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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

ACC Roundtable: Midseason

Jim Young of ACCSports.com is hosting this week's edition of The Roundtable. Jim's offered up six questions to all of the participating bloggers, and following are my answers:
Most of the ACC has now reached the halfway point of its season. On a scale of 1 (I’m rounding up pitchforks, torches and a mob to storm the football office) to 10 (I’m selling of organs to raise money for a statue of the coach) how do you feel about your team’s performance thus far?

I'm at about a 5. I suppose that's appropriate for an even-keeled guy like O'Brien. I think a lot of State fans felt like this would be the year we turned the corner and got 8-10 wins, and since the rest of the Atlantic Division is down this would've been the perfect season to take that big step forward. But losing Nate Irving at the beginning of the year was huge and the defensive play has sucked accordingly. The offense has been good enough to win, but the defense can't keep the opposing teams off the field. So give the offense an 8, the defense a 2, and average them out for a very O'Brien-like 5.

Give me the best case scenario for your team the rest of the way. Then give me the worst case.

Best case: State wins out. Somehow, with his feet in the fryer, Mike Archer lights a fire under this defense and they play lights out the rest of the way. They shutdown BC, gain confidence and play with the aggression and ball-hawking skills we saw when Nate Irving was captaining the ship. After four key Atlantic Division wins, State stuns VT in Blacksburg much like they did in 2004 on a late missed field goal by the Hokies and the Pack finishes the season 9-3 with a crushing of the Heels in C-F.

Now, with that daydream behind me, the nightmare scenario: State's defense actually regresses the rest of the way as Archer and O'Brien keep tinkering with the lineup, rotations and scheme to try to find something that works. Teams continue to use the Duke blueprint (five-yard outs) to rack up huge passing yards. Russell Wilson goes down to injury, Mike Glennon comes in and looks like his brother Sean and the saving grace of the team -- the offense -- grinds to a screeching halt. State loses all its remaining games to finish a very Mike O'Cain-ish 3-8. Fans burn their Lifetime Rights contracts and then toss themselves from the top of Vaughn Towers, Lee Fowler is installed as the new chancellor of N.C. State and pushes the Board of Governors to rename the school "The University of North Carolina -- Raleigh." State's remaining fans are sold into indentured servanthood to Dick Baddour and are sent to work hand-cleaning every square inch of Kenan and The Dean Dome while Fowler lords over his dream school: One without fans.

That would be about as bad as it gets.

Because it’s my turn to host the roundtable and I like fantasy football, I’m going to ask a few questions with that theme. First, you’re in an ACC keeper league. Which three players on your team do you designate as keepers for next season? (Obviously this rules out seniors, except for Riley Skinner, who I assume has six more years of eligibility remaining)

1. Mike Glennon
2. George Bryan
3. Nate Irving

I think this is Russell's final year with football. He'll graduate this Spring, be a featured member of the State baseball team and realize that all the abuse and pounding he took on the football field isn't worth it when there are potentially big, guaranteed dollars out there for a player with his skillset. Certainly it all depends on where he's drafted by the MLB and what kind of potential cash is there, but assuming he does well this year, stays healthy and is drafted in a high round, I don't think football will make enough sense for him to return for his junior season.

Let’s do the reverse of this, with coaches. You’re forced to drop one member of your team’s coaching staff. Who gets the axe? (Head coaches or assistant coaches are eligible here)

Tom O'Brien -- "Everyone who wants to remain a part of the N.C. State football coaching staff for 2010 step forward. Not so fast, Mike Archer."

Let’s say the rest of the ACC is available via free agency. Who’s the one player from the other 11 teams that you’d most like to add to your squad?

Since State is in desperate need of help defensively in the back seven, I'll take Sean Spence from Miami. I think he's enough of an athlete to elevate the play of those around him in the same way Nate Irving did for State last season.

Finally, we’ll stage a mock draft of ACC quarterbacks. Who are you taking with the first pick, and why? And who would you get stuck with if you had to pick No. 12?

I think we're good. Russell is still the most versatile QB in the league, in my opinion, and does more damage in both phases of the game (passing and rushing) than does a Jacory Harris or a Tyrod Taylor. As for the 12th pick, I'd probably take whichever option BC decides to run out there in a given week. Dave Shinskie looked like he was getting it after a couple of games, then ran into the VT defensive juggernaut.

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