Tuesday, September 9, 2003

Wolfpack not changing strategy vs. Buckeyes

The Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. - Tears were shed in the locker room following a weekend upset, yet North Carolina State was brash and confident again Monday talking about its showdown with defending national champion Ohio State.

"We're going to go out and put our hands on guys and be physical," said defensive back Greg Golden. "We don't back down from anybody at N.C. State. That's the attitude coach (Chuck) Amato wants us to have."

After season-ending wins over Florida State and Notre Dame capped a school-record 11-victory season in 2002, Wolfpack fans circled the team's third game of the year at No. 3 Ohio State.

It was being billed as a statement game for a program trying to move into the big time.

However, the Wolfpack tripped up against the Demon Deacons on Saturday, losing 38-24 and disappointing many supporters who believed quarterback Philip Rivers could lead the team into national title contention.

That dream may be gone now, but a win in Columbus, Ohio, would give No. 24 N.C. State (1-1) a major boost in the polls.

"Everyone is kind of brushing us off now because we had the terrible loss to Wake," wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. "A win would put the Wolfpack back in people's minds.

"Nowadays everybody is loving the role of the underdog, so we're accepting that role this week. Being a captain on this team, I've got to convince some of the young players to have a mindset that we can do this. We're going to match their intensity and do whatever it takes to win this game."

Amato plans few changes for the game against the Buckeyes (2-0), saying his young defense is getting better with each practice.

"We have been practicing 15 days in the spring and 29 practices before the first game, now in one week we're going to make a lot of changes?" Amato said. "If you were a kid you would say, 'What's going on here?'

"Our team is confident. They are not going to stop being confident."

The Wolfpack started 9-0 last season before a three-game losing skid in the ACC. However, the team rebounded with the key wins over the Seminoles and Fighting Irish.

Golden said this year's team can draw on last year's losses.

"Hey, we've lost before and now this is our chance to prove we can come back," Golden said. "We took three hard losses in a row last year and we came back pretty good. You have to look at losses like they are wins sometimes. Everything happens for a reason."

"One game does not make a season," Amato added.

Amato was in good spirits Monday, laughing when asked if his team would be intimidated by Ohio State and its crowd.

"Gee, I hope they get off the plane," he said of his players. "If they get off the plane we've got a chance. I hope I don't have to prod them off."

N.C. State at Ohio St.

Kickoff: 12:10 p.m. Saturday

Records: OSU 2-0; N.C. State 1-1

TV: Ch. 9, 7

KANSAS STATE: Kansas State quarterback Ell Roberson will be sidelined indefinitely after injuring his nonthrowing hand during a victory over McNeese State.

"How long that is going to be, I don't know," Bill Snyder, coach of the No. 7 Wildcats, said Sunday. "It just remains to be seen, and that kind of depends on his progress. There is no time or day of the week or date set about when we might get him back."

However, the coach indicated Roberson might not return until Oct. 4, when Kansas State begins Big 12 Conference play at Texas.

"Yes, it could be," the coach said.

Roberson hurt his left hand after an incomplete pass during Saturday night's 55-14 victory. He left in the second quarter, with the Wildcats leading 31-0, and did not return.

"He just got hit," Snyder said. "It may have been on a helmet. I don't know. That I couldn't decipher off the tape."

Roberson completed three of six passes for 63 yards and a touchdown, also rushing for 37 yards on five carries.

The Wildcats (3-0) play Division I-AA Massachusetts at home Saturday and the following week host Marshall, which lost to Tennessee 34-24 on Saturday. They then have the next week off before traveling to Texas.

Jeff Schwinn probably will start against Massachusetts. Saturday night's game was only the fifth he's played for the Wildcats, and he was 5-for-13 for 83 yards, scoring a touchdown on a 1-yard run.

"I will be ready," said Schwinn, a senior. "I made some mistakes that I'll correct. I made some bad decisions, and I was a little jittery out there in the pocket for some reason. I just have to get better every day."

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