If there's one thing Wolfpack coach Chuck Amato knows about senior
quarterback Philip Rivers, it's that Rivers believes in doing
things the right way. Consider how he handled getting married in
2001. After telling his parents and planning his proposal to his
high school sweetheart, Tiffany Goodwin, Rivers walked into
Amato's office and politely asked if Amato objected to the idea.
Though Amato approved, he couldn't resist needling Rivers before
giving his blessing. "What would you do," Amato said with a
straight face, "if I said no?"
Amato still laughs about that moment, but he's become accustomed
to expecting just about anything from his standout passer. In
three years the 6'5", 236-pound Rivers has thrown for 8,993 yards
and 61 touchdowns, led a formerly mediocre program to a 26-12
record and helped make N.C. State a national championship
contender. "You can't put a price on how valuable Phil has been,"
Amato says. "They waited 40 years to have another Roman Gabriel
on this campus, and he's been it."
Juggling the roles of quarterback, husband and father to
one-year-old daughter Halle has matured Rivers. "As much as I
care about football, it means a lot to go back to them after a
hard day," Rivers says. Not that Rivers has cut himself off from
the rest of the team. Unity was one of the keys to the Wolfpack's
11-3 record last year, and Rivers was a big part of that. This
year's team could have one of the most talented offenses in
school history, with Rivers, senior wide receiver Jerricho
Cotchery (1,192 yards, seven TDs in '02) and running back T.A.
McLendon, who rushed for a school-record 18 rushing touchdowns as
Several days after N.C. State beat Notre Dame 28-6 in the Gator
Bowl, Rivers began preparing for this season by throwing with his
receivers four times per week, a regimen that has continued
throughout the summer. "It shows that, from Day One, we've
believed we can win a national championship," Rivers says. "It's
easy to say it, but we're working toward it." --Jeffri Chadiha
COLOR PHOTO: AL TIELEMANS GLORY DAYS In three years Rivers has helped make the Wolfpack a winner again by throwing for 8,993 yards and 61 TDs.
2002 RECORD 11-3 (5-3, 4th in ACC)
FINAL AP RANK 12
RETURNING STARTERS 14
KEY RETURNEES (2002 stats)
QB Philip Rivers (Sr.)
Threw for 3,353 yards and 20 TDs
RB T.A. McLendon (Soph.)
ACC Rookie of the Year rushed for 1,101 yards
WR Jerricho Cotchery (Sr.)
Averaged 102.3 receiving yards over last 7 games
ROV Andre Maddox (Jr.)
126 tackles is tops among returnees
LB Pat Thomas (Jr.)
106 tackles, including nine for loss
Rank of tailback T.A. McLendon, in freshman TDs (18) last year;
Ohio State's Maurice Clarett was second with 16.
Sometimes the smartest move is standing pat. New offensive
coordinator Noel Mazzone's instructions were: Don't change a
thing. The Wolfpack led the ACC in scoring (32.9 points per
game) and were the first ACC team to have a 3,000-yard passer, a
1,000-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard receiver in the same season.
AUG. 30 WESTERN CAROLINA
SEPT. 6 AT WAKE FOREST
13 AT OHIO STATE
20 TEXAS TECH
27 NORTH CAROLINA
OCT. 4 AT GEORGIA TECH
25 AT DUKE
NOV. 1 VIRGINIA
15 AT FLORIDA STATE