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Friday, October 31, 2008

Hickson gets nasty on Emeka Okafor for his first two points in the Association


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J.J. picked a hell of a way to get his first two points in the NBA...a nasty dunk over Emeka Okafor.

Doubly sweet since it came against the Bobcats (note the stellar help defense from Sean May).




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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Irving, James and Williams not practicing this week


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Per N&O, Nate Irving, Geron James and Julian Williams will not practice this week

A good move on O'Brien's part, of course, as the Pack tries to warp-speed the healing of these three key players.

Irving's value is understood, of course, but having another big receiver (James) gives Russell Wilson another big-play, I'll-throw-it-up-and-you-go-get-it-big-fella threat, and the return of Williams would further bolster an improving offensive line that's still trying to overpower defensive fronts enough to free up a struggling running game that's lacked firepower all season.

We'll talk about it more as next weekend approaches, but the Duke game may be the most critical game of the season. Win it and you avoid the 0-fer in-conference and build momentum heading into games two and three of the Big 4 tourney...lose to Duke and A) you get stuck with the stigma of losing to historically--if not for this season--one of the worst college football programs in America and B) you stand a good chance that you go 0-8 in-conference. Ugh.

But let's not even talk about that. For now, just pray that these three weapons are back come November 8th.


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Random Rant: College football should only be played on Thursdays and Saturdays


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I heard on the radio this morning that two--count 'em, TWO--college football games were played last night. Marshall defeated Houston 37-23 and the mighty college of Buffalo took down the Bobcats of Ohio 32-19.


Is anyone else surprised or (like me) irritated that they're playing college football (FBS Division, mind you) on Tuesdays?

Maybe I'm getting old or set in my ways, but when the hell did this start happening?

(Continues)

And it's not just Tuesdays...Fridays, Wednesdays and even Sundays are fair game these days for college football, apparently.

According to the schedule at www.espn.com, for week 6 of the FBS Division schedule, running from Monday, September 29th-Sunday, October 5th, there were games played on Tuesday, Wednesday, three games on Thursday, Friday and then the remaining slate was played on Saturday. The kicker? While technically not in "Week 6," there was a game played the previous Sunday, September 28th, meaning that in a one-week span, there was an FBS Division game played on every day of the week except Monday.

This is madness.

It wasn't long ago that it was a big deal to play on Thursday night. You were the only show in town and the whole college football world was watching. Now folks have other options.

Here's my feeling on the matter: College football should go back to 99% of its games being played on Saturday, with one game played on Thursday night. That's it. When you cram a week full of college football, the appeal of the sport is kind of lost. College football is a weekend event, something to look forward to. Your team plays and you keep an eye and ear out for how the other teams are faring throughout Saturday. And if your team is lucky enough to play on Thursday night, then by God it's a big deal, because there truly isn't any other team out there playing.

There are other implications for sprinkling games across the week, as well. Football, as a physically demanding sport, requires time in between games for rest and healing. These mid-week games are typically scheduled with an accompanying bye week either before or after, but not always, and compressed timeframes between games for these schools can throw the bodies of these players out of rhythm, or possibly lead to an increased risk of injury.

The NCAA, the conferences and college football as a whole are all running the risk of killing the goose that laid the golden egg, so to speak. In the ever-expanding chase for more dollars, they risk damaging the appeal of college football to the average sports fan. Yeah, the football junkies, the gamblers and the fans of the two teams playing a Tuesday-night tilt may care, but do the rest of us? Moreover, if college football is on every night, will we really want to tune in on Thursday night or at any point on Saturday?

Too much of a good thing is bad news.


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Monday, October 27, 2008

Three reasons why you shouldn't feel that bad following the Maryland loss


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On Saturday, the Wolfpack football team lost to Maryland. It was the team's sixth loss on the year, the fourth in a row. With the score tied at 24, the Terrapins marched the length of the field in the final minutes to kick a game-winning field goal, the third time in as many weeks the Pack let a game get away in the final moments.


So, as a State fan, you should be pissed right now about the state of the football team. Right?

I don't think so. Here are three reasons why.

(Continues)

  1. The Pack fought tough as significant underdogs: State entered the game 10.5-point underdogs, according to the degenerates in Vegas. While betting lines are more a function of betting patterns than legitimate predictive analysis, they do offer an idea on the public sentiment of how a game will play out and, as we've all seen plenty of times, betting lines can be eerily accurate (how many times have you seen a pick-six in the final minute help the favored team cover by one point?). In a game a lot of folks (including a large number of State fans) expected to go Maryland's way in a huge fashion, it was tied at the half and right up to the end. Not bad on a drenched day on the road.
  2. The continued growth of Russell Wilson as a quarterback: Quite simply, folks, this is the first legitimate quarterback to suit up in Red and White since Philip Rivers. Going for 3-for-3 passing and rushing for 13 more yards, Wilson led the team on an opening drive that consumed 7:48 and set a tone for the rest of the game. He'd finish the game 18-of-28 for 187 yards and two rain-soaked scores. After years of watching quarterback futility over the last five years, it's nice to see finally a quarterback who looks in command of the offense.
  3. The improvement of the offensive line is keeping pace with Wilson's growth: Just as Russell Wilson continued his maturation process with a solid game in College Park, the offensive line that looked so horrible to start the season is now giving Wilson plenty of time to operate. Case in point: on one play in the fourth quarter, Wilson took the snap and stood in the pocket 11 seconds before taking off for a 20-yard rush. Now, if that doesn't seem that impressive, take a moment to count off One Mississippi, Two Mississippi, etc., all the way to 11. In football time, that's an ETERNITY. The line continued to block that entire time, chipping rushers here, stoning rushers there. After Wilson went through his entire read progression about four times, I guess he just got bored and decided to take off.
Are things going swimmingly in Wolfpack Land? Hell no! Russell is far from perfect, taking two key sacks that took the Pack out of field goal range and fumbling the ball three times. The defense continues to be an exercise in frustration at the end of games, and given that State won the time of possession battle 36:00-24:00, it's tough to say it was another case of fatigue setting in.

But the Maryland game highlighted positives for the Pack, particularly on offense, when kept in the larger frame of the rebuilding project that continues on in year two.

