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February 12, 2009

NC State releases 2009 football schedule

The 2009 schedule has been released. NC State, which is expected to be one of the contenders to take the Atlantic Division crown, will have eight homes games, but their four road tilts, all in conference action, includes a trip to Blacksburg, Va., for the first time since 2004.

Here is the schedule, and below is an in-depth look at the teams NC State will face and how they stack up on paper headed into 2009.

2009 Schedule
Sept. 3 South Carolina (ESPN)
Sept. 12 Murray State (6 p.m.)
Sept. 19 Gardner-Webb (6 p.m.)
Sept. 26 Pittsburgh
Oct. 3 at Wake Forest
Oct. 10 Duke
Oct. 17 at Boston College
Oct. 31 at Florida State
Nov. 7 Maryland
Nov. 14 Clemson
Nov. 21 at Virginia Tech
Nov. 28 North Carolina

Sept. 3 (Thursday night) South Carolina
Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh

2008 record: 7-6 overall, 4-4 in SEC

2008 postseason: Lost 31-10 to Iowa in the Outback Bowl

2008 vs. NC State: South Carolina won 34-0 in Columbia, S.C.

Series record: Tied 26-26-4

Offensive starters returning: WR Jason Barnes, OT Jarriel King, C Garrett Anderson, OG Terrence Campbell, QB Stephen Garcia, FB Patrick DiMarco

Defensive starters returning: DT Nathan Pepper, DT Ladi Ajiboye, DE Cliff Matthews, LB Eric Norwood, LB Darian Stewart, S Chris Culliver

Kickers returning: P Spencer Lanning

Returning leaders:
Passing: Smelley, 169-of-302 passing for 1,922 yards and 14 touchdowns with 15 picks
Rushing: Garcia, 70 carries for 198 yards and two touchdowns
Receiving: Moe Brown, 30 catches for 391 yards and a touchdown
Tackles: Norwood, 75
Tackle for losses: Norwood, 14.5
Sacks: Norwood, 9
Interceptions: Culliver, 3

Snapshot:
Steve Spurrier has been struggling to turn the corner at South Carolina, and if he is going to do this season, he will need to find himself a consistent quarterback. He also must find a running game after losing Mike Davis, the only player on the roster to rush for over 200 yards last year.

Defensively, the Gamecocks suffered some losses, but caught a break when Norwood, their star linebacker, decided to return to South Carolina after originally indicating he would turn pro. Nevertheless, the Gamecocks must replace most of its secondary.




Sept. 12 Murray State
Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh

2008 record: 5-7 overall, 4-4 in Ohio Valley Conference

2008 postseason: None

Series record: First ever meeting

Returning offensive starters: WR Daniel Ard, OT Stephen Hugg, C Rhett Brooks, OG Vincent Rivers, OT Eric Ornella, TE DeAngelo Nelson, WR Marcus Harris, QB Jeff Ehrhardt, QB Chris Franklin, RB Charlie Jordan, WR Derrick Townsel

Returning defensive starters: DE Jamal Crook, DT Tyler Sinclair, DT Richard Nelson, DE Austen Lane, LB Tamar Butler, LB Zach Kutch, CB Lamar Hall, CB Harry McCall, S Taylor Lanigan

Returning kickers: K/P Kienan Cullen, P Jordan Gay

Returning leaders:
Passing: Ehrhardt, 169-of-266 passing for 1,885 yards and 11 touchdowns with eight picks
Rushing: Jordan, 139 carries for 534 yards and six touchdowns
Receiving: Harris, 61 catches for 652 yards and six touchdowns
Tackles: Lanigan, 104
Tackles for losses: Lane, 22
Sacks: Lane, 12
Interceptions: Hall, 3

Snapshot:
Murray State was a very young team in 2007, and most of their key contributors are back this year. Ehrhardt is a dual-threat quarterback under center, but Franklin is a good option at the position as well. Both did well in 2007, and their running backs and receivers are back.

Murray State though gave up points in bunches last year. Opponents averaged 31.3 points per game and 328.4 yards of total offense.




Sept. 19 Gardner-Webb
Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, N.C.

2008 record: 5-6 overall, 2-3 Big South

2008 postseason: None

2008 vs. NC State: None

Series record: First meeting

Offensive starters returning: QB Stan Doolittle, WR Tyson Petty, RB Philip Peoples, WR James Perry III, RT Kyle Webber, RG Austin Osment, C C.J. Bryant, LG Corey O'Daniel, TE Josh Miller.

