Odd as it may seem, N.C. State’s Jacoby Brissett and North Carolina’s Marquise Williams were seen hanging out with each other this summer.
But not around Raleigh or Chapel Hill. Nothing like that. The two quarterbacks attended the Manning Passing Academy outside New Orleans a few weeks ago, working on their technique, looking to improve, preparing for their senior seasons.
Brissett, being more a quiet type, said most of their conversations were one-sided.
“He talks way more than I do,” Brissett joked Monday at the ACC Kickoff.
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But not so much about last year’s game, Williams said, to which Brissett added, “Not a word.” The Wolfpack went into Chapel Hill and smacked the Tar Heels 35-7.
He talks way more than I do.
NC State quarterback Jacoby Brissett
“We weren’t going to talk about the rivalry. There wasn’t too much to talk about there since they won this year,” Williams said, smiling. “We just got to know each other, got to talk to each other and have some fun. Just get away from football and talk about friendship.
“He’s great guy. No hard feelings. We don’t hate each other or anything.”
It was the kind of game that could have led to hard feelings. Brissett was a star that November day at Kenan Stadium, rushing for 167 yards and one touchdown while throwing for three scores. Williams, meanwhile, left the the game in the second half with a leg injury.
But that’s all behind them now. They both came to Pinehurst for the ACC Kickoff talking of better seasons, bigger things, in 2015.
We don’t hate each other or anything.
UNC quarterback Marquise Williams
After an 8-5 season capped by a 34-27 victory against Central Florida in the St. Petersburg Bowl, Brissett believes the Wolfpack has what it takes to make it to Charlotte and play for an ACC championship.
“Most definitely,” Brissett said. “It’s going to happen soon.”
Wolfpack defensive end Mike Rose said attainable goals this year were “10-plus wins” and competing for the Atlantic Division title.
“Florida State and Clemson have had a chokehold on the Atlantic for a while,” said Rose, a graduate student entering his fifth year. “It’s time for someone to crack it.”
A year ago, the Wolfpack opened 4-0 in Dave Doeren’s second season as coach, then lost four straight conference games – the fourth a tough, competitive loss at Louisville. N.C. State then won four of the last five including the bowl, when Brissett passed for 262 yards and a touchdown while hurting Central Florida with timely runs. He was named the bowl’s MVP.
But the biggest game of the season, both Brissett and Rose insisted Monday, was the first one. The Pack rallied to beat Georgia Southern 24-23, forcing a fumble at the NCSU 1-yard line in the fourth quarter, then going 99 yards for a score.
“I think that saved our season,” Rose said. “I think if we lose that game we probably wouldn’t be sitting in the situation we’re in.”
With that said, the Wolfpack opens this season against Troy on Sept. 5. It will be another game in which Wolfpack fans fill Carter-Finley Stadium expecting to win, but against another opponent with little to lose.
N.C. State’s regular season again will end against North Carolina – Nov. 28 at Carter-Finley. But so much can happen between Troy and the Tar Heels, when Brissett and Williams will again see each other.
Brissett, who transferred to N.C. State after two seasons at Florida, was asked Monday to describe his quarterbacking style.
“Whatever it takes to win,” he said.
Would he change anything this season, Brissett was asked, maybe be allowed to do more running than he did in 2014?
“Whatever it takes to win,” he said, smiling.