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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fantastic Breakdown Of ACC Running Back Effectiveness At InsteadOfTexting


A must read for folks who get into statistical analysis of college sports.

Three feet is three feet. All yards are equal.

But in football, as in Animal Farm, some rushing yards are more equal than others.

No ACC running back illustrates that better than Maryland’s Da’Rel Scott.

Scott looks like one of the better running backs in the ACC. Through four games, he’s fourth in the conference in rushing, with 297 yards. He’s averaging more than 5.7 yards per carry, third among ACC backs with at least 45 carries. Scott has put up two 100-yard games in the season’s first four weeks.

Look a little deeper, though, and it’s clear Scott’s not as effective as his standard statistics suggest. Scott is a classic boom-and-bust back. Nearly 40% of his season yardage total came from just three carries.

Scott’s success rate better illustrates his true value this season.

My definition of “success” is a derivative of the one used at footballoutsiders.com: a carry is successful if it (a.) gains at least 40% of needed yards on first down, (b.) gains at least 60% of needed yards on second down, (c.) converts a first down on third or fourth down or (d.) yields a first down or touchdown, under any circumstances.

Scott’s success rate is 36.5%, the second-lowest among conference running backs with at least 10 carries per game:
Head to Instead of Texting for a nifty chart listing all the top ACC running backs and their effectiveness.

View the complete entry of "Fantastic Breakdown Of ACC Running Back Effectiveness At InsteadOfTexting"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Not-Quite-As-Late-This-Week BlogPoll: Week 5


Notes on this week's entry:
  • I've downgraded Florida two slots in the wake of Tebow's injury. I don't think he'll miss the LSU game, but at the same time I don't think he'll bee 100%. Without Tebow at his best, Florida is merely "great" and susceptible to an upset.
  • Alabama has been flat-out crushing folks, hence their top slot. Texas has been cruising as well, but I think 'Bama's got a better defense.
  • My big movers this week upward were Iowa (14 spots) and Oregon (10+). Iowa's Sagarin ranking is fantastic (5th) and they've beaten some solid competition thus far. Oregon's demise following the Boise St. game was premature...they've looked like the team folks have thought they'd be heading into that season opener.
  • Not to say, "I told you so," but I've had to downgrade Miami and Ole Miss mush less than your average voter because I refused to buy into all the hype about "Tha U" nor give Ole Miss a top-5 ranking simply because they were gifted a high preseason mark and everyone ahead of them lost.
  • South Carolina is getting some love from me even though not many of the AP voters did. They've beaten two solid teams (State and Ole Miss) and feature one of the nation's top defensive talents in Eric Norwood.
  • Finally, some homerism, I guess...State at #25. Hey, what can I say? After all, we're sporting a Heisman candidate at QB. Right Heather?

1 Alabama 2
2 Texas
3 Florida 2
4 Boise State 3
5 Virginia Tech 5
6 Southern Cal 5
7 Ohio State 1
8 Iowa 14
9 LSU 4
10 Cincinnati 5
11 Penn State 7
12 Houston 7
13 Oklahoma State 1
14 Mississippi 5
15 Oregon
16 Miami (Florida) 3
17 Georgia 1
18 Brigham Young 2
19 California 11
20 Kansas 3
21 Nebraska
22 Georgia Tech 3
23 South Carolina
24 Auburn
25 North Carolina State
Last week's ballot

Dropped Out: Oklahoma (#12), TCU (#17), Utah (#20), North Carolina (#24).

View the complete entry of "Not-Quite-As-Late-This-Week BlogPoll: Week 5"

ESPN's Heather Dinich Jumping The Gun On The "Russell For Heisman" Campaign


The ACC will have a better chance at a Heisman Trophy contender in 2010, but this week, I’ve got a new name for you – Russell Wilson.

That’s right, he got my vote this week.

Why? Because his numbers are phenomenal, he’s an outstanding quarterback, and he’s making better decisions this year. One major component of winning the Heisman Trophy is consistency, and Wilson - unlike Harris, Dwyer and Spiller - has been one of the most dependable players in the ACC so far.
Look, Heather...you seem like a nice lady (girl? How old are you? Are you younger than me? Jesus I'm getting old. Nevermind.)

And trust me...I love Russell Wilson as much as the next rabid State fan. But one great performance following two waxing of FCS patsies doesn't instantly propel him into the Heisman race. No more than should two wins against FSU and Georgia Tech have launched Jacory Harris into the Heisman conversation.

Point being, NO ONE -- beyond those returning players that were in the Heisman race last season -- should be in the Heisman race at this point based on one month's worth of work. The very fact that we're talking Heismans before the month of September concludes is lunacy.

Then again, lunacy is the M.O. of sports media today. I bet Joe Lunardi is bracketing teams for the NCAA tournament right now...for 2011!

Can we please take a step back and let things play themselves out before we start handicapping Heisman hopefuls? If you ask me, part of the reason Jacory Harris played so poorly in the Virginia Tech game was because he'd already had to field hundreds of Heisman questions and shot an interview with ESPN about Heisman hopes after two weeks of games, and subsequently couldn't live up to the hype. I mean, imagine the world is at your feet asking you what your Heisman plans are and you have to go out and play the biggest game of the season against your toughest divisional opponent. It's almost not fair.

