NCSU Freshman QB Prepared for Tigers and Crowd

by - Correspondent -

RALEIGH, N.C. - Unconventional, unorthodox, awkward, unique, unwieldy: Just a few terms used to describe Philip Rivers' throwing motion.

How about effective?

N.C. State's 6-foot-5, 221-pound true-freshman quarterback has taken the Atlantic Coast Conference, and the nation, by storm. The Athens, Ala. native leads the ACC in total offense, averaging 325.2 yards per game. That total is good for third in the country, as well.

"It's the way I've thrown for 10 years," Rivers, the 1999 Alabama Prep Player of the Year, said on Wednesday. "So it's just kind of natural to me. I don't see it as being to awkward. I get rid of it quick and it's not real deliberate. I'm not going to change anything."

Why would he? Rivers has thrown for 1,331 yards and 13 touchdowns through the first four games of his career, leading the Wolfpack to a surprising 4-0 start in the process. He has already shattered the ACC freshman record for touchdowns, and is well on his way to becoming one of the league's best - ever.

"He is a winner," said Clemson Head Coach Tommy Bowden of the frosh phenom. "Composure and leadership are also words that come to mind when describing him. Besides having all of those intangibles, however, he is an extremely accurate passer. And that is what makes him so dangerous."

Rivers has been most dangerous in the fourth quarter - with the game on the line.

Showing remarkable coolness for an 18-year old, Rivers has completed 21-of-40 passes for 335 yards and five touchdowns and led the 'Pack to three come-from-behind victories in the final period. At Indiana in week two, Rivers was 4-of-8 on NCSU's final, game-winning drive, which included the game-winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Koren Robinson. His 401 yards passing in the IU game is the second highest single-game total ever by an ACC freshman.

But Rivers knows he and his Wolfpack (4-0, 1-0 ACC) teammates will face a totally different challenge at Death Valley on Saturday (3:30 p.m., ABC). And he knows that with the challenge of playing the No. 5 Clemson Tigers (5-0, 3-0 ACC) comes a huge opportunity to put his team smack the middle of the national spotlight.

"We've got a chance to get some nationwide exposure," said Rivers of coming to Clemson. "It's our chance to do something big, and that's what we're going to try to do this Saturday."

In order to get that exposure, N.C. State will have to contend with a rowdy, sellout enemy crowd in Memorial Stadium. Another challenge the brash, young gun slinger is very much looking forward to.

"We feel like we've done some things to prepare for the noise," he said. "It's definitely going to be something different, playing in front of more people and in a closed-in stadium. But the crowd can only do so much. We've got to play no matter what.

"It's something we've got to deal with, and we think we're going to be able to handle that."

To this point, he's handled everything thrown, awkwardly as it may be, his way.

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