But that extra time also makes it tougher to build off the momentum generated by last week’s last-minute upset of then-No. 20 Boston College.
“It’s hard to tell — it gives us a little extra preparation time for Florida State, but they’ve got the same preparation time,” Amato said. “How much momentum (from) that B.C. game will carry us ... yesterday is history, tomorrow’s a mystery and today’s the only gift we have.”
There is so much talk of intangibles in sports, and so much of that talk is wasted breath. Momentum carryover? I won't go so far as to say that how the team played last week doesn't matter at all, but I would argue that it means little for the next game. (Unrelated: there is comedy in the title of the Fayettville Observer article.)
-- A new student seating plan is in place for the FSU game, and it involves stamps. And standing in line for a while.
But Quick noted a primary concern for students all season -- tailgating.
"[Will] tailgating be extended an hour?" he asked.
Stafford's response yielded laughter among the panel.
"I like this because tailgating will be reduced by an hour," he said. "Not a bad idea."
Adam Compton, student body treasurer, also offered his concerns about tailgating.
"If this is going to be the solution to the problem," he said. "I would personally like to see longer tailgating hours."
Most of the student reaction at The Wolf Web has been negative. I don't blame them; I'd be upset about the changes as well.
-- Since I can't seem to register to comment at RAWFS, I'll use this space to thank them for this post. Much appreciated, guys! You totally made my day.
Redshirt freshman Michael Ray Garvin is listed at first team at field cornerback, where Carter has started 17 consecutive games but is unlikely for the North Carolina State game next week after injuring himself on punt-return duty. Another redshirt freshman, Jamie Robinson, is No. 1 at boundary cornerback, where Bryant, a junior, has started.
FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews noted that all of that could change depending on what happens in practices leading to the North Carolina State game Oct. 5. Three freshmen, including one true freshman, have already started on defense this season. The two-deep depth chart for FSU's defense features more than a dozen players who are sophomores or younger.
-- Here, thanks in large part to College Football Resource, is a list of some Florida State blogs that you can check out over the next week. There's not a lot of NC State talk from FSU bloggers yet, but just from my quick perusal I think the best bets for coverage are the Tampa Tribune's Blog, The Chop Shop, and Tomahawk Nation.
It consisted basically of listening to three separate professors prattle on about Keats & Company's quest for the (capital S) Sublime.
I didn't get it.
But Saturday night, when I watched my brother complete a 34-yard dream of a pass with 8.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter to put N.C. State in the lead over Boston College, I think I finally understood what Sublime meant.
With events such as these seen by students and spectators at Saturday's football game at Carter-Finley Stadium, Student Government said it pledges to fix overcrowding issues before the Florida State game on Oct. 5.
"We are going to fix this before the Florida State game if we have to do it ourselves," Will Quick, student body president, said.
He indicated that he heard first-hand reports of people urinating in the stands.
"I know people were urinating in their sections," Quick said. "I have heard reports of individuals being splashed by urine."
The urinating in the stands as well as other issues such as fans falling and pushing each other, stem from an overcrowding issue acknowledged by both Quick and Campus Police.
I am so glad they waited until the year after I graduated to install the general admission ticket policy. Under the previous system, crowding was still an issue--I can remember numerous games where I felt like a sardine--but it was nothing like what general admission hath wrought.
During my junior and senior years (the 2003 and 2004 football seasons), I maintained a high rank in the Student Wolfpack Club, so I regularly sat in the first 4-5 rows of section six. On the front row especially, I always had to wade through people who didn't have a ticket for the section. I remember getting into the Miami game ('04) a little later than usual (maybe 20 mins before kickoff) and seeing people two-deep in front of my seat on the first row. My friends and I could barely squeeze into the row, and we ended up only in the vicinity of where our seats actually were. Whenever I sat further up (maybe halfway up the section or higher), though, crowding was not a problem. Maybe that remains true with the new system...but it sure doesn't seem like it.
A lot of people have suggested having the ushers check the tickets prior/during the game to help solve this problem, but I don't think that is feasible--even under the old system where everyone had an assigned seat. There's a ton of people crammed into a small area; the game is about to start and it's hard to hear yourself think much less someone talk to you; and it just takes too long. There isn't enough manpower to resolve every seating conflict, not to mention that many ushers simply don't care.
If it were up to me, I'd go back to assigning everyone a seat. The administration implemented the general admission policy to encourage students to show up early, which wasn't necessary. Students were already pretty good about being in their seats before kickoff; I usually took my seat 45 minutes before kickoff. If the current system has made a difference to the atmosphere, it's been negligible.
What they're doing right now isn't worth the headache. It's ridiculous that people can't leave their section because either (1) they won't be allowed re-entry, or (2) they'll have their seat taken by someone else and have no hope of getting it back. That detracts significantly from the gameday experience. (And getting peed on? Also somewhat detracts from the experience). Students are part of the problem; I understand that. But the article makes it obvious that the current ticket policy is too flawed to be properly enforced. At the least, stadium officials need to get on the same page. A student quoted in the article says, "No one there knew what was going on," which is a joke.
Last week's ballot is located here. As always, the week's official BlogPoll will appear at mgoblog tomorrow.
Dropped Out: Arizona State (#23), Penn State (#24), Michigan State (#25).
Games Watched: UNC vs. Clemson, BC vs. NC State, Wisconsin vs. Michigan, Louisville vs. K-State, Minnesota vs. Purdue, ND vs. Michigan State
-- Not a lot to go on from this past weekend, so very little changes at the top of the poll. Further down, Georgia and Virginia Tech were penalized a bit for unimpressive play. Boston College drops to the bottom but remains ranked.
-- I will readily admit that I have not seen one second of Wake Forest football this season. I'm giving the Deacs some credit for winning a couple of games on the road, even if they didn't beat particularly tough opponents. They seem as deserving as Missouri or Boise State or whoever else you might stick here.
Tenth in the ACC in total offense, ninth in total defense. Turnover margin is still poor: -1.75 (116th). But we were even against BC, and that's the first time we haven't had a negative margin this season. Baby steps. We take baby steps and we build. Step two: force more than one (1) turnover in a game.
Rank Turnovers Gained 1 Virginia Tech 11 2 Clemson 9 3 Georgia Tech 8 4 Boston College 7 4 Florida St. 7 4 Wake Forest 7 7 North Carolina 6 8 Maryland 5 9 Duke 4 9 NC State 4 9 Virginia 4 9 Miami (Fla.) 4
Rank Turnovers Lost 1 Georgia Tech 4 1 Miami (Fla.) 4 3 Duke 5 4 Clemson 6 4 Wake Forest 6 6 Virginia Tech 7 7 Boston College 8 7 Virginia 8 7 Florida St. 8 10 Maryland 11 10 North Carolina 11 10 NC State 11
Carter-Finley Stadium, while no Doak Campbell (Florida State) or Clemson Memorial Stadium, certainly holds its own with 57,082 screaming red-and-white clad fans delivering, at times, deafening noise. Not to mention their traveling fan base, which is always more than respectable.
