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Thursday, September 29, 2005
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
"I am the man."
N&O’s Chavez: Reading [N&O] reader responses and feedback on fan Web sites, one of the things [that fans] are questioning, after the loss on Saturday, is the overall financial investment in this program and whether you’re the man to lead this program. How do you respond to fans who think that?
Not very comforting.
N&O: I guess it’s [important] to the people who went to N.C. State and are interested in N.C. State who think there has been a lot of money spent on this program.
Fair point--NC State has come a long way under Chuck Amato. The difference between the talent level here now and the talent level from the Mike O'Cain era is huge (money is part of that, but Amato's recruiting connections are a bigger part, IMO).
But I don't think anyone contends that we've not improved since Amato got here. The better question is, are we stagnating, or worse, regressing? Why does the team look like it's coached by a bunch of monkeys? Bottom line is the team would win more games were it actually well-coached, and that's what is frustrating to the fans.
This all gets back to penalties and turnovers--the stupid crap that Amato points to after every game saying, "we've got to correct that; we've got to get better." Every week it's, "we have to do this, we have to do that." Nothing changes. So what, other than coaching, is holding the team back? I mean, would it be at all possible to commit fewer than ten penalties in one game?
A perfect example of the constant talk of improvement: yesterday, Tony Haynes wrote (see Amato's comments in the piece) about how close the Wolfpack has been in its last 6-7 conference games but for the little mistakes, yada yada. Haynes closed with, "correcting the little things might be the biggest solution to NC State's woes right now."
You'll have to forgive Tony. He's ten months behind.
Amato: We’re going somewhere that I’m not going to get into. I’m really not going to get into something where I don’t know who I’m talking to. I don’t mean that to you but people. It may be one or two [against us] and eight million of them out there that are [with] us.
Chuck must not have time to visit the message boards...which is probably a good thing.
I've been ranting, so I should add that I'm not even close to wanting Chuck Amato fired. One request: if we could get back to playing football that's actually watchable, that'd be great.
Yeah, so there!
Before last week's game, the N&O had a State grad and a Carolina grad faceoff in NCAA 2006.
State 38, UNC 21.
At this point I'll take anything.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Bound to happen
I'd say this nicely complements the good ol' FireHerbSendek.com site. I wonder--do we have the dubious distinction of being the first fanbase with both a FireFootballCoach.com and a FireHoopsCoach.com site? Might be old news; presumably the Amato site was created prior to this weekend since the owner of the site indicated that it began as a joke. No one's kidding any more, though.
(HT: Golden Tornado and EDSBS)
BlogPoll Ballot -- Week 5
My ballot from last week is here. Last week's BlogPoll is here
So long, farewell: Iowa, NC State
-- Minnesooota and Wisconsin join this week's poll. Kudos to the BlogPollers who've been voting for the Gophers since week 1, because they look very solid.
-- Michigan State jumped nine spots. This is partially because so many teams in the 10-17 range lost over the weekend. Ditto ASU, Bama, Notre Dame. Although I'm really starting to like Arizona State.
-- Tennessee is back in the top ten after that impressive comeback in Baton Rouge.
-- Louisville and Georgia Tech got absolutely worked this weekend, but I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt.
Monday, September 26, 2005
Where do we go from here?
That Gator Bowl appearance was a decade ago. Feels like it, anyway.
In the context of the season-to-date, there are a lot of things that don't make any sense. Like how North Carolina's struggling ground game could out-rush us 144-13. Or how their defense could manage six sacks. Or how they were leading at halftime despite completing one pass for three yards.
Perhaps the season will bear out Saturday's result. Maybe Carolina is better than NC State.
For now, though, the game stands as one of the most perplexing contests I've witnessed in a long time. I'm not really sure where we stand.
Jay Davis managed to not throw an interception, but "made up" for it by losing two fumbles. Throw in a blocked punt returned for a touchdown, and that's how you lose the first half despite holding Matt Baker to 1-9, 3 yds.
