N.C. State starts preparing for football opponents

August 20, 2012 

N.C. State will get a head start on The Citadel before it begins preparation for the season-opener against Tennessee.

Wolfpack coach Tom O’Brien said the team will work in practice on stopping the option offense, which The Citadel uses and, O’Brien said, he expects South Alabama to incorporate as well.

"Somebody might pop something on you anyway, so it’s good to get a couple days worth of work," O’Brien said.

State plays South Alabama in its home opener Sept. 15 and Citadel on Sept. 22. The Pack will probably start game preparation for Tennessee, the opener on Aug. 31 in Atlanta, on Thursday or Friday, O’Brien said.

"The defense has seen the same thing for 21 days, so you’ve got start changing up on them," O’Brien said.

The Pack’s defense hasn’t started doing its homework on Tennessee, but junior cornerback David Amerson said the players are aware of the Volunteers’ strength.

"The quarterback is big and he’s good," Amerson said. "They like to throw it."

Junior Tyler Bray missed five games last season with a thumb injury but threw for 1,983 yards and 17 touchdowns in seven games. As a freshman in 2010, Bray, who’s 6-6 and 215 pounds, threw for 1,849 yards in nine games with 18 touchdowns.

The Vols went 5-7 last season.

Joe Giglio

Fedora: more plays, faster pace

Only four teams in the country ran more than the 1,042 offensive plays that Larry Fedora’s Southern Miss team ran a season ago, and that should provide an indication of the kind of pace that Fedora expects in his first season at North Carolina.

The Tar Heels aren’t there yet – Fedora still wants to see the offense move more quickly – but they did manage to get in 170 plays Saturday during their final preseason scrimmage. UNC on Monday concluded its training camp portion of the preseason.

Classes begin Tuesday before the Heels begin their regular in-season schedule Wednesday. Fedora admitted Monday that even he was surprised at how well his players handled their increased workload during the most recent scrimmage.

“They were so much better effort-wise,” he said. “You know, when you get 170 plays in a scrimmage, not counting on the special teams reps, I thought their effort was extremely good. I didn’t think they would hold up the way they did for that amount of time.”

Increasing the effort level notwithstanding, Fedora and his staff still have plenty of work to accomplish before the Heels begin the season at home on Sept. 1 against Elon. Some positions – particularly at receiver and in the defensive backfield – remain unclaimed.

“And depth is a big-time worry for all of us,” Fedora said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that may be out there that at this point probably really don’t deserve to be out there, but we don’t have a choice. But we’ve got to get them to a point where they earn the right to be out there.”

Andrew Carter

Sowell (Achilles’) out for season

In the first major injury news from the preseason, Duke safety Taylor Sowell had surgery Monday to repair a ruptured Achilles’ tendon in his right leg, the team announced. Sowell, a redshirt junior listed as the backup to Jordon Byas at the "strike" safety, has played 80 career snaps and registered six tackles last season. He will miss this season.

The Blue Devils came into camp with several players out indefinitely. WR Blair Holliday (head), TE Braxton Deaver (fractured left kneecap), NG Jamal Bruce (right foot) and LB Kelby Brown (right ACL) were all projected to start. And key backups including LG Lucas Patrick (fractured left ankle), Jared Boyd (ACL) and DE Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo (ankle) are still recovering from offseason injuries and also do not have timetables for their returns.

"All of them are long-term until I start getting a 10-day notice or a two-week notice," coach David Cutcliffe said last week. "I don’t like the term 4-6 weeks. What does that mean? It means they don’t know. Sorry, but that’s what it means."

Cutcliffe did say that DeWalt-Ondijo is the closest to returning. He and redshirt sophomore Dezmond Johnson were listed as the backup to injury-prone Kenny Anunike at right defensive end on the summer depth chart. The defensive line, along with the WR and TE core, is one of the positions at which the Blue Devils lack the depth they would like.

Laura Keeley

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