With brand new arenas, including the RBC Center (basketball) and Carter-Finley, athletes have access to state-of-the-art facilities rivaled by few other universities around the nation.
But what's most impressive is the way their fans conduct themselves. Simply put, I've never met more polite strangers in my entire life. I even got to dine at the Strutting Wolf Grill - and free of charge.
To those Wolfpack fans who were so inviting to this BC fan/journalist: thank you. Simple acts of kindness can pay off in unexpected ways.
While a cynic might say that the Wolfpack merely took advantage of the worst defense in the ACC -- yes, Boston College even ranks below North Carolina in yards allowed per game -- Brown was encouraged by the offensive production.
Especially since it came from both expected and unexpected sources.
"We know we're good," he said. "It's just everybody around us that's seen us struggle, the media -- you're all bashing us, bashing our coach.
"Together, it's up to us. We're going into the ACC refreshed, 1-0. Hopefully we can keep these 'Ws' coming."
From the "Probably Won't See This on a Sunday" department: I witnessed a feel good moment from N.C. State's dramatic 17-15 win over nationally ranked Boston College that you wouldn't catch while watching the highlights.
N.C. State's sophomore QB Daniel Evans, a former walk-on in his collegiate game start, threw a dramatic 34-yard TD pass in the final seconds to secure the win. Sure, that's gonna make the national highlights. However, who was one of the first guys (first, I think) to embrace Evans coming off the field? Marcus Stone, the junior QB that had lost his starting job to Evans just this week. Right after the final gun sounded, ESPN2 also got a great shot of Stone in Evans' ear offering congrats, and that's the kind of stuff I like to see in college ball that you don't see very often in the pros. Heck, on Sundays, you'd probably see a guy in Stone's spot sulking until his trade goes through, while on Saturdays, you usually see guys in that position wondering how fast they could fill out their transfer request forms.
Sometimes, it seems like the 18-22-year-old dudes playing this sport show more maturity than those of us that cheer them on (or root against).
-- Boston College leaned on its running game more than it had all season, and it was a success. Whitworth was 21-109 (5.2 YPC) and Callender was 11-54 (4.9). Neither running back was tackled for a loss. After giving up 172 rushing yards to BC tonight, State has given up 433 over the last two weeks. So, still a lot of work to do there. It's not as bad as '03, at least.
-- The bigger story to me (because it's the positive one) was the secondary's play. Maybe it's just that Boston College is less talented at receiver than Southern Miss, but whatever the case, the Pack looked much better against BC. I'm sure I wasn't alone when I worried that the ACC's best passing offense would tear us to shreds; instead, Matt Ryan was limited to 149 yards on barely 50% passing.
-- I don't know what this win means for the rest of the season. It's not encouraging to see the offense stymied by what is statisically the worst defense in the conference. I know it was wishful thinking to expect the offense to be markedly better with Daniel Evans under center, but I did think we would score 20+ on BC.
-- Look what happens when you limit mistakes. Six penalties and one turnover--I'll take that every week. I had a bad feeling after the dumb and costly roughing of the punter that we committed on BC's first series. But that was as bad as it got, which my blood pressure appreciates.
-- John Deraney averaged 35 yards per punt yesterday, and I can't recall a single good one. He remains reliable kicking field goals, which I suppose is the most important thing. I would have liked to see him attempt the 50+ yarder in the first half rather than pooch punt it, but I will defer to the coaches on that one. Saturday was a breezy day.
-- I give the coaches credit for maintaining a run/pass balance on first down. Evans, unfortunately, was 3-11 on first down, which put the team in a lot of second-and-long situations. It was feast or famine with first down running plays. Four of the Wolfpack's 12 first down runs went for 15+ yards; the other eight went for two yards or less.
And we've still got to find a couple of short yardage bread-and-butter plays.
-- Boston College overwhelmingly chose the run over the pass on first down: 21 rushes, 8 passes.
N 1-10 N28 NC STATE drive start at 00:46 (4th). N 1-10 N28 Evans, D. pass incomplete to Bowens, D. N 2-10 N28 Evans, D. pass complete to Hill, A. for 18 yards to the NCS46, 1ST DOWN NCS (Silva, J). N 1-10 N46 QB hurry by Smith, B. N 1-10 N46 TEAM pass incomplete. N 2-10 N46 Evans, D. pass complete to Dunlap, J. for 20 yards to the BC34, 1ST DOWN NCS. N 1-10 B34 Evans, D. pass complete to Dunlap, J. for 34 yards to the BC0, 1ST DOWN NCS, TOUCHDOWN, clock 00:05. Deraney, J. kick attempt good.
With three minutes left in the game, Daniel Evans's fourth-down pass was intercepted by DeJuan Tribble at NC State's 35 yard line.
Almost immediately, a bunch of Wolfpack fans hopped from their seats and started for the exits. The game was over. Boston College was practically in field goal range already. The Eagles had run the ball well all night. The clock was going to start as soon as the ball was spotted. NC State only had one timeout left.
By the time NC State got the ball back with less than a minute to go, I could see cars lined up in the parking lot.
Forty-six seconds, 72 yards. Yeah, this looks likely.
Clock starts after the change of possession... down to 40 seconds... ball is snapped... incomplete pass. Crap. So much for this.
Evans drops back on second down... hits Anthony Hill, who isn't able to get out of bounds, though he is near midfield. Hey, just maybe. Just maybe...
Weary but hopeful cheers emanate from the people remaining in the stands. "Don't get your hopes up," my friend reminds me. I insist that my expectations are properly grounded.
Evans completes a 20-yard pass to John Dunlap, moving the team to BC's 34. Less than 20 seconds left. I turn to my friend, hold up my crossed fingers. "We're due! We gotta be due!"
Danny Evans looks to the right side and sees single coverage on John Dunlap. He takes a few steps forward and lobs the ball to the endzone. John Dunlap and the BC defender jump for the ball. The ball hits Dunlap in the hands... he does not catch it... but it's still in the air!... Dunlap secures the ball as he lands on his back... there is a delay while the official in the back of the endzone considers what he just saw... wait... wait... touchdown!