Defensive starters returning: DE Leon Hudson, DE Jordan Woods, OLB Jeffrey Williams, MLB Dami Teniola, OLB Marty Patterson, CB Bryce Nixon, FS Lyndrez Leslie, CB Cedric McGowan

Kickers returning: K Ryan Gates

Returning leaders:
Passing - Doolittle, 106-of-174 passing for 1,059 yards, four touchdowns, six interceptions
Rushing - Peoples, 120 carries for 602 yards and six touchdowns
Receiving - Perry, 55 catches for 661 yards and two touchdowns
Tackles - Williams, 119
Tackles For Losses - Patterson, 12
Sacks - Woods, 6
Interceptions - Williams 3

Snapshot:
Gardner-Webb returns everyone on offense but star left tackle Demario Deese and leading receiver Dobson Collins, a potential NFL Draft prospect. The Bulldogs also have everyone back on defense but both defensive tackles and strong safety. Peoples helps anchors the running game and rushed for 176 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown in the win over Presbyterian. Doolittle started the first six games of the season, but got hurt in the 10-7 loss to Georgia Tech. Perry III could be his favorite target, and he had nine catches for 153 yards and a touchdown against Stony Brook.

Rising sophomore Jordan Woods led the team with six sacks, and dominated Presbyterian with 11 tackles, two forced fumbles, a sack and fumble recovery. The Bulldogs were hurt when star linebacker Mario Brown, a preseason All-Big South selection, went down with an injury, and is a candidate for a medical redshirt, but is still going through the process of receiving the redshirt. Gates is a weapon in the kicking game, going 16 of 22 on field goals with a long of 49.




Sept. 26 Pittsburgh
Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, N.C.

2008 record: 9-4 overall, 5-2 Big East

2008 postseason: Lost 3-0 to Oregon State in the Brut Sun Bowl

2008 vs. NC State: Didn't play

Series record: Pittsburgh leads 5-2-1

Offensive starters returning: QB Bill Stull, WR Oderick Turner, TE Nate Byham, LT Jason Pinkston, RG John Malecki, RT Joe Thomas

Defensive starters returning: DE Jabaal Sheard, DT Mick Williams, DE Greg Romeus, OLB Greg Williams, CB Jovani Chappel, SS Dom DeCicco, CB Aaron Berry

Kickers returning: None

Returning leaders:
Passing - Stull, 188-of-330 for 2,356 yards, nine touchdowns, 10 interceptions
Rushing - Aundre Wright (WR), five carries for 34 yards and a touchdown
Receiving - T.J. Porter, 25 catches for 357 yards and 0 touchdowns
Tackles - DeCicco, 56
Tackles For Losses - Romeus, 15.5
Sacks - Romeus, 7.5
Interceptions - DeCicco, 4

Snapshot:
Pittsburgh will be finding a new identity with a new offensive coordinator and without the services of star running back LeSean McCoy, who rushed for 1,488 yards and 21 touchdowns last year. He left early for the NFL, and his backup LaRod Stephens-Howling also graduated. Quarterback Stull will have to fight for his job, and the Panthers' receivers are young and unproven.

Pittsburgh's defense lost its top three tackles, including star linebacker Scott McKillop, who had 137 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, four sacks and two interceptions. Pittsburgh does return four defensive backs with starting experience, and star defensive end Greg Romeus, who had 51 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. He's joined by defensive end Sheard, who had 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks on the opposite side.




Oct. 3 Wake Forest
BB&T Field, Winston-Salem, N.C.

2008 record: 8-5 overall, 4-4 ACC

2008 postseason: Won 29-19 vs. Navy in the EagleBank Bowl

2008 vs. NC State: NC State 21, Wake Forest 17 in Raleigh

Series record: NC State leads 61-35-6

Offensive starters returning: QB Riley Skinner, RB Brandon Pendergrass, TE Andrew Parker, LT Joseph Birdsong, LG Joe Looney, C Russell Nenon, RG Jeff Griffin, RT Doug Weaver.

Defensive starters returning: NG Boo Robinson, DT John Russell, DE Kyle Wilber, CB Brandon Ghee.

Kickers returning: K/P Shane Popham.

