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    Thursday Football Notebook
    Brandon Mitchell and Alex Barr
    Brandon Mitchell and Alex Barr

    Nov. 7, 2013

    Game 9: NC State Wolfpack vs. Duke Blue Devils
    November 9, 2013 • 4:00 p.m. • ESPNU
    Durham, N.C. • Wallace Wade Stadium (33,941)

    The overall series between NC State and Duke is almost even, with the Blue Devils posting a 40-36-5 advantage.  Since 1924, the two teams have faced off 81 times on the gridiron, playing every year except once during World War II (1944) until 2003, when ACC expansion caused a break in the series. Since 1963, however, the Wolfpack holds a 29-11-3 advantage against Duke.

    NC State has also won 11 of the last 12 meetings - and 14 of 16 dating back to 1990.  Duke won the last meeting, posting a 49-28 win in Raleigh on Oct. 10, 2009, but NC State has won the last six matchups at Wallace Wade Stadium.

    The distance between Wallace Wade Stadium and Carter-Finley Stadium is only about 20 miles, but the distance between scores when the two teams play is usually even less.

    Twelve of the last 19 contests between NC State and Duke have been decided by eight points or less, with seven being decided by three or less points (that includes a tie in 1988).

    And even though NC State has won 11 or the last 12 meetings between the two schools, seven of those victories were by a touchdown or less.

    The Wolfpack entered the season with just 11 returning starters - one of the lowest totals in the nation.  Since then, State has been bitten hard by the injury bug, with a whopping total of 27 games already missed by players who were listed as starters coming into the season.  

    Of those games missed, 21 have come on the offensive side of the ball.  In addition, another seven games have been missed by key skill players on offense.  The quarterback and wide receiver positions have been hit especially hard, as QBs have missed six total games and wide receivers have missed seven.  Starting wideout Bryan Underwood and freshman receiver Johnathan Alston are both out for the remainder of the season.

    Here’s a look at the games missed by key Pack players in 2013 (preseason starters denoted by *):

    Name, Position Games Missed
    Johnathan Alston, WR 1
    *Tyson Chandler, OT 1
    Travares Copeland, WR 2
    *Rob Crisp, OT 6
    Matt Dayes, RB 1
    *Brandon Mitchell, QB 5
    *Rashard Smith, WR 1
    Pete Thomas, QB 1
    *Bryan Underwood, WR 1
    Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR 2
    *Logan Winkles, FB 8
    *Jarvis Byrd, S 3
    *Darryl Cato-Bishop, DE 3
    Forrest West, DE 1



    Junior placekicker Niklas Sade has been named one of 20 semifinalists for the 2013 Lou Groza Award.  Sade is tied for second nationally this week in field goals per game and ranks second in the ACC in overall scoring with 8.8 points per game.

    The most experienced player on the team in terms of games started with 33, Sade has connected on 17 kicks in 2013 - already tied as the fifth-best mark in school history.

    He has improved his percentage from .565 a year ago to .895 in 2013.  He ranks second in school history with 109 career PATs (just 10 off the school record) and his 41 career field goals is the fifth-best mark in the NC State record books.

    Sade has been named a Lou Groza “Star of the Week” twice, is a two-time winner of the College Football Performance Awards “Placekicker of the Week” and was the ACC Specialist of the Week for the week of Sept. 7.

    The third-best kicker in the country coming out of high school, he hit four field goals in the opener which tied as the second-highest tally in school history and he personally outscored the entire Louisiana Tech squad, 16-14.  Against Richmond, he connected on 46 and 19 yarders before nailing the game-winner from 48 yards with 33 seconds on the clock.  Against UNC, he again connected on four field goals.

    One of the bright spots for the offense in recent games has been the play of sophomore tailback Shadrach Thornton.  Thornton, who missed the first game of the season due to a suspension and did not break into the starting lineup until the fourth game of 2013, rushed for a career-high 173 yards at Florida State, including a career-long 72-yard touchdown scamper.  He was also the Pack’s leading receiver in the game with five catches.

    That was the most rushing yards for a Pack player since 2006 and the 18th-best mark all-time.

    With 90 yards against UNC, Thornton now averages 75.2 rushing yards per game against ACC opponents this season, the fifth-best mark in the league.  

    He now boasts 1,141 career rushing yards after only 16 games.

    Graduate quarterback Brandon Mitchell did something against UNC that no Wolfpack quarterback had done in 37 years:  rush for over 100 yards.  

    Mitchell, who missed five games with a broken foot this season, led all rushers in the game with 105 yards on 21 carries and ran for a score.  That yardage total was the most for a Wolfpack signal caller since Johnny Evans, now a color analyst for the Wolfpack Radio Network, had 126 against Duke in 1976.

    Mitchell, who transferred from Arkansas in July, appeared in 21 games for the Razorbacks, but had played wide receiver in 2012.  He was named the starter before the season opener with Louisiana Tech and led the Pack on three promising offensive series - two of which were 65 and 75 yard touchdown drives.  He completed all three of this throws for a quick gain of 93 yards before a broken foot sent him to the sideline where he has remained for the past five games.

    His return to the field might not have come at the most auspicious time, as the Wolfpack was playing the No. 2 team in the nation on its home field, but following surgery for a broken foot, he was able to compete on 76 snaps and get his timing and rhythm back at Florida State.

    Here’s a look at the top rushing games by quarterbacks in NC State history:

    Rk. Player Rushing Yds Year Opp.
    1. Johnny Evans 126 1976 Duke
    2. Johnny Evans 113 1976 Maryland
    3. Brandon Mitchell 105 2013 UNC
    4. Russell Wilson 91 2009 Pittsburgh
    5. Tol Avery 88 1980 Virginia

    Fifty-six days into the 2013 football season, The Wolfpack left the state of North Carolina for a game when it traveled to Florida State to take on the No. 2 Seminoles on Oct. 26.  

    NC State has played six games in Carter-Finley Stadium already in 2013 and although Saturday’s game will mark the third road trip of the season, it’s the second that is just a short bus trip away (The Wolfpack’s only previous road game before the trip to Tallahassee was the quick ride down I-40 to take on Wake Forest).  

    The only other time the Pack will play a game outside of its home state this season will be on Nov. 16, when the squad heads north to take on Boston College.  

    The return of QB Brandon Mitchell into the Pack’s lineup the last two weeks has added extra ‘juice’ to the running game.

    In the last two contests with Mitchell under center, the Pack has averaged 218.0 rushing yards as a team. In the five games prior that Mitchell was out with injury, the Pack rushed for 167.2 yards an outing.

    NC State has had back-to-back 100-yard rushers for the first time this season, Shadrach Thornton with 173 at FSU and Mitchell with 105 vs. UNC, and the Pack has gone over 200 yards as a team each of the last two contests.

    Another key player who will miss the rest of the season due to injury is speedy junior wideout Bryan Underwood.

    In the Pack’s first three games of 2013, Underwood caught eight passes for a total of 56 yards and did not have any rushing attempts. But over the next four games, Underwood’s role in the offense has grown dramatically.

    Underwood was the Pack’s leading receiver in three of those four outings, pulling in 24 catches for 326 yards.

    He has saw an increased role in the ground game - in the last five games he played, he has rushed 12 times for 135 yards.

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