SB Tramain Hall (PHOTO BY: Gene Galin)

2004 Statistics

Coach: Chuck Amato
39-23, 5 years
2004 Record: 5-6
at Virginia Tech WON 17-16
at North Carolina LOST 24-30
at Maryland WON 13-3
at Clemson LOST 20-26
vs. East Carolina @Charlotte, NC WON 52-14

2004 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2005 Outlook

North Carolina State was well on its way to a fifth-straight bowl appearance last year and then hit the skids, losing four straight to blow a 4-2 start. State finished with a losing record for the first time since 1996. For a 5-6 team with the No. 1 defense (five of the losses were close games they had chances to win), you can quickly discern which elements have to step up (hint: they are all on offense). The close losses suggest that N.C. State was a few breaks away - an injury bug hit the offensive line late, just when the skid began.

But Jay Davis' marginal decision making, along with his lack of elusiveness, mean the offense will likely not improve until he is holding a clipboard. We feel that sophomore Marcus Stone (Pennsylvania's Gatorade Player of the Year '02) - with his size, strength, and fleet feet - is obviously State's future, and therefore should be inserted as early as the first signs of trouble. Hanging onto Davis when things again waiver would definitively start talk of coaching changes at the highest ranks. Way ahead of us, head coach Chuck Amato brought in two new coordinators. Marc Trestman's offensive experience should rapidly turn things around.

New DC Steve Dunlap, though, represents a significant step down from Reggie Herring and his ability to find instant results. Considering the success here, Dunlap and Amato aren't planning any major changes, so Steve's motivational skills in affecting the new secondary and retooled LBs (his area, too) will either shine or be an area of deserved finger-pointing. The D-line holding its own becomes just as much a key. Damage control in the back-seven, along with QB play, will dictate where this squad finishes in the ACC "pack".

The schedule will be somewhat tough, but no Miami and no Virginia mean two of the ACC's top four teams (from '04) won't be slated. Late-season tilts with Southern Miss, FSU and ACC-newcomer Boston College back-to-back-to-back will define this year as '04 was defined by its ending flop. But expect to see Stone in by then, making Carter-Finley and Raleigh much happier places on Thursday and Saturday nights.

Projected 2005 record: 7-4
QB - 3.5 DL - 5
RB - 3 LB - 3.5
WR - 3.5 DB - 3
OL - 3.5 ..

Passing: Jay Davis, 313-175-15, 2104 yds., 12 TD

Rushing: Reggie Davis, 46 att., 227 yds., 3 TD

Receiving: T.J. Williams, 31 rec., 382 yds., 0 TD

Scoring: John Deraney, 13-22 FG, 29-29 PAT, 68 pts.

Punting: John Deraney, 60 punts, 41.9 avg.

Kicking: John Deraney, 13-22 FG, 29-29 PAT, 68 pts.

Tackles: Oliver Hoyte, 70 tot., 31 solo

Sacks: Mario Williams, Manny Lawson - 7 each

Interceptions: Marcus Hudson, 2 for 61 yds., 1 TD

Kickoff Returns: Bobby Washington, 7 ret., 22.1 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Tramain Hall, 21 ret., 6.5 avg., 0 TD


DE Manny Lawson (PHOTO BY: Tim Lytvinenko)
OFFENSE: Chris Colmer-OT, Rickey Fowler-OG, Jed Paulsen-C, T.A. McLendon-TB (NFL), Richard Washington-WR (dismissed)
DEFENSE: Pat Thomas-SLB, Freddie Aughtry-Lindsay-WLB, Dovonte Edwards-CB, Lamont Reid-CB, Andre Maddox-ROV, Troy Graham-FS

Wolfpack fans have one major problem with Jay Davis: he does not remind anyone of Rivers, but he's a good quarterback who just had a marginal year in a tough situation. He'll only get better, but we question just how much. Davis won't hurt anybody with his legs, but scouts says has an accurate arm (though his 15:12 INT:TD ratio wouldn't prove such). By simply cutting down on some of those mistakes, he'd be among the best quarterbacks in the ACC. The future of State is Marcus Stone, who will get his shot, and not soon enough. The sophomore has great size and adds a running dimension the Wolfpack doesn't get from Davis. Chris Moore has the strongest arm of this year's QB crop, so there are no guarantees here if play is shaky. If Davis can't get the Wolfpack to rank in the top third for total offense, by October, more than the leaves will be changing in Raleigh.

Running Back
The trick will be giving this stable of available, qualified backs enough reps to keep any from transferring. Reggie Davis, Darrell Blackman, and Bobby Washington could each start. Davis is a bull who is tough to bring down and will get the yards inside. Blackman and Washington have a bit less size, but offer that needed change of pace with their quickness. True freshman Toney Baker was a prep all-American who broke ex-N.C. State back McLendon's (N.C.) state high school career rushing record. The Wolfpack also have big expectations for Andre Brown, another big, fast, highly-touted back. Then there's true frosh Toney Baker…but we have to stop somewhere, sorry. Get the point now? This dimension will be leaned upon until the QB unit is stable, and a true scheme can then be put in place and the role-players will be solidified. With a young, unestablished line, these guys will be YAC-ing it up real soon, so their size becomes essential for this reason.