We scored two quick TDs in the third quarter to take a 24-14 lead only to be out-played for the rest of the game. The offense had more trouble than it should've.
Now we're off to Atlanta for a Thursday-nighter, which will be followed by another Thursday-nighter against Clemson. If we aren't careful, this season is going to get out of hand. NC State hasn't beaten GT since 2000, and the Tigers look like they've improved from last season.
At this point, I'd be thrilled with a We'reThrowingAwayOurSeedCapital.com Bowl. I think we're better than that, but if it's never going to show on the field, what does it matter?
Thursday, September 22, 2005
The week in quotations: Manny Lawson
Manny seems to be popular this week...
"Lawson expects some friendly banter":
Expect Lawson to exchange pleasantries -- and perhaps a bit of trash talk -- with Tar Heels long-snapper Mike Murphy. Lawson and Murphy have known each other since their middle school days in Goldsboro.
"Lawson relishes another test":
"I'm looking for teams to run on us instead of pass. I'm thinking game plans are situated toward me and my frame, me not being as big as the one on the other side," said Lawson, who's 6 feet 6 and 245 pounds. Fellow end Mario Williams, a junior, is 6-7 and 265.
Mario Williams, used on the Pack's punt-attack team, notched his first career block against Eastern Kentucky. Lawson, who has six career blocks, recovered Williams' blocked punt.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Then and now
In the first two games of 2004, NC State played a top-10 team with a good defense and a I-AA team. Ditto in 2005. Although the improvements in Jay Davis' skills are pretty clear already this season, I thought it might be interesting to compare these similar (but brief) stretches:
You can't see any improvement in the TD/INT area, but the difference is obvious when you look at the yardage. It's no wonder--against Ohio State, Davis threw for 99 yards. Against Virginia Tech, he threw for 311. His yards-per-completion is up from about 9.5 to 14.0, and that's a good sign, too.
The most important thing is that the Wolfpack offense is off to a considerably better start. Whereas total yardage dropped off significantly between the respective I-AA and top-10 games in 2004 (403 vs. Richmond, 256 vs. tOSU), it remained consistent in 2005 (438 vs. VT, 475 vs. EKU). The Wolfpack currently ranks in the top-20 in total offense.
Monday, September 19, 2005
BlogPoll Ballot -- Week 4
See last week's BlogPoll here. My week 3 ballot is here.
Thanks for comin' out: Boston College, Clemson
Games viewed this week:
Thursday: Utah vs. TCU
Friday: Houston vs. UTEP
Saturday: WVU vs. Maryland, EKU vs. NCSU, Tennessee vs. Florida, FSU vs. BC, Wisconsin vs. UNC, Arkansas vs. Southern Cal
-- Not much major shifting. Notre Dame drops back to where they probably should be.
-- Florida State is a top ten team unless they prove otherwise. I may have misunderestimated them this year. I might just fade into Bolivian.
-- Notre Dame ahead of Michigan State. I know.
-- Hello and welcome to Michigan State and UCLA. BC and Clemson are gone after token appearances.
Here we go again...
I'm getting used to this whole being favored to beat Carolina thing, though it still makes me uncomfortable.
"Would that my finger could strike you dead, ref!"
Caulton Tudor sums things up nicely:
State has all of the ingredients to be a top-20 program. All that's missing are the wins; specifically, the big wins.
Like last year, the Heels come into the game with a losing record. Like last year, NC State needs to win in order to put it on a solid track to the post season. So far this season, North Carolina has been middling on both sides of the ball. The absenses of Darian Durant and Ronnie McGill have really hurt the offense, and while the defense has looked better, no one will be mistaking it for the Steel Curtain anytime soon.
