On Monday, Steve Addazio sat down with members of the media to talk about the team and this weekend's showdown at N.C. State. The biggest news of the day involved Eagles DL Mehdi Abdesmad, who's been ruled out for the season.
Mehdi is out for the season— Connor Mellas (@MellasHeights) October 6, 2014
Abdesmad requires surgery on the same leg injured during last year's Florida State game. The Eagles' starting DT suffered a torn left patellar tendon after Seminoles TE Nick O'Leary launched helmet-first into Abdesmad, mid-stride, in a nasty helmet-to-helmet collision. A targeting penalty wasn't called on O'Leary as the infraction occurred away from the ball and apparently was missed by the refs.
One got the sense that the 6-foot-7, 297 pound defensive tackle never fully recovered from last year's injury. He never was quite as effective as he was during the first four games of the 2013 season--17 tackles, 9 solo, 3.5 TFLs, 2 sacks, including a season-high seven tackles at USC. The Eagles #1 DT ends the year with 4 tackles, 2 solo, but no TFLs or sacks.
The loss is a huge blow to a position already thin on big bodies, after years of failing to bring in actual defensive tackles in recruiting. Expect to see sophomore Truman Gutapfel and freshman Noa Merritt get a lot more reps this weekend at N.C. State.
The other big news on Monday is that the Mike Knoll era of placekicking will begin this weekend at State.
Addazio also said PK Mike Knoll, a freshman from Copley, Ohio, will now handle all PATs and FGs. Alex Howell will focus on punting duties.— Michael Vega (@MBVEGA) October 6, 2014
Knoll, a three-star kicker out of Ohio, was rated as the #2 placekicker in last year's recruiting class. Knoll spells seniors Alex Howell and Joey Launceford, who, through five games, combined for just 5-of-10 on field goal attempts and 16-of-18 on extra points.
Howell will focus exclusively on punting duties. He's averaged 42.14 yards on 21 punts through five games this year.