For me, it's not so much about wins and losses at this point; it's about development, teaching and depth-building. If we're in this boat in year five after all the teaching, development and depth has been (hopefully) built, then we've got serious problems, but put away the pitchforks for now and keep your chin up. The close losses now should translate into close wins soon enough.


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So I guess we have to talk about basketball now...State picked 9th in preseason poll


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Preseason "awards," polls at TheACC.com


Well, ninth is a hell of a lot better than 12th.

It's also a lot better than third, in a sense, given how State performed when the weight of great expectations and stupid preseason boasts (Four games? Seriously, Gavin?) helped to drive the wedge between members of the team with one another and the coaching staff.

Coach Lowe says the issues that occurred last season won't be a factor again this year, and given the fact that Ben McCauley stayed home on the team's trip to Canada in late summer, it looks like Nice Guy Sidney isn't playing around any more.

Good.

I think ninth is a good spot for State to be in right at the moment. I think they'll finish higher than that, and given that Ben's attitude seems re-adjusted for the time being and Costner's back down to fighting weight, there's reason enough to believe that State can be much improved this season over last.

I think a more accurate slot for State--assuming Degand stays healthy and Costner, McCauley and Fells play to their potentials--would be somewhere in the 4-6 range. Miami is ranked in the top tier and given that this is new territory for them, they're ripe for a disappointing finish under heavy expectations. Clemson has shown strength in spurts, but they--like their football counterparts--have a tough time excelling for a full season. I've not taken a look at how imbalanced either of those two school's schedules are, so it's tough to say if a presumed weaker schedule is what's boosting their slotting. Maybe so.

Nevertheless, I expect State to finish somewhere near the middle with a chance to surprise if guard play returns to its 2006-07 level.


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I hope Sidney wins enough in his career here at State that...


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...he can get away with dressing like THIS and no one think twice about it:




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Friday, October 24, 2008

Nice article on Adrian Wilson from the WS Journal


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Adrian Wilson reaches a new "High Point" in his life.

A good read from John Delong about the career of Adrian Wilson. Posting it also gives me an opportunity to post a couple of badass clips from Adrian: the hit that put him on the map in Wolfpack lore, and the leap that made him a YouTube celebrity.




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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Q&A with Matt of turtlewaxing.blogspot.com


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Every week I like to track down a blogger covering the Pack's opponent for the upcoming game.

This week's guest is Matt of turtlewaxing.blogspot.com. Based on the clarity of his answers he's not nearly as schizo as the team he pulls for; we get into that, the weapons the Terps will bring to bear on the Pack up in College Park and, of course, barbecue.

(Continues)

It's been a crazy year for the league as a whole, but in particular for the Terrapins. What can you attribute the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the Maryland football team to?
It is hard to say. The upsets the Terps have scored (Clemson, Wake Forest and California) have all come against teams with some serious flaws. I'm not sure they have beaten a truly competent squad yet. I think the staff is struggling to prepare this group week to week but I also think the lack of senior leaders is a large factor in the inconsistency. That isn't to say players like DT Jeremy Navarre or C Edwin Williams are not good kids, but they are not natural leaders.

It looks like Chris Turner has a stranglehold on the quarterback position at this point. What's your assessment of his performance to date?
I think he has played well. He certainly is the most competent QB on the roster. He has a tendency to spray the ball around sometimes and will force throws into coverage but he has a swagger and confidence that is innate to good QB's. Last week against Wake was probably his most solid performance of the season. He does have a poor game from time to time and his game preparation could be better.

Darius Heywood-Bey is obviously the star receiver for the Terps, but Turner involved eight other pass-catchers in the win against Wake Forest last week. Other than Bey, who are the other targets State defenders should look to shut down?
Tight end Dan Gronkowski has become a reliable target in the middle of the field and he seems to have established a rapport with Turner. Slot receiver Danny Oquendo has great hands and a knack for finding the open areas in a zone. The rest of the receiver corps has talent but they are too inconsistent to be worried about as individuals.

The Terrapin defense pitched a shutout against Wake but had 31 hung on them the week before against Virginia...what's the read on the Terp defense? What're their strengths or weaknesses?
A weakness would be coordinator Chris Cosh. Seriously. Against Virginia they played a 1970's style read and react defense and got picked apart. The game plan against Wake was much more aggressive, partly because the defense got to play with a lead for most of the game. The linebackers are fast and aggressive but not always the best in coverage. The defensive line has improved but is still a weakness. Corner Kevin Barnes may miss the rest of the season and he was the best player on the defensive side of the ball. Terrell Skinner, Nolan Carroll and Jamari McCoullough are all good players in the secondary but Barnes was on another level. A short passing game and scrambling QB could still give this group all kinds of problems.

Ralph Friedgen started off hotter than any coach in America when he took over at Maryland, but he's since cooled down a bit in recent years...what's the public opinion among Maryland fans about Ralph and the job he's doing?
I think the opinion is mixed. He accrued a fair amount of good will with those first three seasons and has been trading off that for a long time, although that well may be drying up. He is certainly the best coach since the Bobby Ross era, which is about 20 years ago now. His comments after the Wake Forest game about the fans who didn't show up didn't endear him to many fans. That is an example of his defensiveness and somewhat adversarial relationship with the fan base. It borders on the bizarre sometimes. When he anointed Jordan Steffy as the starter at QB before the season there was a near revolt in the booster circles. He can be tone deaf to the fan sentiment at times.

Bonus question I ask all my Q&A participants: Have you ever had Eastern NC style BBQ, can you differentiate it from its inferior cousin Lexington Style BBQ (sometimes referred to incorrectly as "Western NC" BBQ), and have you ever used the term "barbecue" as a verb?
My in-laws live in Fayetteville so I guess I should be able to answer this. The Eastern style is a thinner vinegar based sauce while the Lexington style is a more traditional sweet tomato BBQ sauce if I'm not mistaken. I'm a big fan of the Eastern style pulled pork, though I've never been to a pig pickin' myself. Hope I got those correct.


As a Fayetteville native I sympathize with Matt for ever having to visit the town, especially for a visit to the in-laws. Fayette-Nam, indeed...

Interesting stuff regarding Friedgen, not unlike some of the sentiment regarding Amato once Rivers left, i.e. trading on previous success, ruffling feathers with segments of the fanbase, etc.