Returning leaders:
Passing - Skinner, 232-of-363 passing for 2,347 yards, 13 touchdowns, seven interceptions
Rushing - Pendergrass, 150 carries for 528 yards and five touchdowns
Receiving - Marshall Williams, 26 catches for 390 yards and two touchdowns
Tackles - Robinson, 47
Tackles For Losses - Russell, 7
Sacks - Robinson, 5
Interceptions - Ghee, Robinson, Alex Frye, 1

Snapshot:
Wake Forest will be replacing the majority of its back seven on defense, including star outside linebacker Aaron Curry and cornerback Alphonso Smith. All three linebackers will be new, and only rising senior Ghee and sophomore Josh Bush, both cornerbacks, have starting experience in the secondary.

The offense will need to find a new go-to guy at wide receiver with D.J. Boldin graduating, but return all five offensive line, two tight ends, and running backs Kevin Harris, Josh Adams and Pendergrass. Skinner is calm and collected at quarterback, and should improve upon his junior year numbers. Kicker/punter Popham gained valuable experience filling in for the injured Sam Swank, who has graduated.




Oct. 10 Duke
Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh

2008 record: 4-8 overall, 1-7 in ACC

2008 vs. NC State: NC State won 27-17 in Durham.

Series record: Duke leads 39-36-5

Offensive starters returning: QB Thaddeus Lewis, RB Tony Jackson, WR Johnny Williams, WR Donovan Varner, TE Brett Huffman, OG Kyle Hill, C Bryan Morgan

Defensive starters returning: DE Ayanga Okpokowuruk, DT Vince Oghobaase, LB Vincent Rey, S Catron Gainey

Kickers returning: K Nick Maggio, P Kevin Jones

Returning leaders:
Passing: Lewis, 224-of-361 passing for 2,171 yards and 15 touchdowns with six picks
Rushing: Jay Hollingsworth, 108 carries for 399 yards and a touchdown
Receiving: Williams, 30 catches for 327 yards
Tackles: Rey, 109
Tackles for losses: Rey, 10.5
Sacks: Oghobaase, 6
Interceptions: Gainey, Rey, Matt Daniels, Chris Rwabukama, Glenn Williams, Leon Wright, 1

Snapshot:
David Cutcliffe brought a lot of excitement after leading Duke to a four-win season following years of dismal performances on the gridiron. However, Cutcliffe and the Devils may take a step back before going forward again.

The Devils return only four starters on a defense that ranked ninth in total defense and 10th in scoring defense last year, and they must also replace three starters along an offensive line that blocked for a running game that was next to last in the ACC. On the bright side, Lewis is considered one of the top signal callers in the ACC.




Oct. 17 Boston College
Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Mass.

2008 record: 9-5 overall, 5-3 ACC

2008 postseason: Lost 16-14 to Vanderbilt in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl

2008 vs. NC State: Boston College 38, NC State 31

Series record: Boston College leads 3-2

Offensive starters returning: WR Rich Gunnell, TB Josh Haden, FB Codi Boek, RT Rich Lapham, RG Thomas Claiborne, C Matt Tennant, LT Anthony Castonzo

Defensive starters returning: DE Austin Giles, DE Jim Ramella, OLB Mark Herzlich, MLB Mike McLaughlin, FS Wes Davis, CB DeLeon Gause

Kickers returning: P Ryan Quigley

Returning leaders:
Passing - Dominique Davis, 63-of-138 passing for 741 yards, six touchdowns, four interceptions
Rushing - Montel Harris, 179 carries for 900 yards and five touchdowns
Receiving - Gunnell, 49 catches for 551 yards and four touchdowns
Tackles - Herzlich, 110
Tackles For Losses - Herzlich 13
Sacks - McLaughlin, Ramella, 4
Interceptions - Herzlich, 6

Snapshot:
Boston College has had a crazy offseason with coach Jeff Jagodzinski getting fired after essentially voicing his desire to return to the NFL and interviewing for the head coaching job of the New York Jets. He didn't get, but was hired as an offensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani was promoted to be the head coach.

Spaziani inherits some talented wide receivers and offensive lineman on offense, and a good group of defensive ends, linebackers and defensive backs on defense. However, defensive tackle is a major problem area, and Davis has to eliminate doubts at quarterback. Haden and Harris will be counted upon to build off their true freshman seasons at running back and ease the transition for Davis, who did start the ACC title game and bowl game, both of which were losses for BC. The Eagles could also be bolstered by the return of injured defensive end Alex Albright, who missed the majority of last year with a neck injury. Herzlich will be an All-American candidate at outside linebacker.




Oct. 31 Florida State
Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Fla.

