Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Looking Ahead To Duke

In raw terms, it certainly appears as though the Blue Devils a lot better this season: from 117th in total offense last year to 98th in 2008, from 92nd in total defense to 52nd. And there's the winning record thing. Their performance on a per-play basis, however, tells a different story:
Duke Yds/PassAtt Yds/RuAtt Yds/Play YdsAllowed/PassAtt YdsAllowed/RuAtt YdsAllowed/Play
2007 6.5 2.0 4.3 7.8 4.3 5.8
2008 5.9 2.9 4.3 7.6 4.0 5.4

The offense hasn't gotten any better, while the defense has improved marginally. Their -1.1 yards/play differential puts them second to last in the ACC in that particular category (NC State is last at -1.2). But they've gone from being out-gained by an average of 153 yards per game in 2007 to being out-gained by 37 yards per game in 2008. That's a pretty big raw improvement, much bigger than you'd think possible based on the above.

That raw improvement is largely a function of the number of plays they're running relative to their opponents; whereas last season they averaged 63 snaps per game to their opponents' 73, they've managed to flip those numbers in 2008. A couple of things aiding the turnaround:

1.) Turnovers/the whims of the gods. Duke has 18 takeaways in seven games, which matches their 2007 total. That's an extra takeaway per game, and it's allowed them to improve their turnover margin from -0.25 (81st nationally) in '07 to +1.29 (6th) this season. It's the best turnover margin in the ACC.

2.) Better third down efficiency on both sides of the ball:
         3rdDownConv% (Rk)     Opp3rdDownConv% (Rk)
2007 31.7 (109) 43.7 (96)
2008 40.4 (57) 34.4 (41)
Defensively, they're doing a much better job getting off the field, and although the offense's per-play output has not improved, the unit is at least converting more third downs and sustaining more drives. Duke's time of possession is up about four-and-a-half minutes over a year ago.

Opponent      DukeYds/Play    OppYds/Play       PlayMargin    TO_Margin    W/L
JMU (I-AA) 4.6 5.0 Duke +31 +1 W
N'western 5.2 5.5 Duke +31 -1 L
Navy 5.7 6.4 Duke +14 +1 W
Virginia 3.7 4.1 UVA +5 +4 W
Ga Tech 2.7 6.2 GT +24 0 L
Miami 4.3 6.5 Duke +13 +2 L
Vandy 3.5 4.6 Duke +9 +2 W

What with the ACC being crazy stupid, I don't dare hazard a prediction. The league's teams can be stunningly accomodating at times, and the Blue Devils could very well ride the turnover margin gravy train for the rest of the season. Still, it's hard not to think they're due for a correction.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday Items

-- No, I do not want to buy a mini-pack. Please stop asking me. Splash pages are fairly common on athletics websites, but most of them, like Boston College's, offer an option at the bottom to permanently bypass them.'s splash page? No such option. Super annoying.

-- Ken Tysiac caught up with Ben McCauley:

Q: Did you lose weight during the offseason?
A: About five to eight pounds.

Q: How did you do it?
A: Eating right. Not eating the North Carolina food that gets you overweight. Not barbecue, stay away from the sweet teas and stuff like that. Making sure I eat right and work out every day.

No barbecue/sweet tea? Isn't that grounds for deportation to other, lamer states?

-- Triple option growing pains: Georgia Tech has fumbled 26 times in 8 games. We're second with 18, though we've been incredibly fortunate to lose just four of those.

-- Gregg Doyel needn't speak to earn the douchebag label; his picture suffices.

-- College Basketball Prospectus is here. Some details about the book, which I expect to be chock full of basketball geek awesome, are here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Duke Game Set For 3:30

The game will be televised by either ESPNU or ESPN360. Sure hope we don't get banished to the internets again.

Thru 8 Games

NCSU Offense
CategoryPer GameNat'l RankRank Change
Rushing Offense99 yds109+5
Passing Offense192.6 yds83-3
Total Offense291.6 yds107+5
Scoring Offense19.4 pts96+5

NCSU Defense
CategoryPer GameNat'l RankRank Change
Rushing Defense170.1 yds86-1
Passing Defense242.6 yds95+10
Total Defense412.8 yds100+3
Scoring Defense30.1 pts93+4

And now, for no reason, a helmet to the groin (ht: Dr. Saturday):

The rest of the stats.

Hoops Picked 9th

Media day notes:

To be honest, the only real shocker at Sunday's media day was how few members of the media actually showed up. The 40 votes cast in the preseason balloting were by far the fewest in recent memory. By contrast, 64 people participated in last year's poll.

There are a couple of reasons for the disparity. First, there's the economy and the fact that most newspapers around the country are cutting back their budgets. The other, more compelling factor is that the event was held in Atlanta, instead of Greensboro -- where it has been for all but two other times in its 38-year history.

