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Sunday, September 28, 2008

USF tramples, stampedes, gores and does other sundry bull-like things to the Pack


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Last week, the Pack defeated an ECU Pirates team perhaps undeserving of its #15 ranking.


This week State got spanked 41-10 by a 13-ranked South Florida team that looked every bit the part.

Bulls quarterback Matt Grothe unleashed a surgical strike on the Nate Irving-less Pack defense, carving them up for 20-of-29 passing, posting 31 points in the first half alone.

How's this for a stat: The Bulls had more first downs (29) than the Pack had rushing attempts (27). The two numbers were intertwined closely, as State had no choice but to wing the ball around the field while playing catch-up the entire game.

(Continues)

Harrison Beck only completed nine of his 32 pass attempts for 239 yards, which--another crazy stat--was an absurd 26.6 yards per completion. In that stat is the essence of Beck; the name of his game is bombs galore, some that connect but many that don't, or do so to the opposing team. His three picks against the Bulls only worsened his atrocious interception-to-TD ratio against BCS opponents: 12 to zero. Yikes.

The weather decided to play a part in the game, as an unexpected torrential rain lead to two safeties when snaps squirted over the heads over Beck and punter Bradley Pierson. It also cleared out the majority of the stadium, as folks unprepared for the rain decided it wasn't worth a good soaking to see the Pack get its lunch money taken.

In a day of upsets, the Pack was not to join the ranks of spoilers. State was outgunned and overmatched the entire game, missing its quarterback and best defensive player. From here the Pack will try to regroup and prepare for Boston College, a team with something to prove to its former coach.

Welcome to the meat of the schedule.


View the complete entry of "USF tramples, stampedes, gores and does other sundry bull-like things to the Pack"

Saturday, September 27, 2008

My Weekly Dose Of Optimism: Week 5


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Well, it's the second week in a row that a top-15 team will make their journey into Carter-Finley Stadium. This week the Pack hosts the #13 University of South Florida.

The Bulls are good. REAL good. They've got a mobile quarterback in Matt Grothe that makes plays with both his feet and his arm, which really tests the discipline of a defense to cover their assignments, stay at home and not get out of position.

Their defense is just as stout. They've got a great lineman in George Selvie who will put a ton of pressure on Harrison Beck to make quick, correct decisions.

But here's why I think the Pack can win tonight:

(Continues)

  1. Above all else, Harrison Beck will be tonight's X-factor. As Tom O'Brien joked earlier this week, if he can restrict his throws to the folks in the red jerseys we'll stand a chance. But I think Harrison will have an added amount of motivation to get the job done tonight. He's a native of Clearwater, Fla., which is practically in South Florida's backyard. He grew up with a lot of the folks that will play in tonight's game and will be eager to put on a good showing, I believe. I think Beck dials the gunslinger nonsense down a bit and focuses on moving the chains instead of chucking it 60 yards every chance he gets.
  2. Through a wealth of injuries, a lot of folks on our two deep are getting playing time. You like to have experienced depth on your squad, and though this isn't the way you like to go about getting it, nevertheless it helps. You saw that last weekend with the play of third-string tight end George Bryan. He stepped up HUGE in the game against East Carolina. We'll need another big game from him, as well as other relative unknowns on the two deep, in order to beat the Bulls. I think we will.
  3. Safety Clem Johnson, who was expected to miss the whole season with a broken jaw, was upgraded to "probable" on the depth chart on Thursday. Having him in the secondary will be a big help facing a tough South Florida offense. His return could provide a spark to a team that's watched so many of its own befall injury.
  4. Winning against East Carolina proved to this team that they can fight and win against ranked competition. I would feel much worse about this game had we lost to ECU, but winning that game should provide a boost of confidence to the Wolfpack squad. I think they'll come fired up and give USF everything they can handle early. If the Pack can score some points and maintain that momentum, I think the win will be ripe for the picking.
So there you go...your weekly does of optimism. USF is a great team, no doubt, but the Pack played the role of spoiler last night and I think stands a good chance to do it again in front of a lively nighttime crowd at Carter-Finley.


View the complete entry of "My Weekly Dose Of Optimism: Week 5"

Friday, September 26, 2008

Where the Pack is ranked, statistically: Week 5


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By week five these numbers start to mean a bit more. Most teams have played a 1/3 of their schedule by now and have played at least one solid game against either a conference opponent or a tough out-of-conference opponent.

As you might imagine, State still has a lot of room to improve offensively. The ECU win was huge but one game isn't going to turn the Titanic around just yet. And it may head back toward the iceberg this weekend as the Pack faces off against a very stout South Florida defense.

Punting, turnover margin and sacks continue to be the bright spots on the ledger as State ranks 32nd, 39th and 36th in those categories, respectively.

(I included the conference leaders this week to give an idea of how our numbers stack up against the league's best. Want to know how Wake Forest continues to beat teams despite a subpar running game? Check out that ridiculous +3.33 turnover margin.)

Category National
Rank
Actual Atlantic Coast Conference
Leader
Actual
Rushing Offense 101 104.75 Georgia Tech 306.75
Passing Offense 94 179.00 Duke 252.33
Total Offense 109 283.75 Florida St. 425.00
Scoring Offense 101 18.25 Florida St. 39.33
Rushing Defense 81 156.25 Florida St. 48.33
Pass Efficiency Defense 74 124.35 Boston College 77.58
Total Defense 74 370.75 Florida St. 205.33
Scoring Defense 81 27.25 Florida St. 6.33
Net Punting 32 37.69 Florida St. 43.25
Punt Returns 69 8.45 North Carolina 23.17
Kickoff Returns 61 21.31 North Carolina 24.42
Turnover Margin 39 .50 Wake Forest 3.33
Pass Defense 71 214.50 Boston College 112.00
Passing Efficiency 102 102.92 North Carolina 148.05
Sacks 36 2.25 Florida St. 3.00
Tackles For Loss T-85 5.00 Florida St. 8.67
Sacks Allowed 63 1.75 Virginia 1.33


View the complete entry of "Where the Pack is ranked, statistically: Week 5"

Thursday, September 25, 2008

WRAL: NCSU's relationship with Rivers unfortunately a cold one


6 comments

WRAL.com


This kind of confirms something that I've suspected for a while now...while State fans love to rag on Carolina for Willie Parker not recognizing his alma mater during intros on Sunday, State's relationship with their signature football alum may be just as icy.