2008 record: 9-4 overall, 5-3 ACC

2008 postseason: Won 42-13 against Wisconsin in the Champs Sports Bowl

2008 vs. NC State: Florida State 26, NC State 17 in Raleigh

Series record: Florida State leads 20-9

Offensive starters returning: QB Christian Ponder, FB Marcus Sims, LT Andrew Datko, LG Rodney Hudson, C Ryan McMahon, RG David Spurlock, RT Zebrie Sanders, TE Caz Piurowski, WR Taiwan Easterling

Defensive starters returning: NT Budd Thacker, NG Justin Mincey, OLB Dekoda Watson, FS Jamie Robinson, CB Patrick Robinson

Kickers returning: P Shawn Powell

Returning leaders:
Passing - Ponder, 177-of-318 passing for 2,006 yards, 14 touchdowns, 13 interceptions
Rushing - Jermaine Thomas, 69 carries for 482 yards and three touchdowns
Receiving - Easterling, 30 catches for 322 yards and one touchdown
Tackles - Watson, 46
Tackles For Losses - Watson, 8
Sacks - Kevin McNeil, 4
Interceptions - Watson, P. Robinson, J. Robinson, 1

Snapshot:
Florida State had been searching for several years for a quarterback, and might have finally found one in Ponder, who hurt team with his arm and legs. The quick Thomas is expected to be ready to take over for Antone Smith, and will be running behind the young, but talented group of offensive line. All five linemen return, and so does tight end Piurowski and fullback Sims. FSU did dismiss wide receiver Preston Parker from the team following another arrest, and finding some consistent pass catchers will be an early-season priority.

Florida State's defense took a hit, particularly at defensive end and linebacker, but returns Watson, who is a difference maker when healthy at outside linebacker, and defensive backs Jamie Robinson and Patrick Robinson. The Seminoles lost star defensive end Everette Brown a year early to the NFL Draft, and will need to develop a pass rush.




Nov.7 Maryland
Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, N.C.

2008 record: 8-5 overall, 4-4 ACC

2008 postseason: Won 42-35 vs. Nevada in the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl

2008 vs. NC State: Maryland 27, NC State 24 in College Park, Md.

Series record: Maryland leads 31-30-4

Offensive starters returning: QB Chris Turner, TB Da'Rel Scott, FB Cory Jackson, WR Torrey Smith, LT Bruce Campbell, RG Phil Costa.

Defensive starters returning: NT Dion Armstrong, DT Travis Ivey, MLB Alex Wujciak, CB Anthony Wiseman, FS Terrell Skinner, CB Nolan Carroll.

Kickers returning: P Travis Baltz.

Returning leaders:
Passing - Turner, 214-of-374 passing for 2,516 yards, 13 touchdowns, 11 interceptions
Rushing - Scott, 209 carries for 1,133 yards and eight touchdowns
Receiving - Smith, 24 catches for 336 yards and two touchdowns
Tackles - Wujciak, 133
Tackles For Losses - Wujciak, 8.5
Sacks - Jared Harrell, 2
Interceptions - Jamari McCollough, 4

Snapshot:
Maryland's defense will be going through an extensive overhaul, and so will the offensive line and receivers. The Terrapins will need to replace both defensive ends and outside linebackers, but do return stalwart Wujciak in the middle. The secondary returns three players with starting experience, plus a few backups who played this past year.

Turner and Scott lead the offense, but star wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey gave up his last year of eligibility to enter the NFL draft. Fellow receivers Isaiah Williams and Danny Oquendo also graduated, so developing some new targets for Turner is a must. Scott and rising sophomore Davin Meggett are a quality 1-2 punch at running back, but the Terps will need to replace three starters on the offensive line.




Nov. 14 Clemson
Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh

2008 record: 7-6 overall, 4-4 in ACC

2008 postseason: Lost 26-21 to Nebraska in the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl

2008 vs. NC State: Clemson won 27-9 in Clemson

Series record: Clemson leads 49-27-1

Offensive starters returning: OT Chris Hairston, OG Thomas Austin, OG Mason Cloy, OT Landon Walker, TE Michael Palmer, WR Jacoby Ford

Defensive starters returning: DE Da'Quan Bowers, DE Ricky Sapp, DT Jarvis Jenkins, DE Kevin Alexander, LB DeAndre McDaniel, LB Brandon Maye, LB Kavell Conner, CB Chris Chancellor, CB Crezdon Butler, S Sadat Chambers

