Gary's Game Notes, Part II
Sept. 27, 2001
North Carolina (1-3, 1-1) at NC State (2-0, 0-0)
DATE: Saturday, September 29, 2001
TIME: Kickoff: 12:08 p.m. (EDT) at Carter-Finley Stadium (51,500)
RADIO: Wolfpack Capitol Sports Network. AIRTIME: 11:15 a.m. (EST)
TELEVISION: Jefferson-Pilot ACC Network (Regional)
THE OPPOSITION--Following losses at Oklahoma, Maryland and Texas, the Tar Heels came alive in their first home game of the season with a 41-9 upset victory over Florida State last Saturday. The victory was UNC's first over a top five team in school history.
Freshman backup Darian Durant threw a pair of touchdown passes as the Tar Heels forced five turnovers and scored 34 unanswered points against the inexperienced and injury plagued Seminoles. Meanwhile, FSU freshman quarterback Chris Rix struggled all day against the Tar Heels defense. He fumbled twice, completed just eight-of-21 passes for 112 yards, and threw an interception. Penalties also doomed the 'Noles and Florida State rushed for only 88 yards on 37 carries.
. FSU came into the game plagued by inexperience, injuries and misfortune. Star receivers Anquan Boldin and Robert Morgan, among others, already are sidelined for the season. In addition, defensive end Eric Powell was hospitalized after being shot in a recent robbery attempt.
Senior Ronald Curry, who shared time with Durant at quarterback, ran for one touchdown and passed for another for the Tar Heels. He was 4-12 passing for 93 yards. Durant completed 9-of-16 passes for 115 yards.
After throwing four interceptions in the first three games, Curry opened the scoring with a 20-yard TD pass to Sam Aiken late in the first quarter. FSU tied the game late in the second quarter when Rix found Talman Gardner with a 29-yard TD pass. Less than two minutes later, the Seminoles were awarded a safety and a 9-7 lead when a punt snap sailed out of the end zone.
Durant opened the second half at quarterback and sparked the Tar Heels by connecting on a 54-yard touchdown pass to Chesley Borders early in the third quarter. The Heels led 20-9 after three quarters, but it could have been closer. Earlier in the period, Rix threw a long touchdown pass down to Javon Walker that was called back by a holding penalty. FSU was penalized 14 times for 103 yards. Curry threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Kory Bailey to increase the lead to 27-9 with 13:02 left in the game.
North Carolina's defense is the strength of its team. The Heels defensive line, led by redshirt junior end, Julius Peppers (4 sacks, 2 interceptions) and senior tackle Ryan Sims (3 sacks, 9 QB hurries.), is impressive and can pressure the quarterback without help from blitzing linebackers or the secondary. UNC leads the ACC in sacks (13). So, it is no surprise that Carolina is 17th in the nation this week in pass defense (141.7 ypg.) and has given up only three passing touchdowns. The Heels are 19th in total defense (270.7 ypg.) and 50th in rush defense (129 ypg.).
Offensively, Carolina has been inconsistent when faced with poor field position, but showed its potential against FSU when mistakes by the Seminoles allowed the Heels to start drives in ideal field position. Carolina scored on all four opportunities in the red zone (inside opponents 20-yard line) in its victory over FSU. Offensive line problems and turnovers (13) have also contributed to UNC's slow start offensively, but this is an offense with big play potential that gained a great deal of confidence last week.
Junior John Lafferty is punting for a 40.5 yard average and has not had a punt blocked this season. Senior Jeff Reed has connected on both his field goal attempts with his longest a 39-yarder. The Heels have dangerous punt and kick returners in juniors Bosley Allen, Michael Waddell and Sam Aiken.