You walk into NC State's football shrine, the Murphy center, and you have to search for a picture of Philip Rivers. His jersey? Only in a picture. Nine NFL helmets with autographs of former Wolfpack players sit in a glass case.

There isn't a Chargers/Rivers helmet among them.

Why?

Did it get lost in the mail? You could have walked it from San Diego to Raleigh in the five years that Rivers has been gone.

When recruits walk into the Murphy center they want to see recent history. Guys in the NFL who have played at NC State within the last decade. Guys who recruits see on TV playing right now. A star like Philip Rivers would pull some serious weight.

Who's fault is it?

Probably both parties. Rivers doesn't get back to NC State much at all. He is still bitter about Chuck Amato being fired.

It kind of makes sense, doesn't it? When was the last time Philip was on local radio? Was spotted at a football game? Was in town to take part in a charity event or some other State related event in the community. My boy Joe Ovies at 850TheBuzz has confirmed as much to me before -- the relationship between Rivers and State fans is mostly a one-way street.

It's odd that this story from Jeff Gravely comes on the same day that PackPride caught up with another N.C. State player doing well in the pros, Steven Tulloch, in a story entitled 'Tulloch: 'I Love NC State.' Tulloch, too had many positives to shower upon Amato, but he didn't seem to harbor any ill will toward State for his former coach's treatment.

With all due respect to Philip, I don't think he should be bitter that Amato was fired. He had difficulty getting the job done once Philip left and couldn't seem to get out of his own way with the media at the end. If anything, he should be proud that he is probably the reason Amato lasted as long as he did.

I would hope that Philip would take a page out of Amato's book. As much as Chuck was dogged and badmouthed during his final years here, the man still deeply and passionately loves the school he suited up and played football for. I wish, and hope, Philip reaches that point someday.

UPDATE 10-01-08:
If you clicked on the above WRAL link hoping to find Jeff Gravley's story, I've got bad news...the story's no longer there. The link takes you to the front page of WRAL's new sports site, but a search on the new site yielded no results pointing back to the original piece.

Given the accounts posted in the comments section, I'm inclined to believe that Jeff was mistaken about his account of Rivers' memorabilia in the Murphy Center and decided to pull the piece. That's the only thing I can figure. If you find it on the redesigned page in the future, let me know via the comments or through email and I'll repair the link.


View the complete entry of "WRAL: NCSU's relationship with Rivers unfortunately a cold one"

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Q&A with www.thebullgator.com's Joel Smith


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I was approached this week by Joel Smith of www.thebullgator.com, a blog dedicated to South Florida and UF athletics, to partake in a Q&A exchange between the two sites. I thought, sure, what the hell!


You can find my responses to his questions here.

He came out firing with some pretty tough posers, so I felt like I needed to step up and take this seriously. Like, you know, asking him questions about the Bulls and what we can expect on Saturday. I didn't let him off the hook, though, as I did what every good North Carolinian would do and quizzed him on all things North Carolina BBQ.

What follows are his responses.

(Continues)

Here's a scary thought (for me, at least): In 1997, I was a sophomore in college and South Florida's football program didn't exist. Now, just 11 years later, y'all are a top 15 program and the favorite for the Big East's BCS bowl bid. What's it been like watching your program progress so rapidly from literally nothing into a contender?
I grew up in Tampa, but grew up a Gator fan because USF football didn't exist. Their first season was also my first year at UF, so I was too heavily engrossed in all things orange and blue to pay much attention. When I returned to Tampa to attend USF, I figured it was time for me to adopt a second team. Let me be clear, I am first and foremost a Gator, but the Bulls run a close second. Years later, I have a blog dedicated to both schools and I'm a USF season ticket holder.

You'll hear a lot from people about how USF's rise was expected and how they always knew the Bulls would be good, but...no pun intended...that's a bunch of bull. How can anyone not be surprised? You never know how a new program will perform and if they'll ever rise to national prominence. USF is obviously in a great recruit-producing state, but so is UCF and they haven't experienced the same success despite being around a lot longer. At the same time, the big time recruits still go elsewhere. The Bulls have been able to get 110% out of the kids they do bring in and the results are now coming out. Look at it this way: the program has only had 2 losing seasons. That's remarkable in my opinion.

I’m still waiting for the first conference title and that first 10-win season. We could see both this year.

You asked me about Tom O'Brien's quote that has stirred up a lot of attention leading into the game, so I'll ask you about it in return: How has it been received in Bulls Country, and what impact do you think it will have on the outcome of the game?
People are furious. I mostly just think it’s funny.

Let’s be realistic for a moment. Apparently other coaches came to USF to ask how to stop the spread offense because the Bulls had done so well against West Virginia the last couple of years. But I have to ask, does WVU run a true spread? Urban Meyer is thought of as one of the masterminds of the spread you currently find throughout the nation and West Virginia’s offense looks very different than the ones he used at Utah and now Florida. The true spread seems to involve passing the ball much more than WVU ever has. So should a coach seek out advice from USF as to how to stop it? Probably not.

As for O’Brien’s comments, people aren’t happy. USF’s defensive coordinator Wally Burnham has already responded, giving both teams bulletin board material and I’m sure both fan bases may believe these comments mean the teams will play that much harder. I have always completely disagreed. If a college football program need its opponents to talk trash before the game in order to get motivated, then there’s a much bigger problem. This is big time college football. These players should be ready to go at 100 miles per hour for every game and every situation.

Take the Florida/Miami game as an example. UF receiver Louis Murphy made some comments about Miami not being the U in his mind. Miami fans got all upset and said he better watch out because Cane defenders were now out to get him. Were they? They didn’t do anything to him. They just played their game. He didn’t have a great game until late, but that’s mostly because he played poorly and dropped a few passes. Not because the Miami players were out to get him and were harassing him on every play.

I have never believed things like this have any outcome on the game at all.

