QB Philip Rivers

2002 Statistics

Coach: Chuck Amato
26-12, 3 years
2002 Record: 11-3
at Navy WON 65-19
at Texas Tech WON 51-48 (OT)
at North Carolina WON 34-17
DUKE WON 24-22
at Clemson WON 38-6
at Maryland LOST 21-24
at Virginia LOST 9-14
Notre Dame WON 28-6

2002 Final Rankings
AP-12, Coaches-11, BCS-UR

2003 Outlook

Coach Chuck Amato has done an outstanding job during his three years as head coach of upgrading the talent of the football players in the NC State program. He developed strong connections while an assistant coach at Florida State, and has continued to mine those resources to attract talent for the Wolfpack. It all comes to a head in 2003.

Last season's 9-0 start put State on the national radar and in the mix for a BCS bowl berth. It put on display everything good about the Wolfpack team. The three-game losing streak that followed showed the weaknesses that still exist, particularly a lack of depth in both lines.

There is still something else missing, however, toughness.

Although the Pack's fast start was mostly against inferior competition, the three games they lost were all winnable. They let a 17-9 lead with three minutes to play slip away in a 24-17 loss at home to Georgia Tech. Then State held a 21-7 lead at Maryland in the third quarter only to let it slip away in a 24-21 loss. The Wolfpack came close to pulling out the 14-9 loss to Virginia, but failed. At 18-22 years old, confidence can get you places you may not have gotten to otherwise. Inversely, a lack of confidence can keep you from places easily accessible otherwise. These are lessons, if not learned, that will come back to haunt this squad.

This inner strength, poise under pressure, whatever you want to call it, are traits that Florida State has exhibited over the last decade and ones that Ralph Friedgen's Maryland squad has developed. It is not something Chuck Amato has been able to find or tap into at NC State. We see no reason to believe he will this season, so another 3 to 4 loss season, but no BCS challenge, is a reasonable expectation. This team has the talent to be outstanding, but lacks the heart to win a championship, or even the conference crown. It will be hard if they beat FSU (again) but lose the ACC title.

Projected 2003 record: 9-3
QB Philip Rivers
LB Pat Thomas
WR Tramain Hall
DE Mario Williams
QB - 4.5 DL - 3
RB - 4 LB - 3.5
WR - 4 DB - 4
OL - 4 ..

Passing: Philip Rivers, 418-262-10, 3353 yds., 20 TD's

Rushing: T.A. McLendon, 245 att., 1101 yds., 18 TD's

Receiving: Jerricho Cotchery, 67 rec., 1192 yds., 7 TD's

Scoring: T.A. McLendon, 18 TD's, 108 pts.

Punting: Austin Herbert, 61 punts, 37.2 avg.

Kicking: Adam Kiker, 5-7 FG, 14-16 PAT, 29 pts.

Tackles: Andre Maddox, 121 tot., 91 solo

Sacks: Andre Maddox, 4 sacks

Interceptions: Marcus Hudson, 3 for 5 yds.

Kickoff returns: Lamont Reid, 14 ret., 30.3 avg.

Punt returns: Jerricho Cotchery, 20 ret., 5.4 avg.


WR Jerricho Cotchery
OFFENSE: Bryan Peterson-WR, Sean Berton-TE, Joe Gray-TE, Shane Riggs-OG, Scott Kooistra-OT
DEFENSE: George Anderson-DE, Shawn Price-DE, Jerrick Hall-NT, Terrance Martin-DT, Drew Wimsatt-DE, Dantonio Burnette-MLB, Terrence Holt-FS, Rod Johnson-FS

written by James Johnson

No team in college football has a more experienced quarterback than Philip Rivers. He has started 35 games and attempted over 1,200 passes for more than 9,000 yards. By the end of this season, barring injury, he will hold most of the NC State and ACC passing records.

Rivers, a sturdy 6'5", 236 pounds, has improved his statistics every year, but this season he will seek to improve his won-lost record, particularly in conference games. Despite guiding the Wolfpack to three consecutive bowl games, Rivers has only a 13-11 record in ACC games. He struggled to make big plays when State lost three straight conference games last November. The pressure will be on him to perform at the level he did against FSU and in the Gator Bowl against Notre Dame - more consistently against needed teams.