There is wild celebration in the stands. I'm jumping up and down, and I swear the temporary bleachers are swaying. But then the play is reviewed, and I try to prepare myself for the inevitable reversal. The Pack were just teasing us again, probably. The review ends up being surprisingly quick, and the official says a few of the most beautiful words I've ever heard: "There is no incontrovertible evidence--" At which point, the stadium explodes again.
Holy crap, they're going to let us get away with this! John Deraney nails the extra point, and after a brief period of nail biting, the game is over. NC State 17, Boston College 15. And... exhale. Whew.
The late start to tomorrow's game means that the absurdity of the new tailgating rules will be fully apparent. What are we supposed to do until 4 PM? Pre-tailgate tailgate? Pace around nervously? I'd mow my lawn or something, but I don't have a lawn.
Normally, television's warm glowing warming glow would provide comfort in this situation, but the slate of games this weekend is terrible. Look at those noon games--a double-dose of Big Ten Super Happy Fun Yawn Time and a couple of lopsided inter-conference matchups. There is no compelling reason to stay home and watch football on television. It's like we're back in kindergarten and Mr. Oblinger is forcing us to take a nap.
In all likelihood, I'll be sitting on the couch tomorrow afternoon bored to tears, staring angrily at the clock wondering why it's moving so slowly, thinking, I could be tailgating right now.
A couple of late items:
-- This FSU fan predicts that NC State will beat Boston College in a shootout, 44-37, and I couldn't help but smile at that. It takes us three games to score 44 points.
BC's defense is most vulnerable to power runs and short, accurate passes, so the Pack will have to hope that Andre Brown and Toney Baker can take some pressure off first-time starting QB Daniel Evans, whose best work comes with short, accurate passes. On defense, NCSU faces a more difficult task because of the Eagles' impressive run-pass balance, but tackle DeMario Pressley and linebacker Pat Lowery in particular should be disruptive forces against the interior of BC's line. On special teams, Pack should have a huge advantage at punter/kicker, with do-it-all senior John Deraney.
-- Remember Mike Farrell? He wrote a column asserting that Chuck Amato had not focused enough recruiting effort on North Carolina prospects. This column was ripped to pieces by SFN, the issue was discarded, and we moved on.
NC State: The loss to Akron was bad, and the follow-up loss to Southern Miss was simply awful. Short of a run at a division title and a berth in the ACC Championship Game, Chuck Amato is likely gone. Amato is a victim of his own great start and high expectations but also of recruiting Florida harder than North Carolina. Former NC State assistant coach Doc Holliday would be an excellent choice to take over in Raleigh. He lacks head coaching experience, but he can recruit. Wolfpack fans dream of Bill Cowher coming back to his alma mater to save the day, but that’s not gonna happen. In the meantime, State is sliding off the radar during the best year in North Carolina for high school talent in decades.
N.C. State loses because it has the discipline of 5p.m. traffic. Amato's players are last in the league in turnover margin. Against Southern Mississippi they committed 10 penalties and had a player thrown out of the game.
But it's still early.
The weather is superb, the leaves are still on the trees and hope is in the air. At N.C. State hope means that when 2007 comes around somebody other than Amato runs the program.
We need, like, a six game winning streak, since it becomes a lot harder to type things with a foot in your mouth.
"That's right, Tom! We're 7-2! What say you now?"
"Mmmphrgh! Pffolph! Turmophrghph!" [*drool runs down chin*]
"They don't even have to get a rental car; I'll meet them in Charlotte, pick them up and drive them back to our campus," said Stevens, headmaster of the Patterson School, located about 80 miles north of Charlotte. "I welcome them. I want them to come and visit us. We have nothing to hide."
In the post-Rivers era, it seems like NC State has had to battle a negative turnover margin almost every week. The 2004 team stumbled to a losing record not just because it turned the ball over a ton, but also because, for whatever reason, it had trouble generating turnovers. Over the first six games of that season, NC State forced five turnovers, three of which were committed by Richmond in the opener.
In the five games after Richmond, then, State was forced to subsist on two takeaways--two stinkin' fumbles, one by Ohio State and one by Virginia Tech. Five games, zero interceptions. The last three opponents State faced during this span--Wake, UNC, and Maryland--didn't commit a turnover.
The Wolfpack, meanwhile, committed 13 turnovers in those six games, yet somehow managed to win four times. Alas, turnover margin tightened its grip and strangled the Pack in the second half of the season.
The 2005 team managed to turn its season around by turning the turnover trend around: from -5 in the first half (2-4) to +5 in the second half (5-1).
Although we're not that far into 2006 yet, I'm already concerned about a 2004-esque trend plaguing this year's team. Only one school (out of 119) in I-A has committed more turnovers than NC State. Only ten schools have gained fewer turnovers. State has managed one takeaway in the last two games. In the context of the last 26 games, the success that NC State had in the second half of 2005 looks a lot more like the exception than the rule.
So what do you say, Boston College? Throw us a bone (or three)?
This week, I exchanged some questions with Bill from Eagle in Atlanta. Below, Bill talks about how Boston College athletics have affected his health and lets us know what we might see from the Eagles this weekend. My answers to Bill's questions will appear on his site in the next couple of days.
1) I'll bet you're ready for a breather. How many years of life have the last two weeks cost you?
Oh, I am not going to see my 40th birthday. Being a BC fan will do that. Just in the past 12 months, I've endured an OT game in person at Clemson (and it was over 100 on the heat index), a win over Wake were BC was down 9 with three minutes left, a nail biter in Boise, the OT win over NC State in basketball, an OT game to open the NCAAs, a tough loss to Nova in the tourney, a nail biter at CMU and now two more OT games.
I am not the only one. BC has a disproportionate amount of alums with Irish ancestry. We are prone to drinking problems and heart disease. This is not good for any of us.
2) Statistically speaking, BC's defense is off to a rough start. How concerned are you? How much better will the unit get?
Very concerned. I expect the unit to be much better. Yes, we had to replace some key figures, but in many cases I thought the backups would potentially be upgrades. So far they are proving not to be. I am not as concerned about the linebackers or secondary. The defensive line has me really worried. They are playing hard and smart, but have no speed. We are barely getting to the QB. And when we do break the pocket, no one seems to be able to chase down the opposing QB. These guys are young but they need to grow up fast.
3) What's the defense's biggest weakness?
The defensive line. And to a lessor extent the scheme. By design, BC plays a lot of zone and gives receivers cushion. This works if you are getting pressure up front. But if you don't, then the opponent can pick you apart up and down the field. That is what is happening now.
4) The Eagles have thrown the ball a lot in their first three games, but do you think they'll be more focused on running the ball against the Wolfpack?
