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October 17, 2011

Everette Sands pleased with backs recently

NC State rushed for minus-26 yards against Cincinnati and running backs coach Everette Sands was obviously not happy with that performance. While he gave credit to the Cincinnati defense, he said his players were also not doing what they were supposed to in order to meet his expectations in that Thursday night contest.

"That was frustrating and I think they felt my frustration," he said. "I think we've picked it up since then. That was very frustrating and sometimes it was a combination of things - it wasn't all what Cincinnati did, it was some of what we did or didn't do, as well. Cincinnati did a great job, but we didn't help ourselves."

Sands has been more pleased with his players' performances in the past two games. The Pack have eclipsed 150 yards on the ground in each of their contests since the subpar performance in Cincinnati despite second-string running back Curtis Underwood, Jr. being out with an injury.

Starter James Washington surpassed the century mark against Georgia Tech and Central Michigan, rushing for 131 yards and 109 yards, respectively. Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Tony Creecy has provided a spark off the bench and totaled 138 yards over the past two tilts.

"The past two games have been good for James and I attribute a big part of it to the way he started practicing," Sands said. "I challenged him to start practicing at full speed, game speed. He started doing that and it's paying off for him on the field. He's doing a great job in practice and we can see the results of it on the field. We've got to make sure we keep it going.

"I think James can be a back that gets 30 touches per game [as he did against CMU]. Last game, I think he had 109 yards rushing and another 55 receiving. The last two games, he's averaged right around 170 total yards, he can do that. The big thing is he's doing it with the right attitude, as far as running the ball."

The first-year NC State assistant preaches to his running backs that gaining yards after contact is essential to a successful ground attack, and he loathes when players step out of bounds to avoid contact. Sands said that his pupils are starting to understand the toughness that he expects out of them.

"You always hear that football is a game of inches, and I truly believe it is," he said. "You never know when that time you run out of bounds and could have gotten an extra yard or two is going to be the difference in a game. I'm a big believer in the hidden yardage and we've got to make sure we do a good job of getting that hidden yardage."

Sands has also been pleased to see the youngster Creecy establish a role in Underwood's absence.

"Creecy did a good job of coming in and if we can keep that rotation going, we'll be fine," he said. "Tony has done a good job. Tony probably would have gotten into the mix a little bit earlier, but he actually hurt his ankle late in the preseason. He's done a good job. He's a football guy, he's got a great football mind. Even though he's young, he understands what we're doing and what we're trying to accomplish as far as his reads and things in the passing game.

"He's done a good job at that and I'm excited that he's had some success. I look for him to keep improving and make a big impact."


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