Matt Grothe's ability to make plays with his feet as well as his arm has obviously given opposing teams a lot of fits. If you were scheming a defense to shut him down, how would you do it?

QB spy.

People compare Matt Grothe to Tim Tebow a lot down here. The big difference though is size. Put a linebacker on Tebow at all times and you still don't have the greatest chance of stopping him. Tebow is just as big as most of them and has the power to run them over. Grothe doesn't. Not that Grothe doesn't have a little fight in him, but going head-to-head, I'm going to take the linebacker 99 times out of 100. So, it's probably a good idea to have someone keep an eye on Grothe when he's in the shotgun. Make sure at least part of the field is contained so you can force him to run a certain way. Not the other way around.

The biggest issue for defenses is play length. The longer the play takes to develop, the more likely Grothe will kill you on the ground. Few college linebackers are disciplined to spy/contain for too long. Eventually someone else coming out of the backfield can distract them or they will drop contain to try to make a big play. This is where Grothe can thrive. If someone is spying him, they need to stay home regardless of the temptation to do something else. Grothe's biggest plays are when the defense eventually breaks down and he makes some improvised run or crazy throw to a suddenly wide open receiver.

It sounds like the injury bug has bitten the Bulls defense of late. What's the latest you can tell me about the status of Bruce Mompremier and George Selvie, and what impacts will their injuries have on the game?

At this point, it seems like USF is most worried about Mompremier the person and not Mompremier the football player. He seems to be doing fine and actually made an appearance at practice on Tuesday without a neck brace. The Bulls have said he is definitely out for at least the next two games, but other reports say getting him back on the field isn’t the concern just yet. As for replacing him, I’m not really worried. Not to say he wasn’t a contributor, but USF has always had good play out of its linebackers and has a number of guys ready to step up. It seems like the defense has gone to a 4-2-5 as of late, so we could see middle linebacker Kion Wilson move into the spot, although it’s more likely one of the backups will step up. Mompremier will be missed, but there are a number of players behind him with big game experience as well who will be ready to step in.

Selvie should be good to go. He was held out of practice up until this point, but he’s expected back for the second half of the week. If needed he probably could’ve gone, but the Bulls are playing it safe and only using him when they really need him until they are sure he’s completely back to 100%.

How do you see this game shaking out, quarter by quarter?

Given the last 3 USF games, it could honestly be 10-0 after 1, 17-7 after 2, and 27-7 USF after 3, but 27-21 when the final whistle sounds.

It’s hard to read the Bulls so far this year. They were up 24-10 against UCF entering the fourth (final score: 31-24 in overtime), down 20-3 at one point in the first half against Kansas but up 14 early in the fourth (final score: 37-34), and up 17-0 with 2:20 left against FIU (final score: 17-9). The fourth quarter has been a big turning point in all of those games and not necessarily in USF’s favor even if they did end up winning. I want to believe against FIU they learned their lesson. A game is 60 full minutes and you have to play hard until the very end. Given what we’ve seen, my prediction in the first sentence might not be that far off. But if the Bulls can finally keep up the pressure for an entire game – and remember it was NC State who blanked USF in its first bowl appearance – they should be able to keep this one from getting too close for comfort late in the game. Sorry Wolfpack fans, but with the loss of Wilson and Irving, I just don’t think you can stay in it for the entire contest. Of course, if the Bulls forget to play the final 15 minutes, you’ll have me eating my words.

The biggest thing you need to worry about is Harrison Beck’s confidence. If fans and players stay behind him, he could manage the game and keep it interesting. But if he makes mistakes early and has to play from behind for most of the day, it could get ugly. Of course, all you have to do is wait patiently until the final quarter and the Bulls should let you back in the game. UGH!

Finally, have you ever had Eastern North Carolina style barbecue, can you tell the difference between it and Lexington style, and have you now or ever used "barbecue" as a verb?

I failed miserably during my first attempt to have North Carolina barbecue. At a place just outside of Raleigh where you just place your order and don’t ask questions, I chose the chicken platter over the chicken plate. Apparently the platter meant fried and the plate meant barbecue. Luckily my soon-to-be in-laws live up there, so I’ll get another shot at it during the next visit. Hopefully I will redeem myself.

Barbecue is frequently used as a verb down here, but grill seems to be more common. If people are coming over for burgers and hot dogs, we’ll typically say we are going to “grill out.”


So there you have it. We'll give Joel a pass on his first NC BBQ experience. Lord knows it's tough enough to find good Eastern NC BBQ here in Raleigh if you're not familiar with the territory.

This was fun. I think you might see more of these in the future if we can get some willing participants.


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Understatement of the year: "Beck: 'I'm gonna throw it'"


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In what may qualify as the most humorously understated story title in years, PackPride had this story up Wednesday night:

"Beck: 'I'm gonna throw it.'"

You think?

If there's any quarterback alive out there more likely to throw it, I either haven't seen him or he plays at Texas Tech.

Harrison Beck will throw it. This much is certain. It's only a question of how much, and to which team.


View the complete entry of "Understatement of the year: "Beck: 'I'm gonna throw it'""

Monday, September 22, 2008

Russell Wilson injured, will miss S.Fla. game, along with Irving


5 comments

www.gopack.com


I mean...seriously?

Hopefully this is just coach O'Brien being ULTRA protective of RW and Nate Irving heading into the rest of the season, but you have to think that if it were just a minor or nagging injury for Wilson that he would see the field in the biggest game of the season for us. If this is a head injury, another minor concussion, then it could be -- I hate to say it -- possibly the last time we see Wilson at quarterback. I hate to think about that possibility, seeing how much he progressed over the three games he's appeared in. But bottom line, this man's future is in baseball. I think O'Brien realizes that, the medical team realizes it. While it would be tragic for his football career to end before it even really begins, Wilson needs to not put his baseball career at risk needlessly.

Crap. I just can't even put it into words how deflating this news is after such a big win against ECU.

And Irving's injury...again, I hope it's coach being overly protective of the health of his star linebacker and not indicative of something worse.

This changes the complexion of the South Florida game COMPLETELY.

[UPDATE x1] A source told WRAL Monday that Wilson has a shoulder injury - although it was unclear which one - and Irving has a high ankle sprain. High ankle sprains tend to be worse because they can linger.