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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

TMQ blasts McCargo


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Courtesy of my boy Matt, ESPN.com Page 2's Tuesday Morning Quarterback takes a shot--somewhat fair, mostly not--at former Wolfpack defensive lineman and first-round draft pick John McCargo:


Draft Bust Update: Last week Indianapolis canceled a trade with Buffalo for underwhelming 2006 first-round defensive tackle John McCargo, who seems on his way for admission to the Bust Hall of Fame as a first-round selection who never started so much as one game. In the 2006 first round, three defensive linemen from North Carolina State were chosen: Mario Williams, first overall to Houston; Manny Lawson to San Francisco; and McCargo to Buffalo. As the third of the three was picked, Michael Irvin asked how so many guys could go in the first round from a team that was only 7-5, saying, "Look at their record, look at their record, how can they have three first-round picks?" Look at their record is the kind of thing a player says, and here the player's instincts were better than the instincts of scouts. Williams of course has become a star, Lawson has been hampered by injuries but had a big blocked kick against Jersey/A on Sunday, and at this point it looks like McCargo's best-case outcome is that some team gives him cab fare to the airport.

(Continues)

It seems a bit unfair to call McCargo a COMPLETE bust, worthy of the Bust Hall of Fame, as the author asserts. Johnny Mac has battled injuries throughout his pro career: he's struggled with a lingering foot injury throughout his time with Buffalo and after the initial trade terms that would've sent him to Indianapolis were agreed to, it was discovered that he had a bulging disk that resulted in a failed physical.

While [McCargo] showed no real concerns about passing the exam, the former first-round draft pick does have a history of foot problems. He broke his left foot in college, then again in his rookie season and doctors had to re-break it during his rehabilitation process in the spring of 2007.


Of course the author, Gregg Easterbrook, left that little tidbit of info out, making it seem as though Indy merely changed their mind. It clearly undermines his point that McCargo's a bust, as folks rightfully give passes to injured draftees who don't live up to their billing versus those who are simply lazy or not pro material.

Now, has McCargo been accused of not doing everything he can to see the playing field? Yes, and so he doesn't get a complete absolution of the "Bust" tag as a result. But injuries are a part of the game, and to label a man a bust because he's dealt with them over the course of his career is unfair. Don't blame the man for getting drafted on potential...if anyone, blame the Bills for drafting him in spite of the risk his history of foot injury foretold.


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From the "people pay for this sh*t?" files...


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...you can, for the bargain price of just $60, buy a bottle of UNC smell-good.


(With apologies to "Anchorman")

For those times when you need to really impress that special Carolina lady, it's time to whip out Sex Sheep. Sex Sheep, from Odeon. It's illegal in nine countries.

It's made with real bits of sheep, so you know it's good.

And, you guessed it: 60% of the time, it works every time.



H/T to Section Six for the find


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Nate "Full Of Hate" Irving out for the Maryland game


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It's not shocking. The way he got rolled up intentionally injured on the downfield block that took him out for the remainder of the FSU game, you just knew he was going to be on the shelf this week.

It's unfortunate because we're coming up in Maryland's "lay an egg" portion of the schedule; we're not ranked and they should be huge favorites, giving us a good shot to win. And I only say that half-jokingly. Having Nate in the lineup would've made an upset in College Park even more likely.

(Continues)

But Dwayne Maddox should be getting more comfortable on the field by this point. Hopefully we'll see solid play from him the remainder of the year.

The question from here on out becomes, "Do you play Nate any more this season?"

It's apparent that teams will attack his ankle when he's out on the field which only increases the risk of losing him for much greater periods of time or even for the rest of his career. I think I'd almost rather shelve him, let him heal and let him begin prep for the 2009 campaign, when a more experienced Maddox will join Irving and a slew of other young talent to form what should be one of the better linebacking crews in the league.

With each passing week and loss, the goals State is fighting for become less and less valuable, and as such, the coaches have to look at what pieces of the long-term puzzle they are putting at risk to achieve it.


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Monday, October 20, 2008

Good analysis from Matt Carter on the FSU game over at Rivals.com


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Tough to argue with just about anything Matt Carter says here at www.thewolfpacker.com. He pretty much nails it, along with a good breakdown of how the opposing units (ex: State's OL versus FSU's front seven, etc.) fared against one another.

About the only thing I think he's off is in his assessment of special teams play:
Special teams
Fairly even battle overall but a slight edge to Florida State thanks to Graham Gano coolly nailing a 53-yard field goal with 1:53 left in the game to seal the victory for the Noles.

In my opinion, FSU clearly won the special team's battle. True, FSU's punter struggled early on, but Gano's kicking was clutch for the Noles, and when we had an opportunity to pin them deep inside the five late in the third quarter, not one of eight Pack players sent to snag a pooch punt could keep the ball from bounding over their heads and into the endzone.


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Friday, October 17, 2008

Video: ESPN Road Trip in town for the FSU game, and no, it doesn't suck


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3rd-and-long conversions by FSU sink the Pack


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I know a lot of fans are no doubt bent out of shape about how drastically different the game was officiated in the first in second halves. They'll say that Bowden giving the refs an earful before halftime led to missed calls against the Noles or objectionable calls against State (my only beef was the helmet-to-helmet call...very iffy).

But that's not why State lost that game. Not even close.

One need look no further than three plays that sealed State's fate against the Noles: 3rd-and-14, 3rd-and-21 and 3rd-and-17. FSU converted on those three crucial third downs at the end of the first half and in the second to keep two key drives alive that not only put points on the board (10 total) but also help wear down a beleaguered Wolfpack defense.

Losing Nate Irving again didn't help matters, of course, but State's inability to get off the field in those crucial third-and-forevers put points on the board for the Noles, help build their momentum in the game and ultimately led to State's defensive fatigue late in the game.

If State continues that trend beyond this game, it could make for a rocky end of the year.


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Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Weekly Dose of Optimism: FSU


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Florida State's in town, just in time for the State Fair, which means if you've got tickets to the game and you haven't left yet, plan on missing the opening kick. If you look up the term "Clusterf*ck" in the dictionary (I guess it'd have to be one with naughty words), there should be an aerial picture of State's annual football game during the State Fair.


Seriously, is it that hard to plan a football game around a State Fair? Surely N.C.'s Department of Agriculture plans these things out more than a freaking year in advance. I know they haven't been the most well-run state agency in recent memory, but c'mon, fax a copy of the fair schedule for the next decade to John Swofford at some point, will you?