NC STATE PLAYER UPDATES
RAY ROBINSON-- NC State's leading rusher with 114 yards on 37 carries and 3 touchdowns, Robinson was held to 45 yards on 18 carries at SMU, but scored two touchdowns. The senior tailback rushed for 69 yards on 19 carries vs. Indiana, including a 5-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He is tied with Bryan Peterson as the team's leading receiver (10). A 2001 preseason candidate for the Doak Walker Award for the third straight year, Robinson needs 28 yards to move past Billy Ray Vickers and into 7th place on the NC State's career rushing list and 75 yards to jump past Eddie Goines and into 8th place in career all-purpose yards. His next rushing touchdown will move him into 3rd place in career rushing touchdowns (23). The South Carolina native set the school record for rushing attempts in a game (40) vs. Maryland in 2000. Robinson was the Pack's top rusher last season (788 yds.)and as NC State's No. 2 receiver (41 for 366 yards), he ranked among the nation's Top-20 in receiving among running backs. Robinson was the 1998 ACC Rookie of the Year.
PHILIP RIVERS -- The Pack's sophomore quarterback started the 2001 campaign in red hot fashion by throwing for 243 yards and 3 touchdown against Indiana on September 6th. However, he failed to throw a TD psss last week at SMU (21-31-1 for 215 yds.). It was only the second time in his college career that he failed to throw for a touchdown. With 184 yards passing vs. UNC, Rivers would move to 7th in NC State career passing yardage. Three more TD passes would move him to 4th place, passing Erik Kramer. Rivers had a marvelous season in 2000, earning the ACC Rookie of the Year award and National Rookie of the Year honors from ABC Sports and Football News. He was ACC Rookie of the Week a record eight times and set 10 school or ACC records in his first season at NC State. He holds single-season school records for completions (237), passing attempts (441), touchdown responsibility, and touchdown passes (25). His 3,054 yards passing were an ACC freshman record. Rivers also set ACC freshmen single-season records in passing yards per game (277.6), touchdown passes (25), total offense (2,967) and also set the single-game freshman record for passing yards when he threw for 413 yards against Duke. He is only the second NC State quarterback to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season. His five TD passes vs. Indiana tied Terry Harvey's school record set in 1995.
WILLIE WRIGHT -- The redshirt senior tight end/wide receiver ranks 5th in the ACC in receptions this week with 9 catches (4.5 per game) and is 8th in receiving yards (52.0 ypg.). Wright opened the 2001 season in a big way by catching 5 passes for 63 yards and 2 touchdowns vs. Indiana. Last season, Wright's first as a starter, he caught 31 passes for an average of 12.9 yards per catch and 3 touchdowns. He possesses the best hands of any player on the team and has added weight for the 2001 campaign. The 6-4 Greensboro native tips the scales at 240 pounds, 40 pounds more than he weighed as a freshman.
BRYAN PETERSON --This 5-11, 189 pound junior was the Pack's leading receiver in its 2001 opener vs. Indiana with 6 catches for 115 yards, including a 55-yard TD. He's currently tied for the team lead in receptions (10) with Ray Robinson. Peterson is third in the ACC in receptions per game (5.0) and second in the league in receiving yards (79.0 ypg.). Pound-for-pound Peterson is the strongest player on the 2001 Wolfpack squad. He ranks as the team's strength index champion. As the most experienced returnee at wide receiver, Peterson has played in 25 career games. Last season, he was No. 4 on the team in receptions with 28 for 394 yards and 3 touchdowns. The former high school quarterback also tossed two touchdown passes last season (vs. SMU and UNC).
BRIAN WILLIAMS --The Wolfpack's No. 2 tackler in the secondary with 16 hits, picked off the third pass of his career vs. SMU. Williams blocked the fourth kick of his career in NC State's 2001 season opener vs. Indiana when he stopped a punt that set up a second quarter Wolfpack field goal. Last season, Williams started every game and made some big plays after he was switched from free safety to cornerback in preseason. His fourth-quarter tackle for a 9-yard loss on fourth down vs. Arkansas State completed a successful goal-line stand that allowed NC State to regain possession of the ball and send the game into overtime. Williams blocked a punt at Indiana that set up a touchdown and broke up a third-down pass in a game-saving play in the fourth quarter. His third quarter punt block against Minnesota in the MicronPC.com Bowl sparked the Pack to a come-from-behind victory.