But the Heels have been competitive in their first two games, and against some (it appears) pretty good teams, too. So while I'd love to say that I expect NC State to repay last year's unpleasantness with a blowout, I don't think it's going to happen. I'm not too demanding: I would just like to win, and if at all possible, have some nails left.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
EKU vs. NCSU: post-game thoughts
Okay, so there isn't much worth dissecting here, but there are a few things worth discussing:
-- The biggest thing that stuck out to me from the box score--which I hadn't really noticed during the game--was third down conversions: 2/11. This poor percentage looks to be a combination of two things: first, conservative playcalling once we got up big; and second, extensive use of second- and third-stringers. By my count, NC State was 1-7 on third downs when backup QB Marcus Stone was under center. NC State ran the ball on five third-and-longs (6 yards or more), which isn't a recipe for converting those downs, obviously.
-- Turnovers! The Wolfpack forced five EKU turnovers (2 INT, 3 fumbles), one of which on the opening kickoff return of the game (always a nice way to get started). The Pack also blocked a punt. NC State did commit four turnovers of its own, but half were committed by backups.
-- How about that first quarter? NC State held the ball for 10:00 in the first, racked up almost 250 total yards, and scored 31 points. Running back Toney Baker scored three times in the quarter, including a get-outta-my-way-bitch 32-yard run right over EKU's safety. The Pack started on EKU's side of the 50 on four of five 1st quarter scoring drives.
-- EKU netted 48 yards rushing on 31 attempts. The Colonels QBs combined to go 10-37 for 180 yards and two interceptions. Starter Josh Greco threw both picks.
-- NC State should have dominated special teams, and it definitely did. John Deraney hit two more field goals, making him 5-5 on the season, although he hasn't attempted a kick outside of 37 yards (so he should be 5-5 at this point). He also punted the ball much better than he did against Virginia Tech. Kickoff coverage was excellent--EKU averaged about 15 yards per return.
-- After that 1st quarter score-a-thon, we played the rest of the game on cruise control. We were excellent in the 1st quarter...the rest of the game, not so much. From today's News & Observer:
NCSU coach Chuck Amato said he may have started the flood of substitutes too early.
I completely agree, and I'm glad Amato realizes his hook was a little hasty. Marcus Stone replaced Jay Davis about three minutes into the second quarter. After this play, which resulted in EKU's only touchdown, Davis was put back into the game. Stone's appearance kinda killed the vibe--his first series was a three-and-out and the second was that fumble. He'd look better in the second half.
-- Jay Davis finished 12-17 for 234 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT. Not surprisingly, we didn't need to throw very much. His INT was a poor decision (although there may have been a miscommunication between him and his receiver...I would need to see the play again), but he made up for that with a pretty TD pass to Tramain Hall.
-- Toney Baker ran for 85 yards on 6 carries, scoring 2 TDs. After the game, a lot of the discussion focused on Toney's performance. Baker actually started the game and I suspect he'll start next week as well.
-- The best part about the game was seeing all the RBs. Baker, Blackman, Brown, R. Davis, Washington. No one had more than 9 carries. Blackman didn't do much on the ground, but his 70-yard TD reception on a screen play was one of the night's highlights.
-- Tramain Hall was NC State's leading receiver for the second consecutive game. He caught 4 passes for 44 yards and a TD.
-- EKU receiver Andre Ralston is a good player. He had 78 yards receiving (game high) and beat AJ Davis on several occasions. I'm not surprised that he's gone for 100+ in each of his team's games against D-IAA foes.
Feels good to get the first win of the season, but things get serious again tomorrow. It's rivalry week!
Game photos: EKU vs. NCSU
Friday, September 16, 2005
Gameday draws nigh
Eastern Kentucky lost a squeaker to Western Kentucky last week. Quarterback Josh Greco had another good game, suggesting that maybe he isn't as teh suck as he appeared based on his 2004 stats. Bummer.
The Wolfpack spent most of this week protesting, though it didn't have anything to do with national politics. On Tuesday, Chuck Amato insisted that the team isn't undisciplined (rough estimate of smirks among press members: 7-10.). Today, we learn that NC State could totally throw deep if it wanted to:
For the record, I don't care if we've got a deep passing game or not. The offense looked much better against VPI, and that's the important thing (I coulda used a few five more TDs, but meh). I have no problems with nickel and diming it down the field; that's a big improvement over the penny-pinching we did last year.
