NC State held their second preseason scrimmage Thursday, but most of the news afterward was not about what happened on the field but rather personnel announcements from head coach Tom O'Brien. The most significant news was confirmation that star redshirt junior linebacker Nate Irving will miss the season after suffering multiple injuries in a car wreck.
Irving had a compound fracture in his left lug and also suffered a collapsed lung, broken ribs and a separated shoulder in a car wreck in the early hours of June 28. Irving met with a doctor to examine his leg Thursday.
"Nate's done for the year," O'Brien announced. "He has to go back to the doctors. We told him it would be best if he sat out this year. He still has appointments, and certainly we are going to plan to play without him, but if something happens that he heals miraculously and can make it back, we'll see there, but he thinks its best, especially it's a matter of compilation of body parts that it's best if he sits out this year.
Article Continues Below
"It's obvious it's tough because as I said we went through the spring he was our No. 1 rated defensive player. So when you lose your best player it always makes an impact on your defense and makes an impact on the football team. As I said the positive side was it happened before we started camp so it gave us an opportunity to try to rectify that situation as best we can."
Although O'Brien to did say, "never say never" with regards to a potential return late in the year, he thinks Irving has handled the news well.
"I think he is doing much better," O'Brien stated. "He can speak for himself, but I think the initial shock was not what he wanted to hear, but I think the more he met with the doctors and made it through his appointments, the best thing for him would be not to push it."
O'Brien added that the competition to replace Irving remains unsettled and likely won't be decided until the coaches make out the depth chart for the South Carolina game.
In other personnel moves, O'Brien announced that redshirt sophomore offensive guard Desmond Roberts will be leaving the team and transferring to a junior college. Also, freshman quarterback Everett Proctor will miss the year with a torn labrum. He had surgery Wednesday to repair the injury.
The Pack did get some good news though when junior college defensive end Michael Lemon from Georgia Military College in Milledgeville, Ga., has been cleared to enroll at NC State and will join the team Friday.
Lemon signed with Georgia in 2006, but was dismissed from the team after being arrested in his role in an off-campus fight. O'Brien though insists that NC State did their due diligence with Lemon.
"We've done extensive work with him and very satisfied with all the issues he had when he left Georgia, and a lot of conversations with Coach [Mark] Richt and a lot of people," Lemon said. "I was very satisfied with the individual we're getting. It was like Shea McKeen last year, all these academic things, we were waiting on the academics to catch up more than anything else.
"He had off the field issues, but he's been readmitted to Georgia. He could go back to Georgia. All those problems off the field have come to conclusion in a positive way. We certainly have spent a lot of time at his high school, at the military school where he went to school, and certainly talking with, I have had many conversations with Mark Richt through this whole thing and the Georgia coaches, it's a one-time incident that I don't know if you are aware of the situation, but his mother was killed and the house was set on fire. His younger brother was in the house. For him, someone pulled his younger brother out, and that's all he has left in the world. He had some issues at that point, and it was time to grow up. He made a mistake. As I've said, it was a one-time thing, and we're very satisfied he'll be a great addition to NC State."
As for the scrimmage itself, the running backs ran 30 times for 150 yards while the quarterbacks combined to complete 23 of 40 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns and one interception, made by redshirt freshman safety Earl Wolff.
Fifth-year senior linebacker Ray Michel led the way with seven tackles defensively, including a sack. Redshirt sophomore linebacker Audie Cole had six tackles, including a pair of sacks, and redshirt freshman linebacker Terrell Manning also had six tackles, four of them for losses and a sack.
Redshirt junior Josh Czajkowski successfully booted all three of his field goal attempts (23, 34 and 37 yards). O'Brien said that both freshman Chris Ward and senior Jeff Ruiz punted well.
"I thought the defense was sloppy in the first half. It seemed like the offense came out and got the better hand, but the defense played much better in the second half," O'Brien said. "I think that Toney Baker is getting a little better, showing a little more towards where we want to see him, and by the numbers the quarterbacks were pretty good today. Russell made some great throws."