So Heather, while I'm sure Russell is flattered, let's let the better part of half of this season transpire before we start tossing around words like "Heisman Trophy Hopeful." Because at this point, they can only do more harm than good.

View the complete entry of "ESPN's Heather Dinich Jumping The Gun On The "Russell For Heisman" Campaign"

Tar Heel Fan With An Outsider's Take On The Gary Parrish Article


Fellow blogger Tar Heel Fan (no, seriously, that's his real name...it just worked out that way!) put together an excellent take from a rival fan's perspective on the Gary Parrish article released last week.

He seems just as baffled by it as I'm sure the rest of State fans were:
I am not sure what to make of this both from a timing standpoint and the “isn’t this horse dead?” perspective. The best that I can figure is Gary Parrish had lunch with Greg Doyel, asked him for a cheap way to get some quick hits on his column and Doyel told him to write about Herb Sendek and NC State.
Come to think of it, that makes a TON of sense. DOYYYELLLLLLL!!!!!*shakesfist*
For reasons that pass understanding the national media types cannot let this go. It would be nice if NCSU and ASU could meet in the NCAA Tournament so we can put this to rest. The main problem is most of the national writers have no idea what they are talking about concerning the mentality of NC State’s fan base. Parrish and others try to simplify the situation by saying “Well NCSU was winning, going to NCAA Tournaments and they will never be UNC or Duke so they should just accept that quality of life for themselves.” The problem with that oversimplification of the situation is it ignores decades of history not to mention the unique dynamics found in Triangle college hoops.

Stop by THF and offer kind words (knuckleheads, steer clear) for his reasoned take on the matter here.

View the complete entry of "Tar Heel Fan With An Outsider's Take On The Gary Parrish Article"

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ranking Russell's Performances


I was thinking back on the Pitt game, wondering where Russell Wilson's performance -- where he racked up 413 total yards and threw for four scores -- ranked among his best performances to date.

The conclusion I came to is that Saturday may have been the most complete football game played in his young career.

In my mind, his top three games are the 2008 Miami game, the 2008 UNC game and the Pitt game. The ECU game was a solid game as well, and is worthy being included in the top three discussion.

When I force myself to slot them, here's how I rank them:

3. 2008 UNC: I realize the final score, and I realize that Russell made the Heel defenders look silly at times, but this one didn't make the top slot on the list because the game was decided more by turnovers than Russell's incredible play.

2. 2008 Miami: This was Russell's most dazzling rushing performance. His 58 official rushing yards aren't a true gauge of his total rushing stats...add back in the 35 yards surrendered through five sacks and it's a more representative total of 93 yards. His 29-yard touchdown was awe inspiring as he spanned sideline to sideline. The deceptively quick Wilson left Miami defenders haplessly diving for his ankles. Wilson only threw for 220 yards and two scores, but his rushing and juking ability cemented his place as a phenomenal talent in the league.

1. Pitt: I know it's only been a few days so it's fresher in my mind, but this was Wilson's most complete game from start to finish. He made plays with his feet (the HUGE 4th and 12 conversion) and plays with his arm (Jarvis Williams' touchdown catch and his 3rd down conversion toss over the middle in the face of Pitt's blitz). Wilson showed his complete repertoire and regained that confidence to tuck and run the instant it called for it, unlike the hesitancy he showed in the South Carolina game. This was a pure clinic from start to finish.

I may be wrong, and I want to hear your thoughts on the matter.

View the complete entry of "Ranking Russell's Performances"

Four-Star D-Lineman Fre'Shad Hunter Commits!


Couldn't resist...

Cary High school's Fre'Shad Hunter committed to the Pack following State's come-from-behind win over Pitt on Saturday. Always a heavy State lean, Hunter cited the win as the reason he pulled the trigger on the committment.

"I just committed to coach O'Brien and NC State," said Hunter. "It's something I felt at State this Saturday, and I pulled the trigger. Coach went crazy and I was pumped up. I talked with my mom and she's excited because I followed my heart."

Hunter committed to NC State over offers from LSU, Tennessee, Florida State, Purdue, and South Carolina among others. He is rated a four-star prospect and the No. 18 defensive tackle in the country by Scout.com.
Trust me...I would pay good money to see Coach O'Brien go "crazy."

Hunter's committment is key given the number of defensive linemen State will lose to graduation following this season. Willie Young, Alan Michael Cash, Shea McKeen and LeRoy Burgess all graduate, leaving a ton of holes needing to be filled. Hunter may redshirt, but having him available for added depth in case of injury is huge.

Hunter gives State three of North Carolina's top-10 football prospects. Rob Crisp and Anthony Creecy have already committed to the Pack for 2010.

View the complete entry of "Four-Star D-Lineman Fre'Shad Hunter Commits!"

Tom O'Brien And The Art Of Player Psychology


We're just not a very good football team right now. There's too many mistakes and I've done a bad job coaching.

It's just a bad job. We have to face up to some facts.


We have a lot of work to do this week.
If I showed you these post-game comments from Coach O'Brien and you didn't know the outcome of the contest, pretty clearly you'd assume that State was beaten by Pitt, not the other way around.