Speaking of pressure, sophomore running back T. A. McLendon (5'11", 214 lbs.) will have plenty of it on his shoulders this season. As a true freshman, McLendon led the Wolfpack with 1,101 yards and a school record 18 TDs last season. He fought injuries (two separated shoulders and a broken wrist) and appeared to wear down late in the season. McLendon showed plenty of toughness and heart, and a season without major injury will allow him to join the ranks of the elite backs, he is that special. If State wins at Ohio State early, and McLendon plays well, he could easily join the short list of Heisman Trophy candidates.

The Wolfpack has a deep and experienced corps of receivers. Senior Jerricho Cotchery is a bona fide big play threat. He caught 67 passes for 1,192 yards, but, more importantly, 18 catches went longer than 20 yards, and he is also an outstanding blocker. Stretching the defense is always needed. Junior Sterling Hicks (6'2", 182 lbs.) will be expected to step up, and newcomer Tramain Hall will also rotate. None is the large, run-after-catch-types, so if this squad has success, it will likely be as a group with only Cotchery standing out.

Some of Rivers' and McLendon's late-season struggles can be attributed to a thin offensive line. Due to a lack of depth, State had to rely on two converted defensive linemen and walk-ons to fill in holes. Three starters return after allowing only 11 sacks, yet a modest 3.9 yards-per-carry. It appears that the Wolfpack's offensive line is still lacking depth this season. Unless some unheralded young players step up and perform above expectations, this will be a weak link that will again cost State games against physical defenses.


TB T.A. McLendon


Returning Starters in bold
QB Philip Rivers-Sr (6-5, 236) Jay Davis-So (6-2, 198)
TB T.A. McLendon-So Josh Brown-Jr (5-10, 185)
HB Tramain Hall-So (5-11, 183) Richard Washington-Fr (6-0, 164)
WR Sterling Hicks-Jr (6-2, 180) Andy Bertrand-Jr (6-2, 191)
WR Jerricho Cotchery-Sr (6-1, 200) Brian Clark-So (6-3, 198)
TE John Ritcher-So (6-3, 248) T.J. Williams-So (6-4, 236)
OT Chris Colmer-Sr (6-6, 305) James Newby-Fr (6-6, 265)
OG Ricky Fowler-Jr (6-2, 287) Antoine Colvin-So (6-3, 304)
C Jed Paulsen-Jr (6-2, 290) Brandon Sanders-Sr (6-0, 281)
OG Sean Locklear-Sr (6-5, 296) Brian Archis-So (6-4, 270)
OT Derek Morris-Fr (6-6, 358) John McKeon-So (6-5, 306)
K Austin Herbert-Sr (6-0, 207) Adam Kiker-Sr (6-0, 185)



written by James Johnson

The Wolfpack has one of the best defensive secondaries in the ACC. The void created by the departure of FS and team-leader Terrence Holt will be filled by hard-hitting junior Andre Maddox, their second leading tackler with 114. His six passes-broken-up and added three sacks mean will be the playmaking DB that Holt bankably was.

The Pack also returns three other experienced DB's. Juniors Marcus Hudson (6'1", 193 lbs.) and Lamont Reid (6'0", 185 lbs.) provide the size needed to challenge taller receivers. Reid's versatility (scoring four special teams touchdowns, also led team with eight passes defended) will hedge the learning curve for Maddox. Greg Golden could move to safety this season, filling Holt's literal position. Golden showed promise in spot duty, co-leading the team as he also defended eight passes. None of these players has shown the big play ability of Maddox, but they provide solid pass coverage and tackle when needed.

State returns three experienced outside linebackers. 2003's LB crew is small for a major conference, but their 2002 success speaks for their big play. Pat Thomas will ably fill another leadership void, this one created by the departure of invaluable LB Dantonio Burnette. Thomas was the third leading tackler. Top JUCO recruit Kennie Covington will add valuable depth here and could compete for a starting spot. Filling out the linebacker corps are senior Roger Pollard and Freddie Aughtry-Lindsay, who fought through injuries but should be healthy this season. The likely starting MLB, sophomore Oliver Hoyte, did see some playing time, but is not nearly the playmaker that Burnette was. Burnette's ability to cover the entire lateral field made the outside linebackers even better, but Hoyte does not have that kind of ability.

