Sunday, November 06, 2005

Feeling much better, thanks

NCSU 20, FSU 15

Marcus Stone got off to another shaky start, which perpetuated 60 minutes of sometimes-painful conservative playcalling. Like last week, we ran the ball twice as often as we threw it, and like last week, Andre Brown showed all of us why the offense's style of play has changed so dramatically.

I felt like NC State could have taken better advantage of play action; on several drives, after reeling off 2-3 successful runs in a row, the Pack decided it would just run it some more--often with bad results.

Fortunately, when we did go back to the pass in the second half, Marcus Stone looked more comfortable and made some nice throws. He was 8-10 (9-10 if not for Brian Clark's drop in the endzone) in the second half, including an impressive 36-yarder to Tramain Hall.

The amazing thing about this game is how it shifted: Florida State held the ball for 18:01 in the first half, NC State held it for 19:42 in the second.

Drew Weatherford really looked out of sync in the last two quarters, and while I was a little nervous to see Xavier Lee warming up, he proved to be no better. Keeping their passing game under 200 yards, not to mention totally containing Lorenzo Booker (whom I can still picture torching us in Tallahassee two years ago), is a hell of an accomplishment.

It should be no surprise that all of this started up front. I don't know where these guys have been all season, but I'm glad they've decided to show up. They gave constant pressure and hit Drew Weatherford hard. Manny Lawson's sack during Florida State's final drive was one of the biggest plays of the game.

Said Weatherford aftwards:
"That's the best defensive line I've seen, period," Weatherford said. "That defensive line and the athleticism of all their defenders gave us fits all night."

NC State has plenty to work on--penalties continue to bite us; getting two punts blocked is also a serious concern--but this game definitely restored some confidence and a positive outlook on the rest of the season.

Marcus Stone didn't commit any turnovers against the best defense he will see all season. Andre Brown had another fabulous day and is proving to be a very secure ball handler. The offense should get better as it adjusts to the I-formation, no frills style, especially if Marcus Stone throws the ball well for 60 minutes rather than just 30.

After being left for dead a couple of weeks ago, we're here now with an excellent shot at becoming bowl eligible. Hopefully, after next week, we'll be back to where we should be: above .500.

[Memo to Gary Thorne: stick to hockey, or at least pretend like you looked over the rosters before the game started.]