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Friday, September 4, 2009

The Autopsy

  • State's defensive front is good enough to keep the Pack in a lot of games this year. When they needed it, they were able to get good pressure on Stephen Garcia in obvious passing downs, limiting his effectiveness.
  • Toney Baker responded from a disastrous first-quarter fumble to show that he's worthy of being State's top back. Jamelle Eugene had a sub-par effort, and James Washington showed signs of promise and lots of passion, but not much else.
Ok, so that's about it for the positives.
  • Execution. Too many dropped passes, too many blown coverages. State never looked crisp at any point in the game offensively, and rarely defensively.
  • Russell Wilson is human. Not only human, but perhaps a step slower than the human he once was. South Carolina's much larger defenders were chasing him down from behind -- something that didn't happen last season. Maybe now we can move past all this Russell Wilson worship and start treating him -- and the rest of the offense -- as one unit and not just The Russell Wilson Show.
  • Mike Archer's zone coverage still has way too many gaping holes underneath at or just beyond the first down marker. That led to multiple easy, drive-extending completions at the sticks that kept State's defense winded and the game played the majority of the time on State's half of the field. Give up the stuff five yards short of the marker if you must, but there's no reason not to pressure the routes right at the sticks, especially in third-and-medium/long situations.
  • Our offensive line still is a work in progress. Six sacks to Wilson and a negligible running attack. We'll have to see what the status is on Jake Vermiglio, but seeing him on the sidelines in his t-shirt sporting crutches was NOT a good sign. South Carolina's new offensive line looks to be the real deal by comparison. SC had a definite advantage in the trenches.
  • Where's the passion? The intensity? I know teams take on the personality of their head coach, but this was one occasion where State needed to step out of the mold of their stoic coach and come out fired up and ready to hit someone. Coach O'Brien has to find a way to either win without passion or find a way to to fire his team up before they take the field. It took three good quarters for the team to wake up and realize that they were in a dogfight; by that time it was too late.
Bottom line, I don't think EITHER fanbase has much to crow about following this game. Both fanbases felt like their team would come out scoring points in bunches, and neither team's offenses delivered. State did well to negate the Gamecocks at times when their backs were against the wall, but if State expects to win any meaningful games playing the majority of it on the wrong side of the 50 yardline, it could be a long year.


  1. Good analysis. You didn't miss much by not being in the stands.

  2. Yeah. Had I paid $100+ to see that in person with the wife and kids, I'd'a been pissed. More pissed, I guess.

  3. Was there at C/F myself and have to disagree with your first two points.

    The interior of the D-Line was manhandled for streches, almost every play early on... Unless we blitzed, they seemed to gash us at will. Later in the game, we seemed to get better, but I'm not sure if that was us or SoCar going away from what was working.

    Baker is not a top line TB, I'm sorry to say. I'm glad he's back and healthy, and wish him well... and I'm sure he has the strength, courage, and heart, but he simply does not have the quickness to be a good TB.

    Eugene and Washington are both noticably quicker to the hole. Baker being a step slower only magnifies the issues we have with our O-line.

    If Baker wants a future in football, it is definitely at FB, where I think he could excel.

    A few good points you missed...

    Rashard Smith - a stud in the making.

    The interior of our OLine (the problems we had were on the edges) - Larsen is still getting better every game. He will be playing Sundays next year. RSFr Mattes was solid. He may be TOB's first O-lineman to be a 1st day NFL draft pick.

    James Washington, RB, true freshman - I only counted 3 plays when he was in at RB, but it's been decades* since I've seen an NC State back show his quickness to the hole. [Note: save '95-'97, I've been to every home game, and numerous away games, since '86] Washington is the real deal. Based only on his running ie, not taking into account his pass protection, he should be in the 2 deep rotation soon, injury or no injury to Eugene.

    Audie Cole had some whiffs (maybe to be expected early in the LB career of a converted QB) on a few tackles, but he also had some nice plays.

  4. Oops, 2 corrections...

    Not saying our D-line can't be what you said, just that it was not Thursday evening.

    In regard to my comment regarding Mattes, I meant to write TOB's first NC State O-lineman to be a 1st day NFL pick.

  5. WRs couldnt catch a cold, OL couldnt stop one, RW isnt allowed or cant run anymore. The defense looked better, but USC offense is horrible! So much for dreaming of 9-10 wins - back to reality.

  6. T., I think Toney Baker showed some good burst at times last night. James Washington impressed, but I don't think you can hand him the keys to the starting tailback position based on three carries. Further, Washington entered the game late when both fronts were tiring...there's no guarantee he could produce against a fresh front seven.

    If you want to make a case for Washington to challenge Jamelle as the change-of-pace back based on last night's action, that I'll get with. But to me it's still Toney's job, despite the costly turnover. He looked strong, faster than I remembered and didn't show any hesitancy for a guy playing his first game back after two years of knee issues.

  7. I never have been a fan of TOB because of his "stoic" personality..and now I thinks RW is too concerned with being a pocket passer which he is not. They play calling for the first 3 quarters seemed very predictable...and the 4th quarter time out for SC was the play of the game...whichever coach said that deserves a gameball and a promotion

  8. I was wondering if anyone remembered seeing a screen (other to a WR)? Anyone remember any reverses or anything else that might help to counter SoCar's hard rush of the corners?

    That's basic stuff to counter an aggressive, over-aggressive defense... I'm perplexed that we did not see more play calling to counter SoCar's Dline and LB's hard rushing

  9. James - I like Baker, always have... and yes, he can be effective, and yes, he did show bursts of speed. But only once or twice, maybe three times. He needs to show that burst everytime he gets the ball.

    It is clear that he does not have the quick burst to the line that Washington, and Eugene to a lesser extent, have.

    Washington's apparent quickness was not due to when he played... quick is quick, I know what I saw and what I have been seeing in scrimmages and practice. NC State's coaches agree with me, they have spoken directly on that point.

    My comment wasn't that Baker could not play TB, just that he is not a "top line TB [tailback]". Compare Baker's quicks not only to our own backs, but to SoCar's... both their starting TB and FB were quicker than Baker.

    Once Baker gets going, he's fine... but similar to the reasoning that nudged the starting QB spot to Wilson last year (mobile QB with a suspect OL), our RB's need to be quicker to the hole to minimize the effect of the issues we have with our OL.

    I think FB is a more natural position for Baker, a position where he could excel, a position at which he could play on Sundays.

    To me, these observations are obvious, but I understand others may disagree. That's fine. I wish all our players well and hope we right the ship soon.

    Oh, and btw, I never said Washington should be starting, and I am most certainly not basing any decision or thoughts on only 3 carries. Washington's experience w/ NC State football go well beyond the 3 carries he had Thursday night.

  10. Its obvious NCSU needs to schedule a cupcake for season openners as long as O'Brien is coach. I have faith that the team will improve over the course of the year as other O'Brien's teams. I really think he wants to play "Big Ten" football and that doesn't match State's personnel yet. I would like to see more first down passes and some variety in the offense to at least give the oponent something to think about. Is it just me or do we never have any presnap motion??