Meanwhile, in other places...
-- Good news out of Winston-Salem: "Punting is a bright spot for Deacons." Clearly a sign of better days ahead.
-- In Chapel Hill, the Tarheels are just hoping to avoid a bludgeoning at the hands of Wisconsin. "Bludgeon" is such an awesomely connotative word.
"I ought to club them and eat their bones!"
Yeah, Derrele, piece of cake. You and the boys are going to have a leisurely game of catch.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Hi, you've reached Gary Patterson...
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Francis done after 23 seasons
The run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2002 will always be one of the best couple of months I've had as a fan of any team.
When the Hartford Whalers announced they were relocating to...Raleigh, North Carolina, I'm sure most people said, "What the hell for?"
Me? I was too excited to care.
Fortunately, Ron Francis didn't care either. He came back to the franchise in 1998, and the Hurricanes made the playoffs the very next season. Francis helped the 'Canes reach the playoffs three times. They won the Southeast division twice.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
BlogPoll Roundtable VII
This week's BlogPoll Roundtable comes to us from Eagle In Atlanta.
1. What member of the mainstream sports media (preferably one who covers college sports) makes your skin crawl, blood boil, forces you to change the channel or hit mute? Why?
Generally speaking, if you are an analyst for the low-rent operation known as Fox Sports Net, I find you unlistenable. Okay, maybe "low-rent" is a little harsh; I'm just not a fan of FSN's presentation.
Perry Clark is a college hoops studio analyst for FSN, and as far as coaches-turned-analyst go, he has got to be near the bottom. He is terrible in front of the camera. Sometimes I wish the networks would concentrate less on getting ex-players/coaches and more on hiring guys who are professionally trained for TV. An interest in college sports should be enough, and it's not like the coach-alysts offer much expertise in those studio jobs, anyway.
Also, staying with the college hoops theme: Billy Packer. I get angry merely typing his name.
2. What writer, broadcaster, show, website etc. deserves more recognition? Who is someone we should all be reading, watching or listening to?
John Hollinger!!! Hollinger currently writes articles for ESPN.com about the NBA (if you've got premium, you must check him out).
Hollinger is a basketball stats pioneer, and I can't say enough about him. Once you read some of his work, you'll gain a new perspective on basketball. He focuses on the NBA, but his concepts are applicable to the college game as well. I find his work to be interesting and tremendously insightful.
Monday, September 12, 2005
More on penalties
"Penalties a priority for Pack"
Some teams can overcome a slew of penalties. Amato likes to point to Florida State, his former employer, which once dominated the ACC while almost yearly leading the league in penalty yardage.
I'm sure Chuck Amato agrees with Bobby on that last bit, which makes me wonder if things will ever really change. The "if my players are aggressive, I can live with some penalties" philosophy is as well-intentioned as it is indefensible. It's similar to Ozzie Guillen's baserunning strategy: we're going to be aggressive on the basepaths, and if we run into some outs, fine. But the numbers don't bear those positions out; not in NC State's case, and not in the White Sox's case.
Florida State may have dominated the league while committing a lot of penalties, but again, their talent level afforded them those mistakes. And I doubt those dominant FSU teams were as turnover prone as NC State has been over its last 12 games.
Turnovers are bad enough; penalties compound them. That's the point.
"There's a lot of stuff that's correctable," Amato said. "We're doing everything we're capable of to eliminate mistakes. It's time these kids are accountable."
Maybe Mario is right. Maybe players should be benched after committing personal fouls. Not for the rest of the game, but anywhere from a few series to a full quarter would be appropriate. While I appreciate the evidence from the article that individuals are actually being punished by Amato, sprints may not be sufficient. Something has got to get the players' attention.
There are no excuses for another flagfest against Eastern Kentucky...we'll see what happens.
BlogPoll Ballot -- Week 3
Last week's BlogPoll can be viewed here. My week 2 ballot is here.