It's a fact Maryland coach Gary Williams, a vocal opponent of the perceived "North Carolina" bias that exists in the ACC, duly noted when he noted that "the 400 papers from North Carolina aren't here today."

In all seriousness, the ACC has no one to blame but itself for the sparse attendance that was so bad, media relations director Brian Morrison stood at the door of the interview room asking reporters to go speak to various coaches and players sitting idly at their tables.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Damned Inevitability

Box Score

[Photo: Associated Press]

Friday, October 24, 2008

Maryland Items

A few notes as we ready the crying child:

-- There are at least a couple options of options for those of us who can't access ESPN360 from home:

Meanwhile, anyone on campus with an e-mail address ending in .edu should be able to get the live streaming. The BrickHouse (formerly Playmakers) on Hillsborough Street across from Meredith College confirms it will show the game, through, on two eight-foot screens (it's working on more), and The Upper Deck on East Whitaker Mill Road also is planning to have it. Another option might be Woody's @ City Market.

I think I'm going to end up at The Upper Deck.

-- The Terps have lost cornerback Kevin Barnes for the season:

The loss of Barnes is a significant setback for a defense that played its best game of the season Saturday and for a secondary that has been hampered by injuries all season. Maryland already was without cornerback Richard Taylor (knee) for the season, and coaches have been shuffling personnel because of other injuries in recent weeks.

Barnes was part of the defense's backbone. He was tied for third in the ACC in passes defended and was best known for delivering a bone-rattling hit on California's Jahvid Best in the second quarter of Maryland's 35-27 victory on Sept. 13.

"When one player comes back, another goes down," Maryland's secondary coach Kevin Lempa said of the injuries in the secondary. The leadership Barnes provided will be difficult to replace, Lempa said, because "he was calling out plays in games before they happened. He knows opponents and what they do."

Maryland is moving its free safety to cornerback, which says a lot about the condition of the secondary.

Shell Games had this reaction to the injury news:

Excuse me one second.


Incidentally, I said the exact same thing when I heard about Donald Bowens.

-- There has naturally been a lot of talk this week about Maryland's erraticness, and the Terps are swearing they've learned their lesson (for real this time).

Ralph Friedgen is just trying to keep everyone thinking happy thoughts:

Friedgen said he's taken up a new approach this week. He's only going to talk about the positives with the players. No negatives. He said he's seen a different attitude among the players in recent weeks. Since their team meeting. players are being more encouraging of each other, being more accountable for their actions at practice.

It'll make no difference since the Terrapins are coming off their best performance of the season. They're obviously doomed.

Or maybe not...

They've got a lot of experience. The offensive line, on tape, it looks as good as any we've played... better than South Florida. The quarterback is No. 1 in the conference in passing efficiency because nobody touches him.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

So You Want To Go Up Tempo

"In the fall I always say we're going to play faster. I even drive my car faster and eat faster," says coach Jim Valvano. "Then by the end of the year we're playing half court."

Sidney Lowe is ready to speed things up, and he has Wolfpack fans excited at the prospect. Without question, we're in an environment that encourages speed; the ACC was the fastest conference in the country last season by a wide margin. Half the league averaged more than 72 possessions per 40 minutes in conference play, and most of them will be more than happy to run with us in 2009. But this also means that pushing tempo offers us no inherent advantage in that we aren't surprising anybody or giving anyone a change of pace (pardon the pun); we're just deciding that we want to play everyone else's game. But let's assume that pushing the ball puts us in a better position for offensive success (i.e., greater efficiency). Besides, it ain't like the other way was working for us. Can we actually do it?

Speeding up the game has to start at the defensive end--if we can't force turnovers or rebound, our transition opportunities are limited, which makes it difficult to dictate tempo. It's going to take a complete philosophical overhaul, and, obviously, better execution. The philosophical change appears to have been made:

He’s certainly excited about Lowe’s desire to go with a more up-tempo offense and a pressure defense, both of which should be improved with Degand’s speed.

“I take a lot of pride in my defense and not letting my opponent score,” Degand said. “Improving our defense is definitely one of the main focuses as a team and one of my main focuses as a player. I think we can definitely be disruptive on defense.”

Playing defense more aggressively--assuming we do so consistently and don't revert to old habits--will pay dividends for us; the question is how much the weaknesses of our component parts limit our ceiling. Here's how Lowe's first two squads have performed at the defensive end in conference play:

           eFG%        TO%         OR%        FTR        2FG%       3FG%
2007 51.2 (6) 17.1 (12) 39.3 (12) 30.1 (2) 49.4 (6) 37.5 (11)
2008 52.5 (11) 16.5 (11) 36.4 (10) 32.1 (2) 48.7 (6) 42.2 (12)

How much can renewed aggression compensate for an inherent lack of certain skills, and just how successfully will the defense fuel the running game?

