TB T.A. McLendon (PHOTO CREDIT - Grant Halverson)

2003 Statistics

Coach: Chuck Amato
34-17, 4 years
2003 Record: 8-5
at Wake Forest LOST 24-38
at Ohio State LOST 38-44
at Georgia Tech LOST 21-29
at Duke WON 28-21
at Florida State LOST 44-50
Kansas WON 56-26

2003 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2004 Outlook

Football talk in Raleigh is no longer focused on the Wolfpack's chances of winning a national championship. Fans are more concerned about avoiding a huge drop-off and falling into the second tier of the "new" ACC. That should not happen because there is still plenty of talent on the roster. Amato continues to have great success with that decade-old national trend of snatching high school stars out of Florida, and as long as that pipeline is flowing, NC State will be well stocked with good players.

Accordingly, talent is not the concern here. The Pack's shortcomings in recent years have often tied into a lack of heart. Amato's program has established the trend of losing a couple of games every season to inferior teams. They also seem to blow at least one game a year where they appeared to have a win (all but wrapped up). The annual losses to Maryland seem to get more agonizing every year. A team as good as State has no business going 4-4 in the ACC like they did in '03. But, as with youth in every endeavor, expectations oft lead to disappointments.

As the talent level in the ACC improves, Amato and his staff must work on developing not only the physical skills but the desire and heart to win tough games. Players like T. A. McLendon are a good place to start looking for this intangible and trying to spread it throughout the roster.

Without any apparent replacement for Rivers and Jerrihco Cotchery, State will have to rely more on their running game and defense to win. But these vacancies could be just the wake-up-call to spur on the team play that the Wolfpack has marginally been missing (Rivers was a bit too leaned upon for success). State returns 18 players with some experience in the starting lineup, and they should be ready to raise the level of their play (especially in the secondary) to make this transition successfully. The Wolfpack probably won't play any four-hour games, but they will win enough to return to a good non-BCS bowl.

Projected 2004 record: 5-6
QB - 3 DL - 3
RB - 3.5 LB - 3.5
WR - 4 DB - 2.5
OL - 3 ..

Passing: Jay Davis, 10-9-0, 89 yds., 1 TD

Rushing: T.A. McLendon, 130 att., 608 yds., 9 TD

Receiving: Tramain Hall, 69 rec., 799 yds., 7 TD

Scoring: T.A. McLendon, 11 TD, 66 pts.

Punting: None

Kicking: None

Tackles: Andre Maddox, 129 tot., 92 solo, 9.5 TFL

Sacks: Pat Thomas, 8 sacks

Interceptions: Gregory Golden, 2 for 71 yds. A.J. Davis, 2 for 65 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Lamont Reid, 13 ret., 19.8 avg.

Punt Returns: Tramain Hall, 19 ret., 10.6 avg., 2 TD’s


LB Pat Thomas (PHOTO CREDIT - Eric Wilson)
OFFENSE: Jerricho Cotchery-WR, Sean Locklear-OL, Philip Rivers-QB, Adam Kiker-K
DEFENSE: Alan Halloway-DL, Victor Stephens-FS, Greg Golden-CB, Austin Herbert-P

Jay Davis has spent two quiet years at NC State, but now, that changes. He faces the unenviable task of replacing Phillip Rivers who was not only one of the most prolific passers in the history of college football, but he was the heart and soul of Wolfpack football. Davis does not possess anywhere near the physical tools that Rivers had and used so well. He is not as big or strong, nor does he have the arm strength. State's chances for success largely rest on how quickly Davis can acclimate himself to the job, and how quickly the offense adjusts to a new leader. Backup Marcus Stone is built more in the Rivers mold but with quicker feet. The starting job belongs to Davis, however, unless he completely crashes and burns.

Running Back
NC State will feature the running game more than in recent years, and they have the talented runners to make it work. T. A. McLendon could emerge as a Heisman candidate and will be the focus of the offense. McLendon can do it all - run between the tackles, break outside for long gains, catch passes, and block. The only obstacle he has problems with is his own health. His absences were a problem in prior years; subsequently, any lengthy inactivity for McLendon in 2004 would be disastrous for the Pack. Tramain Hall will see more carries in addition to his receiving duties. He is a breakaway threat every time he touches the ball. Josh Brown is the backup, but has neither the strength nor speed to make a big impact. The runners do not usually feature a fullback, so play-calling and blocking schemes will primarily have to open up the holes. Two-back Wolfpack sets often morph into three-WR alignments…

Wide Receiver
…therefore Tramain Hall will spend at least half of his time split out from the backfield and will be the go-to guy in the passing game. If Sterling Hicks can shake the injury bug, he, too, will be a dangerous deep threat. He is currently rehabbing a blown-out ACL. Brian Clark has the speed to stretch defenses and the height to be an effective possession receiver. Richard Washington will also be an important part of the short passing game if he, for other reasons, can stay on the field (suspended twice and injured in '03). The Wolfpack has a talented group of receivers, but they don't stack up to corps in recent years. They are inexperienced and have durability issues. Someone will have to step up to force defenses away from Hall.