Done Gone: Virginia, Oklahoma
Games viewed this week:
Thursday: Okie State vs. FAU
Friday: Pitt vs. Ohio
Saturday: K-State vs. Marshall, ND vs. Michigan, Clemson vs. UMD, Tulsa vs. Oklahoma, UNC vs. GT, Iowa vs. Iowa State, South Carolina vs. Georgia, Boise State vs. Oregon State, Wake vs. Nebraska, Southern Miss. vs. Alabama, Texas vs. tOSU, LSU vs. ASU
-- I've seen snippets of every team in the poll except (I'm not counting highlights, naturally): Florida, Tennessee, Louisville, Purdue, Texas Tech
-- No changes in the top three, although, like everyone else, I'm a little concerned about LSU after watching them give up a ton of passing yards to ASU.
-- I was impressed with Ohio State despite the loss, so I didn't penalize them for it.
-- Not surprisingly, Notre Dame is the big jumper. I'm not sold on them as a top ten team, but I had to get the Irish in before Michigan...and I didn't want to drop Michigan any lower.
-- Purdue had a "hmm...interesting" game (which, in this case, is not good) this week. I am gonna wait and see.
-- ATL boob Chan Gailey and his team crack the top fifteen. Oh, how it pained me...
-- I'm coming around to Boston College, and I felt like Clemson's road win over the Terps (combining with the aTm win) made it pretty damn tough not to rank them.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
The fight against stupidity continues
And stupidity is winning.
Yeah, But I Bet They Were Surprised!
Down 21-19 inside the K-State 25 with :08 left (and one timeout), Marshall decides to throw the ball rather than center the ball on the field with a run. The result? Interception, game over. What, exactly, do another 6-8 yards do for you? Had the Herd simply decided to kick right there, it would've been about a 40 yard attempt, so there was no need to get closer. Marshall's kicker had made a 44-yarder earlier in the game; his leg-strength was a non-issue. And assuming that a run would have picked up a couple of yards while also centering the ball, the pass makes even less sense from the "we wanted to get a little closer" perspective.
After the interception, the Marshall fans started booing in earnest. The coaching staff deserved it. Merry Christmas, K-State!
Chan, My Man
I don't like watching Georgia Tech games. For one thing, the Jackets are maddeningly inconsistent. For another, there are at least five occasions per game where I want to reach through the television, grab Chan Gailey by the shoulders, shake the hell out of him, and scream, "what's wrong with you?!"
Cut to today's game against North Carolina. Let's recap:
1) Up 27-14, GT receives the ball with 11:16 left in the 4th quarter. First down: incomplete pass. Second down: nine yard completion. Third down: incomplete pass. Time of possession: 1:04.
2) Same score, GT gets the ball back with 6:47 left. First down: incomplete pass. Second down: sack (Carolina actually did Tech a favor here). Third down: two-yard rush by PJ Daniels. Time of possession: 1:00.
3) Now only up 27-21, GT's next possession comes with 4:16 left. First down: seven yard completion. Second down: incomplete pass. Third down: incomplete pass. Time of possession: 1:25.
"Okay, up two scores, better run the ball. We can salt this one away if I'm careful. Focus, Chan. Focus.
Oooh! a blue car!
Wait, what was I just saying?"
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Looking at the local fanbases
The News & Observer posted some interesting attendance/alumni numbers for the triangle schools:
When you toss in the bandwagoners, Duke's fanbase is much larger. The problem, of course, is that none of these people care to witness a Blue Devils football game.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Here come the Colonels
Bye weeks suck, especially following a loss. I don't need an extra week to stew.
With the Hokies behind us, it's time to look forward to the first win of the season (even if it is--sigh--nine days away): Eastern Kentucky.
The Colonels lost their first game of the season to Appalachain State, 24-16. Some Wolfpack fans are giving EKU undue credit for staying close to App...I'm not sure where the respect for ASU comes from. Maybe those beatings they used to give Wake Forest.
