July 22, 2011
The least you should know about the 2011 Wolfpack. Part of ACC Week.
• You're on, kid. Russell Wilson is out, Mike Glennon is in and all eyes are on Tom O'Brien to see if he made the right call.
Wilson wanted to return to N.C. State for his final season of eligibility, but he also wanted to spend the spring and summer playing baseball with the Colorado Rockies organization. O'Brien wasn't having it, so Wilson took his talents to Madison, Wisc., opening the door for junior Mike Glennon to lead the Wolfpack to the Promised Land.
Glennon will definitely have big shoes to fill since many consider Wilson one of the best quarterbacks to ever wear a Wolfpack uniform. And Glennon didn't exactly wow fans during the Kay Yow Spring Football Game. He completed 21 of his 40 passes for 182 yards, but he also had two passes tipped at the line of scrimmage that resulted in interceptions -- one for a touchdown. According to the spring game wrapup on the team website, the first six of Glennon's passes were either tipped or knocked down by the first team defense.
Still, O'Brien doesn't think the spring game is a good way to judge Glennon and knows he'll seamlessly transition into the team's top signal caller.
"Those guys are fighting for jobs," O'Brien said of his defense. "Michael Glennon wasn't going to throw for 400 yards against that defense."
• Speaking of defense... This might be the most attacking defense N.C. State has put together during O'Brien's tenure. It's going to play a high-pressure style and will be built around speed and quickness to disrupt the opponent's backfield. Almost all of the linebackers and secondary return and the linebacking corps should be the anchor. Audie Cole has moved from outside to inside linebacker to replace Nate Irving, who led the team in sacks, tackles for loss and was second in tackles. Cole and Terrell Manning wreaked havoc on the edges last year and now former safety D.J. Green will add another dose of speed to the outside. Watch for this unit to do a lot of blitzing this year.
• Going Greene. Even though O'Brien has all the confidence in the world in Glennon, running back Mustafa Green could become the team's top offensive weapon. Last season, the Wolfpack ranked a dismal 95th in rushing offense with just 3.4 yards per carry. Greene led the team with 597 yards and four touchdowns, but he almost split carries with quarterback Russell Wilson. That won't be the same case with Glennon, who prefers to do his work with his arm rather than his feet. Greene did have foot surgery back in April, but should be ready to make the Wolfpack the power running team that O'Brien has always envisioned.
• Tight end failsafe. Senior George Bryan was Wilson's go-to receiver and he'll be that again for Glennon. Bryan, a two-time All-ACC first teamer, had 35 catches for 369 and three scores last year, which was good for third on the team. With top receivers Owen Spencer and Jarvis Williams gone, Bryan will be the most consistent receiving attack returning while players such as T.J. Graham, Jay Smith and Quintin Payton adjust to more action.