College Football: N.C. State spring game focuses on defense
RALEIGH — North Carolina State’s first-team defense looked better than its first-team offense in Saturday’s spring game.
The Wolfpack have a set of new linebackers, so the defense’s dominance was a bit of a surprise in Black’s 32-7 romp over the White in the Kay Yow Spring Game.
N.C. State has 16 scrimmage starters back including quarterback Mike Glennon. But senior Sterling Lucas, out last season with a knee injury after appearing in 36 games his first three seasons, is the only experienced linebacker.
Five other linebackers on the depth chart have played a total of 57 snaps.
“I’m concerned not only at linebacker, but a couple of other spots right now,” Wolfpack coach Tom O’Brien said. “Hopefully we’ll go into the fall practices the way we ended up today and get better.”
O’Brien said sophomore Rodman Noel has potential, but he is worried that sophomores Michael Peek and Brandon Pittman are too young for the spots where they are playing.
“Lucas is giving us a lot of leadership. He can get them lined up up front and get the defense called. He can get us headed the right direction, and he has to provide that for us if we’re going to have any success,” O’Brien said.
Earl Wolff returned an interception for a 46-yard touchdown late in the second half for the Black, which also got a pickoff from last year’s Division I interceptions leader David Amerson.
“Our defensive line definitely got after the quarterback today,” Amerson said. “And the defensive backs and linebackers were flying around making plays. The linebackers we’ve got are athletic. They’ve just got to get into the scheme of the defense and get confident.”
Backup quarterback Tyler Brosius completed 15 of 27 passes for 184 yards without an interception for the Black, while Bryan Underwood caught six passes for 109 yards. Tony Creecy carried 16 times for 53 yards and a touchdown, while true freshman quarterback Manny Stocker scored on a 15-yard run. Milton Hall added a one-yard scoring run, while Niklas Sade kicked a 40-yard field goal and Isaac Swindell had a tackle for a safety.
Glennon, quarterbacking the White, completed 12 of 20 passes for 121 yards – including a 74-yarder to Asa Watson – and had one interception. James Washington rushed for 26 yards and the team’s only touchdown on nine carries.
Lucas said he’s looking forward to the challenge of replacing the leadership Cole and Manning provided.
“It was tough sitting out last year, but I was kind of like a coach on the field,” Lucas said. “I was in the press box every game with (linebackers coach Jon) Tenuta and I learned a plethora of new things. I was hoping to play with my boys last year, but now I’m the next man up. There’s a little bit of pressure, but I feel like I was a leader before. I feel like we’re going to be OK.”
N.C. State plays its season opener Aug. 31 against Tennessee in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta.
The Wolfpack went 8-5 last season and won the Belk Bowl.