A healthy Degand coupled with a greater emphasis on defense should translate into more turnovers; plus we've got regression working in our favor. Back in March I expressed reservations about the ability of the Sendek players to reinvent themselves defensively, but I'm hopeful.

As far as rebounding goes, the onus is on McCauley and Smith to get better; without improvement from them, we don't compensate for Hickson's absense, regardless of the improved performance we get from Costner. And then we're liable to cancel out whatever gains we make in the turnover department.

Ultimately I expect this team to follow the path of so many Jimmy V teams before it. We'll run when we can and pick up a few additional possessions per game, but I doubt we're at a point where we're able to really get up and down like Sidney Lowe wants us to.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday Items

-- has a look at three-and-out percentage. Somewhat surprisingly, NC State does not rank among the ten worst I-A teams in this category. By my quick count, we've gone three-and-out 22 times out of 86 total drives (25.6%).

-- Third downs have become a "point of emphasis" for Tom O'Brien and the rest of the staff:

“I spent a lot of Saturday afternoon looking at the last month of what we did on third down,” O’Brien said. “There are things we can certainly coach better and play better. We continue to do those things to try to get those guys to do what they have to do to get off the field and to stay on the field.”

The coach is looking for a little anger from his defense, which was on the field for 80 plays against the Seminoles.

“It should be aggravating to them when the other teams convert those third downs,” O’Brien said. “It should make them mad. If they want to get off the field, that’s the best time to make it happen.

“Historically, the defense has about a 75 percent chance of winning those kinds of battles. They have to be able to get off the field and get it done.”

I still shudder at the phrase point of emphasis...

-- Here's the depth chart for the Maryland game.

-- Sorry, Ralph:

With a struggling N.C. State team up next, Ralph Friedgen asked reporters after the game, “Any way you guys could vote them into the Top 25?” Unfortunately for Friedgen, N.C. State received a whopping zero votes. And with Virginia's win against a ranked North Carolina team Saturday, it's possible this could be Maryland's weakest ACC opponent. As this season has showed, that means watch out.

Look for Russell Wilson to go Tuiasosopo on their asses, throwing for 300+ and running for 200 more. Pack 45, Terps 2 (Beck botches another quick kick).

-- Tar Heels the coloring book! Tar Heels the flamethrower! Tar Heels the perfume!

UNC Chapel Hill now has an official smell. A new collegiate perfume boasts that it captures the essence of the school. Thankfully, it doesn't smell like Woollen Gymnasium.

The $60 bottle is among a handful of fragrances targeting universities with big, loyal alumni bases. Each perfume is based largely on the university's color scheme.

What does Carolina blue smell like? Champagne, lemon, jasmine and lavender.


-- I don't know how you make a movie based on Moneyball that's anything but a complete bore, but it looks like Hollywood is giving it a shot. And I am so there. I just hope the part where Beane fleeces Kenny Williams doesn't make the film.

Women's Soccer Scoreless In Conference Play

I smell contract extension!

           GF    GA     Diff
UNC 29 6 +23
UVA 21 5 +16
FSU 17 4 +13
BC 9 7 +2
Duke 9 9 0
VT 9 10 -1
WFU 7 13 -6
Miami 3 10 -7
Clemson 8 17 -9
UMD 3 13 -10
NCSU 0 21 -21

## Team GP No. Avg/G
1.North Carolina...... 7 158 22.57
2.Florida State....... 7 144 20.57
3.Virginia............ 7 127 18.14
4.Boston College...... 7 94 13.43
5.Virginia Tech....... 7 77 11.00
6.Duke................ 6 76 12.67
7.Clemson............. 6 69 11.50
8.Maryland............ 7 62 8.86
9.Miami............... 6 61 10.17
10.Wake Forest......... 6 60 10.00
11.NC State............ 6 30 5.00

Thru 7 Games

NCSU Offense
CategoryPer GameNat'l RankRank Change
Rushing Offense91 yds114+2
Passing Offense193.4 yds80-2
Total Offense284.4 yds112+4
Scoring Offense18.7 pts101-1

NCSU Defense
CategoryPer GameNat'l RankRank Change
Rushing Defense165.4 yds850
Passing Defense259.3 yds105+1
Total Defense424.7 yds103+4
Scoring Defense30.6 pts97+5

The rest of the stats.

Friday, October 17, 2008

FSU 26, NC State 17

Box Score / Photos

FG Is Good

         TOP   Plays   Yds   Yds/Play
FSU 38:16 80 392 4.9
NCSU 21:44 47 338 7.2

There was one Florida State possession where it seemed like they were treading water on their side of the field for like twenty minutes. Penalty. Convert third-and-long. Penalty. Convert third-and-long. In that case, and all night long, we just could not get the defense off the field. The offense was reasonably effective but just couldn't sustain the sort of long drives we needed.

