N.C. State still deciding on running back rotation

From staff reportsAugust 23, 2012 

N.C. State's Mustafa Greene (33), left, talks with Tony Creecy (26) as they wait for the 2012 N.C. State Wolfpack football team to get its team photo made Saturday, August 11, 2012.

ETHAN HYMAN — ehyman@newsobserver.com

N.C. State still deciding on rotation

N.C. State has three veteran running backs in James Washington, Tony Creecy and Mustafa Greene. Coach Tom O’Brien typically rotates two over the course of the game.

How the carries will be split up next Friday in Atlanta for the season opener against Tennessee is still to be determined, O’Brien said Thursday. Asked if there was any separation in the competition, he said, “not really.”

“That’s one of those things,” O’Brien said. “Tomorrow we’re going to take off and do a lot of talking about personnel and everything.”

Washington, a senior, led the team with 897 rushing yards last season and Creecy, a sophomore, added 382. Greene led the team in rushing in 2010, with 597 yards, but missed last season with a foot injury.

All three add value in the passing game, where receiver Bryan Underwood continues to miss practice with a knee injury. O’Brien said Underwood had minor surgery before Aug. 11 but there’s no update on him.

O’Brien’s preseason policy is to update injuries when a player is declared out for the season. Underwood, a third-year sophomore, caught 16 passes for 226 yards last season. Joe Giglio

‘Camp was getting kind of tough’

The daily grind of preseason camp has come to an end for Duke. The Blue Devils moved out of their team hotel after church Sunday, and, for the first time since they reported Aug. 5, players have had down time. Classes will start Monday.

“When you get out of camp, it’s like being a regular student, even though you still have your meetings and schedule, you have some free time and can get away from football for a second,” running back Juwan Thompson said. “You can go somewhere and meet some friends to get some perspective. But when it’s time for football, it’s time to come grind and work hard. Camp was getting kind of tough – that’s the point.”

Film preparation for the Sept. 1 opener against Florida International began last week, Thompson said, with Duke reviewing last season’s 31-27 comeback victory. The final scrimmage of the preseason, which occurred Tuesday, featured the scout team acting as FIU.

Duke’s offense, which is further along than the injury-riddled defense, made quick work of the scout team, scoring on every possession. Quarterbacks Sean Renfree and Anthony Boone went a perfect 14-for-14 with 307 yards and three touchdowns. The challenge will be tougher against the real FIU defense, which returns 10 of 11 starters.

The Senior Bowl watch list includes two from Duke: Renfree and receiver Conner Vernon. Laura Keeley

Freshman receiver Davis standing out

North Carolina’s depth at wide receiver was never enviable, and then it only became worse in the days after the Tar Heels began preseason practice.

T.J. Thorpe, who led the ACC in kickoff returns a season ago, suffered a broken foot just days into the preseason, and fellow sophomore Reggie Wilkins has barely practiced while he recovers from an undisclosed injury. Other players have missed time with more minor ailments.

The good news at the position? Quinshad Davis, a freshman, has impressed. He missed more than a week of practice awaiting his medical clearance but since his return he has earned praise from his teammates and from coach Larry Fedora.

“I tell you, it’s really good to have him,” Fedora said. “That’s a tall, long athlete that can catch the football, runs routes well. His legs are a little bit fresher than everybody else’s, but it’s really been nice to have him and as it looks right now, Quinshad’s going to help us this season.”

Davis, 6-foot-4, was Gatorade Player of the Year in South Carolina last season. It’s unclear when Thorpe and Wilkins might resume playing.

“We’re a long way away from being a polished receiving corps,” Fedora said. “And some of that had to do with some of the injuries early on and some guys having to flip to different positions.” Andrew Carter

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