Based on what Southern Miss did to you guys, I do think we will focus on the run. But there is a chance BC could play with fire and decide to get into another shoot out. The logic being -- 'we know we can move the ball on them and pass for 300+ yards. Can a young QB in his first start throw for 300+ against us?' Now O'Brien is way too conservative to ever get in a shoot out by design, but it might make sense this week considering your QB situation.
5) Is this the year? Ten wins for Tom O'Brien?
I thought it could be and the schedule is looking promising (rough starts for NCSU, Duke, Miami and getting Clemson and Virginia Tech at home). But based on the way the team has lucked out, I am worried. BC has not played good football yet. If they pull it together, they could be awesome. If they don't, they will lose a game to someone they shouldn't.
Note: the deltas are messed up because I accidentally forgot to submit a ballot last week. My week two ballot can be found here.
Dropped Out: Miami (Fl), Texas Tech
-- After their trouncing of Maryland, I'm starting to believe in the Mountaineers, and they've gotten a big bump from me. Steve Slaton is pretty good.
-- Ohio State earned the #1 spot with the best win of the season. I haven't cooled on USC at all.
-- The Oregon/Oklahoma debacle presented an interesting situation for this week's ballot. Do I take the results straight up and rank the teams accordingly, or do I consider that Oklahoma really did win that game? I moved both teams up.
-- As always, I try to rank teams by the who-is-better-than-who principle. Which is why teams like LSU, Oklahoma, and Tennessee haven't dropped too far with losses. They are where they are because I think they're better than the teams I have behind them.
-- TCU and Michigan State are new to the poll this week.
Daniel Evans will get the start against Boston College. I was somewhat surprised to see the coaches make this change, but I give them credit for being proactive. With the team sitting at 1-2 before it has played a conference game, wait-and-see time is over. Stone had the entire off-season to get better; if he didn't develop over that period--and it's pretty clear that he didn't--he's probably never going to. Giving him one more start, or two more, or whatever, would have meant nothing. We'd be right back here wondering if we should try someone else.
I don't trust what I saw out of Evans against USM, so it'll be interesting how he handles himself early on against Boston College.
We just felt we needed more production out of our offense... enough said there. We saw what Daniel did, in a condition when the game was out of reach, and against their first team the first drive and quite a few on the first drive, and we want to see what Daniel will do under the circumstances of being in there at the beginning of the game.
It's my job to put the best team on the field. We have to do everything in my mind and power to help this team win a 60 minute football game. Not a 59:50 football game, a 60 minute football game.
And there is turnover margin: -2.33 (116th in the country).
I was surprised to see that three ACC teams are ranked lower in total offense than NC State: Florida State (105th), Duke (110th), and Virginia (112th). So I guess we can't expect the NC State/UVA game to be televised. Not that it should be.
I think I just got a glimpse of what it's like to listen to Hawk Harrelson call a game when you're not a White Sox fan.
It takes someone like Purvis and his entertaining case of crotchety-old-man-itis to give you the proper perspective sometimes. But for his consistently snide remarks, I'd have turned off the audio long before the end of the game. The officials made a couple of calls right off the bat that he didn't like, and boy were they gonna hear it from that point forward.
If he wasn't going nuts over supposedly-bad spots, he was heaping backhanded praise on NC State (like when he said he thought the Wolfpack o-line was doing a good job, whether "legally or illegally") or ranting about imaginary penalties that--for some reason--weren't being called.
When Southern Mississippi committed its only turnover of the game--a fumble near midfield--Purvis rolled his eyes and pointed out that, "being on the ground only applies if you're wearing a white jersey." Later on, the radio crew's sideline reporter informs us that the USM player had in fact fumbled on the play. Purvis has no comment.
Other select comments from the evening at the ball yard:
"That's a pretty marginal one there," said after a USM third down conversion was brought back by a holding call.
On the first-half play where pass interference was called on both the USM receiver and NC State defensive back: "should be pass interference, but don't bet on anything..."
Once he heard that call was offsetting and not just defensive PI, he said the call was "unbelievable." I was laughing too hard to watch the replay, so I don't know--maybe it was.
After the USM QB sneaked the ball on third-and-short, the play-by-play guy indicated that USM had enough for the first down. He was answered with another "don't bet on it."
The gem of the broadcast probably came in the first half when Purvis said that NC State's receivers were the biggest bunch of crybabies he'd ever seen. Yeah, Vic, speaking of crybabies...
[8:29PM] Ahh...fifteen minute respite from the Golden Eagles' color guy. Although I'm sort of beginning to like him.
[8:43PM] USM quarterback was 10-15 in the first half, Stone was 6-15. Pack's averaging a little over two yards per carry.
[8:44PM] Or maybe that's 5-16 for Stone. I don't know. I've heard both from the USM crew.
[8:47PM] Here we go! USM returns the kick to the 22 or 23.
[8:49PM] So much for field position. Will we ever see Southern Miss's punter?
[8:52PM] Fletcher's averaging near 6 YPC. And there's the big pass play that the USM coaches thought they could get. Color guy says there was pass interference. There wasn't anything close to pass interference.
[8:53PM] Touchdown Southern Miss, and we're back down ten points. Hello, defense? Have you seen our offense? Maybe we could get a stop or two, yes?
[8:55PM] I can just picture the color guy, smugly sipping from his Jack and coke. He's wondering when we'll stop cheating at everything.
[8:57PM] More terrible camerawork. But I'm glad I half-missed this one. Receiver falls down, easy INT for the USM defensive back. Doomsday.
[9:01PM] No pass rush. "Oh what a spot! What an unbelievably bad spot!" Color guy again. What a douchebag.
[9:03PM] 23-10. Decent job by the defense, I guess. If you asked the USM color guy, though, he'd tell you the Eagles were shafted by another bad spot.
[9:07PM] First down by a hair. Waiting for snide comment from color guy...and there it is!
[9:09PM] Good work, Leroy. Usually it's just your linemates' crappy blocking that kills drives. You've killed this one with a moronic personal foul.
[9:11PM] Holding brings back a great run by Marcus Stone. Third-and-24. Screen gets nothing...time to punt.
[9:13PM] Turnover? Wha? More snide comments! Yes! "Being on the ground only applies if you're wearing a white jersey."
[9:16PM] Drive looks good so far. Knock on wood.
[9:18PM] Sideline guy: USM RB did in fact fumble. Take that and cram it, color guy.
[9:20PM] Crucial mistake from Marcus...sigh. What a terrible throw.
[9:22PM] Tank Tyler has been ejected. And the game reaches a new low.
[9:24PM] This game is just about over. Let the bad tackling display continue!
