Monday, October 31, 2005

Time for that dadgum game again

NC State has confidence for trip to Florida State:

Marcus Hudson remembers it all so well. The eerie silence from the home crowd at Doak Campbell Stadium, and the contrasting celebration by the small yet raucous North Carolina State fans.

"I remember not wanting to leave the field," the Wolfpack cornerback said Monday. "I get chills thinking about it right now."

Four years ago, N.C. State became the first Atlantic Coast Conference team to win at Florida State, ending a 39-0 run by the Seminoles. Hudson was only a freshman then, yet he recalled details from that victory as if it happened last week.

No wonder. At the time, the Wolfpack was the first conference foe to beat Florida State twice since the Seminoles joined the ACC, and they added another the next year in a previously unheard of run of success against the program built by coach Bobby Bowden.

Who could forget? I was a freshman at NC State in 2001, and like Marcus, I can still recall a lot from that day.

The amazing good fortune of having Derek Green (OL) pounce on a ball that Cotra Jackson had fumbled into the endzone ... Ray Rob's spin move ... a ridiculous eight-minute 4th quarter drive ... Adam Kiker's field goal that went behind a Seminole player who was diving for the block ... and that final, fateful series of downs which began inside the NC State red zone.

On that last set of downs, with FSU perilously close to scoring the go-ahead TD, I couldn't watch. I'm not sure that I've ever been more nervous during a game. After each play--each incomplete pass--I'd hop up in excitement, watch the replay, then turn away for the next play. An eternity passed, and then there were no more plays. NC State had won.

When the Wolfpack returned to Doak Campbell in 2003, the game was every bit as exciting as the one played two years prior. Although Philip Rivers was incredible, turnovers and poor defense doomed the Wolfpack to a heartbreaking loss in double overtime. Outcome aside, that was one of the most entertaining football games I've ever witnessed.

So there's some recent history for NC State and Florida State to live up to when they square off in Tally this weekend. Considering how last season's affair went, another 50-44 game is probably out of the question.

NC State is still looking for some consistency from its offense, which would be fine if this were, y'know, September.

Drew Weatherford has bounced back from a rough opener and put together an excellent season for a freshman. The Seminoles have the best passing offense in the conference. Surprisingly, FSU ranks 11th in the ACC in rushing yards/game, though they also have amongst the fewest attempts as well.

I am hoping that NC State's rejuvenated defensive line can stall FSU's running game for another week even without John McCargo's services. If Florida State's offensive line is having problems (as the rushing stats might suggest), we can make life hard on Weatherford. Mario Williams has seven sacks in the last two weeks.

It's always important for us to create turnovers simply because we know we're going to commit several of them. Turnover margin matters more this week than it would in others; we aren't going to get away with a negative margin against a team as good as Florida State.

But all of that means nothing if we can't score some points, and as far as that, let's just hope for the best.