Tight End
T. J. Williams is a strong blocker who made some big catches in 2003. Out of necessity, he will be even more involved in the passing game this year. Backup John Richter is primarily a blocker in two tight end formations.

Offensive Line
Here lies the hope for continued productivity from the offense. The Wolfpack has a talented, veteran group that has been successful in both protecting the passer and opening holes for their runners. They have been well tested since Rivers was virtually immobile and their running backs are not big enough to force their way through a stacked line. Senior center Jed Paulsen anchors the line, and the newest starter, huge tackle Derek Morris, has an upside almost as big as his body. There will be more emphasis on run-blocking this year, and they will have to worry about protecting an inexperienced quarterback, but this group will be up to the task.

The Wolfpack's offense will need to find a new identity in 2004. After four years of Phillip Rivers, it is time to get back to basics and focus more on the running game. Fortunately, in McLendon they have one of the best backs in the nation. NC State also has a strong, experienced line that will punch holes for their backs to scoot through and keep their new quarterback upright. There is still a huge void of leadership to fill, and only time will tell if Jay Davis is up to the task. He won't be able to carry the team on his back, but the Wolfpack at least need him to steer the offense in the right direction and make some plays.


C Jed Paulsen (PHOTO CREDIT - Gene Galin)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Jay Davis-Jr (6-2, 205) Marcus Stone-Fr (6-4, 226)
FB Chance Moyer-Sr (6-3, 232) Avery Gibson-Sr (6-2, 244)
TB T.A. McLendon-Jr (5-11, 216) Josh Brown-Jr (5-10, 188)
Reggie Davis-So (6-2, 220)
SB Tramain Hall-Jr (5-11, 187) Chris Hawkins-So (6-3, 188)
WR Brian Clark-Jr (6-3, 202) Lamart Barrett-So (6-1, 190)
WR Richard Washington-Jr (6-0, 172) Sterling Hicks-Jr (6-2, 181)
TE T.J. Williams-Jr (6-4, 248) John Ritcher-Jr (6-3, 246)
OT Chris Colmer-Sr (6-6, 205) James Newby-So (6-6, 278)
OG Leroy Harris-So (6-3, 293) Luke Lathan-Fr (6-5, 288)
C Jed Paulsen-Sr (6-2, 290) Kalani Heppe-Fr (6-4, 280)
OG Ricky Fowler-Sr (6-2, 303) John McKeon-Jr (6-5, 298)
OT Derek Morris-So (6-6, 332) John Holt-So (6-8, 281)
K John Deraney-So (6-4, 208) Tucker King-Jr (6-1, 191)



Defensive Line
End Mario Williams became an impact player immediately as a freshman in 2003. His unusual combination of height (6'7") and speed make him dangerous even when he does not get penetration. Williams does get into opponents backfields fairly often, as does fellow-sophomore tackle John McCargo. Both players pressure quarterbacks and in '03 both reached double-figure-totals in tackles behind the line. The other starters, Dwayne Herndon and Maurice Charles, possess good physical tools but have yet to show they are playmakers. State needs to generate a more consistent pass rush from the line this season and force opposing quarterbacks into some mistakes. Similarly, allowing opponents an average of 3.8 yards per run becomes a stat not to be repeated.

Senior Pat Thomas leads the Wolfpack's linebacker corps. Thomas is State's best pass rusher, plays well in coverage, and is a sure tackler. Freddie Aughtry-Lindsay has excellent speed and excels in pass coverage. He scored two touchdowns vs. Connecticut in '03. Oliver Hoyte becomes a full time starter. He has a good nose for the ball but needs to get stronger to handle the middle. This unit's achievements will mirror the entire defenses quality-level.

Defensive Back
NC State features four senior starters in their defensive backfield. On a team that surrendered nearly 300 yards per game passing last season, having everyone back could be a mixed blessing. Rover back Andre Maddox has led the Pack in tackles the past two seasons, and is outstanding in bringing a ball carrier down one-on-one. He is the most aggressive player in the secondary. Corner Lamont Reid is a decent cover man. That's all the positives among State's defensive backs. They intercept very few passes and don't even break up that many. The secondary often plays passively and needs to radically change that mindset to have any hope of being effective.