Davis gets five significant role-players back, but experience is still scarce here. FL Brian Clark has both good size and the most real-game reps (ugh, with 53 career catches). Similar in their formidable stature, Lamart Barrett and Sterling Hicks (17 combined starts) also can both stretch a defense. The Wolfpack look for more out of oft-found-in-the-slot HB Tramain Hall - the speedster caught 28 in '04, a huge drop from 69 in '03. John Dunlap would provide a huge lift if he returns (ACL surgery). Another tall, strong receiver with great speed, he tore his ACL playing basketball in December. As a group, the receivers will play better, an essential part if/when the QB unit struggles for identity and production.

Tight End
In 2004, T.J. Williams became the first TE since '67 to lead State in receiving. A good combination of size, strength and sure hands makes Williams one of the nation's top receiving tight ends. Similar in size is backup John Ritcher, who is a better blocker as well as a decent receiver. They send these guys deeper routes than most other teams, but expect them to stay home in the early stages when Davis is in (lack of mobility). These TEs are a good barometer - when you see them start to produce, you'll know this offense has its foundation.

Offensive Line
A host of injuries hit the line late in 2004, which was a big reason why the Wolfpack fell out of bowl contention with four straight losses down the stretch. If the group stays healthy this year, it will be good. The first priority is filling two major holes (75 starts worth), as all-ACC guard/center Leroy Harris will permanently slide over to center. Harris has a good combination of toughness and athleticism, though his shoulder is still healing. James Newby is slated for left tackle, but he can play anywhere when needed. John McKeon started every game at right guard in 2004, but Kalani Heppe is pushing him for the job. There will be an interesting battle at left guard. Luke Lathan is slated to start after having a good freshman year, but the coaching staff shifted Dwayne Herndon and John Amanchukwu from defense to solidify the line. Herndon is very tough and physical, while Amanchukwu, a former walk-on and still an ordained minister, obviously can motivate himself and others to give leadership to this young squad. Massive Derek Morris will return, but he is one of the few over 300, so expect the group's quickness to be a dividend that the running game can cash in on right away, and will aid in bringing down State's 31 sacks allowed.

Offense was the reason N.C. State failed, as ranking 81st in the country in total offense and 72nd in scoring never cuts it. Five times, they scored 17 or fewer points. Having a year under his belt, Davis will cut down on mistakes (11 of his 15 INTs came in three games, all close losses). The young line has depth, so tough early contests (Va. Tech) will instill the edge needed so that they can protect whichever (style of) QB is in. The running game has to be their focus, though, for putting unwarranted pressure on any of the young QBs will cause this offense to implode. Foes will know this, so the line really gets tested early as the box will be loaded until Davis & Co. prove they can beat them. So, as the QB progress goes, so goes the destiny of this entire team. To that ends, longtime NFL assistant Marc Trestman takes over here, and his successful work with guys like Gannon, Kosar and Testeverde (at Miami 1982-83) tells us he will shape this QB unit up before fall. As OC, his Oakland squad went to the Super Bowl (2003) as the leagues #1 total offense. Trestman will see every possible angle, so it is just his ability to motivate on this level that has to again be proven. State will sneak up on those few foes who don't realize that, and, at sometime soon, when no one can predict, this offense will hit the ground with wheels already spinning and just take off.


OG Leroy Harris (PHOTO BY: Gene Galin)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Jay Davis-Sr (6-2, 220) Marcus Stone-So (6-4, 234)
TB Bobby Washington-So (6-1, 210) Darrell Blackman-So (6-0, 205)
Reggie Davis-Jr (6-1, 233)
WR Lamart Barrett-Jr (6-1, 190) Sterling Hicks-Sr (6-2, 195)
WR Brian Clark-Sr (6-3, 205) John Dunlap-So (6-3, 207)
HB Tramain Hall-Sr (5-10, 190) Andrew Evans-Fr (6-0, 180)
TE T.J. Williams-Sr (6-3, 253) John Ritcher-Sr (6-3, 255)
OT James Newby-Jr (6-5, 295) Merci Falaise-Jr (6-5, 305)
OG John Amanchukwu-Jr (6-5, 283) Dwayne Herndon-Sr (6-3, 286)
C Leroy Harris-Jr (6-3, 295) John McKeon-Sr (6-5, 307)
OG Kalani Heppe-So (6-4, 289) Luke Lathan-So (6-4, 295)
OT Derek Morris-Jr (6-6, 333) Jon Holt-Jr (6-6, 299)
K John Deraney-Jr (6-4, 215) ..



Defensive Line
This is arguably the best defensive line in the country. Mario Williams, a first-team all-ACC DE as a sophomore and second-team all-American this year, spends his game days in opponents' backfields. When Williams size-speed-combo won't get to the quarterback, Manny Lawson('s) will. He led the team in sacks in his first year. The former-LB is long, lean and strong, making his (4.5 40-speed) burst tough to block. Raymond Brooks, too, had a big year as a freshman, and he joins others to provide excellent depth. Tackles John McCargo and Tank Tyler didn't get the ink the ends got, but both garner double-teams often enough to set the others up well, and this evidently works. In his career here, McCargo has started all but one game. Wake Forest and Georgia Tech kept this from also being the top rushing defense - 2.62 per carry ranked them second and allowing only six ground scores means they tied for fourth at that. Ok, so 31 sacks weren't quite as strong…but what do you think returning their entire two-deep unit will allow this defense to once again do? The new secondary will be banking on another stellar group performance so it can get its bearings.

