4-of-4 on PATs. His 40-yard field goal at the 8:34 mark of the 4th period proved to be the winning margin in the three-point victory, and he has now made 11 consecutive field goals.

ROOKIE – Danny O’Brien, Maryland, QB, r-Fr.,

O’Brien passed for a career-high four touchdown passes in Maryland’s 62-14 win over the Wake Forest. The redshirt freshman from Kernersville, N.C., has seven touchdowns and no interceptions over the last two games.

His 4.33-to-1 TD to interception ratio is tops in the FBS among freshmen, and despite not starting the first three games of the season, his 13 TD passes are tied for second in the country among freshmen.