[9:26PM] 30-10. We suck.
[9:27PM] Another personal foul on the Wolfpack. Glad we're keeping composure, because this isn't already embarrassing or anything.
[9:30PM] Pack converts third down...but no, holding on the play brings it back. The ball is inside the NC State ten. Eight penalties, 74 yards.
[9:32PM] Okay. Okay. Only fifteen minutes left. Thank Christ.
[9:33PM] Fabulous punt by Deraney. That's all we got. The kicking game. Even the color guy manages to compliment Deraney without mentioning cheating.
[9:37PM] We're officially mailing it in. USM offense will probly pound out another TD here.
[9:40PM] "That's a pretty marginal one there." USM was called for holding on a third down option play. Color guy reminds us that Eagles are incapable of error.
[9:48PM] Backup QB time! This is the only reason I'm still watching.
[9:49PM] Danny Evans converts a fourth down. Go Danny Go!
[9:51PM] Nice throw by Evans again. Wolfpack is driving.
And there is a TD pass to John Dunlap!
[9:53PM] Over the break, Jeff Bower reminds us to think before we drink. Take heed, color guy.
[9:56PM] Right back down the field goes USM. Yawn.
[9:58PM] Over 250 rushing yards for the Eagles.
[10:00PM] 2:39 left, NC State ball. At least we'll get to see Danny Evans throw it a little more.
[10:03PM] Jamelle Eugene looked like he was shot out of a gun on that screen. Pack is back inside the 30.
[10:05PM] Eagles big man with an INT. Heckuva play, too.
[10:06PM] And it is ovah. I can't wait to hear what Chuck has to say.
[6:52PM] Hello and welcome! We have video... The USM radio guys are talking to Bower a bit about his special teams, and it looks like we're ready for the national anthem.
[6:58PM] USM radio guy's keys: stop the run and establish the run.
[7:01PM] Captains are on the field for the coin toss. USM is sportin' the all-black.
[7:03PM] Southern Miss wins the coin toss and defers to the second half. NC State is in all-white.
[7:06PM] Blackman gets it out to the 23, and we're underway. I'm stuck with the USM radio guys since the Wolfpack radio feed is ahead of the webcast (not surprisingly).
[7:08PM] Two plays, two runs. Third down.
[7:09PM] One for one on third down! Stone makes a nice throw to get the first down, then goes deep on the subsequent play. Solid start so far. Good coverage by USM on the deep throw.
[7:11PM] Sigh. There's an "I surrender" play on third down. Deraney to punt.
[7:12PM] Punt return coming back. USM radio guys say it's a "terrible call." And it looks like it is a bad call...
[7:14PM] First down is a play-action pass, overthrown deep. Good play call. Second down--nada. Screen was not there. Third down pass is complete, and the spot looks a wee bit short.
[7:15PM] Or not. First down USM.
[7:17PM] Pass interference on both sides. The USM radio guys are already busting out the sarcasm: "should be pass interference, but don't bet on anything..."
[7:19PM] Another Golden Eagle first down. I'm enjoying the USM radio guys now. That last offsetting PI call was "unbelievable."
[7:21PM] Terrible effort from the defense so far. No pass rush, and the running hasn't been too hard either.
[7:22PM] Missed tackle and it's another first down. I am not pleased. Now the Eagles are inside the 25...it's too easy.
[7:25PM] Finally a stop for the defense. The Pack did a good job staying home on the reverse. The field goal is good, and USM leads 3-0. 5:25 left in the first quarter.
[7:27PM] Okay, offense. Let's go forward, you know, get yards and what have you. Defense needs rest after that six minute USM drive.
[7:29PM] Third and short. A nice stretch by Andre Brown gets the first down...whew. Leroy Harris is injured. Crap.
[7:33PM] Another third down, another timid play call, another punt. No fumble on the play.
[7:35PM] Well...we managed to eat four minutes off the clock. A three-and-out from USM would be really, really helpful here.
[7:38PM] Is it time to panic yet? No signs of stopping their running game yet. As SMQ mentioned in the Q&A, the running game is extremely important to USM's chances.
[7:40PM] USM radio guys say team is confident it can hit a big passing play. Still no pass rush from Pack's DL. Easy pitch-and-catch.
[7:41PM] Finally! A TFL! Need a stop here.
[7:43PM] Chuck Amato calls timeout to decide how to best screw up this fourth down play.
[7:45PM] According to sideline guy, the team was going to run a play if State was in a certain formation, otherwise try to draw the Pack offside. State was in that formation, evidently, as USM went and, naturally, got the first down.
[7:46PM] "Oh, what a terrible spot!" You're wrong on this one, guy. "Don't bet on it," says my man after the third-down sneak, referring to the first-down spot.
[7:48PM] Touchdown Eagles, and boy was it easy. Someone should tell the Pack that the game has started.
[7:51PM] Eleven minutes left in the half, team down ten points. Don't know if I can stand sixty minutes of this.
[7:53PM] Stone promptly spoils field position by getting sacked. This USM color guy is great. Snide remarks about officiating left and right.
[7:56PM] Touchdown Wolfpack!!! And the webcast cameraman completely missed it, so I have no ing clue what happened. If I wanted to miss the action, I'd have saved my money. Sheesh. Anyway, that. Is. Huge. Nice throw by Marcus...er, maybe.
[7:58PM] Great. Just great. Forty-nine yard kickoff return plus 15-yard facemask puts the ball at State's 31.
[8:01PM] The defense makes a great play on second down, but half the play was the running back's. He thought he could reverse field but only ended up losing about ten more yards. Field goal is short. NC State ball.
[8:04PM] That was an ugly series, but at least Stone got the fumble back. USM color guy says our WRs are serious "crybabies."
Awful punt by Deraney. 5:28 left.
[8:05PM] Timeout USM. Color guy: "Jes uh bunch uh crahbabies, these Wolfpack. Pass the whiskey." He didn't actually say that, but I'm convinced it's a matter of time.
[8:07PM] Eagles inside the 20. Wide receiver was way too open.
[8:10PM] Okay, good stop. I can live with the field goal...
[8:12PM] Twelve first downs for USM, 191 yards. Three for State and 62 yards.
[8:15PM] Make that four first downs. Good run by Toney brings up third and inches. Timeout NC State.
[8:17PM] Color guy hasn't dissed the officials in a while, so that's a disappointment.
[8:18PM] OMG! Play action and it worked!
[8:20PM] First down...hurry up time!
[8:22PM] Color guy: Wolfpack offensive line doing a good job, whether it's "legally or illegally." Thanks, man.