Rant over.

Anyway...back to happy thoughts. Like how State is going to win tonight.

(Continues)

I'm not going to blow anyone's mind with my reason for optimism this week. It's the three players we regained off the injury report this week: Alan Michael Cash, Curtis Crouch and a "probable" appearance by all-everything Nate Irving.

With Cash and Irving back in the lineup, State's defense looks completely rejuvenated on paper than without them. Suddenly you've got a skilled defensive tackle exploding up the middle, occupying blockers, instantly making the job of defensive ends Wille Young and Jeff Rieskamp easier. With Irving patrolling the middle you get a hard-hitting linebacker than defends the pass probably better than any linebacker in the league. Having those two back on defense will make a world of difference tonight.

Having Crouch back isn't as big a boost as Cash or Irving, but in a season where depth is at a premium, having another Big Ugly in the trenches will be key to keeping FSU's front seven out of the State backfield. No matter how good your starting five linemen are, if you can't give them some rest at some point during the night they'll be useless when it counts in the fourth quarter. Crouch gives them another skilled blocker at right guard.

Another reason I'm optimistic tonight is that it's Thursday night. The weather's great. The fans will be pumped. I think there will be enough energy in the stadium to keep everyone psyched all game long.

If the ball bounces the right way for State early and the Pack gets ahead at some point or is within striking distance at the end, there's no reason to believe that State can't pull out a big W at home when they need it most.


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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Injury Report update: Cash, Crouch at 100%; Irving at 75%


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Injury report at PackPride.com


Just in case you haven't heard already, Alan-Michael Cash and Curtis Crouch are both back at 100% heading into tomorrow night's game against Florida State, and linebacker Nate Irving is listed as "probable," which means there's about a 75% chance he'll play.

All three would be welcome additions to the lineup.

(Continues)

Getting Cash back may be the biggest boost for the Pack defense. He was a force in the middle that put heaps of pressure on opposing offensive linemen, running backs and quarterbacks alike. His presence will require FSU's line to double team him a great deal, occupying blockers normally available to assist on protection against State defensive ends Wilie Young and Jeff Rieskamp. Look for Young and or Rieskamp to look more effective tomorrow than they have in previous games.

Also, the (hopefully) more effective pass rush will help our defensive backfield. If Christian Ponder has to hurry his throws, it bodes well for our secondary to snag an errant pass or two.

Having Crouch back to shuffle into the lineup should keep our guards fresher, making them more effective. For an offensive line that was looking improved against BC than they did earlier in the year, his addition is an added bonus.

The return of Nate Irving, depending upon how much playing time he gets, will be one many Pack fans watch closely. Is an Irving at 75% as effective as a Dwayne Maddox at 100%? O'Brien thinks that Irving's playing time will be limited, so it's tough to know just how effective he will be when he is out on the field. No doubt there will be a lot of eyes focused on him when he is.


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Clemson Fan...you should be embarrassed by this


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Hat Tip to the fine folks at 850TheBuzz for bringing this to my attention. Holy crap this is funny.

I really, REALLY hope no one felt this bad when Herb hit the road (fast forward to about 0:40 or so):


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Q&A with Bill of ScalpEm.com


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Two weeks ago we chatted with Bill of Eagle in Atlanta, so this week we decided to chat up another Bill, he of www.scalpem.com. Scalp 'Em, of course, is a blog devoted to all things Florida State, and we tossed a few questions back and forth regarding the two schools and this week's Thursday night game in Raleigh.


And, of course, BBQ.

You can find my answers to his questions here.

(Continues)

With Tommy Bowden's *cough cough* "resignation" this week, Bobby's now the only Bowden left in the college coaching ranks. What is the opinion of Coach Bowden among FSU fans at the moment? Is it Jimbo time? Will FSU fans be content to let the Bobby versus Joe Paterno "Most Coaching Wins" race play itself out?
I'll be honest there's my opinion, the old school and the new school. My thoughts are that FSU is going to keep Bobby around as long as Bobby wants. President T.K. Wetherell is a football guy that seems to like having his hands in the pot when it comes to the athletic department, and he loves Bobby. I'm sort of resigned to the fact that Bowden is the figure head for as long as he wants to be. The old school will tell you that FSU is lucky to have Bobby, and would like him put on ice when he retires so he can come back from a cryogenic state when FSU needs him in the future. And the new school will tell you that the old man should have gone a long time ago.

So is it Jimbo time? In a way, it already is Jimbo time. While he may not have the head coaching title to himself, it's obvious that Jimbo Fisher has his hands in all the pots. He does tons of interviews, he has control of the offense and he's acting like the head coach of the program. That's good for the program because it gives it a sense of stability since there is no way to know when Bobby will retire.

As for the Bobby vs. JoePa thing, I think the only people that care about that are fans, JoePa and Bobby. I don't think it weighs much of anything when it comes to the athletic departments at PSU and FSU. Frankly I think it's an overrated record anyway.

I'm looking over the numbers and it looks like FSU is back to its old defensive ways...5th in rushing defense nationally, 12th in pass efficiency defense, 2nd in overall defense. The bugaboo continues to be, it seems, the passing game (#83 in pass efficiency), and to an outsider it seems like it's been that way ever since Chris Weinke left back in the 90's. Is that an accurate assessment? Tell me about your thoughts on the current QB situation and how you see it playing out the rest of the year.
It's an accurate statement. There is a long list of FAILURE FSU QB's since Weinke retired, er uh graduated. The only reliable one since Weinke was Drew Weatherford, and for various reasons he's on the bench. Ponder is Fisher's guy, that's the end of the story. Richardson isn't going to get into the games now for various reasons, and Weatherford is only there for emergencies. Am I impressed with Ponder? Not yet. He's mobile, and he has a good arm, but there are too many mistakes. The Ponder fans out there tell me that he'll improve, but I've heard that about a bunch of other QBs since Weinke. The best QB might be E.J. Manuel who is redshirting this year. Only time will tell, but that kid has a natural leadership quality to him and the talent to back it up.

