N.C. State linebacker Terrell Manning will be out three weeks with a knee injury, Wolfpack coach Tom O'Brien said Tuesday.
The Wolfpack's starting outside linebacker, Manning had surgery on his left knee on Monday after suffering an undisclosed injury at the end of the first quarter of N.C. State's 35-13 win over South Alabama on Saturday.
Senior Dwayne Maddox will replace Manning against Cincinnati on Thursday. N.C. State is already missing defensive tackle J.R. Sweezy (fractured left foot) and running back Mustafa Greene (foot injury). Starting defensive end Jeff Rieskamp has missed the past two games but is expected to play Thursday.
Sweezy has missed the first three games and will not play Thursday but was at practice on Tuesday in shorts and without the cast that he had been wearing since suffering a fracture in his left foot in August. Sweezy was originally targeted to return after five games.
No rushing Gentry: Fullback Taylor Gentry scored two touchdowns against South Alabama and has six catches in three games, but he's still looking for his first carry in a Wolfpack uniform.
Gentry, who began his career as a walk-on, isn't the first blocking back to be ignored in O'Brien's offense. In 14 seasons and three games as a head coach, O'Brien hasn't had a fullback run the ball.
A graduate of Raleigh's Leesville Road High, Gentry said he has a dream about his first rushing attempt, which O'Brien hints on a weekly basis is going to happen this season. Gentry said he envisions a long run for a touchdown at Carter-Finley Stadium.
"My plan is to go into the tunnel and throw the ball out and not come back," Gentry said. "It's just a dream right now."
Gentry's role has grown in the offense and he has been named the special teams player of the year the last two seasons. He has lined up in the slot in passing formations this year and had a team-best four catches for 32 yards in the opener.
Gentry, whose younger brother Zach is also a special teams contributor, has impressed O'Brien with his progress.
"He has worked hard and I think as he continues to go he might have a chance to play at the next level," O'Brien said.
O'Brien's homecoming: N.C. State's road trip to Cincinnati is a chance for the Wolfpack to play in the national spotlight as well as an opportunity for O'Brien and several of his players and assistants to go home.
O'Brien grew up in Cincinnati and played high school football at St. Xavier. Offensive coordinator Dana Bible followed O'Brien at St. Xavier and played cornerback for the Bearcats in the mid-1970s and coached at UC and in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Assistants Don Horton and Jim Bridge are also from the city, and there are seven current Wolfpack players from the state of Ohio, including three from Cincinnati.
"It's always fun to go home," O'Brien said.
The chance to play on Thursday night in a national showcase afforded by ESPN is the main attraction of the trip. The two teams played in Raleigh last year, with N.C. State winning 30-19, in a coming-out party for a Wolfpack team that went on to finish 9-4.
O'Brien has been vocal about the short preparation time for the game and the challenges of a condensed practice week, but he understands the trades involved.
"I've been around long enough that to know that Thursday night used to be the game in college football that all your peers watched," O'Brien said. "Even with the glut of games on TV, it's still something special because it basically kicks off the weekend."
Wilson a popular topic: One topic ESPN is sure to cover Thursday night is the absence of quarterback Russell Wilson. ESPN broadcast Wilson's first two games at Wisconsin, and their commentators talked frequently about his decision to leave the Wolfpack program and transfer to Wisconsin for his final college season.
O'Brien expects Wilson to be a topic of conversation during the broadcast and doesn't have a problem with it.
"We wish Russell well," O'Brien said. "He's in a good situation for him, and we're in a good situation with Mike Glennon."
Wilson has posted incredible numbers for the No. 6 Badgers, completing 50-of-66 passes for 791 yards with eight touchdowns and an interception in three wins.
Glennon has come on for the Wolfpack after a slow start in the opener. He completed 17-of-20 passes against South Alabama for 274 yards with four touchdowns. He has 745 yards (59-of-92), with eight touchdowns and an interception, through three games.
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