According to one poster on the boards, Wilson was spotted with a sling on his right arm, which would add credence to the shoulder injury rumor.


View the complete entry of "Russell Wilson injured, will miss S.Fla. game, along with Irving"

See, THIS is how you start a tradition!


3 comments

After all the balleyhoo and tomfoolery surrounding N.C. State's desire to kickstart "new" traditions, the folks on the boards at www.packpride.com have nailed it right on the head: THIS is the kind of tradition we'd like to see.

You see, when State exited the tunnel Saturday, two Wolfpack players were given the honor of carrying onto the field the United States' flag and the flag of North Carolina.




(Continues)

It was classy, respectful and mindful of who we are and what our role is as the Land Grant University of the state of North Carolina. We serve the state, first and foremost; this entrance echoes that mission.

As was raised on the thread, it's unclear as to how one is chosen to bring the flags onto the field. Perhaps the hardest worker in practice during the week? That would seem fitting, in my mind. It should be a reward, an honor and something to strive for.

But better yet, this (hopefully long running in the future) tradition-to-be just sort of happened. It was a decision made presumably by O'Brien, on his own. No online polls or marketing whiz-bang campaigns...just something that was done that has met an overwhelming positive response.

So congratulations, N.C. State -- you now have a "new" tradition! It's fitting how it came about...
on its own.


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UNC news: T.J. Yates out for at least 6 weeks


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I hate injuries.


I hate injuries when we get them, and I hate them when our rivals get them.

Lord knows we've seen plenty of them this year, so no one has to tell us how bad it feels to lose a guy for an extended period time. But you have to feel for the folks over in Chapel Hill, because losing Yates makes Carolina a far less dangerous team -- at least until (if ever) Mike Paulus gets comfortable under center.

I hate it because it means a team is not at full strength when you face them. You want to settle the debate of whose team is better when both teams are healthy all around, not have to hear (or use) excuses about "well, if we'd only had..."

As much as a hardened, black-hearted State fan can feel for Carolina, I feel for y'all.


View the complete entry of "UNC news: T.J. Yates out for at least 6 weeks"

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Why I love video from ACC Now


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There are no talking heads, flashy graphics or added sound effects to get in the way of the sights and sounds from THE GAME.

You get a much better feel from this video of what a great atmosphere Carter-Finley was Saturday than the highlight reel ESPN put together.

Good stuff from Travis Long, as always.

P.S. I want your job.



(Continues)


View the complete entry of "Why I love video from ACC Now"

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pack stuns #15 Pirates; Nate Irving's status up in the air


1 comments

Someone wake the wife and kids...State's found an offense!


The Pack put up three scores in regulation and one more in OT to beat the ECU Pirates 30-24 in front of a full house in Carter-Finley Stadium.

(Continues)

What a game. It was everything you'd hope a rivalry game would be...there was an ebb and flow of momentum between the two teams all game long. ECU kept trying to deliver a knockout punch, but behind the I-can't-believe-how-much-better-he's-gotten-in-one-game play of Russell Wilson and two key goal line stands, State notched a big win in TOB's belt, perhaps bigger than the Carolina or ECU wins last season.

Wilson showed all us fans what he put on display for the coaching staff over the spring, keeping plays alive with his feet and continuing to make wise decisions with the football. He ended the game 21-of-31 passing with three scoring passes, including a beauty of a strike to Andre Brown in what looked like a sure blown play. In a battle of mobile quarterbacks, Wilson's escapability bought him the time he needed to make the big plays necessary to win this game.

The State victory almost certainly puts an end to any "BCS Busting" discussion the Pirates may have been entertaining. The Pirates are no doubt a solid team, however, and should still be ranked in the top 25 next week, I believe.

I want to go back quickly and take a look at the four points I made in my Weekly Optimism post on Friday:

1. The weight of great expectations: Check. It looked like the Pirates were a bit tight at times, and Pinkney was merely average passing the ball (19-of-32, 1 TD, 1 INT).

2. Quentin Cotten's absence could hurt the Pirate defense: Check. The middle of the field was available to Wilson more than it probably should've been. Freshman tight end George Bryan had a nice catch over the middle at one point to keep a drive alive. The Pirate defense also seemed to have difficulty getting to Wilson; part of that is Wilson's playmaking ability, but they didn't seem to get much push against State's still-gelling offensive line.

3. The return of Jamelle Eugene to the lineup would be key: Check+. Eugene only had 29 yards on the ground but was the leading receiver for the Pack, catching seven passes for 50 yards. Operating as Wilson's safety valve, Eugene hurt the Pirates over the middle, catching key drive-extending passes that kept State in the game throughout the day.

4. The offense would mature in front of its home fans: Check. Big ol' hairy Check. I don't think I've seen a quarterback progress as much over the course of three games than Wilson. He went from dazed and confused (prior to the concussion, mind you) in the South Carolina game, to more composed but perhaps overly cautious against Clemson, to bona fide playmaker. The return of Eugene added an element we were missing (a true receiving threat), and the true freshman Bryan stepped up and made some huge plays at tight end when we needed them the most.

Now we must wait to see what the status is of Nate Irving, who left the game with a turned ankle and did not return. There are reports that folks spotted him wearing a boot after getting checked out and worked on by team doctors; we can only hope that's a precautionary measure to minimize the swelling from a basic ankle sprain and not the dreaded high ankle sprain that can severely hinder you. As soon as I know more I'll try to update the page.

All in all, a great win by the Pack. Perhaps our midseason turnaround will come a few games early this year.