O'Brien's decision to go for a fourth-and-long at our own 30 late in the game was the right one under the circumstances; better to keep it in our hands rather than punt and hope that a tired defense can get its first three-and-out since the first quarter.

Conversely, the decision to punt from Florida State's 33 yard line was a terrible one. There may be a few rare situations where punting from inside your opponent's 40 is acceptable, but that instance last night was not one of them.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Talking FSU With Tomahawk Nation

More Q&A action! Thanks to Bud for taking the time to answer my questions. My answers to questions from his community are here.

1.) NC State's last two opponents have had great success spreading things out and throwing the football. Do you think Florida State will come out firing, or that they'll be happy to just continue pounding the ball on the ground?

I hate to start off with a cop-out answer, but I think FSU will go with whatever the Pack's defense gives them. Wake looked as if they would give up the run, and FSU did not take it. Colorado and Miami gave up the run to take away the pass, and the Noles gashed them for almost 600 yards rushing. My hunch is that the Noles will come out firing as the Wolfpack will not want to suffer the same fate as the Buffalo and Hurricane rush defense's. The Noles are determined to get the passing game going, and I think they have the talent to do it. If NC State decided to play 7 in the box, and doesn't use one of those 7 to account for QB Christian Ponder, however, then expect the Noles to run the ball. I just don't expect the 'Pack to do that.

2.) And anyway, why is Florida State's ground game so much better this season?

Mindset and personnel. OC Jimbo Fisher loves to run the ball. QB Christian Ponder is extremely quick, posting one of the fastest pro-shuttle times on the team. The offensive lines of the past few years have been slow, weak, and not in great shape. This year's line is quick, and in shape, while still being weak. The weakness, however, is really a result of the Nole's youth. FSU has the youngest starting offensive line in Division 1 football, with the starters (from left to right) being 18, 19, 20, 29, and 18. There are no upperclassmen playing. The Noles offensive line doesn't blow people off the ball, but much like West Virginia of the past few years, they beat their opponent off the ball, use good leverage, and essentially just get in the way of the blocker. The Nole backs are hitting the holes much harder as well, which means that the linemen don't have to hold their block's for long. I coined the Nole running game the "cut n go" because it's a quick cut block and go. I'd be foolish not to mention TE Caz Piurowski here, the Noles 270LB+ Junior TE, who is effectively another offensive tackle.

3.) Against I-A opponents, FSU's quarterbacks have completed barely 40% of their passes and have averaged just 4.4 yards per attempt. What've been Christian Ponder's biggest issues so far? Any QB controversy?

Clearly, those numbers are not acceptible. Christian got off to a horrible start against Wake Forest, as his first pass was intercepted, and I think this made him a little gun shy. Despite the shocking play of the offensive line, relative to their youth, we've still had pass protection issues. Poor wide receiver play has also contributed, as there have been incorrectly run routes and dropped balls. Ponder is also at fault, obviously. His drops have been inconsistent, his steps are sometimes too large on play action (great fakes though). His biggest issue is trust and inexperience. He has to learn to throw the ball before the guy is open. I think he's starting to do that, but as of yet, he still usually waits for the guy to come open before throwing. That seems to be an inexperience issue. He has really improved in his pre-snap reads, and I have to think that he will continue to progress. The Miami game was really a bad game for passing, since it was played in a downpour, and Miami really gave up the run to take away the pass. There is no QB controversey, Ponder is the guy. He needs expeirence, consistency, and trust. I think all of those can be remedied with time. Luckily, he seems to be able to rely on his legs for now.

4.) What's the strongest aspect of Florida State's defense?

Wow. I'll have to say the linebackers. Our best player is DE Everette Brown (NFL bound, this year, as a JR), but our best unit is the LB corps. We rotate 6 guys, and I think that objectively, 3 of these guys are first day NFL picks. Another two are former safeties, who've added size. That really helps in coverage. FSU tipped/ batted 13 balls against Miami, many by the linebackers. They've really impressed me, and this was the unit of the defense that worried most people when the season started. I'm particularly happy that we have size again at the LB spots. FSU had been small at LB in recent years. This year, the size has returned. Watch out for Dekoda Watson and Derek Nicholson (a North Carolina native). FSU is 4th in the nation in tackles for loss, despite only playing 5 games (some teams have played 6 or 7).

5.) Happy with Jimbo Fisher so far?

