Three Times a Charm
For the third consecutive week, Wolfpack Head Coach Chuck Amato said that Tuesday's practice wasn't that good.
"I don't know, maybe they are superstitious," he said. "It's amazing, just amazing that it happens. Maybe we'll do better tomorrow."
Fans of both NC State and North Carolina hope at some point the football game will be the final game in each of their seasons, and the Wolfpack's head coach feels the same way.
"Probably at the end of the season, the last game," he said. "That's when a lot of rivalry games are played. Alabama-Auburn, Michigan State-Michigan, Florida State-Florida, and you can go on and on."
NC State has a workout scheduled tomorrow and a light practice on Thursday before taking Friday off to rest for Saturday's UNC game.
Harris: Conductor of the "Raleigh Rail"
Red-shirt sophomore offensive guard Leroy Harris was one of Chuck Amato's first highly-rated in-state recruits, as the Raleigh native chose the Wolfpack over a host of regional teams. In the end, it came down to the Wolfpack and Tar Heels.
"I really liked the coaches at State," Harris said. "Coach Amato was more like the coaches back in high school, and I respect him. I really like Coach Pate, and he was a big reason too. I also got along with all the players when I'd come here for a visit. Those are some of the reasons why I chose State over Carolina."
The NC State-UNC rivalry means a lot to some players, but for Harris he's treating it as just another tough ACC game.
"It's a big deal because it's an in-state school," he said. "For me, it's another game too though. It's an ACC game, and we've got to have them. All ACC games are circled on my schedule as big games."
Harris was originally recruited as a defensive lineman, as he was arguably the state's top defensive tackle prospect coming out of high school. It wasn't long before the Wolfpack moved him to the offensive line, where he's been dominating as a left guard in his first two years.
"I was recruited as a defensive tackle because I had never played offensive line," he said. "Then I had a great senior year playing o-line, and I think I played better on that side as a senior. When I came to State I felt more comfortable as an offensive lineman, and then I just needed to transform my body around. After that it really fit me."
Labeled a freshman All-American by several publications, Harris is off to a strong start in '04. He's consistently grading out as one of the 'Pack's top offensive linemen and will receive consideration for All-ACC honors. His improvement over the course of the summer has helped out, and he still wants to improve his pass blocking.
"I've improved my film work," Harris said. "I now know how to read the linemen in film and know what they are going to do. With that I can take care of myself out there and not have to rely on the quarterbacks or Jed [Paulsen] to point out the scheme. I still need to improve on my pass blocking because I'm doing good at run blocking now."
One area where Harris has exceled is as a conductor of the "Raleigh Rail." A phrase coined by offensive line coach Mike Barry, the rail is when an offensive lineman drives the defender more than five yards past the line of scrimmage. Harris has 26 Raleigh Rails in his last three games. What's amazing about that is he had 33 total in thirteen games last season. So, how does a Raleigh Rail feel for an offensive lineman?
"It feels like scoring a touchdown to us," Harris said. "It's great when it leads to a big run by the running back or a big play for a touchdown. It's our touchdown, especially when I can end it with a knockdown."