Bryan Stork has centered the offensive line all season-a much-improved offensive line. As a redshirt junior, he is the veteran that the inexperienced guards and tackles around him look to. But he doesn't like to dwell on his accomplishments and finds constant room for improvement in both his own play and that of the linemen around him.
He has led by quiet, confident example, and it has worked for him and for the O-Line, who allowed just two sacks as a unit on the road against USF. Stork was not penalized during the game and earned himself ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors.
Instead of focusing on the honor, he's looking ahead to how the O-Line might further improve against North Carolina State.
"I really didn't expect it. I thought I played very average and there's a lot room for improvement," Stork said. "I think everybody on the line, we didn't produce like we had been producing, just got to find a way to get it done this week."
Coach Jimbo Fisher doesn't have any problem with focusing on the center's play.
"He was lineman of the week, he's had a great year," Fisher said. "He's been very solid in leading our guys inside
doing a really nice job inside. He's big, staying around 308 pounds now, a big force inside and he runs well, he can get to the second level well."
Fisher also speaks of Stork's maturation, which he believes happened largely during this fall camp.
"The offseason was good, but this fall camp he's really started (playing with) consistency," Fisher said. "He always has shined, but the maturity comes in and you just do it everyday."
Quarterback EJ Manuel, whose communication with Stork is most important, has nothing but praise for the center.
"Stork is doing a great job. I think he is a guy that not only can play center but can play guard and tackle, so he is what you want as a lineman," Manuel said. "He is one of those nitty gritty kind of guys that you want to have as your center. No matter what, he is going to be ready to play.
"I am extremely proud of him, extremely proud that two of our linemen got it (ACC weekly honor) the past two weeks, so that is great."
Tackle Menelik Watson won ACC Lineman of the Week last Saturday and Stork praised Watson's play and quick-learning this season.
"He's doing good, he's come a long way since he first got here," Stork said. "He's only played seven games of football before he even stepped foot on a Florida State field, so I'm really proud of him. I'd go to war with him any day, bunker down any alley and that's how I'm starting to feel about everybody on the offensive line right now."
His teammates feel the same way about their quiet leader.
EJ Manuel won't actually face good friend Mike Glennon on the field on Saturday because they play the same position. But they'll see each other, talk, likely shake hands, hug, keep it friendly. But good friend or not, Manuel is planning on beating Glennon.
"I want to beat him. I'm not going to lie to you because he is our next opponent," Manuel said. "He is still my friend, but obviously you still want to beat your friend when you get the opportunity."
The quarterbacks have known each other for years and spent time at the Elite 11 together this summer.
"Mike's a great friend of mine, I've known him since I think 10th or 11th grade," Manuel said. "He's a great quarterback and a great person."
Manuel mentioned during his Monday press conference that he texted Glennon about Saturday's game and Glennon told Manuel that he should be on upset alert, as Glennon plans on winning Saturday's reunion.
"Obviously, (Glennon) was saying, 'oh, we're going to get the upset,' so I said, 'ok, I'll let my guys know,'" Manuel said about the conversation "And I talked to (my guys) yesterday and it went over well, so they're ready for it."
Glennon threw for 440 yards against Miami in last week's Wolfpack loss. Manuel knows that Glennon can put up numbers like that, but he's not worried.
"I'm sure he's going to have a great game," Manuel said. "But I'm sure we're going to be ready for him."
Jimbo Fisher noted that the team managed to get out of the USF game without any major injuries and just had the usual bumps and bruises.
Chris Thompson noted that he felt like the team was very focused in practice this week and plans on eliminating some of the mistakes they made in their first road game against USF. "As an offense and defense, we just need to come out strong at the beginning of the game and just try to keep it going."
Fisher said that Manuel and the offense began practicing in whispers on Monday and Tuesday in preparation for NC State and did well, only needing a few reminders to keep their voices down. "Wednesday and Thursday we'll crank up the noise. But I needed to have one day where I could teach a little bit without getting a headache," Fisher joked.
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