I am, for the most part. The step-up in quality from the previous guy, to Jimbo, has been huge. He brings an aura of professionalism and confidence, yet still seems able to relate to young guys. He has enacted a ton of changes in the program, most of them good, and is on the road to bringing us back to the level of a dominant program. One major difference has been the total Bill belicheck style of media relations. Practices are closed to everyone. Injury info is tightly monitored, and often addressed in terms of "upper body injury." As someone who doesn't live in Tallahassee, it doesn't bother me as much as it does the beat writers, but it's a change we've had to adjust to. Fisher has been a blessing, as he let's recruits know who will be here when Bobby leaves. He's not an offensive genius, but he is a great recruiter and motivator. I'd put him in the Les Miles mode in that regard, but he does retain some of his Sabanesque qualities (from his time at LSU).

Wilson "can run like a scolded dog."

Gotta love Bobby:

"This kid (Wilson) is the mother of all running quarterbacks," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said. "He is something else. He's got a great arm and can run like a scolded dog. He can really run. Scares me to death."

They're Back

And ready to cause more trouble, no doubt.

Irving Pulls It In

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Talking FSU With ChantRant

Rich blogs about the Seminoles at, and he was nice enough to answer a few of my questions. Head over to his site to find my answers to his questions.

1.) Why is Florida State's ground game so much better this season?

Several things. First, Jimbo Fisher's philosophy that a team must have a strong run game and can't just pay lip service to it while throwing long jump balls and hoping some hit. Second, OL coach Rick Trickett, a Viet Nam era Marine who has whipped a kiddie korps of freshman and sophs into fighting shape like a D.I. at Parris Island. Third, there's a huge emphasis on toughness in the last few years. Then there's RB Antone Smith putting it all together for his Senior year. Smith was one of the two or three top backs coming out of high school, but never realized his potential. Too much dancing in the backfield and not enough hard-nosed tackle-breaking runs. He appears to have cured that. Here's more on Smith's best-ever season. Finally, there's the big surprise: the scrambling and genuine open field running ability of QB Christian Ponder. His scampers against Miami really shocked the Canes. He's pretty quick and tough, but needs to slide or he could be spending time on a stretcher.

2.) Jim Grobe turnover voodoo magic aside, what was Wake Forest able to do that the rest of FSU's opponents haven't?

It was partly what Wake did, and at least 50% what FSU didn't do. First, the Deacs smartly put lots of pressure on Ponder, starting his first D-1 game at QB. Second, Ponder didn't respond well, receivers ran too many ragged routes, the young OL was still trying to jell. The Colorado and Miami wins appear to have cured much of that -- especially since Ponder is using his mobility and has added a run threat.

3.) Against I-A opponents, FSU's quarterbacks have completed barely 40% of their passes and have averaged just 4.4 yards per attempt. What've been Christian Ponder's biggest issues so far? Any QB controversy?

After great success against two D-1AA teams, FSU's passing game regressed. So Coach-in-Waiting and OC Jimbo Fisher simplified things, going to a shorter, higher-percentage air game. It's worked pretty well and given Ponder more confidence. Let's see if emphasis on passing during the off-week, as well as more work with QB and WRs being on the same page, pays off in Raleigh.

Bottom line: there's no real QB controversy. D'Vontrey Richardson who had considerable playing time against 1-AA teams has slipped back to #3 signal caller due to illness and missing practice time. Senior Drew Weatherford, who started most games the past three years, is now #2. But the way Ponder played the last two games -- especially against Miami -- it would take an injury to unseat him.

4.) Which guys on the defensive side should we be looking out for?

First and foremost, Everette Brown, a big, fast junior DE from South Carolina. He's a beast and can terrorize QBs. Headliners at LB include Derek Nicholson from Winston-Salem, and Dakoda Watson (another South Carolinian). Most hearlded DB is Tony Carter, a senior who's one of the all-time FSU INT leaders, though Tony is occasionally victimized by his size and/or not being in the right place at the right time.

FSU IS worried about Wilson, though, and how he's improved since the South Carolina game. Here's a story about how they plan to defense him.

5.) How much pressure is Bobby Bowden getting from the fan base these days?

The Seminole nation is split on this -- probably three ways. First, there's a sizable group that believes Bobby is a college football legend who made the program and should be allowed to do what he wants and retire when he chooses. My sense is there's another category, not quite as large, who love Bobby for what he's built, but believe he should have retired already, and may be a drag on the program. Oh, and who think he's just hanging around to outlast Joe Paterno. But this group remains mostly quiet because they know FSU's President made a deal with Bowden to quit on his terms and nothing can change that, except the grim reaper. Finally, there's a small but vocal percentage who are still angry over Bobby's hiring of son Jeff as the OC, because it did major damage to the program. They want him gone now.

