ORLANDO, Fla. – Defensive linemen Chris Neild and Scooter Berry both agree the best way to slow down NC State quarterback Russell Wilson is by getting pressure on him. If Wilson is able to stand in the pocket and scan the field then West Virginia will be in trouble.
“We’ve faced elusive quarterbacks throughout the year but he’s different,” said Berry. “He’s strong and he can move well. With a quarterback like that you want to get as many guys and as many arms around him as possible so he can’t throw when he’s being tackled.”
Neild says Wilson is just as dangerous out of the pocket as he is in it, but he believes their odds are better with him on the move.
“Most quarterbacks don’t make good decisions on the move so if we can get him throwing on the go then he won’t be as accurate,” Neild said.
This year NC State has been pretty balanced pass-throw at 54-46 even though most of its yardage has come through the air (3,380 to 1,500). Berry believes State passes to set up the run, but the Wolfpack will certainly run the ball if they can.
“They don’t want to be a one-dimensional team,” Berry said. “If we can control the run and make the one-dimensional and contain Russell Wilson at the same time, then we should be OK.”
Of course that’s easier said than done.
Only three times this year has NC State been held to fewer than 300 total yards against Central Florida (239), Clemson (275) and North Carolina (275).Briefly:
- Someone moved Florida today. The temperatures didn’t get out of the 40s this afternoon and with 25 mph wind gusts it felt more like 20 degrees during practice today. The forecast is calling for a freeze warning Sunday night and temperatures are only expected to rise into the low 50s on Monday. The extended forecast is calling for a high of 58 on Tuesday, but it will more likely be in the 30s by game time.
- The last two times West Virginia has played bowl games with coaching positions unsettled it scored 49 points against Ole Miss in the 2000 Music City Bowl when Don Nehlen announced his retirement, and scored 48 points against Oklahoma in the 2008 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl when Rich Rodriguez resigned to take the Michigan job three weeks before the game.
- According to today’s Charlotte Observer
, Tuesday’s Champs Sports Bowl may be Russell Wilson’s last as NC State’s quarterback. Wilson still has a year of eligibility remaining, but he may forgo that year to continue his professional baseball career or pursue an opportunity to play in the NFL. Wilson played second base in the Colorado Rockies organization last summer and his father, Harrison Wilson III, survived until the final cut for the San Diego Chargers in 1980.
- Before Sunday’s practice Scooter Berry said he thought Bruce Irvin’s 12 sacks have made a huge difference in this year’s defense.
“I take my hat off to Bruce Irvin because he came in here as our third down guru and he’s the main reason why we have one of the top defenses in the nation,” Berry said. “The best pass defense is when the quarterback is on his back.”
- NC State likes to spread the football around, including throws to its tailbacks coming out of the backfield. Mustafa Greene and James Washington have combined to catch 54 passes for a pair of touchdowns this year. Berry said it will be important for West Virginia’s safeties and linebackers to pick them up when they release out of the backfield. Berry believes the defensive linemen can also help by getting pressure on the quarterback.
“If the D-linemen are getting a good pass rush they won’t send their backs out as often, plus they will have to chip on us, which helps, too,” Berry said.
“We’ve got to get pressure in his face and coming from all angles,” added Chris Neild.
- Wilson is second on the team in rushing with 394 yards and leads the Wolfpack with nine rushing touchdowns. He has had three multi-TD rushing performances this season.
“The quarterback is never accounted for when it comes to rushing,” said Berry. “That’s the main reason why he is doing so well.”
- Coach Bill Stewart said before Sunday’s practice that he hopes West Virginia’s Florida natives don’t try and do too much in front of friends and family. He thought that was the case a few years ago at South Florida and again last year against Florida State in the Gator Bowl.
“When Jock (Sanders) and Noel (Devine) were freshmen and played at USF, it wasn’t a good outing,” said Stewart. “They were just trying to do too much. I though last year in the Gator Bowl, we were trying to do too much. Florida State only recruited one of my guys (Devine) and I think everyone was trying to prove too much.
“They just want to play a game on Tuesday. We want to stay within the framework of our offense, defense and special teams, and keep in mind that it’s just a game. It just happens to be in Florida.”
- The players spent two hours this morning at Disney Quest with underprivileged children, joining NC State and Capital One Bowl participants Alabama and Michigan State. The Champs Sports Bowl will hold its pregame luncheon and press conference Monday afternoon and then West Virginia will have its walk-through Monday afternoon.
The Champs Sports Bowl Pep Rally at Point Orlando will begin at 4 p.m.
- MSN’s Tony Caridi arrived at the team hotel in time for today’s taping of Mountaineers360, which airs Monday night at 7 p.m. on stations throughout West Virginia. Caridi said he had a 2:30 a.m. wake up call for this morning’s flight to Orlando, but he looked alive and alert on the set this afternoon.