Originally created 09/30/03

N.C. State winning despite bad defense



ATLANTA - As long as his team keeps winning, N.C. State coach Chuck Amato is willing to watch his defense get shredded.

"I'll take seven wins and somebody can break an offensive record in every one of them. It doesn't matter to me," Amato said. "If somebody throws for 1,000 yards and we win, then good for them."

Still Amato would like to find a way to stop somebody as he prepares his team for Saturday's game at Georgia Tech. (Noon, Fox Sports Net).

The Wolfpack ranks 116th out of 117 Division I-A teams in passing defense, allowing 388 yards per game through the air. That average has taken a hit lately, as Texas Tech and North Carolina combined for 1,055 passing yards against N.C. State - both Wolfpack victories.

Despite holding North Carolina to 35 plays of no gain or negative yards, the Wolfpack allowed 550 yards to the Tar Heels, many coming on long gains. In the last two weeks, opponents have scored on plays of 36, 50, 69 and 72 yards. N.C. State is allowing 31.4 points per game.

"I think what we strive for is to stop the big play," said linebacker Pat Thomas. "The big play has been coming and has hurt us.

Much of the focus has been on N.C. State's young defensive line, where the Wolfpack play true freshmen. But Amato said it's time to take the gloves off when dealing with the youngsters.

"We're not young anymore. They've been potty trained. It's time to take the diapers off," he said.

Last season, he didn't have to worry about that. Seniors Dantonio Burnette and Terrance Holt took control of the Wolfpack defense, barking commands and providing the unit with invaluable leadership. This year, no one has emerged.

"There's just nobody that will jump out," Amato said. "We're still fighting to get somebody up there to talk to the referees when we have a penalty."

The status of running back T.A. McClendon (hamstring) remains uncertain, but Amato said if the sophomore tailback is healthy he would play him.

"We need all the firepower we can get," Amato said. "We might need to score 80 points."

The way his defense is playing, he might not be exaggerating.

BALL HONORED: Georgia Tech quarterback Reggie Ball was named Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Week for the second time this season following his performance in Saturday's 24-17 win over Vanderbilt.

The freshman from Stone Mountain, Ga., became just the third quarterback in Georgia Tech history to rush and pass for 100 yards in a game, as he passed for 108 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 103 yards and another score.

TECH-WAKE: The Yellow Jackets' Oct. 11 game at Wake Forest has been set for 3:30 p.m. The game will not be televised.