At The Halfway Point

Here's a look at how our opponents have fared against everyone they've played, excluding NCSU and I-AA teams, and how they've fared against the Wolfpack. First, the offenses:

                     Full Season                                  vs. NC State
Yds/PassAtt Yds/RuAtt Yds/Play Yds/PassAtt Yds/RuAtt Yds/Play
USC Off 7.2 2.6 5.1 7.3 4.1 5.3
Clem Off 5.7 3.1 4.5 9.4 5.7 7.5
ECU Off 7.5 3.0 4.9 6.6 5.8 6.2
USF Off 7.4 3.7 5.3 8.3 5.1 6.4
BC Off 5.1 4.1 4.6 8.4 5.0 7.1
AVG 6.8 3.3 4.9 8.0 5.1 6.5

That there is a whole lot of ugly. Only East Carolina had a below-average passing day against us, and all five teams ran the ball better than their season averages. If we're going to turn this thing around like we did last season, it has to start here. Come back soon, Nate.

(BTW: it's no wonder Rob Spence got canned. Heavens.)

Opposing defenses:

                                Full Season                                                                 vs. NC State
YdsAllowed/PassAtt YdsAllowed/RuAtt YdsAllowed/Play YdsAllowed/PassAtt YdsAllowed/RuAtt YdsAllowed/Play
USC Def 5.5 3.1 4.2 2.5 2.4 2.4
Clem Def 5.6 4.1 4.8 5.2 3.5 4.2
ECU Def 6.9 4.3 5.5 6.6 3.7 5.3
USF Def 6.6 2.8 4.7 7.5 1.0 4.5
BC Def 5.1 3.7 4.2 6.6 1.6 4.6
AVG 6.1 3.7 4.8 6.0 2.6 4.3

Boston College's defense came into our game allowing 4.2 yards per play, and while we didn't exactly break out on them, we did manage better than that, besting an opponent's average for the first time all season. A small victory, but one that hopefully points to continued progress for a Wilson-led offense.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Amato Meets The Media

The Orlando Sentinel's Andrew Carter has Chuck's opening statement from today's presser:

“People know that and I’m grateful for the way those people have treated me and I still get a lot of letters and whatever. And as I said, they’re the nicest people in the world, really and this past spring I was with a friend, Bill Parcells down there at Miami, watching them practice. And one thing he told me, and it’s really true, he says, Chuck, don’t hold grudges because people in the football world know what you did at North Carolina State and how far you brought that program. You know, he said, you did things that nobody else could get accomplished … you know, you raised about $100 million for facilities, which [are] second to none in the country. And you brought excitement and enthusiasm and energy to that place. And sold the stadium out … we went to bowls and won bowl games and ESPN Gameday [came to Raleigh] …

“And you know what, I don’t hold grudges, because I love that great university, I always will, and I’m just not that kind of a person.”

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Aw man, now, really?

Jimbo wants to 'fix' passing game:

“As an offense, we definitely established the run game and I think that is going to carry us for the rest of the season,” Ponder said. “We’re still looking to fix this pass game.

“The biggest thing is we really got to get this passing game going. There are going to be games where it’s really going to come down and depend on that passing game. So we’ve got a lot of things to improve upon there and we’ll get it done.”


“We’ve got to continue in our passing game,” Fisher said. “I hope to get our balance back. We got to continue to keep the running game and fix the passing game to a point where we can be more efficient.

“The plays are there and we need to improve that aspect of our game.”

"We're fine as long as some stupid fucking blog doesn't jinx my defense."

It's a good thing Tarantini likes a challenge.

As SFN highlighted the other day, the men's soccer team recently had to forfeit a conference game after the school discovered that an ineligible player participated. As an addendum, and since we're on the subject, I wanted to look at the program's historical results:

Coach                       Seasons    TotW-L-T     ConfW-L-T    TotW%    ConfW%  NCAA_App
Eric DeGroat ('50-'55) 6 17-29-10 4-8-4 .393 .375 0
John Kenfield ('56) 1 1-7-0 0-4-0 .125 .000 0
Bill Leonhardt ('57-'60) 4 11-23-2 3-12-1 .333 .219 0
Nellie Cooper ('61-'63) 3 10-22-1 1-12-0 .318 .077 0
Max Rhodes ('64-'77) 14 77-69-11 14-47-5 .525 .250 0
Larry Gross ('78-'85) 8 106-37-9 22-20-5 .727 .521 4
George Tarantini ('86-pres) 22 202-173-38 42-82-15 .535 .356 8
George Tarantini ('86-'96) 11 127-62-23 27-30-9 .653 .477 6
George Tarantini ('97-'07) 11 75-111-15 15-52-6 .410 .247 2

TOTALS ('50-pres) 58 424-360-70 87-180-28 .537 .342 12

Tarantini was able to build on the success established by his predecessor, capitalizing by bringing NC State its first ACC title and first Final Four appearance--and he did those things with his players, not Gross's. But it's clear, when his tenure is broken into halves, that that momentum is long since lost. It's partly the school's fault for not moving forward with facility improvements during a period of unprecedented success, as that certainly helped hasten the Pack's return to irrelevancy. The bulk of the fault lies at Tarantini's feet, though, as we've reached a point now where it seems he is complacently going through the motions, playing out the string of his lifetime contract. After reaching the NCAAs in 1994, the program began an eight-season tournament drought ('95-'02) before finally getting back in 2003; if that wasn't enough to get the man fired, I'm not sure anything ever will be.