No doubt folks in Tallahassee followed the rise and fall of Chuck Amato here in Raleigh closer than your average coaching tenure. How has Chuck been received in his return to FSU? What were your opinions on his comments about returning home to face N.C. State this week?
We love Chuck. Simple as that. Chuck came back and the defense started to get better again. He's also a disciplinarian for the team, which FSU DESPERATELY needed. Chuck the Chest for president! As for his comments, I think he shows he's a class act. All too often programs want 10 wins NOW because of the money associated with college football. It's a shame, but it's also the way things are. Chuck was yet another victim of the college football money machine, and fans that want a national title next week.

Who should we look out for from Florida State to make big plays Thursday night?
I have a gut feeling that Preston Parker might have a good night finally, but if I'm going to go out on a limb I'll mention these two names... Graham Gano, who might make all his kicks with a sore knee. His kickoffs could be big for FSU, and freshman running back Jermaine Thomas, if he finally gets some more touches. The kid is going to be a good one for the Noles in the future.

Is this team good enough to overcome the Wake Forest loss to win the Atlantic and appear in the ACC Title Game?
I have to say no. There are still losses on the schedule because of the inconsistency with the offense, and in reality FSU almost blew a big 2nd half lead to a bad Miami team. After N.C. State it gets harder for the Noles, VT, GT, Clemson (with EXTREME Willy Korn), BC, Maryland and Florida. Most FSU fans are in denial that things could be very ugly, mediocre or wonderful. There's just no way to tell. My guess is that FSU doesn't make the ACC Title game, but that they make a solid bowl game and win it. Check back later to see if I'm entirely wrong, which I usually am!

*Bonus question: Have you ever had Eastern NC style BBQ, can you differentiate it from its inferior cousin Lexington Style BBQ (sometimes referred to incorrectly as "Western NC" BBQ), and have you ever used the term "barbecue" as a verb?
I have not had the Eastern Style BBQ... although I do know that Eastern has barely any sauce and Lexington Style has barely any sauce with some ketchup added to it. I'm originally a Yankee from Connecticut, so you can boo me now for not being a BBQ specialist. However, I have used "barbecue" as a verb many, many times and I do like the mustard and vinegar based "Carolina" slaw. I can make a pretty good one for tailgate to go on that pulled pork sandwich.

Nah, Bill, I won't boo you...Lord knows we State fans get in enough trouble doing that as is. For a Yankee, it sounds like Bill does alright by himself in the BBQ department; any man that makes his own slaw is alright by me. It can be mighty tough to break the "barbecue as a verb" habit...just as it would be tough for me to all of a sudden begin to say "please?" instead of "excuse me?" when I miss something said, like those wacky folks in Cincinnati and Western PA. But in any respect, Thursday night should be a good time as both teams have a lot to play for.


View the complete entry of "Q&A with Bill of ScalpEm.com"

Monday, October 13, 2008

Neidermeyer: DEAD! Dean Wormer: DEAD! Tommy Bowden: DEAD!


2 comments

Well, not dead, per se. But he won't be coming back to Clemson, that's for sure.


Today was Tommy's last day at the helm of the Tigers, as he got canned ERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR "resigned" earlier this afternoon.

I don't know all the particulars just yet, as I've been in a bunker at work all day and haven't kept up with all the latest developments. So, I'll just point you here for the time being and update things later or post on the matter at a later time once we've all sorted through the quotes from all the legions of players, administrators and boosters eager to throw ol' Tommy under the bus.

As for Tommy, no doubt he'll land on his feet somewhere as a coordinator at a BCS school looking for a change of direction or as head coach at a smaller FBS or at a FCS school. He'll then undertake the long, arduous journey back up the coaching ladder, if he so choses.


View the complete entry of "Neidermeyer: DEAD! Dean Wormer: DEAD! Tommy Bowden: DEAD!"

Friday, October 10, 2008

Rivals.com: Checking in with Chuck The Chest


6 comments

Another strong piece from Jacey Zembal, this time about Amato's return to Raleigh.


Chuck Amato was a lot of things. Brash. Arrogant at times. Caustic towards the media and other teams. He struggled at retaining assistants and didn't field questions at press conferences very well.

But as much deserved grief as he got during his time at State, there was no denying the man loved his alma mater and living in the Raleigh area. Much in the same way that Jim Valvano did at the end of his life, Amato adopted N.C. State and Raleigh as his home. As such, it's tough for me to hate on the man.

(Continues)

Amato's like your crazy loud-mouthed uncle. He's always the center of attention, even when he shouldn't be, and he runs off at the mouth too much for comfort. But he's family, and he cares deeply about you and yours. The same is true of Amato.

When he belabors the point about not holding grudges, and how he insists on making you aware of all the good things he did while here, it tells me deep down that he does still bear a grudge. Why else bring it up?

But it's understandable in a way, because things ended badly, with a lot of hurt feelings only two years ago. Time will heal these slowly scabbing wounds eventually, if not overnight.

I'm glad he's not our coach anymore, but I'm glad he's a Wolfpacker. Because these days, during these trying times with basketball and football, a man who'll go out of his way to profess his love for State to the end -- on matter the circumstances -- is rare.


View the complete entry of "Rivals.com: Checking in with Chuck The Chest"

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Yours truly guest picking this week in ACCNow's "Pick Six"


10 comments

ACCNow's Pick Six: Week Seven

All any man ever asks is to be given the opportunity to succeed or fail in a grand fashion, and I have just that this week as I go toe-to-toe-to-toe with the N&O's Joe Giglio and Caulton Tudor in picking the winner of six of this weekend's college football games.

The pressure's on, as last week the N&O duo were beaten by TarHeelFan, and to lose to a Tar Heel in picking college FOOTBALL games would be just downright shameful. They only care about basketball, right? This ain't January--it's still October.

You may disagree with any (or all) of my picks, but I can justify my decisions in all of them if you're curious to know what I was thinking.

So there you go. Wish me luck.


View the complete entry of "Yours truly guest picking this week in ACCNow's "Pick Six""

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Hell freezeth: State manages to go a week without an injury


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USA Today/AP


This may be the mother jinx of all jinxes, but screw it, I'm happy.

We managed to NOT have a major injury this weekend (I think...who knows what goes on in the Murphy Center or on the practice fields until the official injury report tomorrow).

It's just what the doctor (literally) ordered as we head into a 12-day rest and recuperation period (aka Bye Week). The pool operator will no doubt be working overtime as we try to get as many banged up Wolfpack players back on the field for the Florida State game.

But hey, it feels good not having to report on "Starter X out for the remainder of the year" this week.