How many times in '03 did a stellar performance by Phillip Rivers and the offense get wasted because the Wolfpack defense couldn't stop the other team? I'm sure coach Chuck Amato would tell everyone it happened far too often. For a coach with a defensive background, he has not recently fielded a very good unit. Perhaps, finally realizing it was too difficult being head coach and defensive coordinator, Amato has brought in veteran coach Reggie Herring to take over the defense. He has some talent to work with, but needs to establish a toughness and aggressiveness in his players that has been sorely missing.


ROV Andre Maddox (PHOTO CREDIT - Eric Wilson)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Mario Williams-So (6-7, 265) Maurice Charles-So (6-3, 254)
DT John McCargo-So (6-2, 289) Martrel Brown-Fr (6-3, 265)
DT Dwayne Herndon-Jr (6-4, 288) Kennie Covington-Jr (6-3, 268)
DE Manny Lawson-Jr (6-5, 220) Renaldo Moses-Jr (6-6, 214)
SLB Freddie Aughtry-Lindsay-Sr (6-1, 230) Ernest Jones-Fr (6-3, 213)
MLB Oliver Hoyte-Jr (6-3, 232) Pat Lowery-So (6-2, 224)
WLB Pat Thomas-Sr (6-2, 230) Stephen Tulloch-So (5-10, 226)
CB Dovonte Edwards-Sr (6-0, 182) Jimmie Sutton-Fr (6-1, 178)
CB Lamont Reid-Sr (6-0, 195) A.J. Davis-So (5-10, 172)
ROV Andre Maddox-Sr (6-1, 200) Garland Heath-So (6-2, 207)
FS Troy Graham-Sr (6-3, 202) Marcus Hudson-Jr (6-2, 186)
P John Deraney-So (6-4, 208) ..



Kickoff specialist John Deraney inherits the placekicking job. He has a very strong leg, proven by only seeing half of his kickoffs returned in 2003.

Deraney is also first in line to be the Wolfpack's punter. He will be challenged by a couple of sophomores, none of whom have ever punted in a college game. We will have more to report at a later date. Coverage will again be good to make net punting results strong enough to win a few field-position battles.

Return Game
Tremain Hall will again handle the punt returns and share kickoff return chores with Lamont Reid. Given their natural ability, their results are very mediocre. State needs to give the return game the same emphasis they place on blocking kicks, where they are regularly among the nation's leading teams.


QBs Jay Davis and Marcus Stone will continue to battle for the starting job heading into the fall. Davis got the reps in the spring game, but only because Stone broke the middle finger on his throwing hand (he'll be fine by September). Amato says the biggest challenge is to NOT compare them to Rivers. They are each individuals, with personal talents looked to for winning games. If gaudy stats are accumulated along the way, it will be a bonus. Still, there were times where Amato made indirect comparisons between Stone and Rivers. Hmm... OT Chris Colmer is battling a rare medical condition, but still sees the possibility of returning. In his absence, two players have been battling for the spot at LT- soph James Newby and JUCO all-American Merci Falaise. Colmer has been out of football for more than a year and it will take some time to get back in the proper condition- if he comes back at all. OG Ricky Folwer has also been battling injury and there has been expressed concern as to how he will fare this fall.

Manny Lawson spent most of his time at OLB, but moved to DE for the bowl game. He stayed there this spring and solidified his spot along the front. These guys are extremely versatile, but still have things to learn. Mario Williams had an amazing spring and will push for all-conference honors. Stephen Tulloch, who's been referred to as a faster (former all-ACC and 'Pack linebacker) Dantonio Burnette, has given returning starter Oliver Hoyte a real workout at MLB. Look for "Tully" will get his reps whenever possible. Hard-hitting Ernest Jones is back and healthy, giving the Pack awesome depth at the SLB position. Needless to say, LB is a deep unit. FS Marcus Hudson returned from an injury that kept him out of last season and has picked things up almost immediately. He is all over the place defensively and brings what Amato calls some "needed cockiness". Last year's starting CB Greg Golden is expected to transfer. He was suspended for the bowl game and reportedly left the program. Luckily, the 'Pack secondary is deep enough; they will insert Dovonte Edwards and not miss a beat.

RB Darrell Blackman (fr)
OT Merci Falaise (jr)
CB Miguel Scott (fr)
WR DaJuan Morgan (fr)