Kickers returning: None

Returning leaders:
Passing: Willy Korn, 26-of-38 passing for 216 yards and a touchdown with a pick
Rushing: C.J. Spiller, 116 carries for 629 yards and seven touchdowns
Receiving: Ford, 55 catches for 710 yards and four touchdowns
Tackles: Conner, 125
Tackles for losses: Jenkins, Sapp, 10
Sacks: Jenkins, Maye, Sapp, 2
Interceptions: Butler, Chancellor, 4

Snapshot:
Dabo Swinney takes over the reign full-time with some talent but also some question marks on his roster. At the top of Swinney's to-do list is finding himself a quarterback, with Korn and redshirt freshman Kyle Parker two of the main candidates. The return of Spiller at running back and Ford at receiver gives the offense two dynamite playmakers, and most of the offensive line returns.

Defense will be this Clemson team's strong suit. The Tigers return the huge bulk of that unit, and look for them to be more aggressive under Swinney then they had been under Tommy Bowden.




Nov. 21 Virginia Tech
Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, Va.

2008 record: 10-4 overall, 5-3 in ACC

2008 postseason: Beat Cincinnati 20-7 in the FedEx Orange Bowl

Series record: Virginia Tech leads 24-18-4

Offensive starters returning: WR Jarrett Boykin, TE Greg Boone, OT Ed Wang, OG Sergio Render, OG Jaymes Brooks, OT Blake DeChristopher, RB Darren Evans, QB Tyrod Taylor, WR Danny Coale

Defensive starters returning: DE Jason Worlids, DT John Graves, DT Cordarrow Thompson, LB Cam Martin, ROV Dorian Porch, FS Kam Chancellor, CB Stephan Virgil

Kickers returning: P Brent Bowden

Returning leaders:
Passing - Taylor, 99-of-173 passing for 1,036 yards and two touchdowns with seven picks
Rushing - Evans, 287 carries for 1,265 yards and 11 touchdowns
Receiving - Coale, 36 catches for 408 yards
Tackles - Cody Grimm, 71
Tackles For Losses - Worlids, 18.5
Sacks - Worilds, 8
Interceptions - Virgil, 6

Snapshot:
Virginia is the two-time defending ACC champs, and they are scheduled to return 16 of their 22 starters from both sides of the ball in 2009. In other words, expect the Hokies to be preseason favorites for the conference crown and perhaps be even ranked in the top 10 in preseason polls.

Defensively, Virginia Tech must replace two linebackers, but seem to have capable replacements in Grimm and Barquell Rivers. The bigger questions remain on offense despite returning nine starters, including freshman sensation Evans at running back. Virginia Tech was next to last in the conference in total offense at 303.4 yards per game, and Taylor has yet to prove he is a capable passer.




Nov.28 North Carolina
Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh

2008 record: 8-5 overall, 4-4 in ACC

2008 postseason: Lost 31-30 to West Virginia in the Meineke Car Care Bowl

2008 vs. NC State: NC State 41, North Carolina 10 in Chapel Hill

Series record: UNC leads 63-29-6

Offensive starters returning: OT Kyle Jolly, OG Alan Pelc, C Lowell Dyer, QB T.J. Yates, RB Shaun Draughn

Defensive starters returning: DE E.J. Wilson, DT Marvin Austin. DT Cam Thomas, DE Robert Quinn, LB Quan Sturdivant, LB Bruce Carter, CB Jordan Hemby, CB Kendric Burney, FS Deunta Williams

Kickers returning: PK Casey Barth

Returning leaders:
Passing - Yates, 81-of-135 passing for 1,168 yards and 11 scores with four picks
Rushing - Draughn, 198 carries for 866 yards and three touchdowns
Receiving - Draughn, 16 catches for 81 yards and a touchdown
Tackles - Sturdivant, 122 tackles
Tackles For Losses - Carter, 11
Sacks - Carter, 5
Interceptions - Burney, Williams, 2

Snapshot:
UNC returns nine starters on an opportunistic defense that gave up a lot of yards, an average of 365.4 per game, but only 21.2 points per game. A lot of that had to do with 20 interceptions, tied for second best in the ACC last year. Outside linebackers Sturdivant and Carter are a tough tandem, and the Heels return every contributor back on the defensive line, so the front seven should be stout in 2009.

The defense may have to carry the load a bit however because offensively the Heels may need time to find a passing attack. UNC lost its top three wide outs in 2008 and the entire right side of the offensive line. Injury-prone Yates will need to establish the passing attack to keep defenses from stacking the box to stop Draughn and the running game.



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