View the complete entry of "Pack stuns #15 Pirates; Nate Irving's status up in the air"

Friday, September 19, 2008

Where the Pack is ranked, statistically: Week 4


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Here's where State stacks up statistically. For comparison, I added in East Carolina's numbers below:

N.C. State
Category National
Rank
Actual
Rushing Offense 106 97.33
Passing Offense 100 153.00
Total Offense 113 250.33
Scoring Offense 109 14.33
Rushing Defense 78 150.67
Pass Efficiency Defense 78 126.37
Total Defense 71 366.67
Scoring Defense 85 28.33
Net Punting 34 37.55
Punt Returns 58 9.75
Kickoff Returns 92 18.09
Turnover Margin 32 .67
Pass Defense 73 216.00
Passing Efficiency 113 87.21
Sacks T-21 2.67
Tackles For Loss 76 5.33
Sacks Allowed T-74 2.00

(Continues)

East Carolina
CategoryNational
Rank
Actual
Rushing Offense 89 119.00
Passing Offense 50 238.00
Total Offense 71 357.00
Scoring Offense 67 26.33
Rushing Defense 56 119.67
Pass Efficiency Defense 31 101.11
Total Defense 29 268.67
Scoring Defense 33 16.33
Net Punting 50 35.55
Punt Returns 21 17.67
Kickoff Returns 103 16.75
Turnover Margin 55 .00
Pass Defense 18 149.00
Passing Efficiency 20 157.16
Sacks 36 2.33
Tackles For Loss T-22 7.00
Sacks Allowed T-90 2.33


View the complete entry of "Where the Pack is ranked, statistically: Week 4"

Read This. No, seriously. Read it.


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The Wall Street Journal's look at WPC top dog Bobby Purcell


It's probably linked a dozen times on other sites, but in my mind, you can't get this kind of stuff out there too much. A great read and a testament to the loyalty and passion of Wolfpack fans.


View the complete entry of "Read This. No, seriously. Read it."

My Weekly Dose of Optimism: ECU


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Alright...here goes.


ECU is riding one of the biggest waves of euphoria in school history after beating two ranked opponents in their first two weeks. The national media is in love with them and they've shot up through the rankings all the way into the top 15.

Pirate nation hasn't felt this good since their blues-loving nutcase of a coach Steve Logan was the commander in chief and Scott Harley was dragging us up and down the field.

But if you need some hope -- and as Wolfpack fans, we ALL need some hope these days -- here's four reasons why I think the Pack COULD pull out a victory.

(Continues)

1. Expectations. Expectations, expectations, expectations. Ask Philip Rivers and crew what great expectations can do to a team in winnable games during a dream season. In 2002, all the Pack had to do to wrap up a BCS bowl bid was win two of three games from a stretch of Virginia, Georgia Tech and Maryland. State lost all three. ECU has EVERYTHING to lose in this game and will play tight as a drum to make sure they don't lose it.

2. Quentin Cotten is done for the year. Their best player on a stout defense, Cotten's absence "quarterbacking" the defense will be felt. Granted, State's performance offensively will be a function more of its level of execution rather than ECU's play on defense, but if State can start putting some drives together and making plays, who with the ECU defense look to for leadership on the field?

3. The return of Jamelle Eugene. If you keep putting folks on the injured list, at some point one of them is bound to return. It looks like Eugene will play -- to what capacity, I'm not sure -- against East Carolina. As 850TheBuzz's Bomani Jones astutely pointed out the other day, Eugene gives the Pack a sure-handed receiver out of the backfield as an outlet for Russell Wilson if ERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR when our pass blocking breaks down. Couple that with the absence of Cotten in the middle, and Eugene over the middle could be a productive play for the Pack tomorrow.

4. Much has been made about the fact that State hasn't scored an offensive touchdown against a Div. 1-A opponent this season. That much is true. However, both games were on the road, and against two above-average defenses. I don't think anyone would call either South Carolina or Clemson's defenses "world beaters," but both teams have plenty of speed and talent on that side of the ball. Take into consideration, too, that the Clemson game was Russell Wilson's first complete game in college, and that wide receiver Steven Howard dropped an almost sure touchdown pass, and there are signs that State can do some things offensively. The question is can they string enough of these "things" together to generate a couple of drives that put touchdowns -- not just field goals -- on the board.

It's a long shot for us to win. We all know that. But if you need something to cling to tomorrow, there you go. Your weekly dose of semi-logical, semi-rational optimism.


View the complete entry of "My Weekly Dose of Optimism: ECU"

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Injury Report Update: Some bad news, and some good(ish) news


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Updated Injury Report

Well, it's official: Toney Baker's season is through. The nagging knee injury that's been delaying his return has apparently been addressed with a season-ending knee surgery.

Some good(ish) news, though: Jamelle Eugene has been upgraded to probable. If he can play against East Carolina, that would be a tremendous boost for an offense -- and an entire TEAM -- looking for some help offensively.

We may -- MAY -- score a touchdown! Cross your fingers!

Look for coach O'Brien to appeal to the NCAA for a sixth year for Baker, which would give him two more remaining years of eligibility. Whether the NCAA will grant it is up for debate, but hopefully they'll take the circumstances of both the player and the team into consideration. We shall see.


View the complete entry of "Injury Report Update: Some bad news, and some good(ish) news"

Some milestones for YANCSSB


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It's been a fun five-or-so months since I started this blog-with-the-obscenely-long-name. February 29th, 2008 of all days. I didn't intend to start on the leap year bonus day, but it just sort of happened.

Anyways, here are some cool things that have happened recently:
  1. Today the site registered its 20,000th page view. That's small potatoes to some of the big boy blogs out there (SFN gets upwards of 10 times that a month, I'm told; who knows what 850TheBuzz's traffic numbers are), but it's cool nonetheless.
  2. YANCSSB cracked the 1,000,000th site ranking according to Alexa.com, one of the top web traffic ratings services. Since the site's initial ranking was in the 9,000,000 range, I'm guessing this means this site rates better than 90% of the other sites out there. Granted, 75% of the sites behind me are probably dead pages or sites that discuss the intracies of taxidermy. And the top 10% of 9,000,000+ sites means there are roughly a million sites with higher traffic numbers. But it's cool company to be a part of, and I hope the site continues to rise.
  3. I welcomed aboard our first sponsor this month, GoTickets.com. They've been great to work with and have a wonderful, easy-to-use website that you should check out whenever you need tickets to the next State game, either home or away. Check 'em out!
The rest of the year should bring further changes and improvements to the site and its content (knock on internet wood), so stay tuned!