Plenty of talent remains, even with two major exits. Leadership will come from well-sized senior Oliver Hoyte, who led the team in tackles and was third in TFLs and is always around the ball. Where he plays is up in the air, but we note that Hoyte wasn't as effective as the departees in coverage. He has been shifted to the weak side for now because of an injury to Stephen Tulloch. The quicker Tulloch produces with his hard hits, but had shoulder surgery in January and won't play until fall. Pat Lowerey's size-n-speed means he becomes the starter in the middle. Sophomores Ernest Jones and LeRue Rumph were defensive backs last year, but find themselves competing for the strong-side position to bolster any underneath protection that is so vital in attempting to keep that top ranking. The whole unit pretty much runs a 4.6-second 40, so it is just a matter of acclimation to new DC and LB's coach Steve Dunlap and his system. This transition shouldn't be bumpy with so much unmolded "clay" to shape.

Defensive Back
This unit is gutted, gills to tail. The performance of this secondary is in direct relation to that of the defensive line, because while the line is perhaps the best in the country, the secondary is young and new to starting roles. As long as the line does its part, the secondary should be fine. Cornerback Marcus Hudson is the only returning starter, but his six starts came at safety, and he also has one at linebacker. He came to N.C. State as a corner, though, and has played over 1,200 career snaps there. He's got exceptional size for a corner to go along with his speed, and he makes big plays. At the other corner is A.J. Davis, one of the team's fastest players. Tough, physical Garland Heath fits the prototype of what the Wolfpack wants at the rover position. Safety seems to be the only concern, as the last two recruiting classes have been DB-lacking. How far this unit drops ostensibly tells of the entire team's plight. But with alum Greg "Barry Brady" Williams again honing the CB's skills, expect his eye and ability to again shine through these newbies so that potential here is reached.

In his first year at N.C. State, defensive coordinator Reggie Herring turned the Wolfpack from the 89th-ranked defense in country in 2003 to No. 1 a year ago. Always too good to be true in Raleigh, Herring has bolted for a raise at Arkansas. Steve Dunlap takes over, and while the defense may not lead the country again, it'll be very good despite him. Dunlap squandered Syracuse' 47th-rated D of 2003 and turned it into last campaign's 101st, so our confidence has waned in him since taking WVU to its No.1 defensive ranking (1996). Getting Tulloch back from shoulder surgery will make the front seven extremely tough to move the ball against, which will take pressure off the secondary while it matures. With as much potential as they have, the DBs will not again win/save games, so keeping play in front of them will be their key not to cause losses single-handedly. The slate is luckily a bit softer than last, so the learning curve can work for and not against them this way.


DE Mario Williams (PHOTO BY: Gene Galin)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Mario Williams-Jr (6-7, 285) Willie Young-Fr (6-5, 215)
DT John McCargo-Jr (6-2, 295) Martrel Brown-So (6-2, 285)
DT Tank Tyler-Jr (6-2, 294) DeMario Pressley-So (6-4, 280)
DE Manny Lawson-Sr (6-5, 245) Raymond Brooks-So (6-3, 270)
SLB LeRue Rumph-So (6-1, 225) Ernest Jones-So (6-2, 220)
MLB Oliver Hoyte-Sr (6-3, 252) Pat Lowery-Jr (6-2, 240)
WLB Stephen Tulloch-Jr (5-11, 230) Marcus Howell-Jr (6-2, 223)
CB Marcus Hudson-Sr (6-2, 200) Jimmie Sutton-So (5-11, 175)
CB A.J. Davis-Jr (5-10, 188) Phillip Holloman-So (5-11, 190)
ROV Garland Heath-Jr (6-2, 220) DaJuan Morgan-Fr (6-2, 195)
FS J.J. Jones-Sr (6-0, 178) Miguel Scott-So (6-1, 190)
P John Deraney-Jr (6-4, 215_ ..




John Deraney literally does it all. He was responsible for every punt, place kick and kickoff a year ago. He'll average a solid 41+ yards per punt after dumping 17-of-60 inside the 20. But his 7-of-15 performance from 30+ was accentuated by going a combined 0-of-5 against Ga. Tech (loss) and Wake (OT win). His streaky nature, especially deep, means he will again cost them a few close ones, though his leg strength (53 yarder versus Va. Tech) will also win a few, too. KO coverage was abysmal for such a great defense, so look for advancements there and in net punting results, another inconsistency that will improve due to competitions at DB.

Return Game
The Wolfpack ranked 14th for KOs. Two reasons why - Bobby Washington and Marcus Hudson - are both back. Darrell Blackman finished third-ranked in all I-A for returning punts, so expect that he wrestles the hat from Tramian Hall.