But O'Brien -- man of even keel -- is clearly waging some psychological warfare (friendly fire exercises?) intent on not letting his team get too high following an emotional and important come-from-behind win against the Panthers.

Coaches will sometimes say they don't want to see one loss turn into two, i.e. you've got to put the previous loss behind you. The same thing can occur with an emotional win. Fourteen-point, come-from-behind wins late in the second half are pretty rare, and in this instance it masked some poor play and lots of mistakes...mistakes that O'Brien knows his team needs to be made well aware of.

He did so in a public forum, I think, because it enters the media as an added agent to hammer the point home over the course of the coming week. If O'Brien had kept his criticism confined to the locker room, spending his post-game conference instead lauding his team's fight, resiliency and the play making ability of his offense, would the media even bother to bring up the 12 penalties, missed tackles and lack of execution in the kicking game this week leading up to the Wake game? I'm inclined to think not. This was a calculated move on O'Brien's part to keep this team's issues squarely in the forefront of the public discussion this week. That public discussion should make its way to the team and further help the team stay focused.

Letting a previous week's result impact the following week is an easy trap to fall into. All of us -- fans, agents of the press, players and coaches alike, tend to get tunnel vision, judging a team's performance only in terms of wins and losses.

As an example, a last-second drop of a game-winning touchdown in the endzone by one team (Florida State) helped propel the other (Miami) into premature championship discussion. Did that one drop negate the fact that Miami's secondary played poorly in that game? Apparently it did, as that win -- plus the win over the Yellow Jackets -- had the whole college football world talking about how "The U" was back.

Flash forward to this weekend where Virginia Tech exploited Miami's defensive weaknesses and put a 24-point buttwhoopin' on 'em to bring the Canes back down to earth, and you have to wonder if the 'Canes started reading too many of the their press clippings.

O'Brien is trying to inject the same dose of humility into the team before it becomes another blemish on the win-loss record. He's putting the focus on just how badly this team played now, and by taking it public, it stays in the forefront of everyone's mind. While the win was nice, performances like that will likely result in losses against competition ready to take advantage of them.

View the complete entry of "Tom O'Brien And The Art Of Player Psychology"

Friday, September 25, 2009

It's Week 4 Of The Football Season--Perfect Time For A Sendek Article!


Gary Parrish's latest at CBS follows below. I'm not linking it because I'd rather not drive traffic his way...just read it here:

Nudged out by 'Pack, Sendek getting best on both sides

The first quote was typical and anticipated.

"I don't have any great need to compare," Herb Sendek said. But he must've known that wasn't going to prevent me from trying to make him. If not, he was about to find out. Because four seconds later I tried again with a slightly different approach.

"It's important to stay in the present and really not spend a lot of mental energy trying to compare and label and categorize different things," Sendek said, and now I was taking it as a challenge.

You know, like a game.

Who Herb Sendek? He won't compare his current situation to that of his old school. (US Presswire)
Who Herb Sendek? He won't compare his current situation to that of his old school. (US Presswire)
I decided right then I wasn't getting off the phone until I got Herb Sendek to pat himself on the back a little bit. I wanted him to talk about how well he's been doing since N.C. State fans pushed him to Arizona State in 2006 despite the fact that Sendek was coming off five consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, and I wanted him to contrast it to the current struggles in Raleigh.

North Carolina State hasn't returned to the NCAA tournament since Sendek exited, in case you didn't know. Meantime, Sendek has transformed ASU into a relevant Pac-10 program -- proof being how he won 25 games last season, took the school to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003, had one player (James Harden) selected third in the NBA Draft and another picked 31st (Jeff Pendergraph).

Translation: Things are good at Arizona State.

At N.C. State, not so much.

And that's all I wanted Sendek to say.

I wanted him to tell me about how it was obvious given his record (more on that in a minute) that he was a good coach doing good things at N.C. State, and how he now looks back and laughs at those fans who just knew they deserved better. And I wanted him to tell me all this while dropping in various remarks about how nice the weather is in Tempe and how the new practice facility is off the charts, and if he wanted to comment briefly on the quality of ASU's student body, I was ready to listen to that, too.

In other words, I wanted Herb Sendek to say what I'd say.

To be like I'd be.

And probably how you'd be, too.

"It's human nature to be that way," Arizona State senior Derek Glasser said. "But one of the things Coach Sendek always talks to us about is how to not worry about the last play or the last game or anything like that, how to just let it go. So I really don't think he focuses on N.C. State at all, because he's not the type of person to focus on the past."

Well, then allow me to do it for him.

Because Sendek really has pulled off a rarity.

He's not only doing better than the previous coach (Rob Evans) at his new school (ASU), but he's also doing better than the coach (Sidney Lowe) his old school (N.C. State) hired to replace him after his old school -- and its fan base -- decided it no longer appreciated his talent. The way Sendek was treated looked silly then, and it looks even sillier now considering the Wolfpack have finished 10th, 12th and 10th in the ACC standings the past three seasons with zero NCAA tournament appearances and 15 league wins.

How does that compare to Sendek?