View the complete entry of "Some milestones for YANCSSB"

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

ACC Buy, Hold or Sell: Week 3


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Week three was a light week for the league, as three teams had bye weeks (BC, Wake and Miami). Nevertheless, there was some movin' and shakin' going on.

Boston College: Hold
DNP.

Clemson: Hold
So the Tigers beat State 27-9. That's great and all, but as depleted and anemic as State's offense is, it was still a game heading into the fourth quarter. In Death Valley. Cullen Harper still hasn't proven himself to be the Preseason ACC Player Of The Year the media anointed him, throwing a pick-six on the very first play of the game to Nate Irving for State's only touchdown of the year against a Div 1-A opponent.

(Continues)
Duke:Buy
Wow. 2-1. Who'd'a thunk it possible for the Blue Devils in their first year under coach Cutcliffe? Moreover, when was the last time Duke cracked the 40-point threshold in football? Navy's not the team they were under Paul Johnson but there's enough well-coached midshipmen remaining to put up a good fight, so Duke's win was no cakewalk. And Thad Lewis is putting up some legit numbers at the quarterback position (25-35, 317, 3 TDs against Navy), making the Devils a tough out for anyone in the ACC.

Florida State: Buy
Apparently the Seminoles are tired of all the talk around town that their best days are behind them and they're taking it out on the pasties on their schedule. They've put up 115 points against their last two opponents, Western Carolina and Chattanooga, getting primed for one of the season's most anticipated games against Wake Forest. It's clear that Bobby Bowden ERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR Jimbo Fisher has FSU on a mission to reassert themselves as one of the ACC's premier teams.

Georgia Tech:
Hold
The Jackets lost a close one to Virginia Tech, 20-17, damaging their chances to represent the Coastal division this year in the ACC title game. Nevertheless, Georgia Tech continues to post impressive efforts each and every game. They're probably the scariest team to play this year because it's tough to know how well a team will perform defensively against them. Even scarier: As they get more proficient, they'll be even more difficult to prepare for.

Maryland:
Hold
Has there ever been a more difficult team to figure out that the Maryland Terrapins? They get beat by Middle Tennessee State one week, then stun #23 Cal the next. Philip Rivers (or, as Terps fans love to refer to him, PhiLLLLip) never could solve the Terrapin riddle, either. So while one part of me wants to upgrade the Terps to a Buy, the other side of me wants to keep them as a solid Sell based on the MTSU and Delaware games. So, naturally, I'll hold them steady where they are.

Miami:
Hold
DNP.

North Carolina:
Buy
Ugh. I hate Buying the Heels, but I've got to do it. They looked good beating up on a beleaguered Rutgers squad. I'm still not 100% sold on Butch Davis' coaching abilities, but I'll say the Heels looked prepared to pounce whenever the opportunities presented themselves. The big test, for both the Tar Heel players and Davis as coach, comes this weekend when they host Virginia Tech. This will be one of the key games that determines the Coastal; a Heels win will put them in the driver's seat, for sure.

N.C. State:
Sell
The hits keep coming for the Pack. Alan-Michael Cash is done for the year, the latest Pack player set to miss either the remainder of the season or at least a good part of it. The Clemson game could've gone worse in some respects, but the offense continues to sputter like a VW Bug with sugar in the tank. The only hope at this point is that Russell Wilson continues to progress as a quarterback and that our young receivers step up and make plays. If State continues to rely on its running game and defense to carry the load, the Pack will continue to go nowhere fast.

Virginia:
Sell
Things are bad in Hooville. How bad? They just suffered a 35-point beatdown courtesy of UConn. Yikes. It'll be tough for Al Groh to survive past this season, frankly, unless some serious improvement occurs across the board. At this point, they look like a contender with State for the worst team in the league.

Virginia Tech:
Buy
It looks like it's Tyrod Taylor's show from here on out...Sean Glennon didn't set foot on the field against Georgia Tech last week. Taylor didn't exactly ignite the passing record books, though. Just 48 yards, on 9-14 passing? Sheesh. But maybe that's how VT fans like their QBs: Extremely mobile (just without all the nasty dog fighting and gun-pulling incidents). In any event, they won a crucial Coastal division game against the Jackets last week. If they can get past the Heels on Saturday, they'll have beaten two of the top Coastal division opponents and all but wrap up the division (Miami may have something to say about it, however...).

Wake Forest:
Hold
DNP.


View the complete entry of "ACC Buy, Hold or Sell: Week 3"

Monday, September 15, 2008

Latest Pack player out for God knows how long: Alan-Michael Cash


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Tom O'Brien must've run over God's cat.

I'm about out of reasons or ideas as to why God continues to smite us on a weekly basis. It's like his latest hobby.

Also, Curtis Crouch and Geron James are out for the ECU game, as well, according to ACCNow.

So, Lord...please show us mercy from here on out. I beg of you.

Otherwise we run the risk of relying on the Evans brothers to block for Russell Wilson.


View the complete entry of "Latest Pack player out for God knows how long: Alan-Michael Cash"

Looking back to Saturday


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Clemson 27, NCSU 9


There are some days you can't wait to type up something about a game. You've got an idea, a thought, that you think encapsulates what went down and you want to share it with the Blogosphere as soon as possible. The words flow from your fingers effortlessly.

This is not one of those days.

(Continues)

In fact, I couldn't want to write something about this game LESS than I do right now. The reason being, I can't really think of much that wasn't painfully obvious, or that hasn't been written already a thousand times prior to this weekend.

Our offense is bad. Our offensive line is worse. Nate Irving is a beast. The rest of the defense is average. We haven't scored an offensive touchdown against an FBS opponent since November of last year.

The end.

I will say that, having watched the whole game, I'm not as bleak on things as some State fans are right about now. I still am aware of the fact that we're missing about 50% of our weapons on offense, that Russell Wilson just played his first complete game in college, and that our depth overall, particularly along the offensive line, is razor thin. I get all of that, and it's tempered my opinion on things.

But I am concerned about how vanilla our offense continues to be given all the pieces of the puzzle that are missing. Dana Bible seems hellbent on running between the tackles 30 times a game when we just don't have the personnel for it. I'm not asking for triple reverse halfback passes every down, but I do think we need to mix the playcalling up a bit more to keep opposing defenses honest and out of the box. Even if we had 85 healthy, skilled players on our roster, you still can't play smashmouth football when five linemen have to block eight defenders.