[8:24PM] Dammit...Dunlap would have gotten the ball into field goal range had he caught that. Actually, we'll try it anyway. And it is GOOD! John freakin' Deraney!
[8:27PM] Haltime, 13-10 Eagles. Eh [shrugs shoulders]...could be worse. That's always the best way to think about it. It could be worse. I'm gonna start a new thread for the second half.
-- Pending cooperation from the webcast, I'm planning on liveblogging the State/USM game tomorrow. If, during the game, you happen to be on the internet registering you disgust, feel free to drop by. And if it all becomes too much, go ahead and cry into your beer. I won't judge you. I likely will also be crying.
First coach on the hot seat? N.C. State's Chuck D'Amato. The Wolfpack are 1-1, but struggled with I-AA Appalachian State (23-10) and lost 20-17 to Akron - both at home. The Pack are at Southern Miss on Saturday. N.C. State was 7-5 last season. Larry Coker might join him next if the 'Canes lose to the Cards.
"My first big purchase has got to be a place to stay," Lawson said, undoubted with a large smile. "That's going to be hard, because I'm from Goldsboro, N.C., which is the country. I have been looking out here, and I found a townhouse for $800,000. Do you know what I could do with $800,000 back in North Carolina? I just stood there. I didn't want to touch anything in the townhouse. For $800,000, I could probably buy Goldsboro."
WVU’s run-wackiness turned the Terps to cinders in fifteen minutes last night, with Slaton going for 149 in the first quarter, scoring twice, and reducing Kirk and Chris to stuttering bystanders as Friedgen hovered like a furious blimp on the Maryland sidelines.
I can't help but picture the Goodyear blimp with a huge frowny face on its nose.
Staying in the SEC West, a little birdie told me, or rather e-mailed me, the other day that Houston Nutt is feeling serious heat in Arkansas and is actually campaigning for the N.C. State head-coaching job that is likely to be available after this season, what with the Chuck Amato Death Clock clicking like a mofo after the Wolfpack's home loss to Akron. This becomes especially interesting when you consider that antsy Arkansas fans have had a wandering eye on former Miami coach Butch Davis, who played for the Razorbacks in college, for some time now. Stands to reason that if the Arkansas administration thinks they can snag Davis, they'd spend a lot less time worrying about where the hell Nutt ended up, doesn't it?
In one swift move, Amato insulted a non-BCS conference, degraded high school kids who can't qualify on their first attempt to get into school, and -- worse, whether he intended to or not -- made a definitive statement about his ability to win with the players he has recruited.
If I'm an NC State player, how do I feel when my coach says Akron won because they have better players? Meanwhile, Akron has one -- 1 -- non-qualifier on this year's roster.
This is the first sign of a coach on the verge of losing his team. Instead of accepting blame and working toward fixing the problems, blame someone else.
Here we are two weeks into the season and already there's one media member calling for Amato to be fired and another suggesting that the coach may be close to losing control of his team. Jeez, guys, save some material for October, would you?
In preparation for the upcoming NC State/Southern Mississippi game, I exchanged a few questions with Matt from Sunday Morning Quarterback. Many thanks to Matt for taking the time to answer my questions. You can find my answers to his questions about the Wolfpack here.
1) What's your sense so far: are the Eagles better than they were last season?
I’m still on the fence about this, because games like Florida and SE Louisiana have little chance of being more than hopeless blowouts (in opposite directions) in any year. Saturday is an even match up and should be a better measuring stick.
Quarterback is a liability, but Dustin Almond in his three years as starter never had a legit number one running back behind him, and true freshman Damion Fletcher has immediately grabbed that role by the throat. Fletcher is small (in the 5-10, 180 range) and wasn’t very highly recruited, but he had pretty obviously supplanted last year’s ho hum combo, Larry Thomas and Cody Hull, by halftime against Florida; considering USM backs are routinely held under 2 yards per carry against that kind of defense, his 127 total yards against UF was probably the best individual performance by a USM running back since Derrick Nix in early 2002. He came back with 122 and two touchdowns against SE La. on more than six yards per carry. Because its success running the ball is disproportionately representative of USM’s overall success (this is statistical fact), it’s a pleasant surprise to have some optimism in that area against a not-terrible defense for a change. The offensive line – four starters back – may have more to do with this than I’m giving it credit for, because my distaste for the Southern Miss offensive line is perpetual regardless of the depth chart.
The shutout against SE La. was the defense’s first since 2001 (I think), and hopefully a confidence-builder. People still seem to give USM’s defense props for its years of producing badasses and high rankings, but it fell off the map last year and could not stop anyone from running; I had hoped the middle would be a strength again, based on the possibility it would be manned by transfers from LSU and Southern Cal at tackle and a convicted manslaughterer from Kansas State behind them, but it looks now like the manslaughterer is moving to backup end to make way for a former walk-on quarterback returning from injury at middle linebacker, and the most productive tackle has been a USM-bred junior, Martavious Prince. The secondary is the only area - other than quarterback - that figures to be definitely weaker that in ‘05.
2) Southern Miss has a new guy at quarterback this year, right? What can you tell us about him? What kind of performance should we expect on Saturday?
Hopefully a very, very quiet one. The less Jeremy Young’s name is called, the better – not because he’s so terrible (though he possibly will be), but because USM is always and forever going to make more progress controlling the clock by running as long as conservatism reigns. This is fine against mostly overmatched C-USA foes; less so against, say, the ACC. Young and Stephen Reaves, a Michigan State transfer, looked sharp last week (Young was 5-7 with a touchdown and ran for two more), but couldn’t put the ball in the end zone without a short field against Florida and are better off handing off and making safe throws as long as the score and clock allow. Not what USM fans want to hear, but this is far from a “high flying” philosophy or talent set – the best news at quarterback, especially in the case of relative novices but for pretty much this entire decade, is no news.
3) Let's talk about the guys who'll be on the field while the Pack's offense is busy not scoring. Who are USM's defensive standouts?
This is a bit of the problem. USM’s had the past three C-USA defensive players of the year, all at linebacker. No one’s going to do that from this team; hard-tackling safety Brandon Sumrall is the only all-league-type player right now.
There’s a lot of the dreaded potential here, which might make 2007 the real culmination for this group. Depending on health, I should mention talented sophomore linebacker Gerald McRath, but he’s barely had a chance to play because of ACL injuries his first two years and is hobbled by something else entering this game. The leading tackler so far is James Denley, who filled in for McRath last year and was assumed to be benched, but has apparently improved enough to warrant one of the outside spots. I had high hopes for end Robert Henderson, a once-touted JUCO signee who had an alright junior year, but he doesn’t appear to have sniffed a quarterback yet. Cornerback Caleb Hendrix is pretty competent, but that’s about it.
