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April 15, 2008
Tuesday's practice report: Larsen adjusting to OL
Ted Larsen wasn't overly surprised when NC State coach Tom O'Brien asked him to move from defensive tackle to the offensive line.Redshirt junior
Larsen has bounced back and forth between left guard and center, expecting to play the latter position for the annual Red & White Spring Game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium.
"Whatever I can do to make the team better," Larsen said. "Wherever I can get the most playing time. I'll just try my hardest at that position.
"I've had a lot thrown at me but I think I've picked it up fine. I just want to finish out the spring good with the two practices and the spring game. I hope I can be as aggressive as I want and get after everybody."
Larsen finished with 13 tackles and three sacks in 11 games last season as part of a rotation of defensive tackles. He lived for the big hit or sack, but now must find different ways to get excited.
"Whenever you can get a good snap and protect the quarterback, it's a great feeling," Larsen said. "When you get a good drive block or reach block, it's another good feeling. Getting a pancake is great. I got my first one on the first day doing board drills. You just go right through them."
Larsen was also joined on the offensive line by fellow defensive tackle John Bedics, a redshirt senior who is competing for playing time at left guard. Bedics and Larsen were roommates for two years.
"We are pretty close," Larsen said. "It's a good experience to share because it's nice to have somebody over there with me who is going through the same thing. It was a pretty painless move to offense."
Larsen played guard University High in Palm Harbor, Fla., but playing center creates a different dynamic.
"It's been a learning experience playing center," Larsen said. "You have to call the defense, then snap the ball and come off with a lot of aggressiveness. You have to put everything together, and that's been the toughest thing, getting everything going at once."
Larsen said each of the four quarterback has a different feel when under center, and then there is the art of the shotgun snap, which was a big part of last year's passing game.
"The shotgun snap is something I really need to work on this spring and all during the summer, so it's second nature like throwing a ball," Larsen said. "It's not something I'm completely comfortable with."
Reading defenses has come pretty naturally for Larsen, who has played his fair share of different schemes under former coach Chuck Amato and currently with O'Brien.
"I feel good about all my calls," Larsen said. "I'll keep working on seeing the different fronts we'll see, like the bear fronts or three-man fronts. We have run three defensive fronts since been here. It helps out, but I'm new to it so I can't take advantage of my defensive experience yet."
Larsen said it hasn't been too weird blocking his former defensive teammates.
"It's nothing too personal, as it's pretty much just business out there," Larsen said. "It's fun to get after some of the guys like [defensive tackle] Keith Willis Jr."
Another subtle difference in the transition is the weight that Larsen has gained to play on the offensive line. He played at 284 pounds last year, but was down to 275 pounds at the start of winter conditioning.
"I got up to 297 pounds, but I got a stomach flu, and lost 16 pounds because I kept on practicing," said Larsen, who is 6-foot-2. "I've been able to put that weight on to get to 296, and I'd like to put on another 10 pounds over the summer to get to 305. I think I can move at that weight."
Larsen will continue to work on his snapping and stepping during the offseason with some of the quarterbacks.
"We'll come out there on the practice fields," Larsen said. "I'm good friends with Daniel Evans, Justin Burke and Harrison Beck. They will help me out."
NC State's season opener is at South Carolina on Aug. 28. Having a new center, whether it's Larsen or someone else, possibly snapping to a new quarterback, which could be Russell Wilson, will be part of the opening night drama.
"With Russell, it's forced me to step up and be a leader because he's learning," Larsen said. " He's learning the plays and trying to be a leader too. We are trying to help each other out."