In case anyone actually is concerned, here are some numbers:
(All rankings are D-IAA)
They look like a middle-of-the-road D-IAA team to me, and if their offense is as bad as it was last year, they aren't going to break 10 points.
EKU starting quarterback Josh Greco had a so-so game against Happy Appy, but his 2004 numbers are worse than good. Bad, even. Greco threw two picks and lost a fumble against ASU, which hopefully means he's turnover-prone. Oh please let him be turnover-prone. Please please please please please.
Running back CJ Hudson ran for over 1200 yards in 2004, but he has graduated. Their best skill position player this year might be receiver Andre Ralston, who had over 600 yards receiving in 2004 and had 9 catches for 152 yards against ASU.
EKU's offensive line is actually pretty big--in fact, the Colonels start more 300+ pounders than NC State does. Their defensive line is another story; neither starting DT weighs more than 275 lbs. NCSU's OL outweighs the four starters on the Eastern Kentucky DL by anywhere from 20-50 lbs. I imagine we will definitely try to assert ourselves on the ground. And compared to Virginia Tech's defensive line, the Colonels' DL will look like it's moving in slow motion.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Making a habit of blowing it
Bart: Don't be a sap, Dad. These are just crappy knock-offs.
-- "Scenes from a Class Struggle in Springfield"
Quarterback Mike Schneider’s thrown interception from the 4-yard-line that was intercepted in the end zone the most costly mistake of several the Blue Devils made.
I have a headache now.
Putting it delicately, N.C. State is not a smart football team. This isn’t to suggest the Wolfpack aren’t smart people, they just don’t have great football IQs. And where do players get their football IQs?
I really, really wish I could counter this with something. But this is the team coached by the guy who wears sunglasses during night games in order to maintain an image.
The coaches supposedly emphasized penalties during the pre-season. I was optimistic, but I should have known better. You can't change a team's character in a couple of weeks, and pointing out the problems in scrimmages doesn't address the root of the problem.
Which is to say: the coaches are the problem. Everything starts with the coaching staff. They set the tone. There are plenty of teams that manage to be both talented and smart. Aggressive and prudent.
Amato came here to craft NC State in FSU's image. He brought the Florida athletes, he brought the 'Noles defensive philosophy...and he brought the penalties. Florida State always had the talent to overcome its mistakes. NC State isn't at that point, and it may never be. Until we learn how to play smarter, we'll just be crappy knock-offs.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
BlogPoll Ballot -- Week 2
The first week of games are done, and now it's time to evaluate and rank. You'll find last week's BlogPoll here and my week 1 ballot here.
Monday, September 05, 2005
Unofficially, FSU's Drew Weatherford finished the game 7-24 for 67 yards.
Miami's Kyle Wright threw more interceptions, but he was also much more efficient (16-28), and I think he'll have a good season.
Florida State should definitely enjoy this one because they more than deserve to have the ball bounce their way against Miami; tomorrow, though, they're going to have to start worrying about what appear to be some serious issues on the offensive side of the ball.
I would have liked to get a better look at Xavier Lee. Maybe next game.
Excuse me while I go shoot myself.
Actually, after having looked at the box score, I feel a little better. A little.
First, the team numbers:
-- Total offense: NC State 438 yds, Virginia Tech 232 yards. Wow. The Wolfpack only surpassed 438 total yards three times in 2004, and two of those occasions were against some bad defenses (Wake, UNC). Against VPI in 2004, we had 223 total yards (but won...). This Tech defense is probably one of the best we'll see all year, so the numbers are encouraging.
-- NC State had 12 penalties for 105 yards. Oh, and three turnovers. Virginia Tech committed half as many penalties and didn't turn the ball over once. They didn't so much as fumble. Credit to the Hokies for their ball security.
Penalties were probably the difference in the game. In the third quarter, State had VPI pinned inside their ten yard line, but committed a penalty on third down that gave Tech a fresh set of downs (the third down play was an incomplete pass, too). Tech would, naturally, score on that drive. And then of course the running into the kicker penalty on Marcus Hudson with about 2:15 left, which cost us ninety crucial seconds. From where I was sitting, I couldn't tell if the call was legitimate or not.