The Wolfpack finished third, fourth, second, sixth and fourth in the ACC in his final five seasons with five NCAA tournament appearances and 28 league wins. So it's not even a comparison, really. And to all the N.C. State fans who like to highlight Sendek's not-so-great record against in-state rivals North Carolina and Duke, I would just remind you (for the 487th time) that almost anybody would have a not-so-great record against UNC and Duke, and to judge Sendek at N.C. State against those two monsters would be like me judging myself against Brad Pitt and George Clooney.

I'm finishing a distant third in that race every time.


Because I'm not Brad Pitt or George Clooney, that's why.

Just like N.C. State isn't North Carolina or Duke, and that N.C. State didn't realize that three years ago now has the school picked by many to finish last in the ACC this season (that would make four consecutive 10th-or-worse finishes) while the coach it ran off spends his days being appreciated 2,100 miles west. To be clear, I can't tell you Sendek will return to the 2010 NCAA tournament because he lost his top two players from last season's team. But what I can tell you is that he won't finish last in his league or get fired come March, and that, by definition, means he's doing better than the guy hired to replace him at the school he left behind when said school's fans wouldn't get off his behind and just let him win.

N.C. State wanted more.

But now it's accomplishing way less.

And Herb Sendek couldn't care less, best I can tell.

He could be bitter and arrogant, and it would be justified, for sure. But Sendek honestly doesn't seem to think about N.C. State at all, instead choosing to focus his energy on a present that's enjoyable and a future that seems bright given that he's already committed three prospects from the Class of 2010 -- among them Keala King, a 6-foot-5 guard whom Rivals.com ranks as the nation's 25th-best recruit.

"There's no question that we've made considerable progress on every front and that there's a very different perception of Arizona State basketball on a national level," Sendek said. "We have a fair amount of momentum right now."

At N.C. State, not so much.

View the complete entry of "It's Week 4 Of The Football Season--Perfect Time For A Sendek Article!"

Don't Ask Why, Just Humor Me.


View the complete entry of "Don't Ask Why, Just Humor Me."

Q&A With PittBlather.com


It's Q&A time again, folks. This week State hosts the Pitt Panthers, so the Q&A participants are the fine folks at PittBlather.com

You can find my answers to his questions here. Following are my questions and their responses:
1. Both fanbases feel confident about their team's ability to get the job done in this game; obviously only one will be right. Tell me why Pitt will win this game.

Because Pitt's healthier, especially on the lines.

2. Name one player State fans should pay attention to on Saturday that they may not have heard about.

Not to be too flip, but exactly how many Pitt players do NC State fans know? Pitt isn't exactly getting major national pub to make players well known. Still, here's the guy to watch, because it will say a lot about how the game is going.

Elijah Fields, Free Safety. Fields has million dollar athleticism but the head can be about $999,999.90 short of that. If he is making plays and not freelancing too much, then Pitt's pass defense is going to be better than it was against Buffalo. If he is getting burned, freelancing and generally out of position, then Russell Wilson will be making plays with his legs and his arm.

3. Buffalo passed for 433 yards against the Panthers. We've heard a lot about Pitt's defensive line and how they plan to pressure Russell Wilson, but surrendering that many passing yards suggests that they weren't able to get to Buffalo's QB. Is that an accurate assessment or is there an explanation for surrendering that many passing yards?

At the risk of sounding a little too defensive and homerific regarding Pitt, there were two factors that contributed. First, a very smart gameplan by Buffalo had their QB getting the ball out quickly. Three step drops and simply not taking too much time. Do that, and few D-lines are going to get to the QB. Second, of those 433 yards, 194 came on 4 passes.

The latter issue accurately notes that the Pitt secondary is susceptible to giving up the big play. Whether poor pass coverage and/or tackling. In that game, 7 passes accounted for 278 of the 433 yards.

What Pitt's D-line has shown going back to last year is that they can contain the scrambling QB. Whether it was Pat White or Matt Grothe, QBs that leave the pocket, scramble and try to keep plays alive have trouble against Pitt's D-line.

4. Dave Wannstedt is in his fifth season as Pitt's head coach...what's the pulse on the Pitt fanbase on how they feel about Wannstedt? I get the sense, from the outside looking in, that Pitt fans expected more by this point but are still behind Dave as head coach. Is that accurate?

Yeah, there was an expectation of more. He's done himself no favors, even last year with the when and way the team lost games. That said, most fans are probably still in his corner. They know that recruiting under Wannstedt has been excellent, and the move to hire Frank Cignetti as OC has been encouraging. The defense is in great shape. Overall, there is no doubt that the program is in good shape.

Then there is the realism that the administration loves Wanny and so he isn't going anywhere. As the poster from the X-Files said, "I want to believe." Some do, some don't and odd as it may seem in year five, there is still a large contingent of "unsure."

5. With Cincinnati looking strong to start the season, are they the team to beat in the Big East or is Pitt, West Virginia or perhaps another team looking good to challenge for the title?

No, it is Cinci right now. Beyond being the defending BE champs, the results speak for themselves. Already 1-0 in the Big East, plus a road win at Oregon State. They have the best out of conference win in the Big East. WVU has already lost and hardly impressed at the start of the season. Pitt might challenge, but has proven nothing at this point. Rutgers will probably get better further into the season, but they already are behind Cinci with their humiliating loss.