LEVAR FISHER -- The aggressive senior linebacker led the Pack with 13 tackles in its season-opening win over Indiana and followed that with 15 stops vs. SMU. His 28 tackles leads the team. Fisher also leads the Pack in quarterback pressures with three. The Beaufort, NC native is on "watch lists" for both the Butkus and Lombardi Awards. Last season, Fisher was a finalist for the Bronco Nagurski Award as the nation's top defensive player, but voters for the Butkus Award, given to the nation's best linebacker, snubbed him. That was strange given the fact that Fisher led the nation in tackles (15.1 tpg.) and was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He also led the Wolfpack in tackles for loss (15) and in pass break-ups (8) last season.
DANTONIO BURNETTE --Nicknamed "Thunder Dan", the hard hitting junior linebacker notched a season-high 13 tackles last week vs. SMU. He tallied 105 tackles last season, which was third-best on the team. In his first two seasons at NC State, Burnette recorded 218 tackles. No other player in school history compiled as many stops after their freshman and sophomore years. He set a school freshman record with 124 tackles in 1999. Burnette became a starter in just his second collegiate game in '99.
COREY SMITH --A solid pass rusher, Smith is tied for the team lead in sacks (2) with Terrance Chapman. He also leads the team in forced fumbles with four. Smith caused two fumbles and recorded a sack to open the 2001 season vs. Indiana. The next week, one of his two forced fumbles against SMU resulted in a Wolfpack touchdown. Last season, no defensive lineman played more snaps (634) for the Pack than Smith. The senior defensive end started every game and led the team's defensive linemen with 55 stops. One of the Pack's top pass rushers, Smith led the team in quarterback pressures (14) last season and was No. 2 in tackles for loss (12). He is among the Top-10 in Wolfpack history with 25 career TFL.
TERRENCE HOLT --Recorded 11 tackles last week vs. SMU and blocked a field goal. It was the sixth blocked kick of Holt's career (4 FG, 2 PT). The Brother of NFL receiver, Torry Holt, leads the Pack's secondary with 19 tackles and leads the team with 2 fumble recoveries. Last season, Holt started every game at free safety for the Wolfpack and finished 2000 as the team's No. 4 tackler with 89 stops. One of the top special teams players in the ACC, Holt blocked three field goals last season, including a potential game-tying attempt at Indiana. He was the leader as the Pack set a school record in 2000 with four blocked field goals and three punt blocks. The year before, the Wolfpack set the school mark for blocked punts with six. Holt had two of those punt blocks in an upset victory at Texas.
BRIAN JAMISON -- As a junior, Jamison was moved from defensive end to outside linebacker late last season and the move is paying off. He recorded 8 tackles and blocked an Indiana punt in the end zone that Troy Graham recovered for a Wolfpack touchdown in NC State's 2001 season opener. Did not start against SMU, but finished with 5 tackles. Last year, Jamison led the Pack with 5.5 sacks. He forced three fumbles.
AUSTIN HERBERT -- Punted five times for a season-high 44.0 yard average last week at SMU. That included a 33 yard pooch punt that pinned the Mustangs at their own 13-yard line. On the next play, Corey Smith caused a fumble that George Anderson recovered in the end zone. After punting and kicking off as a freshman last season, Herbert is handling all the kicking duties in 2001. He is 3-3 kicking field goals with a long of 28 yards. He had a 37-yarder against Indiana blocked. At Cary High School, Herbert set the North Carolina high school record for career field goals with 37.
HERBERT (Field Goal kicking 2001) 0-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-plus TOT LONG 0-0 3-3 0-0 0-0 0-0 3-3 28
INJURIES--NC State: RB Carlos Doggett (broken foot) -out, WR Andy Bertrand (shoulder) -out for season, DB Rod Johnson (broken arm)-out, CB J.J. Washington (ankle sprain)-probable, DE Corey Smith (shoulder sprain)-probable. UNC: None reported.
NEXT GAME -- The Wolfpack will visit Wake Forest on Saturday, October 6th. Airtime will be 5:45 p.m. on the Wolfpack Capitol Sports Network with kickoff at 6:30 p.m. There will be no television.