Pressure is needed against Marcus Stone, who is worrisome despite his bleh numbers because he seems like the “gutsy winner” type, evidenced by his nice starting record and even a couple clutch, go-ahead scoring drives at the end of the eventual loss last Saturday. He came off the bench to lead NCSU back from 10 down in the fourth quarter against Southern last year, and for that is looked upon warily. Andre Brown, too, for even more obvious reasons – given that he was one of three consecutive running backs to hit a career high rushing total against USM, and that this also set the school record for yards in one game, Souther Miss fans do not consider him “flukey.”
4) Jeff Bower always seems to put together good teams despite the recruiting limitations he faces. What's the secret, and can I give you Chuck Amato's phone number to pass along?
Players appear to improve at USM with experience, which is not the case everywhere. Fletcher is the extremely rare true freshman – or even first-year JUCO transfer - making a major contribution out of the gate. It takes a while for guys to come along, and the stars succeed in workmanlike fashion; during the span of my entire fandom, USM has not produced a single player in the “game-breaker” category, which is probably a sign of a) a mediocre level of talent entering each year, and b) good coaching.
Mostly, though, it’s just scheduling: NC State is probably the toughest of six home games, and that should say something. USM will take on a heavyweight or two, maybe three, but it helps to not have to play in a grueling conference like the ACC.
Speaking of scheduling, this is a fairly huge game for Southern, because its next four games are at Central Florida , at Tulsa , Houston and at Virginia Tech. If the Eagles come out of that stretch better at 3-3 or better, I’ll be more than satisfied, because it could just as soon be 1-6. Getting on the right foot against program like NC State is a key to preventing that.
Did I read that right in Sunday's paper? Did UVa coach Al Groh actually kinda-sorta compare the missed extra-point against Wyoming to the freakin' Super Bowl? Why yes, I believe he did. Here was the quote:
"I was lucky enough to be a part of a team to win the Super Bowl on a kick on the last play of the game that went right. This one felt almost as good."
Oh, boy. Is that how far the Cavaliers have fallen? Here's an idea: Let's save Super Bowl references for, oh, I don't know, beating Duke. At least that's a conference game.
Mitch Craft is back. Gerald McRath is gimpy. Jerome Lyons is in the picture. Marcus Raines is now at defensive end.
There could be much shuffling this week on the depth chart at two of the three linebacker spots this week as Southern Miss (1-1) prepares to welcome North Carolina State (1-1) at 6 p.m. Saturday to Roberts Stadium.
Worst coaching move: Akron scored on the last play of the game to take a 20-17 lead against N.C. State. There was some discussion about whether Akron running back Dennis Kennedy had gotten into the end zone. But N.C. State coach Chuck Amato could not challenge the play. He was out of timeouts. An unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty on N.C. State's go-ahead touchdown with 1:07 remaining gave Akron great field position to start the winning drive.
Circumstances being what they were, Amato couldn't afford to keep a timeout in his pocket just on the off chance that a challenge might become necessary--especially when the booth is supposed to take care of the questionable plays without any prodding from the coach.
Chris Coker, who was seated in the second row near the goal line, captured a shot that appears to show running back Dennis Kennedy's elbow either on or just a shade above the turf a few inches short of the goal line. Either way, it appears unlikely that Kennedy stayed in the air long enough to have gotten into the end zone.
Coker's photograph, along with a story by staff writer A.J. Carr, went up on our Web site at about 3:20 this afternoon, and it will run in our print edition tomorrow morning. The photo had previously been posted at packpride.com.
Coker emailed the photo on Sunday to staff writer Chip Alexander, who forwarded it to our photo staff. No one was able to contact Coker on Sunday to double-check with him about its use, so we resumed our efforts this morning.
Robert Miller, our Director of Photography, talked with Coker today and looked at an enlarged version of the photo to verify its authenticity.
They are in a conference that allows nonqualifiers in school. Ya'll need to look that one up to write stories. The Boise State's, the Fresno State's, the Louisville's before the new rules now.. that can allow nonqualifiers in school now. I think he told me he had ten last year that he signed. You know what kind of players nonqualifiers are usually? They are inversely proportional to what their grade point average is.
They can make a big difference, but I don't know how you can ask and you did. And I answered it.
Well, okay. This doesn't change the fact that NC State should have beaten Akron.
"This is one of the worst losses that we've had in the past two years," Heath said. "Losing to Akron is a disappointing loss. We've just got to learn how to start faster, instead of finishing faster, (and) learn how to play hard from the beginning."
-- Taking a quick stroll around the internets, it appears that most outsiders think Amato is done after this season. Considering the time granted to Herb Sendek, I really would be surprised if Amato was not coaching at NC State in 2007. And at this point, I think he should be here in 2007.
"I was told there wasn't a buzzer on it. I asked. We couldn't review the play before that becuase we were out of timeouts."
Right after the last play, Amato started running in my direction (i.e., toward the Finley Fieldhouse) and my first thought was, "oh, good, he's coming to apologize to me personally." Turns out he was chasing down the officials to ask why the play wasn't reviewed.
I caught highlights of the game, and I admit that at full speed it did look like the Akron running back got the ball across the goalline, but I'm still wondering why there was no review. I have to assume that they looked at it in the booth and decided it wasn't worth buzzing the officials, but I'm having trouble accepting that. The officials were off the field so quickly that it didn't seem like they gave the booth any time to go over the replay.
This is why we have instant replay in college football, right? To get these outcome-critical calls correct? They decided that Blackman's touchdown catch was worth reviewing, and that score looked a lot more obvious than the Akron TD. Why wouldn't they simply err on the side of caution and take a look at the last play? Had they done so and still found that Akron scored, I'd have still been upset, but I wouldn't have been nearly as angry as I ended up being.
I think it's hilarious though that today, bam, the officials give the touchdown signal and book it out of the stadium, but on that infamous (and similar) play against Carolina in 2004--you know, before instant replay had been instituted--the officials stood around after the TD signal, discussed, and made a bizarre reversal. The rules, it seems, are always bent or ignored to the benefit of the other guys. I'm feeling a little bitter.
"Some game. Before you even ask, if I had to do the 4th down-and-1 over again, I would do the same thing."
"They had about 32 yards in the second half, and in my wildest dreams I would have never thought they could have gone 96. I didn't think it was a gamble."
A field goal did us no good in that situation, which is why going for it was the right call. I liked it at the time and I like it now. The opportunity to go up two scores was worth the risk. It's just too bad we're so terrible in short yardage situations.
