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September 13, 2011

DT Markus Kuhn taking on leadership role

Defensive tackle Markus Kuhn is well versed in the ups and downs of college football.

The 25-year-old graduate senior has played on two teams that reached bowl games (2008 and 2010). Kuhn also watched the 2009 squad go 5-7 during his redshirt season, and also go 5-7 in 2007 when he was rushed into action as a true freshman from Weinheim, Germany.

"It's a growing up process," Kuhn said. "Some things you have to experience yourself to grow up. The time absolutely flies by. Don't think you have one more year or two more. Come in here, do what you are supposed to do, work hard every single day and it is going to pay off."

NC State lost for the fifth-straight time at Wake Forest, 34-27, on Saturday to bring a 1-1 record into Saturday's home game against 2-0 South Alabama at Carter-Finley Stadium. Kuhn knows from past experience that the next few weeks will help dictate the rest of the season.

"We should not have lost this game and there were things all of us didn't do or we were supposed to do," said Kuhn, who thinks the Wolfpack are facing a gut-check week. "We didn't practice the way we should. It's something all of us have talked about. We'll have to get going now."

The 6-foot-4, 303-pound Kuhn was active inside against Wake Forest last Saturday with eight tackles, half a sack, two quarterback pressures and one big pass batted down at the line of scrimmage. Kuhn had two tackles in the season opener against Liberty on Sept. 3, so he could see progress was made, but also areas for improvement.

"I did some good things, but I had some bad things happening also," said Kuhn, who had 14 tackles and two tackles for loss in 160 snaps off the bench last year in 11 games. "In a game like that, it doesn't matter what you end up at the end of the day. We lost. There are definitely things all of us have done wrong."

NC State played against Wake Forest without defensive tackles J.R. Sweezy and Thomas Teal, and defensive tackle Jeff Rieskamp. Both Sweezy and Rieskamp are fifth-year seniors who start for the Pack, while Teal is a redshirt freshman with promise.

NC State coach Tom O'Brien usually holds practice the day after games, but with the team battling injuries and facing two games in a short period of time &mdash NCSU plays at Cincinnati on Sept. 22 — the team had Sunday and Monday off this week.

"We have a lot of guys banged up, but we were ready for a Sunday practice," Kuhn said. "That is what we came over with [to do]. It wasn't like that. We watched a lot of film. It was important to look over the films and really see on tape what was done wrong for us losing the game. We needed to correct that, and hopefully, never happens again."

NC State's defense allowed 438 total yards and 22 first downs. The Demon Deacons passed for 337 yards and had just one turnover when sophomore quarterback Tanner Price surprisingly took a shot downfield and junior safety Brandan Bishop picked it off.

The Wolfpack managed three sacks, but didn't put enough pressure to deter Price and the Wake Forest passing game.

"There are things all of us have to do better," Kuhn said. "It starts with the D-line, and we have to get up front even if we only have four guys that rush the passer. We have to get more pressure on the quarterback, so our defensive backs get more time to do what they are supposed to do, and the linebackers can get into their coverages."

Kuhn also said he'll need to step up as a leader in the absence of Sweezy and Rieskamp.

"I have to be one of those guys, and I've been trying to be a leader and do what I'm supposed to do," Kuhn said. "I'm trying to be here early and watch as much film as I can, and I'm trying hard as I can every day. If the younger guys see me do that, hopefully, they'll step up and do the same."

Kuhn expects a more intense effort by the defense against the young Jaguars.

"All of us were really angry [about the WFU loss], and we were sure that we were going to win that game," Kuhn said. "Maybe we were too sure. We were confident in our abilities to beat them, but it didn't happen the way it should. The only thing we can do now is to move forward and focus on the next game."


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