Wolfpack meets Cincinnati on TV tonight
By Joe Kay
CINCINNATI ó North Carolina State isnít entirely sure who will line up on defense tonight when the Wolfpack faces one of the Big Eastís best quarterbacks.
Cincinnati isnít too much farther along. The Bearcats know who they have, but still arenít sure what theyíre going to get heading into the third game of the season.
It could be a big night for the quarterbacks ó N.C. Stateís Mike Glennon and Cincinnatiís Zach Collaros ó when they get together for a rematch. The Wolfpack won last yearís game in Raleigh 30-19, stifling the Bearcatsí error-prone offense for most of the game. Cincinnati had two late touchdowns that made a bad day look more respectable. Collaros was sacked five times, and the Bearcats didnít run a play inside the N.C. State 32 until the final minutes.
ěWe made a lot of mistakes,î Collaros said. ěWe didnít do what we needed to do. It was a lot of things ó mental errors, not responding to adversity well. I think weíve matured from that point.î
The rematch will be a telling game for a pair of 2-1 teams that have followed similar paths to this point.
The Wolfpack had its way against overmatched Liberty and South Alabama, but struggled defensively in a 34-27 loss to Wake Forest. N.C. State returned most of its starters on defense, but has had its line and linebackers sapped by injuries. The Wolfpack finished its win over South Alabama with four starters on the bench.
The latest injury involved linebacker Terrell Manning, who had knee surgery on Monday and will be sidelined for at least three weeks. Defensive end Jeff Rieskamp has been sidelined by a shoulder injury, though he might be able to play against the Bearcats. Redshirt freshman Art Norman took his place and got hurt in the last game as well. Senior captain J.R. Sweezy broke a foot in preseason, as did backup Thomas Teal.
Itís been one injury after another, forcing the Wolfpack to improvise continually.
ěItís always bad if we have one of the starters go down,î defensive tackle Markus Kuhn said.
N.C. State won last yearís game behind Russell Wilson, who threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns. Glennon is running the offense this season and has done better than expected in his first three collegiate starts. The 6-foot-6 redshirt junior threw for four touchdowns in a 35-13 win over South Alabama, completing 17 of 20 for 274 yards.
Coach Butch Jones has rallied his defense after the Tennessee game.
ěWe told them youíve just got to focus,î Jones said. ěYou canít let that stuff affect you. If you do, you let Tennessee beat you twice. Thereís no looking back. Itís always looking forward. Again, we know weíre going to be challenged tonight.î
The game completes the series and represents a homecoming for much of the Wolfpack coaching staff. Head coach Tom OíBrien was born and raised in Cincinnati. Offensive coordinator Dana Bible attended the same high school in Cincinnati and later played and coached with the Bearcats. Bible also was an assistant with the NFLís Bengals. Three other assistants share Cincinnati-area connections.
ěItís going to be a good night, hopefully for the Wolfpack but hopefully for guys like Dana who played at Nippert Stadium,î OíBrien said. ěA lot of guys have something special (tonight).î