I still can't get a read on how good or bad Clemson is. They beat us, and definitely have more skill at every position, but I get the feeling like they should've dispatched us by a good bit more. They were playing at home in their first conference game of the year, and it just seemed like they couldn't put us away when they had the chance to. Cullen Harper looks off at times, missing wide open receivers more than the preseason ACC player of the year should. C.J. Spiller is out of this world, but James Davis looked merely good against us.

As down as the ACC is, they could still run the table and win the title. But it's no longer a given, and the Wake Forest game could be a very tightly contested affair.

So it's back to Carter Finley, to face one of the hotter teams in the country in East Carolina. Ever the (foolish) optimist, I think State can repeat the stunner we pulled on the road last season and spoil the Pirates' dream season. But State's going to need some help from the men holding the dry erase boards. East Carolina's defense is legit, and the Pack will need to score not just one touchdown on offense but several to make this game competitive.


View the complete entry of "Looking back to Saturday"

East Carolina game to be broadcast on ESPN


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GoPack.com


Why confine the futility of our offense to local viewers only? Share it with the rest of the country!

Kickoff is set for noon.



View the complete entry of "East Carolina game to be broadcast on ESPN"

Friday, September 12, 2008

Something to consider heading into Death Valley


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You know me. I'm all about searching for a sliver of hope heading into a game State's got no good shot at winning.

So here's one.

(Continues)Russell Wilson, State's only legitimate hope at quarterback this season, went down with a concussion in the first half of the South Carolina game. As a result, the Tigers have a very limited amount of film on the redshirt freshman quarterback. Couple with that the fact that State's offense was retooled over the offseason to install a read option scheme tailored to Wilson's skillset, which subsequently was shelved when Daniel Evans and Harrison Beck had to come on in relief, and it's likely that the offense Clemson sees this afternoon will be quite a bit different than the majority of what they've seen of the 2008 Pack on film.

The flipside of that coin, of course, is that Wilson has only a half of game experience under his belt. But in front of 80,000 fans in Columbia, Wilson didn't show any signs of intimidation or jitters operating the offense. In fact, the Pack looked solid in moving the ball against the Gamecock defense right up to Wilson's injury.

So we'll see. Things could get ugly in a hurry, but the defense of the Pack has been our strong suit so far. If Wilson shows flashes of athleticism--something certainly not shown from Evans or Beck--then who knows?


View the complete entry of "Something to consider heading into Death Valley"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dignity "optional"


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Digging around on Brahsome.com, I came across this video from some fired up Georgia Tech fans. It's their ode to Paul Johnson and his triple option, and it's entertainingly horrible.

(Let me just state for the record that the sooner the "White Bread Rap" fad fades out of favor with the kids, the happier I'll be. I know that makes me sound old, but whatever; in 25+ years, the only white rapper to pull it off was Eminem, and all his success has done is span a whole new generation of wannabes that think they can kick it hardcore.

In any event, enjoy:)


View the complete entry of "Dignity "optional""

Where the Pack is ranked, statistically


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It's a bit early for these rankings to mean much, but here's where the Pack ranks nationally in several key categories after two games, courtesy NCAAsports.com:

TEAM RANKINGS
119 teams ranked in Football Bowl Subdivision
Category National
Rank
Actual




Rushing Offense 109 78.00




Passing Offense 94 153.50




Total Offense 116 231.50




Scoring Offense 100 17.00




Rushing Defense 75 143.00




Pass Efficiency Defense 50 108.84




Total Defense 61 336.00




Scoring Defense 86 29.00




Net Punting 16 39.40




Punt Returns 51 10.83




Kickoff Returns 106 15.00




Turnover Margin T-25 1.00




Pass Defense 51 193.00




Passing Efficiency 106 89.95




Sacks 4 4.00




Tackles For Loss 37 6.50




Sacks Allowed T-69 2.00





(Continues)

Again, it's early, but you can't feel good about posting three-digit numbers in 5 of 17 categories. It's not surprising, though, that 4 of those are offensive rankings given how badly we've played on that side of the ball.

Some encouraging numbers are in there, though: 16th in punting, which is often overlooked in a team's success quotient. Its an even more impressive stat given just how much punting Bradley Pierson has had to do so far through two games. We'll hope that fatigue or "punter's leg" doesn't start to become a problem if our offense doesn't improve.

State's also showing fourth, nationally, in sacks at 4.00 per game. The strong rush is yielding dividends in the turnover margin, as well, as State is tied in 25th at +1 per game.

So kudos all around to Mike Archer and the performance of the defense thus far. Hopefully with the return of Russell Wilson at QB we'll see improvement offensively and start to turn this thing around and headed in the right direction.


View the complete entry of "Where the Pack is ranked, statistically"

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Some staggering statistics, and also, alliteration


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Via the fine folks at StateFansNation, here're some sobering statistics regarding the state of Tom O'Brien's rebuilding project from Rob Daniels' article in today's News and Record:

The program O'Brien inherited from Chuck Amato in December 2006 was on shaky numerical ground. Of the 41 players State signed in 2005 and 2006, 17 are already gone. That 41 percent attrition rate far exceeds the personnel losses sustained by the other three ACC programs that changed administrations at the same time. (North Carolina's is at 18 percent; Miami has lost nine of 37 players from those classes or 24 percent; and Boston College, which O'Brien left to come to Raleigh, has seen six of 35 signees or 17 percent head elsewhere.)

You can expect to lose some guys whenever there's a coaching change, but damn. Out of two full recruiting classes, only 24 players remain, which is about the average size of one recruiting class. In other words, we're about a year behind schedule.

It's no wonder we're still well short of filling out our full 85-scholarship roster.


View the complete entry of "Some staggering statistics, and also, alliteration"

Monday, September 8, 2008

ACC Buy, Hold or Sell: Week 2


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Well, week 2 was a much better week for the league than week 1, but obviously it wouldn't have taken much to top the bed-wetting extravaganza from the opening frame of the season.