View the complete entry of "Q&A With PittBlather.com"

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Two Outta Three Ain't Bad: Vermiglio, Johnson (And Eugene) Cleared To Play


NC State Injury Report, per PackPride.com

Well, I missed on the Javon Walker prediction, but as I mentioned earlier today, Jake Vermiglio and Clem Johnson have been taken off the State injury report and should be good to go Saturday.

Jamelle Eugene also returns to the running back rotation and should see some action.

The big news is Vermiglio returning to bolster an offensive line that will have its hands full with Pitt's defensive front.

View the complete entry of "Two Outta Three Ain't Bad: Vermiglio, Johnson (And Eugene) Cleared To Play"

My Way-Too-Late Blog Poll: Week 4


Well, I wasn't able to submit it in time to matter in the overall standings over at MGoBlog, but nevertheless, here are my standings:
1 Florida
2 Texas
3 Alabama 1
4 Penn State 1
5 LSU 1
6 Ohio State 1
7 Boise State 1
8 California 1
9 Mississippi 4
10 Virginia Tech 1
11 Southern Cal 8
12 Oklahoma
13 Miami (Florida) 6
14 Oklahoma State
15 Cincinnati 2
16 Brigham Young 6
17 TCU 3
18 Georgia 3
19 Houston 4
20 Utah 4
21 Nebraska 3
22 Iowa
23 Kansas 1
24 North Carolina
25 Georgia Tech 10
Last week's ballot

Dropped Out: West Virginia (#25).

View the complete entry of "My Way-Too-Late Blog Poll: Week 4"

Thursday Injury Report Should Have Some Nice Surprises


I'm eagerly awaiting this afternoon's injury report. I'll be sure to post it here once it shows up on PackPride or WRAL, but from what I hear, it sounds like Pack fans will be pleasantly surprised to see some starters no longer on it.

From a couple of sources, I've heard that safeties Clem Johnson, Javon Walker and offensive lineman Jake Vermiglio all stand a chance to clear the report and make themselves available for the Pitt game.

All three would be welcome additions back into the lineup, but perhaps none more than Vermiglio. As starting left tackle to begin the year, he left the South Carolina game early with a calf injury. Julian Williams had to shift over from left guard to left tackle and as a result, Wilson got chased down several times by SC's ultra-fast defensive ends. Having Vermiglio back would help against a Pitt defensive line that has ends just as athletic as SC's.

So keep your eyes peeled...I may end up with a lot of egg on my face on this one, but it wouldn't be the first time Tom O'Brien got coy with his depth charts and injury reports the week of a big game.

View the complete entry of "Thursday Injury Report Should Have Some Nice Surprises"

Harrison Beck: Still Doesn't Get It


N&O (Note: Beck in photo, throwing off-balance off his back foot)

Luke DeCock took the time to catch up with ex-Pack gunslinger Harrison Beck for an unnecessary article about how he's doing at Division II North Alabama. Beck, true to form, was not shy about commenting on his time at State, which was DeCock's goal from the outset, I'm sure. Can you come up with a better reason why this article was penned?

Here are a couple of gems:
"Obviously, it was a difficult couple years at N.C. State," Beck said. "Whatever happened, happened. I've always felt that I've been able to play the quarterback position at high level. Now it's probably a combination of everything, but the truth is I've got receivers here who understand who I am as a quarterback. It works out better."
Right. You have receivers that understand you better. Got it.

DeCock takes that and runs with it:
The Division II defensive backs are a half-step slower, giving Beck's aggressive throws a better chance of find their way to the multiple receivers of North Alabama's spread offense.

He also may be surrounded by as much, if not more, receiving talent than he was with the Wolfpack, which also doesn't hurt. Among his targets: Florida State transfer Preston Parker and North Carolina transfer Kenton Thornton. (Former UNC cornerback Richie Rich is at UNA as well.)
Parker and Thornton were both three-star recruits coming out of high school. I'm not going to say Owen Spencer, TJ Graham and Donald Bowens are light years ahead of those two guys, but let's not pretend cast-offs from FSU and UNC equates to having more talent at receiver than at State.

Beck continues:
"Coach Bowden and I understand each other," Beck said. "Sometimes he calls plays and says, 'We want to throw deep on this one so just take the shot, go do it.' That's a little different than what I've ever had. It was always, 'Don't lose the game,' 'Don't throw that,' 'Check it down to the fullback, throw it short, take that stuff.'

"Coach Bowden stresses touchdowns before checkdowns, not checkdowns then touchdowns. He lets me be who I am. He understands who I am as a quarterback."
Heaven forbid the coaching staff would encourage you to NOT LOSE THE GAME WITH A BONEHEAD PLAY.

I think this last comment pretty much sums it all up:
"I tell 'em all the time here," Beck said, "I wish I could have come to dang North Alabama right out of high school."
No disrespect to North Alabama, but that's not a "destination school" for high school football talent. I'm glad Beck has found a place where he can be himself as a quarterback, but it's telling that it's at the Division II level where he can "sling" it all over the field with minor repercussions. His unwillingness to be coached to protect the ball by the staff at Nebraska and then at State is the reason why he is where he is...on the Island Of Misfit Toys where Terry Bowden is collecting all the other cast-off talent that couldn't hack it in the FBS division (26 Division I-A transfers now play for UNA).