Prior to the start of this season, Tarantini bizarrely offered that "anything less than [being competitive in the ACC and going to the NCAA tournament] is unacceptable," and I'm sure that after this year, with those goals unment, he'll give himself a severe scolding. Lee Fowler subsequently will pen a 3000-word "blog" post about what stadium lights mean to the future of the program (which is bright!). And, honestly, what's another decade? This thing's bound to sort itself out eventually.

While I'm at it, here are the numbers for the women's program, which I'd posted previously:

Coach                       Seasons   TotW-L-T     ConfW-L-T    TotW%    ConfW%  NCAA_App
Larry Gross ('84-'93) 10 146-53-18 15-9-3 .714 .611 8
Alvin Corneal ('94-'97) 4 49-34-7 12-13-2 .583 .481 3
Laura Kerrigan ('98-pres) 10 79-95-16 13-59-7 .458 .209 0

TOTALS ('84-pres) 24 274-182-41 40-81-12 .593 .346 11

What happened to Larry Gross, anyway?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Thru 6 Games

NCSU Offense
CategoryPer GameNat'l RankRank Change
Rushing Offense80 yds116-6
Passing Offense195.5 yds78+6
Total Offense275.5 yds116-3
Scoring Offense19 pts100+10

NCSU Defense
CategoryPer GameNat'l RankRank Change
Rushing Defense170 yds85+5
Passing Defense260.2 yds106-21
Total Defense430.2 yds107-14
Scoring Defense31.3 pts102-11

The rest of the stats.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Pondering Maryland's season makes my head hurt.

Matt Hinton:

The Terps haven't just lost to Middle Tennessee and hopeless Virginia on either side of upsets over top 20 outfits from California and Clemson -- they've been embarrassed. Look at the Cavs' first three games against I-A competition: 45-point loss to USC, 35-point loss to UConn, 28-point loss to Duke. A "turnaround" on UVA's part might account for a close loss to Maryland, or a close win. A 31-0 whitewash on the heels of those disasters is a wholesale collapse by the Terps, their second in under a month, just when it looked like they were pulling things together.

On one level, this is so very, very Maryland; even after the Cal and Clemson wins, I wrote last week: "[A]nother Middle Tennessee is lurking somewhere in there ... As stunning as three wins in a row would have sounded three weeks ago, an eminent losing skid seems about as likely." But getting blanked by a lame duck coming off a 31-3 loss to Duke? Freud couldn't diagnose that in a thousand years (although Dr. Lou might, in his ever-prescient maxim, "You coach a different team every week").

Drag Days

Box Score

I try to take the perspective that the only thing I can reasonably expect on a weekly basis is that they play hard. But then they go do something like rally from a 14-point 4th quarter deficit to tie a game late and I'm reminded just how flimsy my forced emotional detachment is, and I'm sucked in again.

South Florida and Boston College have made the recipe for steamrolling the Wolfpack defense painfully clear, and the question now is how can we counter? When you make Chris Crane look that good, it's time to start mixing up the scheme a bit, and I'm confident we will. Whether it makes any difference, well, I have doubts. A smart plan of attack can only go so far.

A look at the ugliness:

                  BC Total Offense
. Plays Yds Yds/Play

vs. Kent St. 65 336 5.2
vs. GT 77 262 3.4
vs. UCF 77 411 5.3
vs. URI 49 316 6.4
at NCSU 81 578 7.1

Chris Crane:

                Comp    Att    Yds   Yds/Att   Comp%
vs. Kent St. 12 18 106 5.9 66.7
vs. GT 18 35 142 4.1 51.4
vs. UCF 16 34 207 6.1 47.1
vs. URI 1 4 6 1.5 25.0
at NCSU 34 51 428 8.4 66.7


-- State's offense managed 253 total yards, averaging 4.6 yds/play; unfortunate numbers when considered in a vacuum, but encouraging considering the opposing defense, and considering that we're averaging 4.4 yards/play for the season. Russell Wilson continues to make progress--he's averaged better than 6.5 yards per attempt in each of his last two starts, and while those figures are modest, it's a big improvement over the production we've grown used to in the last two seasons. He's thrown one interception in 90 attempts.

-- Good stuff from Grayson Currin.

-- There was plenty of leg room in the Boston College section:

Saddest Visitors' Section Ever

BC Game Photos


Click to enlarge.

Now Prancer
Dude was so damn excited.

Mysterious Hovering Football
Football's just hangin' out.

That's A No-No

'Scuse Me

"Hey, you wanna know what I heard?"
"Now's really not the time, Jerrail."