According to the box score, there were eight occasions where we needed three or fewer yards for a first down. Of the eight plays we ran in those situations, only two got the yardage needed to move the sticks. We struggled similarly against Appalachian State last week. When you can't convert those--and we were terrible in these spots last year, too--against the likes of Akron and App State, you've got serious problems. We should be able to pound Akron and ASU even when they know what's coming.
Against the Zips, we were 0-3 on third-and-two and 1-1 on third-and-one. In 2005, the average conversion percentage among all I-A schools was around 57% on third-and-twos and upwards of 67% on third-and-ones. We converted about 38% of our third-and-ones last year (6 for 16, to be specific) and were all-around awful in those short third down situations. Relative to the national average, we were worse in third-and-short than we were in third-and-medium and third-and-long. The first two games of this season show that we've not improved in this area, and that is mostly on the offensive line (the rest of the blame is Stone's for his incomplete passes). I don't need to tell you how bad an omen this is.
A few more things:
-- It's good to see that Idiotball is back after a one week hiatus. The Wolfpack committed nine penalties, including a personal foul charged to Andre Brown when he ran onto the field from the bench without a helmet on after we scored to go ahead 17-14. So John Deraney had to kickoff from the 20 and Akron ended up starting their possession at the 33. Deraney's kick went 71 yards--six yards into the endzone if he's kicking from the 35.
-- I haven't seen too much discussion on this, but let me just say that I think the coaches blew it when they called a timeout with 1:18 left. When the timeout was called, it was third-and-five at the Akron 11, which meant we had six more snaps at the most. We did not need 78 seconds. The coaches should have let another 20 seconds run off the clock.
-- Three turnovers today brings the turnover margin to -5 on the season.
-- I dropped by an Akron message board this afternoon and couldn't help but laugh when I saw this thread. There, on a lightly-trafficked MAC school's message board, a UNC fan, a Maryland fan, and an ECU fan stop by to flame. Far be it from me, a guy who writes on the internet for nothing, to make a judgment about how people allocate their free time, but good heavens. Trolling the Akron board? That's gotta be a new low.
Now I wish I'd stopped by a William & Mary message board (does one exist?) last week to let everyone know how much Sam Hollenbach stinks.
The NC State men’s soccer team started its ACC conference slate off with a bang Wednesday night, knocking off No. 1 North Carolina in Chapel Hill, 3-1. With the score tied 1-1 at the half, the Wolfpack (3-2, 1-0 ACC) used two second half goals to down the top-ranked Tar Heels (4-1, 0-1 ACC). The win over UNC was the Pack’s first since the 1997 season, and the first win in Chapel Hill since 1996. Over the last four seasons, NC State has knocked off five top-10 foes.
Zeus is a computer program developed by End Game Technologies that models and predicts the outcomes of coaching decisions in football games. The program is designed to produce statistical outputs showing the expected odds of winning given choices of potential play calls and roster choices. It is capable of simulating 1,000,000 games in a few seconds, and was developed using extensive research on historical data from NFL games. It expresses its output in terms of Game Winning Chance, ie the probability that the specified team will win the current game. It also evaluates its output using a range of possible "worst case" scenarios to determine a Confidence Factor of 1 to 10 for its results.
Zeus is particularly geared toward evaluating situations where a coach has essentially two or three play decisions which the opposing team will recognize. An example would be if a team is on fourth down and short yardage, and needs to decide between trying to get first down, punting or kicking a field goal. In such a case, Zeus will output its analysis of the game winning chance if you Punt versus if you try a short yardage play or kick the field goal. Another example would be, when your team is preparing to kick off, the chance of winning if you kick off normally versus attempting an onside kick.
"Game Winning Chance," as the program's developers call it, is just a fancy-pants way of saying "win probability." Zeus analyzes the situation and then recommends the course of action that maximizes win probability. It can also be used to take a retrospective look at all of the plays in a game and illustrate how a team's win probability fluctuated from play to play. Like so:
Can you imagine if a football version of Fangraphs was readily available to college football fans? "Chuck's decision to punt in the fourth quarter against UNC lowered our win probability by 3%! Fire Chuck!!1"
All statistics are from 2005. Biggs accounted for 88% of Akron's rushing yards. He was also second on the team in receptions to Hixon.
The trio combined to make 66% of the team's receptions, accounted for 68% of the team's receiving yards, and 79% of the team's receiving touchdowns.
Akron's most experienced returning wide receiver is Jabari Arthur, who had 30 catches last season. Luke Getsy will also rely on tight end Kris Kasparek, who caught 27 passes. Beyond them, though, experience is hard to come by. The guy behind Arthur on the depth chart is Johnny Long--Long made 15 receptions all of last year. At the other receiver spot, three players--Jermaine Lindsay (RS-Fr), David Harvey (FR), Brandon Williams (SO)--are listed on the depth chart. In '05, Lindsay was redshirting, Harvey was still in high school, and Williams saw action in two games, and he did not make a reception. The man replacing Biggs in the Akron backfield is sophomore Dennis Kennedy, who ran for 131 yards on 45 carries (2.9 YPC) last season. Fortunately, he's got the entire offensive line back to help him out. Based solely on the Penn State game, it looks like Kennedy will be utilized in the passing game like Biggs was. Kennedy had eight receptions against the Nittany Lions--lots of check-downs from Getsy, I'd imagine. Kennedy only managed 59 yards on 25 carries against PSU, and I think we can hold him to similar figures.
On the other side of the ball, it's a similar story. Lots of guys back, but some missing impact players. Linebacker Jay Rohr is gone--he led the team in tackles last year. Defensive lineman Brian White, who led the team in tackles for a loss, is also gone.
A man to keep an eye on is defensive end Jermaine Reed (#99). Reed led the Zips in sacks and was second to White in TFL.
Akron also has (and I'm trying not to drool as I write this) new starters at placekicker and punter. Maybe we could block a punt or four.
Akron Offense 2005
Akron Defense 2005
It's always hard to know what to make of the numbers posted by mid-majors. The 2005 defense looks solid on paper, but the Zips played six teams that ranked 101st or lower in total offense. They faced the four worst offenses in the MAC while avoiding the best (Toledo).
Regardless of how good they really are defensively, we've seen more than enough of our own team to know that Marcus Stone isn't likely to make them look bad. I don't want to say it's all on Andre Brown's shoulders, but...yeah, it's all on his shoulders. Per usual.
With the crappy offense we're cursed with, there is nothing more critical to our chances of winning a given game than turnover margin. Our special teams are superior to Akron's, and as long as we don't gift them any points, I think we'll be able to grind out enough scores to win.
But color me fretful. Good opposing QBs are scary.