RALEIGH — N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon, more than anyone, is mindful of the uncertainty that still surrounds the departed - but not forgotten - Russell Wilson.
Wilson, the Pack's starting quarterback the past three years, has turned to pro baseball. N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien has said the football program is moving on with Glennon and that if Wilson does decide to return for one last season of college football he would be the backup QB.
Wilson a backup? Glennon said he believes it.
"I was just grateful that [O'Brien] gave me the word, and I know he's going to stick with it because he preaches honesty," Glennon said Saturday after an abbreviated Kay Yow Spring Football Game. "It was very comforting and pretty much relieving that finally I knew it was going to be my time.
"If he comes back, we'll handle that when it comes. Right now I'm just focused on getting better as a player. Coach O'Brien is going with me, and I'm ready to lead this team."
Many in the crowd of 13,139 at Carter-Finley Stadium came to see Glennon take charge of the offense. And Glennon, tall in the pocket at 6 feet 6, did make some nice throws for the White team before the scrimmage was called because of threatening weather late in the third quarter with the Red leading 13-3.
But Pack fans also saw Glennon dodging the pressure of defensive linemen J.R. Sweezy, Jeff Rieskamp and McKay Frandsen, a transfer from Snow College in Utah. Outside linebacker Terrell Manning had a 53-yard interception return for a touchdown, and middle linebacker Audie Cole picked off a Glennon pass to set up a score for the Red, which had the defensive first-teamers.
"Every day, going against these guys, the defensive backs, the defensive linemen right in your face, it's good preparation for me," Glennon said.
Glennon was 21-of-40 for 182 yards and the two picks, and was sacked three times before play was stopped with 4:17 left in the third quarter. He had three passes tipped - Manning's TD return came after linebacker D.J. Green got a hand on the ball.
"I think he threw the ball well," O'Brien said. "Michael's going to be fine. As we said this week, Michael Glennon wasn't going to throw for 400 yards against that defense. That's because there's guys playing with experience and guys competing right now for a job, and it makes them better."
The N.C. State defense made some big strides last season as the Pack went 9-4 and has eight returning starters. Cole has adjusted quickly to his new position in the middle, Manning and Green have quickness, the secondary has some speed and hitters, and there appears to be good depth.
"We've been together for a while ... and now we're growing up," said Sweezy, a rising senior. "We're running around, having fun, making plays. We've really been working on pass-rushing and getting good pressure on the quarterback."
Tyler Brosius did most of the work at quarterback for the Red, completing 11 of 17 passes for 95 yards. Brosius, redshirted as a freshman last season, had a 1-yard scoring pass to fullback Tyler Purvis early in the second quarter.
Ellis Flint had a 33-yard field goal for the White's only points. Glennon's 24-yard pass to T.J. Graham set up the field goal.
Glennon had Graham open on a deep route in the first half but overthrew the Pack's swiftest wideout. Halfback James Washington had six catches to lead the White and Purvis three for the Red, including a 34-yard catch-and-run that was the longest completion of the day.
"The question offensively is the guys on the perimeter catching the football," O'Brien said. "We had a few too many drops for my liking. [Glennon] can throw the ball all he wants, but if we're not going to catch it, it's not going to do us any good.
"There's enough talent [at wideout]. It's a matter of ... guys trying to make plays too fast. They have to look the ball in and catch it."
The Pack opens the 2011 season Sept. 3 against Liberty at Carter-Finley.
"It looks like we have a chance to be a very competitive team again," O'Brien said.
With or without Wilson.
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