That, my friends, is cause for celebration!


View the complete entry of "Hell freezeth: State manages to go a week without an injury"

Nice Vinny D article up at Bulls.com


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Vinny Del Negro stressing focus, energy


The article focuses on Del Negro as the new head coach of the Chicago Bulls, how training camp has gone so far, and how he thinks various other teams in the league will shape up.

The real treat of the story, though, is the kick-ass photo of Vinny hanging out with Jimmy V in the locker room and the sidebar that touches on Vinny's relationship with V and his role in the 1987 ACC title.

(Continues)
Wolf Tracks

With the addition of guard Vinny Del Negro, Jim Valvano’s NC State Wolfpack began a run of five consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament, twice reaching the Elite Eight (1985 & 1986), and a Sweet Sixteen appearance (1989) a year after Del Negro graduated.

In 1987, after a sixth place finish in the regular season, Valvano and Del Negro ingeniously directed the Wolfpack to a surprising run through the ACC Tournament, reaching the title game against archrival North Carolina. With only seconds left on the clock, Del Negro calmly stepped to the line and knocked down two clutch free throws to give NC State a stunning 68-67 upset victory over the Tar Heels, who had gone undefeated in conference play that season.

But at the end they kind of kill the buzz with this sobering reminder:

To date, North Carolina State’s Men’s Basketball program has yet to capture another ACC Championship.

Pretty sad that from the time of our last title, a guy can still have one year of eligibility remaining, enjoy a lengthy pro career, then be named head coach of an NBA team. Oy.


View the complete entry of "Nice Vinny D article up at Bulls.com"

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

How to meet women and get famous, the Eddie Goines way


2 comments

Former Wolfpack wide receiver set to star opposite Beyonce in video


I'd say Eddie Goines is a lucky man, but that would be grossly understating it. The man who set quite a few Wolfpack receiving records during his time in Raleigh (before some guy named Torry broke 'em all) is making a name for himself out in Hollywood.

After paying his dues playing bit parts in television shows and B-movies (who could ever forget his riveting role as "Military Guy" on the NBC soap "Passions"?), Goines is taking a big leap forward as the love interest of none other than Beyonce Knowles in her latest video.

Yeah. That Beyonce.

Dude, if you never act in another TV show, movie, infomercial, self-help video or OSHA training video from here on out, you've done alright for yourself.

EDIT: Thanks to my boy Matt for tossing this classic Eddie G photo my way. How did he not beat out Clyde Frazier for the commercial role? Just imagine Eddie sitting beside Keith Hernandez screaming "REEEEEEE-JECTED!"


View the complete entry of "How to meet women and get famous, the Eddie Goines way"

Monday, October 6, 2008

Where the Pack is ranked, statistcally: Week 6


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Six games in, here are the gory details:

State ranks in triple digits (out of 119 teams) in eight different categories -- four on offense (rushing offense, passing efficiency, scoring offense, total offense) and four on defense (pass defense, tackles for loss, scoring defense, total defense).

It's not pretty folks. Chin up, though. The week State fans have been looking forward to all year is upon us (the bye week), which is an opportunity for us to heal up and work on addressing these issues. We hope.

Category National
Rank
Actual Atlantic Coast Conference
Leader
Actual
Rushing Offense 116 80.00 Georgia Tech 290.20
Passing Offense 78 195.50 Wake Forest 243.50
Total Offense 116 275.50 Florida St. 418.60
Scoring Offense 100 19.00 Florida St. 39.60
Rushing Defense 85 170.00 Florida St. 64.00
Pass Efficiency Defense 87 132.75 Boston College 90.73
Total Defense 107 430.17 Florida St. 230.00
Scoring Defense 102 31.33 Boston College 11.40
Net Punting 28 37.36 Florida St. 40.17
Punt Returns 72 8.00 Miami (Fla.) 18.83
Kickoff Returns 6 26.21 North Carolina St. 26.21
Turnover Margin 51 .33 Wake Forest 1.50
Pass Defense 106 260.17 Georgia Tech 144.40
Passing Efficiency 110 101.23 Georgia Tech 151.73
Sacks T-62 1.67 Boston College 3.00
Tackles For Loss 111 4.00 Georgia Tech 8.40
Sacks Allowed 87 2.17 Florida St. 1.00


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N&O Video from the BC game


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Sunday, October 5, 2008

51 attempts, 34 completions and 428 yards later...


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...State's passing defense made Boston College's Chris Crane look more like Matt Ryan on his best days.

I think we all knew that losing Alan Michael Cash and Nate Irving on defense would impact the Pack's effectiveness on pass defense.

I had no idea it would be to this degree.

(Continues)

That Crane had 17 incompletions is probably the more incredible stat. I can't think offhand of any moment in the game where State's pass defense seriously contended a pass. The Pack's pass rush was ineffective all game long, regardless of whether the front four was aided by blitzing backers or not.

Credit should be given to Steve Logan for calling a good game plan, and to Crane for executing it. Also to the stellar play of the BC offensive line.

But without Cash occupying extra blockers in the middle, the ends were neutralized and unable to generate a decent pass rush, giving Crane all day to pick apart our zone defense. Zero pass rush makes any quarterback and offensive coordinator look like world beaters.

Too, not having Irving patrolling the middle of the field, where he's already had three interceptions against less-than-wary quarterbacks this season, gave Crane's crossing receivers enough space to make drive-extending catches on third downs (BC was 8-of-16 on 3rd down conversions).

I'm afraid that this pattern will remain until one of two things occur:
1. Cash and Irving return, and play back to their prior levels that had State's offense respectable, or;
2. Mike Archer finds a way to coach up the players we do have on the field to get the job done.

If neither occurs, we could see future opponents putting up similar, inflated passing numbers against the Pack.


View the complete entry of "51 attempts, 34 completions and 428 yards later..."

Friday, October 3, 2008

My Weekly Dose of Optimism: BC


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Two words: Russell Wilson

Two more: Anthony Hill

The good news that came down the pipe last night about Wilson starting and Hill probable for tomorrow's game means our offensive chances look about 100% better than they did on Wednesday before the report.

With these two guys in action, I think the Pack has enough weapons to present at least some sort of a mild threat against BC's solid defense. The passing attack should be more effective, which in turn will benefit Andre Brown and Jamelle Eugene's ability to run the ball. Without Wilson and Hill, I would've expected things to go a bit like they did against USF. Which is to say, not good.