View the complete entry of "Harrison Beck: Still Doesn't Get It"

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

ACC Roundtable: Week 3 Review


This week's installment of the ACC Round Table is hosted by the fine folks at Block-C, formerly known as Danny Ford Is God. They're our Clemson representative, run by Willy Mac and Chili, two dudes who've never met a curse word they didn't like.

Following are their questions and my answers. You'll be able to find their compilation of all the Round Table's answers over at Block-C later this week. Enjoy:

1) Does this weekends OOC performance for the ACC negate that first weekend's total bed sh*tting performance? Why or why not?
No, and not because I think the ACC didn't play well...it's because the notion of the ACC as a "bad" football conference is so thoroughly ingrained into the collective subconscious of college football fans across America that virtually NOTHING can derail that notion in just one short week. It was a great week for the league, and far better for the league than week 1 was damaging for the league. FSU's win over BYU was HUGE, VT's come-from-behind win against Nebraska was great and Carolina's win over ECU helped. But group think is a very powerful thing to overcome, so if the ACC is to gain some steam in turning the public perception tide, they need this week's results to equal or surpass last's. Because from here on out it's almost exclusively in-conference matchups until bowl time, meaning the league's chances to prove its worth outside the league will be limited.

2) Continuing the weekly theme of predicting the conference outcome, who'll play in the ACC CG?
Boy, it's tough to pick against FSU and Miami. They both looked great offensively in their opening matchup against one another, and Miami put a whoopin' on Georgia Tech last Thursday night and FSU crushed a top-10 opponent. I think both teams have questions defensively, but those would be my two front runners. I still have high hopes for State, and the one thing to remember at this point in the Atlantic is that both FSU and Clemson each have one loss. State, yet to have played a conference game, is without a loss at this point. With three manageable conference games to start (Wake, Duke, @BC) could end the month of October against the Seminoles on October 31st with a very key game in the Atlantic division race.

3) Is Miami a legit top ten team? Why or why not?
Beyond the top 5, are there ANY legit top-10 teams out there? I feel like most of the folks at the top of the list are there by default by virtue of teams ahead of them losing rather than what they've proven on the field. Miami's two performances have been no doubt impressive, but I'm not yet ready to declare them "back" or top-10 caliber. Their defense looked suspect at times against FSU, and though they shut down Georgia Tech's offense, so did Clemson. I have been extremely impressed with their offensive line play, moreso than Jacory Harris. Give a good quarterback four seconds in the pocket to make plays and he'll look like a Heisman candidate...put a great quarterback behind a lousy offensive line and all he'll do is finish tied for fourth in the conference every season and lose to Maryland on Senior Day when they foolishly present his retired jersey to him BEFORE the game. Sorry. Anyway, we'll know A LOT more about Miami and its legitimacy after they travel to Blacksburg and face a very strong defense on the road.

4) If you had to declare an ACC MVP right now, who's your top guy?
Do I have to? I guess Jacory Harris by process of elimination. Jonathan Dwyer has been shut down and injured early this season, Russell Wilson looked average against South Carolina, Thaddeus Lewis isn't living up to expectations at Duke and C.J. Spiller, aka Mr. Big Ass Poster, has been good-but-not-Heisman-good thus far. Christian Ponder--Harris' most logical competition for the award at this point--looked great for a half against Miami and performed well last week against BYU, but he struggled on third down (5-14) against Jacksonville State. Harris has performed very well in two big wins against top-25 competition, so I'll give him the nod.

5) Women, whiskey, and miles of travelin' is all that I understand. What are three things you understand, blogger friends?
My wife'll tell you I've never understood women all that well and I'd be hard pressed to argue the point. I'm a beer drinker by nature but I do love a good road trip. I understand why cheap beer is superior to the fancy stuff, the finer debating points of North Carolina barbecue and its superiority over all other forms of sustenance, and that--grab your Kleenex, fellas--being a father of three is what I was put on this planet to do and that it's what I work hard to excel at.

View the complete entry of "ACC Roundtable: Week 3 Review"

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pittsburgh Media Weighs In On This Weekend's Game


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Pitt faces tough test with N.C. State":
So far, so good for the Pitt Panthers who are off to their first 3-0 start since the 2000 season. The Panthers have won all three games by more than 10 points and have played at a high level, particularly on offense, in parts of each.

But this week, the Panthers will answer two important questions: How much of the 3-0 start is due to the fact that they are a good football team? How much of it has to do with the fact that they have played three inferior teams.

The Panthers will play at North Carolina State Saturday and, while the Wolfpack is likely a middle of the pack team in the Atlantic Coast Conference, they are a significant step above the Panthers' past two opponents, Navy and Buffalo, in terms of the kinds of athletes and level of talent they have on the roster.
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "N.C. State QB Wilson a hard one to pick"
The football adage goes that three things happen when you pass the ball, and two of them are bad.

No one told that to North Carolina State's Russell Wilson.

The redshirt sophomore quarterback is virtually interception-proof, with an NCAA Division I-FBS record 329 consecutive pass attempts — and counting — that were either caught by his teammates or fell harmlessly to the turf.