Boston College: Sell
It didn't take long for coach Jags to post a disappointing loss for the BC fanbase, but I had a suspicion that Georgia Tech could win this one. When your offense is so totally different than anything else a team will face, it makes your job that much easier. But even more than that, the Jackets showed toughness and resolve when they fell behind in the second half. Credit to the Jackets for gutting out a tough win on the road. For Boston College, they must now find a way to make their offense work with "fifth year freshman" Chris Crane. Judging from the BC boards, they're not too optimistic about those prospects.

Clemson: Hold
The Tigers won 45-17. That's good. They allowed over 400 yards of offense from the Citadel. That's bad.

Luckily for the Tigers, they open the ACC season against a struggling N.C. State team. But if the Citadel can put up 427 yards of offense, is there hope for the Pack in Russell Wilson's return to the lineup?

(Continues)
Hold
I'm not quite ready to ditch the Blue Devils just yet, but they got a cold dose of reality this weekend against Northwestern. The reality is that, in my best Pete Gillen voice, "Duke is Duke," i.e they still have a long way to go to dig out of the hole they've been in for the better part of two decades. But there's fight in this team we haven't seen in a long time, not since the early Goldsmith years. So up next for Duke is another winnable game when a Paul Johnson-less Navy comes to town.

Florida State:
Buy
This was an impressive win for the Seminoles; the 69 points were nice, but more so it's for pitching a shutout against a lower tier opponent in Western Carolina. They scored, scored and scored and refused to let the Catamounts get anywhere close to doing the same. When teams like Maryland are losing to Middle Tennessee State, there's something to be said for putting your foot on an opponent's throat and not letting up.

Georgia Tech: Buy
Big win for the Jackets. Huge. I'm about ready to declare the Yellow Jackets my new favorite to represent the Coastal in the ACC title game, but I'm reticent to do so just yet. A team with a first-year coach and a radically different offense is bound to hit a couple of road bumps along the way. Nevertheless, an impressive start to the Paul Johnson era in Atlanta.

Maryland: Sell
Man, it's BAD right now in College Park. A weak win against Delaware St. is nothing compared to a road loss to Middle-freaking Tennessee St. The Terrapins are eating their own right now, and with Ralph Friedgen, it just means there's plenty to go around.

Miami:
Buy
Bumping Miami from Hold to a Buy status after a loss is a bit unusual, you might say, but I thought the Hurricanes gave the Florida Gators all they could handle for most of the game. With 85 five-star players filling out their roster (I bet even their long snapper is a blue chipper) and Tim Tebow at quarterback hosting the 'Canes, it was going to be a long night no matter what. But I saw some good things from Miami that can probably propel them forward into the conference schedule. This team isn't as fragmented as I once thought. It's tough to know if the showing in Gainsville was on raw emotion or not, but I think the 'Canes have a shot at the Coastal title.

North Carolina:
Hold
The Heels were off this weekend, resting up for their Thursday night game against Rutgers.

N.C. State:
Hold
Two good things about this weekend: We scored, and none of our quarterbacks were injured. Hopefully breaking the seal on the scoreboard for 2008 will portend more offense from here on out. Good news on that front: Russell Wilson will be starting under center against Clemson. So I'm holding the Pack for now, waiting to see how Wilson will perform after his first hard hit. Will he respond with confidence, or become a bit gun shy?

Virginia:
Hold
Virginia gets a win against cross-state rival(?) Richmond, 16-0, but it took a late interception to squelch the Spiders in what was a far-too-close-for-comfort game for the Hoos. Given how much they got beat down by USC, I can't really downgrade them any further.

Virginia Tech:
Hold
Tyrod Taylor made his return to action for the Hokies, rushing for 112 yards out of the quarterback slot, in their 24-7 win against Furman. We'll see if Sean Glennon continues to get action at quarterback as the Hokies move forward from here, but for now I'm going to hold on Virginia Tech until we see more against capable competition.

Wake Forest: Buy
The Wake Forest train keeps on a rollin', picking up a huge come-from-behind win against Ole Miss in Winston Salem. Sam Swank is ice when it counts, and forget Cullen Harper--Riley Skinner is the best quarterback in the ACC. He looked as cool as a cucumber on that final drive to put the Deacs in position to win it at the end. The Clemson-Wake game on October 9th is shaping up to be the "true" ACC title game unless a worthy contender can emerge from the Coastal.


View the complete entry of "ACC Buy, Hold or Sell: Week 2"

Saturday, September 6, 2008

State beats W&M 34-24...more questions remain.


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GoPack.com

Sometimes you just have to get in the endzone once to get the ball rolling.

In an abysmal first half that saw both teams punt the ball a combined 13 times, the Pack would finally cross the goal line with an Andre Brown touchdown run following a Tribe turnover.

(Continues)

That score led to a veritable offensive explosion,
by the Pack's recent standards, with State posting 34 points before night's end.

But there are still some big questions that need to be answered. Pimo-A-#1 is State posting just 67 rushing yards against a Div. I-AA opponent. For all the grief I gave Carolina for getting manhandled upfront by McNeese St. last week, we looked equally poor creating lanes for Andre Brown and Curtis Underwood to run through. It's even more troubling when you consider that, according to Steven's look at W&M's team from last season, their run defense was atrocious.

It took Brown 17 carries to get to the half-century mark (54, to be exact). That a paltry 2.5 yards per carry...pretty thin. If State's going to have any chance at all against Clemson next week, or any other opponent left on its schedule, it has got to run the football better.

Daniel Evans had yet another poor outing, and that should put the final nail in his starting chances this year. Harrison Beck used his arm strength to create big plays in the passing game, an element Evans just doesn't posses. Wilson is still your number one option, but Beck showed flashes of the potential that made him such a highly sought after recruit at one time.

The defense continued to look strong. The zone scheme that was installed after TOB's arrival seems to be generating the turnovers it was intended to, with two more interceptions snagged against William & Mary. You have to temper things, however, given that it was against a I-AA opponent.

So it's on to Death Valley next week. This was a good win for the Pack if for no other reason than it was a win. Points were scored. Just getting over that hump is an important part of the recovery process.


View the complete entry of "State beats W&M 34-24...more questions remain."