TV Information for NC State at Connecticut
Game 2: NC State Wolfpack at Connecticut Huskies
September 8, 2012 • 12:00 p.m. • Big East Network/ESPN3
East Hartford, Conn. • Rentschler Field (40,000)
PACK HEADS NORTH
For the first time since the 1997 season, NC State is playing its first two games away from home. After opening the season against Tennessee in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta, the Wolfpack is heading to Connecticut to take on the Huskies.
The meeting marks only the second between NC State and the Big East school, with the Pack winning the 2003 contest, 31-24.
Tom O’Brien has faced Connecticut four times, winning all four contests, while Huskies coach Paul Pasqualoni is 0-2 against the Pack - losing in 1997 and 1998 as the head coach at Syracuse.
O’Brien is also very familiar with the Big East, as he was the head coach at Boston College for 10 seasons, eight of which the Eagles spent in that league. His 2004 squad earned a share of the Big East title.
O’Brien holds a 27-19 career record against Big East teams. Since coming to NC State in 2007, O’Brien is 4-4 against teams from the Big East, but has won three of the last four matchups, including back-to-back bowl wins against Big East foes West Virginia and Louisville.
FREDDIE WAS READY
NC State and Connecticut may have only met one time on the gridiron, but the first meeting was definitely a memorable one. In 2003, Wolfpack quarterback Philip Rivers’ senior campaign, the Huskies came to Carter-Finley Stadium on Oct. 11. It was UConn’s second season playing in Division IA and the year before they joined the Big East.
Although the Pack had entered the season ranked in the top 20, the game went down to the wire. After a scoreless first quarter, the two teams went into halftime tied at 10. Chuck Amato’s Wolfpack squad scored first in the third quarter, when linebacker Freddie Aughtry-Lindsay returned a fumble 48 yards for a score. The Pack jumped up 14 points later in the third when quarterback Philip Rivers hit the tight end for a 25-yard scoring strike.
UConn came roaring back in the fourth quarter with two TD strikes to tie the game at 24-24. The Huskies got the ball back with 47 seconds left in the game and drove from their 14 to the 42, when Aughtry-Lindsay intercepted a pass and ran it back 56 yards for the winning score.
Aughtry-Lindsay is now an assistant coach at Elon, under head coach Jason Swepson, who was the Pack running backs coach in O’Brien’s first four years at State.
NC State’s pair of super safeties were the team’s leading tacklers in the season opener and are two of the most experienced players on the 2012 Wolfpack squad. Brandan Bishop has 38 career starts, the highest mark on the team, while Earl Wolff has 31, which ties as the second-highest mark.
Wolff posted a career-high 18 tackles in the season opening loss to Tennessee, including a pair of stops behind the line of scrimmage. Bishop turned in 10 stops, including one for loss, and also caused a fumble on the goalline to prevent a Volunteer score at the end of the first half.
Wolff has made 273 career tackles, the highest mark on the squad, while Bishop has 214 career stops to his credit. Those two totals constitute 48% of the career tackles on the 2012 Wolfpack squad.
SOMETHING OLD ....
In 2012, Wolfpack head coach Tom O’Brien has a luxury that he hasn’t been afforded in previous campaigns with the Wolfpack: senior starters. In the season opener, 11 spots on offense and defense were manned by seniors who have starting experience in the past.
That number is almost double the most senior starting experience O’Brien has had during his first five years with the Wolfpack. The number is particularly high on offense, where seven of the 11 starting spots are slated to be filled by seniors with previous starting experience.
Three Pack players ranked among the most experienced returning players in the ACC in terms of career starts heading into the 2012 season: safety Brandan Bishop (5th), OG R.J. Mattes (t9th) and safety Earl Wolff (t9th).
For the 2008 season, there were only two projected starters who were seniors with starting experience. In 2009, there were seven.
..... SOMETHING NEW
Ten players saw their first collegiate action for the Pack in the opener with Tennessee, including eight red-shirt freshmen and one true freshman. Redshirts Juston Burris (CB), Hakeem Flowers (WR), Carlos Gray (DT), Hakim Jones (S), Dave Mann (DT), Maurice Morgan (WR) and Mike Rose (DT) all saw action from scrimmage, with Burris getting in for a rookie-high 63 snaps. Tight end Benson Browne saw action on special teams, while walk-on Josh Stanley also played in the kicking game.
True freshman Charlie Hegedus was in for 20 snaps at wide receiver, catching one pass for seven yards. Hegedus, whose hometown of Marietta was just 30 miles from the Georgia Dome, played his first collegiate contest on the same field where he played his last prep game. His alma mater, Lassiiter High School, fell in the 5A state semifinals in the Dome in 2011.
They’re not really borrowed, because we’re not giving them back, but Colorado transfer Forrest West (DE) and JUCO transfers Deylan Buntyn (DT) and Robert Caldwell (LB) also saw action against Tennessee. West, who spent the 2011 campaign sitting out but practicing with the Pack, and Buntyn, who joined the team in January, both saw action from scrimmage. Caldwell, who arrived at preseason camp late, was in on special teams.
That brings the grand total of new players seeing action to 13.
There will be a face familiar to the Wolfpack faithful standing on the side of the field with the team in blue on Saturday. Former State linebacker Clayton White is the running backs coach and special teams coordinator for the Huskies. White, who is tied for 11th in school history in career tackles for loss with 33, lettered for the Pack from 1997-2000 under coach Mike O’Cain and Chuck Amato.
A team captain as a senior, White went on to play in the NFL for two seasons for the New York Giants before embarking on a coaching career that has led him to Western Kentucky, Stanford, Western Michigan and Western Carolina.
R.J. Mattes gets around. The senior offensive lineman started at left guard in the season opener with Tennessee - the fourth different OL position of his career. And his starts haven’t been in a fill-in capacity due to injury or the like, but have been for multiple games.
Mattes started 12 games last season at left tackle. In 2010, he came back from injury to start 10 games at right tackle. As a redshirt freshman in 2009, he started eight games at right guard before suffering a season-ending injury.
Research has uncovered a couple of BCS players - Alabama’s Barrett Jones (RG, LT, C) and Wake Forest’s Garrick Williams (C, LG, RG) - who will be starting at their third position on the OL in 2012, but none that will be starting their fourth.
FULL AT HALF(BACK)
A position of depth for the ‘12 Pack is the halfback spot, with talent four and five deep. The most experienced returnee is senior James Washington, who had started 17 straight games at the position over the past two seasons prior to the season opener. Washington rushed for 897 yards last season, the highest total for a Pack player since T.A. McLendon gained 1,101 yards in 2002. He has 77 career receptions, the fourth-highest mark among returning BCS players.
Redshirt sophomore Tony Creecy saw increased action over the second half of 2011, tallying over 100 all-purpose yards off the bench in the last game of the regular season vs. Maryland. He has also emerged as one of the Pack’s top performers in the weight room and got the starting nod in the opener.
Mustafa Greene, now a redshirt sophomore, made a long-awaited return to the field in the opener. Greene was the team’s leading rusher in 2010, even though he came off the bench in all but one contest, rushing for 597 yards and catching 30 passes for another 272 yards. Greene suffered a foot injury in spring practice of 2011 and missed the entire 2011 campaign. He missed most of spring drills this year and part of preseason camp as he got his academics in order, but ended up leading the team in rushing in the opener, despite being the third back in the game.