"That's pretty amazing," N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien said.

Pitt (3-0), off to its best start in nine years, will try to snap Wilson's remarkable streak when the Panthers travel to play the Wolfpack (2-1) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium.

"He understands what wins and loses football games," Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "He makes good decisions, and when the ball comes out, it comes out fast. The ball probably comes out as quick as any quarterback we've played in the past couple of years."
Panther Digest.com: "Wilson Different Test For Pitt's Defense"
When Pittsburgh (3-0) faces North Carolina State (2-1) Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Carter-Finley Stadium, it will be the Panthers' first trip to Raleigh, N.C. since 1988. The Wolfpack won that game, 14-3, but this is a different challenge.

N.C. State has redshirt sophomore Russell Wilson at quarterback, and all he's done is throw 329 straight passes without an interception. Pitt's secondary certainly has its hands full this week, according to junior safety Dom DeCicco.

"Their quarterback definitely is good, fast with a quick release,'' DeCicco said. "So, he really can throw the ball, and they've got some good receivers. I'm sure they're going to come out and test us, if they watched film from our Buffalo game, but we're going to be ready for it. We expect them to come at us.

View the complete entry of "Pittsburgh Media Weighs In On This Weekend's Game"

Monday, September 21, 2009

Owen Spencer And Rashad Smith Out For Pitt, And Other Injury Discussion


ACC Now link

We get Donald Bowens back last week and now lose Owen Spencer...I'm not sure where State winds up with that equation. Swapping those two in the lineup, did State come out better or worse? I love having Bowens back in the lineup. He was the Pack's top receiving threat in 2007 and has great hands -- something this team is sorely missing right now.

Losing Spencer on the other hand takes away our top deep threat, with all due respect to T.J. Graham. Spencer had his issues hanging onto the football, but his yards-per-reception numbers were off the chart and he has a great way of getting separation downfield. Without him, I don't know that we have a threat to stretch the defense, meaning the safeties and linebackers of Pitt may cheat up closer to the line. That's a recipe for disaster as State tries to get its running game churning.

The loss of Rashad hurts as he was playing extremely well for a freshman, but having an experienced backup in DeAndre Morgan will help minimize his loss to a certain degree. The problem will be in spelling Morgan throughout the game, as there's really not much else left behind Morgan on the depth chart. It will be keep to sustain long drives throughout the game to keep the defense fresh -- not State's strong suit.

View the complete entry of "Owen Spencer And Rashad Smith Out For Pitt, And Other Injury Discussion"

NCAA Statistical Rankings After Three Weeks


Here are the latest statistical rankings of State versus the rest of the FBS division. At week three, the stats start to mean a little bit more than the first two weeks, but State's are still skewed by playing two FCS opponents out of three games.

Category National
Rushing Offense 84 120.67
Passing Offense 38 244.00
Total Offense 67 364.67
Scoring Offense 24 37.67
Rushing Defense 13 70.00
Pass Efficiency Defense 18 93.93
Total Defense 2 168.33
Scoring Defense 7 9.33
Net Punting 91 33.45
Punt Returns 25 13.58
Kickoff Returns 81 20.33
Turnover Margin T-35 .67
Pass Defense 6 98.33
Passing Efficiency 18 160.50
Sacks T-17 3.00
Tackles For Loss 27 7.00
Sacks Allowed T-110 3.67

A few notes:
  • Our rushing numbers after two patsies from the FCS should be MUCH higher than this. If you're not worried about our rushing attack after seeing us show up 84th in the country in ground offense when we've spent the last two weeks putting up 110 points, you should be. It screams, "WE'RE LOSING THE BATTLE AT THE POINT OF ATTACK!" Which we are. I realize that O'Brien probably would've run more against G-W in the second half were it not for trying to get Russell the passing record, but even then, State's relied heavily on the passing game for the bulk of its offense. It bit us in the SC game and could bite us in the Pitt game.
  • More bad statistical news for the offensive line: Tied for 110th in sacks allowed at 3 2/3 per game. Ten of those 11 were in two games -- six given up to South Carolina and four given up to Gardner-Webb. Granted, one of the sacks in the G-W game was on the blown snap over Mike Glennon's head, but that still falls on the offensive line. Pitt's defensive line has to be licking their chops looking at those numbers.
  • Our special teams play needs to pick up as we transition into stronger competition. Jeff Ruiz can kick it a country mile when he's on, but we need more consistency from him and our cover team needs to do a better job containing the return man fielding the kick. T.J. Graham was lighting the world on fire returning kickoffs last season, but the production hasn't been to that level thus far this year despite playing against lesser competition. His numbers need to improve to help State establish good starting field position early and often.
If it seems like I'm throwing out a lot of doom and gloom, despite some strong defensive numbers, I am. I think this team can and should be better in the areas listed above; the defensive numbers mean very little to me at this point because of the competition level. Injuries to Jake Vermiglio, Nate Irving and our defensive secondary have certainly played a role, but the special teams numbers should be better.

Bottom line: This team has not played to its potential yet but will need to if they're to get on track with the hopes many had for a solid conference season.