How many personal fouls? Five? It's so terribly frustrating.
-- Running game: Wolfpack had 29 carries, 127 yards (4.4 ypc). Actually better than I thought, although I think the rushing stats look better thanks to a few 20+ yard carries (like the 44 yard fake punt). In general I didn't get the sense that we were effective on the ground.
-- Special teams: very solid opener. No holding/block in the back calls (!) during returns, kickoff coverage (when it was needed) was good, Deraney made all three of his field goals. Deraney's kicks were chip shots, yes, but he was inconsistent with those last year, especially from the right hash. He made two kicks from that hash tonight...very encouraging. Virginia Tech's punter: wow.
On to the individuals:
Jay Davis, QB: 27-43 (63%), 311 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT
Well, he's nothing special, but I thought he looked a good bit better. He made some poor throws (his first INT being a good example) and forced it a few times, but he did not lose this game for us. Marc Trestman's offense suits him well. Davis was 4-10 for 64 yards against VPI in 2004.
Tramain Hall, WR: 8 receptions, 97 yards
Words cannot express how excited I am by the touches the offense got T-Hall tonight. Hall had just 28 catches last year (2.5 per game), which was in no way acceptable. He deserves plenty of looks, and I think he's going to get them this season.
TJ Williams, TE: 6 receptions, 62 yards
I love the way Trestman utilized Williams tonight. Hopefully we'll see this on a weekly basis.
Darrell Blackman, RB: 12 carries, 58 yards, 1 TD; 4 rec., 40 yards
His fumble was huge, but I can't really fault him--that was a big hit. Not an overly impressive night (catching a punt on the one yard line?), though his touchdown run on the Wolfpack's first drive was beautificent. TA McLendon never possessed the speed necessary to make those kinds of runs.
Marcus Vick, QB: 10-21, 108 yards, 1 TD; 13 carries, 31 yards
I was right--Vick didn't kill us through the air. He did just enough, though. I have to admit I was impressed--he showed some nice touch on his deep balls and didn't try to force anything. He made some huge plays with his legs in the second half, unfortunately.
There are two sides to this game for me: the turnovers/penalties side (not good), and the offense/total yards side (totally good). I think the offense will improve as the guys get more comfortable with Trestman's system, and they're off to a good start.
While I wasn't quite the hardcore Noel Mazzone hater that many were last year, it's obvious after just a single game how superior Trestman's scheme is to Mazzone's. It is not close. And the play calling...night and day. I feel kinda bad for Ole Miss now. Orgeron may end up killing Mazzone before the season ends; who knows.
We must, must, must cut down on the mistakes. Stop making the stupid mental errors at key moments. The Wolfpack made a lot of mistakes tonight and didn't force any turnovers; those trends were the story of 2004, and I wonder how successful we can be if they continue. It's hard to win with a -3 turnover margin.
As for Virginia Tech... I dunno. Not sold on them as the best team in the conference. I still like Miami in that division, though I'll know more after tomorrow night. Hokie fans talked up a storm about their skill position talent, but none of those guys stood out tonight. Tech didn't get much from its receivers. Vick ain't the second coming, but he'll have a good year.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
VT at NCSU: Some last minute thoughts
Last minute as in I'm about to head out to the stadium and thus will be rendered internet-less.
-- I keep telling myself that Marcus Vick's inexperience is going to be an issue. I hope it is. His speed scares the hell out of me, but I just don't see him shredding us through the air.
-- Last season Jay Davis didn't really derail until all the offensive line injuries hit. Was the O-line a major cause of Davis' suckitude last year? We'll know pretty quickly.
-- Watch NC State's safeties tonight. They're unproven.
-- Omens for the rest of the season: turnovers and penalties. If this is another one of those four-turnover-ten-penalty games--first game of the season or not--it will not bode well.