We shall see. I think the Pack defense will be tested quite a bit, but the Pack fans will be fired up to see Wilson back in the lineup and should be ready to make some noise in Carter-Finley. I think you'll see the ball bounce our way, with some drive-killing turnovers from BC that lead to just enough points for us to eek out the win.

Just pray it doesn't cost us any more healthy players.


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

Wilson will start, Anthony Hill upgraded to probable


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Injury report posted at PackPride.com


I don't want to jinx anything, so I'll just say it's a nice sign to see more guys coming OFF the injury report than heading onto it.

Quarterback Russell Wilson has been named the starter for the Boston College game, putting an end to the will-he-won't-he-start speculation this week.

Bonus: Tight end Anthony Hill has been upgraded to "probable," meaning he'll more than likely see some playing time on Saturday.

Getting these two players back in the fold is great news for an offense that showed little against South Florida and faces an equally-strong-if-not-stronger defense in Boston College. Wilson's ability to make plays on the run will help keep BC's pass rush a bit more honest, and having Hill in to block and add another pass-catching option should improve the effectiveness of both the running and passing games.

So knock on wood, kiss your rabbit's foot, toss some salt around...the injury situation, dare I say, seems to be getting better.


View the complete entry of "Wilson will start, Anthony Hill upgraded to probable"

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Back by popular demand: ACC Buy, Hold or Sell: Week 5


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Alright, thebigwood, this one's for you, buddy. Week Five's edition of ACC Buy, Hold or Sell.

Boston College: Buy
Boston College showed last Saturday that they can still put points on the board even if Matt Ryan is no longer quarterback. They throttled the University of Rhode Island 42-0 in a royal buttwhooping, a nice little tune up before they hit I-95 south on their way to Raleigh this weekend. The most impressive aspect of the Eagles thus far has been their defense, which statistically ranks at or near the top in every defensive category.

They'll no doubt be a tough out for the Pack this weekend.

Clemson: Sell
The Herb Sendek-ification of Clemson football continues. Tommy Bowden's WTF loss against Maryland this past weekend, in which he all but abandoned the running game in the second half despite enjoying great success against the Terps on the ground in the first, thereby taking the ball out of your top two playmakers in Davis and Spiller, has left Clemson fans numb to the state of the football program. It's not anger they feel; it's apathy.

I, and many of my Wolfpack brethren, felt the same way as the WTF losses mounted with our basketball program under Sendek. At some point all the life and the passion for it--be it football in Greenville or basketball in Raleigh three years ago--gets sucked out completely and you just stop caring about the end results. And that's a BAD place to be if you're the head coach.

Tommy's death watch is on...this time, with earnest.

(Continues)
Duke:Buy
I'm still buying the Blue Devils, who continue to post wins under Cutcliffe. After a week off from their Navy victory, Duke hosted UVa and kicked the ever-loving tar out of them 31-3, breaking a 26-conference game losing streak.

The road from here on out gets tough for the Devils, though, with nothing but conference games and a road trip to a very good Vanderbilt team. But people are excited about Duke football again...which means it's either time to seal yourselves up in the bomb shelter or it's about time for State to win another national title in basketball! (I vote the latter, not the former)

Florida State: Hold
Since I last left you, the Florida State Seminoles managed to drop a 12-3 contest to Wake Forest and then beat a mediocre Colorado team 39-21. Bottom line, I don't know which direction to take FSU. They still, after all these years since Chris Freaking Weinke, haven't developed a quarterback that can simply manage a game and let their other skill players make plays. Forget tossing 12 touchdowns a game--try throwing for fewer than four interceptions a game first. Baby steps, I guess.

Despite their continued foundering at QB, however, they're only one game--the aforementioned Wake game--from being 4-0 and atop the Atlantic Division. So I'm holding them, but with an itchy trigger finger. They take on Miami this weekend in a game that will help decide the outcome of both divisions.

Georgia Tech:
Buy
What can you say about the job Paul Johnson has done in his first season at Tech that hasn't already been said? He's a damn good coach, period. As such he's got the Jackets poised to make a run at the Coastal title. To do it, though, Tech'll have to pretty much run the table in conference, as they dropped their first conference game to Virginia Tech. Nevertheless the Jackets have looked real solid thus far and are a strong buy in my book.

Maryland:
Buy
It's not easy to go down to Death Valley and win against the Tigers, even if they're coached by Tommy Bowden. But that's just what Maryland did, knocking off Clemson 20-17, further adding to the weird rolloer coaster of a season the Terps have already been on just halfway through the year. At some point, you've got to give a team that finds a way to win their due, so I'm upgrading them to a Buy...until they find a way to lose to Virginia this weekend.

Miami:
Sell
The Hurricanes had a tremendous opportunity to put the league on notice that they were a team to be reckoned with this year. Instead they let a pivotal home game against division rival North Carolina slip away in the final two minutes. It's clear that Shannon has some talent on his hands and a decent young QB in Robert Marve, who nearly led them on a game-winning drive in the final moments. But it's also clear that they have a lot of holes to shore up before they can be considered a solid top-tier team in the conference.

North Carolina:
Buy
Ugh. I STILL hate Buying the Heels, but I've STILL got to do it. Winning on the road against Miami was a big win for Butch Davis and the Heels, putting away a tough conference foe in their house. Nearly everyone wrote them off when T.J. Yates went down with an injury because so much of the Tar Heel offense flows through the passing game, but Cameron Sexton stepped in and played admirably in his stead. As such, you have to give them their due. It will be interesting to see if Sexton can continue this level of play or if he'll revert back to the Sexton of old, the one who made poor decisions and tossed the ball more to the other team than tolerable.

N.C. State:
Sell
The injury rate seems to have slowed a bit. That's about the best I can offer up as positives right now. Russell Wilson is still out with a mysterious shoulder injury (though there are reports that he's taking limited part in practices, which is encouraging), and until he returns it's Harrison Beck's show. And it's a show I don't think most folks like to see. As the weeks tick by, the sand in the hourglass for 2008 continues to run out and the opportunities for State to turn things around before the season ends start to slip away. This week's game against Boston College is huge, as it presents probably the best chance State has to defeat a conference foe, well, for the rest of the year, sadly.