Running teams will test the run-stopping of the front seven early and often. Why? State will have an entirely new defensive line this season. Returning lettermen Sheldon Lewin, senior Alan Halloway and sophomore Chip Cross (6'1", 245 lbs., tiny but quick) all played about 20 snaps a game last season. Each of them showed the ability to rush the passer, but there is not one player there than an offense will be forced to pay special attention or regularly double-team. This will hinder their ability to keep blockers off their smallish linebackers.

The entire back seven is a small group that will be especially susceptible to the run. They gave up over 197 yards four times, a total that will increase. Teams will seek to pound the ball and control the clock to keep Phillip Rivers' dangerous offense off the field. Depth is also a problem in the secondary.


ROV Andre Maddox


Returning Starters in bold
DE Mario Williams-Fr (6-7, 254) Terrance Chapman-Sr (6-3, 250)
DT Alan Halloway-Sr (6-2, 285) Sheldon Lewin-Sr (6-4, 270)
DT John McCargo-Fr (6-2, 286) DeMarcus Tyler-Fr (6-3, 308)
DE Renaldo Moses-So (6-6, 210) Chip Cross-So (6-1, 248)
SLB Manny Lawson-So (6-5, 216) Ernest Jones-Fr (6-3, 202)
MLB Freddie Aughtry-Lindsay-Jr (6-1, 224) Oliver Hoyte-So (6-3, 230)
WLB Pat Thomas-Jr (6-2, 224) Roger Pollard-Sr (6-0, 216)
CB Marcus Hudson-Jr (6-2, 183) Greg Golden-Jr (5-11, 185)
CB Lamont Reid-Jr (6-0, 190) Dovonte Edwards-Jr (6-0, 170)
ROV Andre Maddox-Jr (6-1, 191) J.J. Jones-So (6-0, 185)
FS Troy Graham-Jr (6-3, 193) Victor Stephens-Sr (6-0, 172)
P Austin Herbert-Sr (6-0, 207) John Deraney-Fr (6-4, 208)




Senior Adam Kiker won the PK job late last fall, and converted on five of seven FGAs. He is no better than average on field goals or kickoffs. Punter Austin Herbert, a senior who also kicked field goals during the first half of last season (making only five of nine), will again be a PK option if needed. He averaged a pedestrian 36.7 yards per punt with a net average of 31.5.

Junior Greg Golden will again be the primary kickoff returner. He averaged 22.4 per return last season. Lamont Reid will also see some action in this role after average over 30 yards per return last year. Jerricho Cotchery was the primary punt returner last season, but Coach Amato will be looking for someone else to fill that role who can better Cotchery's average of 5.5 last season.


WR Tramain Hall received rousing acclamation this spring, by coming back from injury and slicing through the State secondary. Hall's addition to the offense will give Rivers just one more reason to raise his name high up in Heisman talks. Added weapons on the outside will also include Brian Clark and Lamart Barrett. Injuries at wide receiver have given these two guys ample opportunity to advertise their abilities and both have done just that. With all the ammunition at WR, a solid offensive line, and two explosive backs to go along with the nation's top QB, the N.C. State offense ranks as one of the best in the country. The numbers will roll… Freshman OT Derek Morris is a mountain with legs. Opposing linemen will find it virtually impossible to get around this youngster. You'd better start writing his name on your freshman All-American list right now!

Chuck Amato did not see what he would have liked to see from his defense, citing problems in the pass rush and coverage against the pass… The defensive line did tease with promise this spring, as DEs Terrance Chapman and Mario Williams performed in eminent fashion. Freshman Tank Tyler has also put himself in a good stance… The 'Pack have an extreme collision artist in Oliver Hoyte - man, can he lay a punch! … Coaches switched Dovonte Edwards from WR over to CB at the end of last season and have given him more of an opportunity. Amato says he is a natural at the position and will help bring some athleticism to the secondary… With so many fresh faces on defense, the 'Pack might use some of their heralded (incoming) freshman to fill some spots, provided they benefit the situation.