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April 11, 2009NC State had a controlled scrimmage this morning at Carter-Finley Stadium, running about 90 plays. "We ran some backed up, some from midfield and some in the red zone," said head coach Tom O'Brien.
O'Brien was concerned about the play of the offensive line. "I think upfront we have a long way to go," he said. "The defensive line is a little bit ahead of the offensive guys right now."
O'Brien's concerns showed up in the rushing statistics for the scrimmage. Fifth-year senior tailback Toney Baker ran eight times for 19 yards, while true freshman James Washington had eight carries for 15 yards.
The Wolfpack's quarterbacks were accurate in their passing, with redshirt sophomore Russell Wilson completing 9 of 11 attempts for 78 yards and redshirt freshman Mike Glennon connecting on 16 of 19 throws for 133 yards and a touchdown. Wilson only played half the scrimmage, leaving midway through to play in a NC State baseball game.
O'Brien was pleased with Glennon's development this spring.
"He's progressing well," said the coach. "He had a nice day today. He continues to learn. Every day there is something new that he does learn. The good thing about him is once he sees it he has it. He doesn't make the same mistake twice."
The receivers were led by Baker with six catches for 68 yards and redshirt sophomore Jay Smith with four receptions for 37 yards.
Redshirt sophomore linebacker Audie Cole led the scrimmage in tackles with eight, including 1.5 for loss and a sack for a loss of nine yards. Redshirt junior linebacker Nate Irving recorded five hits with 2.5 for losses of 12 yards. Irving also had a quarterback pressure.
Redshirt junior placekicker [db]Josh Czajkowski[/db] made field goals of 52, 43 and 23 yards.
When asked about the focus for the last week of spring practice leading up to the Red-White Game next Saturday, April 18, O'Brien stressed two position groups.
"We have to keep working on the offensive line," he said. "We have to get them a lot better. We are also still concerned about the secondary and the safety position. Everybody has to get better, but those are the areas we have to shore up most right now."
The benefits of the extra practices for the bowl game are showing up this spring, according to O'Brien.
"It puts a lot of the guys much further ahead in understanding what we are doing," he said. "They know where to go, but haven't always been able to execute it. That's all a function of the bowl practices. They understand the offense and defense better."
O'Brien explained that the four early enrollees - Washington, freshman offensive lineman [db]Sam Jones, freshman safety Donald Coleman and junior college defensive tackle Nathan Mageo - are struggling some now, but the payoff is ahead.
"The advantage will come in the fall, because they have gotten this in right now," said O'Brien. "Just as the bowl practices helped a lot of guys get to this point, for those four guys this is very valuable for the August timeframe. They get on the field, they get to experience it some and they get to watch themselves on film. When it's taught again in August it's not like it's a foreign language to them."
O'Brien announced that redshirt freshman cornerback Akeem Cunningham from East Orange, N.J., is going to transfer from NC State; redshirt junior cornerback DeAndre Morgan has a hamstring injury and is out for the rest of the spring: and fifth-year senior offensive guard Julian Williams has a knee injury that will require surgery.