Virginia:
Sell
The carnival of crap continues in Charlottesville. I mean, if you're a Hoo fan, think about this: Your team just got beat by Duke. By 28 points. That's it, in a nutshell. Strong Sell, to be sure.

Virginia Tech:
Buy
The Hokies won a big game for the ACC last week, beating Nebraska in their house. In a league still trying to find itself, the Hokies are still the best team out of the 12.

Wake Forest:
Hold
Even Jim Grobe can have a WTF loss every now and then, I suppose. The midshipmen of Navy snuck up on the Deacs and exposed them a bit in a 24-17 upset over Wake Forest, particularly Wake's lack of a running game and depleted offensive line. Quarterback Riley Skinner managed to out-rush Josh Adams and Jordan Pendergrass combined, but had a rough game passing the football, tossing four picks. As bad as the Navy game went, however, I still think Skinner is the best QB in the league and will return to winning form from here on out. The bigger question is can the Deacs develop a running game to compliment him. The signs currently don't point that way, but Grobe is too good of a coach to sit idly by while his team struggles. Expect them to get better before the year is out.


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Q&A with Bill of Eagle in Atlanta


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Remember when I said we'd probably be doing some more of these Q&A's with bloggers from other schools? Well we're on a roll, going back-to-back Q&A in sequential weeks.

This week we chat with Bill of Eagle in Atlanta, a Boston College fan who wound up deep in the heart of Dixie. Bonus for him, though: Matt Ryan managed to land in his backyard! That'd be like Philip Rivers getting drafted by the Raleigh semi-pro football team.

Eh, Sort of.

Anyway, you can find my answers to his queries here.

As to the questions I tossed his way, I asked him about Chris Crane, injuries, Steve Logan, the BC fan's second-favorite past time--hating Tom O'Brien--and of course about North Carolina's culinary gift to the world, barbecue.

(Continues)

Losing Matt Ryan to the NFL was obviously a big loss for the Eagles...can Chris Crane turn things around before the season (and his career) is over? How do BC fans feel about the job offensive coordinator Steve Logan has done this season with Crane?

If by turnaround you mean become a competent passer and potential NFL draftee, then no. I think we’ve seen most of Crane’s upside. That said, I think BC can win with his mistakes. He still brings things to the table (the ability to stretch the field with his arm and the deceptive running). Regardless of how well he plays week to week, he’ll still be on a short leash and will continue to split time with Dominique Davis. The coaches haven’t spelled it out, but they have indicated that the hot hand will get most of the snaps.

As for Logan, I am a big fan. How others feel will probably be influenced by the remainder of the season. No one expected Crane to be Matt Ryan. But most people thought Logan could mask his weaknesses and play to his strengths. That hasn’t happened yet. But there is still time.

As a member of a fanbase that essentially ran off a decent-but-not-great coach (Herb Sendek), I both understand and yet am somewhat puzzled by the venom BC fans have for O'Brien, even two years after his departure. Can you sum up just why there is so much hate for O'Brien in Chesnut Hill?
Most BC fans don’t hate O’Brien. In fact, I would say most are indifferent. As for the hardcore group, there were a few things that set them off. First and foremost is TOB’s ability to come up one game short and play not to lose against top teams. Then you mix in his whining about BC faults. He also had a habit of floating his name for every opening every year. The final blow to many was his parting shot. Saying “9 or 10” wins is the best you could do at BC rubbed people the wrong way. Ultimately his personality and underselling of BC is the foundation of the dislike. I am sure that in time and after he retires he’ll be welcome back with some sort of ceremony. Until then, he won’t have many in Chestnut Hill rooting for him.

It looks like, from the stats, that the rushing carries are getting divvied up pretty evenly among Montel Harris, Jeff Smith and Josh Haden. What do each of these three backs bring to the table, and how does Logan like to employ them in the running game?
Smith has the raw speed. Harris is probably the most natural (great vision and balance). Haden is somewhere in between. They’ve all been used similarly. We are in more of a true spread this year, so most are getting handoffs out of the shot gun and running to a hole. You’ll also see some option runs on Saturday.

What are your overall impressions of head coach Jeff Jagodzinski in year two?
Last year Jags showed he can coach. He put together a good staff. Took over an experienced team and took them further than anyone had previously done. This year’s challenge is different and we will see how he rides it out.

As for overall impression, I like the guy. I think he’s brought a good energy and outlook to the program yet hasn’t undone any of the great and unique things about BC. He gets “it.”

Did Boston College ever go through a period of injuries under Tom O'Brien like the ones State is dealing with currently?
I cannot remember a specific time where BC was hit as hard with injuries as NC State has been this season. Among the people who follow the program closely, many were critical of former Strength and Conditioning coach Todd Rice (NCSU's current S&C). He always claimed that his stretching method limited injuries. I am not a doctor nor personal trainer so I don't know what is better in the long run. I do know that many BC players lost weight and gained muscle under our new system. Anecdotally we also saw less flab and fewer tired arm tackles. We've had a few injuries but the serious ones were head/neck that have nothing to do with S&C programs.

And 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?
Although I was raised elsewhere, I’ve lived in the South for a decade. I’ve had all different sorts of barbecue (dry, vinegar, mustard). My preference is still tomato based sauce. Scoff away. I do have to give the Carolinas respect for championing the whole pig concept. Why have just ribs or shoulder when you can have everything?

My thoughts exactly, Bill! If folks out in Lexington are only eating the shoulders, then what the hell are they doing with the rest of the pig? God made all of it tasty! You may prefer tomato-based 'cue, but you're alright in my book.


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Slow week for YANCSSB


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You don't need me to tell you this but it's been a slow week for YANCSSB. Life is intervening a bit at the moment and that's taking precedent, as it should.

I should have a Q&A forthcoming this week, however, with Eagle in Atlanta's William M. where we'll tackle all things BC/NCSU.

Here are a couple of tidbits, though, to get you through:

- Tom O'Brien says this year's game with BC feels different.


- Clem Johnson apparently has the ability to convert eight pounds of food directly into muscle and fat within a 24-hour period:

O’Brien said safety Clem Johnson, who returned from a broken jaw last week, has regained all of the weight he lost while his jaw was braced to allow for recovery. Johnson lost between 10 and 15 pounds, and regained eight pounds within a day after the braces were removed.

I've heard of some crazy sh*t, but that about beats all.


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