View the complete entry of "NCAA Statistical Rankings After Three Weeks"

Random YouTube Goody: Steve Nash Pimping Vitamin Water


The parody of Seen-It-On-TV pitchmen is starting to get a little played out, but I actually uttered some genuine lawls while watching this. No really, I did! You will too! Act now! Operators are standing by!

"STEP FOUR! Get paid!" *dance dance revolution*

H/T to Instead Of Texting.

View the complete entry of "Random YouTube Goody: Steve Nash Pimping Vitamin Water"

Sunday, September 20, 2009

State Wins 45-14; Wilson Sets NCAA Interception-less Mark; More Injuries


ACC Now link

A couple of quick observations:
  • Congrats to Russell for setting the mark for passes without an interception. Regardless of what some may say, it is an incredible achievement.
  • Kudos to coach O'Brien for having the wisdom to get the record out of the way tonight versus letting it remain a topic of conversation leading into the Pitt game. Eliminating any unnecessary distractions is a good thing.
  • I like the fact that State has come out strong in these two cakewalk games and put them away early. Where teams have gone wrong in losing games they shouldn't is letting these teams hang around early. The favored team starts to wonder why they're not up big, the underdog gains confidence with each moment and before you know it, upset city. State put up three scores in the first quarter and held G-W scoreless for the majority of the game.
  • It was good to see Donald Bowens return to the lineup, but let's hope it's not a WR swap on the injury roster after Owen Spencer left the game with a concussion. Depending on the severity of the concussion, Spencer may or may not return for the Pitt game.

View the complete entry of "State Wins 45-14; Wilson Sets NCAA Interception-less Mark; More Injuries"

Friday, September 18, 2009

Busy Work Week + Lousy Opponent = Not Much Pregame Material


You'll have to forgive me, loyal YANCSSB reader(s). It's been a busy work week and, well, food and clothing for the kids precedes the blog.

My apologies for not getting more material out there this week. However, this was a good week to get busy at work, because I don't see Gardner-Webb putting up an exponentially stronger fight than did Murray State. We can get back into digging through the minutiae next week with Pitt.

So enjoy the game, look for how State executes instead of looking at the final score and pray for no more injuries.

View the complete entry of "Busy Work Week + Lousy Opponent = Not Much Pregame Material"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Nice Read: GoPack Piece On Gardner-Webb Named For Former Pack Football Player



As Tim Peeler points out, this is likely the first time in college football history that a team has played a school named, in part, by a former football alum. O. Max Gardner played for State back when the college football program was in its infancy.
It may well be the first time in the history of college football that a team has faced an opponent that is named after one of its former players. More than 60 of the 246 Division I football schools (121 Football Bowl Series and 125 Football Championship Series) are named for individuals, but Gardner is believed to be the only one who played college football.

There's no evidence that Austin Peay, the Rev. Alfred Cookman, P.G. Grambling, William Hofstra or Frank Park Samford – all of whom have institutions of higher learning named after them – ever donned helmet and pads during their college days. All the other schools were named after people born and raised well before college football began or most definitely not football players.

So this first meeting between in-state schools might also make a little college football history.
O. Max Gardner was also quite a womanizer the ladies man, as well:
He also may have been a bit of a bounder while in Raleigh. In the 1903 inaugural edition of the Agromeck, the NC State yearbook, it was written about Gardner that "like the gorilla, he is especially fond of caressing women." But that was part of a tongue-in-cheek club called "The Goats," of which Gardner was a charter member and Chief Ram. His classmates also voted him the dubious honor of "most conceited."
It naturally follows, then, that Gardner would go on to a long and successful career in North Carolina politics.

View the complete entry of "Nice Read: GoPack Piece On Gardner-Webb Named For Former Pack Football Player"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Random: MST3K's Patrick Swayze Christmas


Patrick Swayze passed away yesterday from his battle with cancer. For some reason, this is the first thing that popped into my head when I heard the news. RIP, Dalton:

View the complete entry of "Random: MST3K's Patrick Swayze Christmas"

BlogPoll: Week 3


This week's poll, a tad late. Let me know what you think. I decided not to punish Ohio State too much for their loss to USC. They lost to a very good team at home and played them to the wire. I think they're a very good football team. I'm still not 100% sold on Ole Miss, and I have a hard time moving teams up following a bye week just because teams in front of you lost. If Ole Miss crushes SE Louisiana like they should, I'll probably advance them some at that point. I still need to see that they've earned all the hype.

The more games that are played, the more I think folks will see their polls normalize a good bit over the coming weeks (again, more reason for the pollsters to wait until week 4 or 5 before releasing the first polls of the season):

1 Florida
2 Texas
3 Southern Cal
4 Alabama
5 Penn State 1
6 LSU 2
7 Ohio State 2
8 Boise State 2
9 California 3
10 Brigham Young 4
11 Virginia Tech
12 Oklahoma 3
13 Mississippi
14 Oklahoma State 7
15 Georgia Tech
16 Utah
17 Cincinnati 1
18 Nebraska 2
19 Miami (Florida)
20 TCU 1
21 Georgia 4
22 Iowa 2
23 Houston
24 Kansas
25 West Virginia
Last week's ballot

Dropped Out: Florida State (#22), Oregon (#23), Notre Dame (#25).

View the complete entry of "BlogPoll: Week 3"