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September 19, 2011

NC State's defense having rough year with injuries

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NC State coach Tom O'Brien announced Monday that starting weakside linebacker Terrell Manning is having surgery today, and will miss Thursday's game at Cincinnati.

The redshirt junior hurt his knee against South Alabama during the first half last Saturday. He tallied 16 snaps in the eventual 35-13 victory. Manning has 14 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and half a sack in 158 plays this season. The 6-3, 233-pounder from Laurinburg, N.C., had a breakout season last year, finishing with 76 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, five sacks, one interceptions, two caused fumbles and two recovered fumbles.

Manning's injury is just the latest in a line of bad luck to the Wolfpack defense. NCSU has missed games from starting defensive tackle J.R. Sweezy, starting defensive end Jeff Rieskamp, projected starting cornerback Jarvis Byrd, backup middle linebacker Sterling Lucas, backup defensive tackle Thomas Teal. Backup cornerback Gary Grant also has departed from the program.

"He'll be operated on in the next two hours, and then we'll see where it goes from there," O'Brien said. "When they let me know, I'll let [everyone] know [on length of injury]. It's been a tough season to play defense.

"The defensive coaches have been playing Dutch boy, putting fingers in the dike right now. We have 15 left out of the top 22 on defense going into August."

Senior Dwayne Maddox filled in for Manning against the Jaguars and will get the start Thursday against the Bearcats. Maddox started 11 out of 12 games and had 54 tackles and four tackles for loss in 2009, and Manning was his backup. Manning won the job last year, and Maddox had eight tackles in nine games in reserve action.

Maddox equaled last year's tackling total with eight stops against South Alabama, and had 11 tackles through three games.

"Dwayne Maddox has some experience and he's been around," O'Brien said. "He'll have to step up and make plays now."

Redshirt freshman defensive end Art Norman was limited to 15 snaps due to an undisclosed injury while replacing Rieskamp against South Alabama. Neither player were listed on the Monday injury report. O'Brien said Rieskamp isn't back practicing yet from his shoulder injury, but didn't rule out his potential return to his hometown of Cincinnati.

"Certainly, anybody coming back would be a big boost to this defensive football team," O'Brien said. "I know it's killing him to not be able to practice yet going to Cincinnati to play."

Redshirt freshman Theo Rich and redshirt sophomore Sylvester Crawford filled in for Norman at defensive end, combining for three tackles.

"They didn't execute the defense and that was part of the problem we had, especially in the running game," O'Brien said. "They had their opportunity, but once again, they start their year off on the scout team and not getting coached. We are coaching them up on the sideline to try and get them into the game. It causes some headaches."

• O'Brien said everything this week is condensed because of playing on Thursday night. The normal "Tuesday" practice was held today, and the "Wednesday" practice will be held Tuesday. The Wolfpack will do a modified "Thursday" practice Wednesday morning, and the team just won't get to have it's normal Friday practice.

• O'Brien said redshirt junior quarterback Mike Glennon has played better than expected through three games, and will be able to play even better if the offensive line protects him better.

• O'Brien was surprised by how fast the ACC added Pittsburgh and Syracuse, and believes the conference is a true Atlantic Coast Conference from Boston down to Miami. He believes both will be good additions to the ACC, both in athletics and academics.

• O'Brien thinks senior fullback Taylor Gentry might have the chance to play in the NFL one day.

• Redshirt junior wide receiver Tobais Palmer earned praise from his coach for being good on special teams.

Tom O'Brien audio press conference (14:48)




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