Sunday, October 05, 2008


I Love You Too

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Eagles Decide Crappy Quarterback Should Throw More Often

I'm not sure how to take this:

The Wolfpack hosted South Florida last week, and the Bulls attacked through the air, building a 31-10 halftime lead and cruising to a 41-10 win. They put the ball up 33 times, completing 21 passes for 275 yards.

``They came out and they were throwing the ball,'' said Chris Crane, BC's senior quarterback. ``They really completed a whole lot of passes all over the field and put N.C. State on their heels. I think we're going to go out and we'll want to throw the ball around just like South Florida, but we also want to establish a bit of a running game.''

He added, ``For us to be successful this game we have to throw the ball a lot.''

Hunh. Doesn't sound like he's kidding.

The Boston College passing game, then and now:

        Comp   Att     Yds    Comp%  Yds/Att   TD   INT    INT%  Att/INT
2007 390 659 4507 59.3 6.9 31 19 2.9 34.7
2008 53 104 512 51.0 4.9 3 5 4.8 20.8

Play distribution:

        Run/G    Pass/G    Rush%    Pass%
2007 30.1 47.1 39.0 61.0
2008 41.0 26.0 61.2 38.8

Boston College was one of the few entertaining teams in the ACC last season, because you knew Matty Ice was going to throw the ball about 80 times a game, give or take. Now? Welcome to the lame zone, BC. Would you care for some tea? You're now as unwatchable as the rest of us bums, and your uniforms add absolutely no visual zazz. Logo-less helmets are so 1934. And so's your offense. (Zing!)

At least we got zazz. Check that. Do you miss having stripes? I miss stripes.

*looks at tickets for Saturday* Forty-three dollars?! Aw, dude.

Anyway, so the Eagles are throwing the ball much less frequently this season, and they're getting a lot less in return when they do decide to throw. The offense as a whole is averaging nearly 100 fewer total yards per game, and this is over the weak part of the schedule (Sagarin ranks it 143rd toughest).

Some of that decline has to do with the new clock rules and the Eagles' new run-heavy tendency, which have combined to have them averaging about 10 fewer plays per game, but mostly it's because they can't throw the football.

Despite the easy slate, the Eagles head into Saturday ranked 113th in pass efficiency, which is just a tad worrisome going forward because the running game is obviously due for decline as they start seeing defenses that won't allow them to "run the same [running] play over and over again and be successful."

How to turn the passing game around:

Step 1: Play NC State. (Seems to have taken care of itself.)
Step 2: Spread it out and create one-on-one matchups with our inexperienced and undermanned back seven.

Crap, that sounds kind of easy. But Crane is perfectly capable of blowing whatever opportunities he's given on Saturday.

Cross your fingers. (And savor the tailgating. Forty-three dollars!)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Good News -- Wilson Practicing

Heather Dinich:

Listening to the ACC teleconference now, and NC State coach Tom O'Brien just said Russell Wilson was running around at practice on Tuesday and that they'll increase his workload this week. O'Brien declined to comment on specifics to Wilson's injury, but said they'll make a decision after Thursday's practice as to whether or not Wilson can play.

We'll be without Nate Irving for at least another week, though.

Desperate Times

*Picks up phone, dials.*

*Phone rings, goes to voicemail.*
"Na na na na na na na na fishing. Na na na na na na na
na fishing. Fish-ing! Fish-ing! Fish-ing! Hi, you've reached Lee F--"

*Hangs up in disgust.* "Typical. Well, I guess that leaves..."

Conte Forum, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
*Phone rings.*

"Super Awesome Happy Fun Department, Head Funmaster DeFilippo speaking."

*Holds receiver in front of face, stares at it for a second.* "Uh, maybe I dialed the wrong..."

"That you, Tom?"

"Oh, yeah, hi, Gene, I wanted to maybe ask you a favor."

*Sighs.* "Man, why is it you harsh my vibe every time I talk to you? Hold on a second."

*Opens office window, dives head first into adjoining tube slide, lands in ball pit.*

*25 minutes later*

"You were saying?"

"I got this thing where all of my good players are hurt and I have a bit of a cold
and I just was thinking we could skip our game this weekend."

*Line goes dead.*

"So maybe that was a long shot."

*Watching TV in dorm room; USF game highlights come on.* "Shit."

*Wings football at TV, football flies over TV, crashes through window.
Car alarm sounds, woman screams.*

"Oh man it's on every channel!"

*Phone rings.*

"They go for it?"

"No, didn't buy it. You remember our discussion?"

"About how I am to go downtown against Boston College all afternoon? Bomb the shit out of them like I did last year? God we have fun, don't we, coach?"

*Hangs up, chugs bottle of whiskey, buries head in hands, weeps softly.*


How did he hang onto that?