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Thursday, September 01, 2005
George O'Leary: Master Strategist
South Carolina 24, UCF 15
-- Down 24-10 with 6:00 left in the game, you've got the ball on your opponent's 10 yard line, but it's 4th down. It's manageable, though--only about 5 yards. Kicking a field goal does you no good...unless of course you can see the future. George O'Leary looked into his crystal ball, saw that South Carolina was going to fumble the ensuing kickoff, and decided to get the easy three points.
Okay, even if that were true, O'Leary's move doesn't make much sense. You see, when you're down 14 points, it's a two possession game. And when you kick a field goal to bring the deficit to 11, it's still a two possession game.
-- South Carolina came out rolling against Central Florida's accomodating secondary; they couldn't muster any sort of a running game, however, and that's going to be a serious issue for them in conference play. When they're not facing an opponent that shoots itself in the foot every three minutes.
-- Blake Mitchell's numbers are ridiculous: 18-23, 330 yards, 3 TDs.
-- Have to give credit to UCF for hangin' in there. They more than held their own in most statistical categories. Total yards (USC: 362, UCF: 341), first downs (USC: 17, UCF: 22), time of possession (USC: 24:30, UCF: 35:30), turnovers (USC: 3, UCF: 1), penalties (both had 5).
-- Overall, I didn't find the OBC's debut very inspiring. Spurrier's not working any miracles this season.
Vandy 24, Wake 20
-- Wake secondary: Yikes. Three guys were playing in their first college game ever, and it showed. Jay Cutler completed nearly 70% of his passes.
-- Wake's defensive line wasn't much better than its secondary. Jay Cutler typically had a lot of time to throw the ball, which didn't help those rookie DBs very much. When Wake blitzed, it was ineffectual to the point where it was doing Vandy a favor.
-- A pretty impressive performance by Cutler, who also ran for 89 yards. In fairness, though, the dude could have written a term paper with all the time he had in the pocket. "Hello? Um, isn't the other team supposed to try to get me or something?"
-- Ben Mauk wasn't bad either, but had a costly fumble inside the Vanderbilt five. He made some nice throws on the run.
-- Lots of missed opportunities for Wake. They took their first two possessions of the game inside the Vandy 20 but only came away with three points. In the second quarter, they had to kick another field goal after reaching the red zone, and, as mentioned, there was the Mauk fumble in the second half.
-- Despite all of that, the Deacs had a great chance to win the game with a last minute drive. But with about :38 left, on a 2nd-and-10 play from the Vandy 31 yard line, Mauk was sacked. The play resulted in a loss of (I think) 18 yards. Backbreaker. It's a shame, too, because Wake had called a screen on that play--and it was going to work. Vandy had been blitzing often on that last drive. They nearly got caught with their hands in the cookie jar.
-- Micah Andrews: holy . Who needs Chris Barclay? Vandy was utterly helpless against Andrews all night. Averaging 7.5 yards-per-carry on 34 carries is extremely impressive. Andrews was quick, made sharp cuts, and showed some good field vision. Really a lot of fun to watch.
-- From what I saw tonight, nothing has changed in Winston-Salem. I'm sure they'll play in a lot of close games again this season, but as long as their defense is that poor, they are not close to a winning football team. Still going to hand it to Nowledge next week, though. Of this there is no doubt.
-- Plenty of good seats still available for the rest of the season. Call the Wake Forest ticket office today!
Oregon 38, Houston 24
-- I didn't catch too much of this one. It seemed to take Oregon a while to get acclimated to its new-look offense. Once they got comfortable, and as Houston's defense got tired, they really started to roll.
-- Kellen Clemens looked good running the Oregon offense. I was surprised by his speed on a couple of plays.
Blog Aid: Help the victims of Katrina
Spearheaded by the truth laid bear and Instapundit, among others, bloggers across the country are joining together to promote charitable donations for those affected by Hurricane Katrina.
College Football Resource has done an excellent job rounding up CFB bloggers, and I want to do my part as well.
I'm recommending donations to Habitat for Humanity. Habitat has an online form that's relatively quick and painless.