One word describes what we witnessed last night … very ugly. OK, two words. With all the hype surrounding this game the Pack laid a big fat egg and on national tv to boot. I was very disappointed in the intensity, effort, and execution, but if you’re looking for a “the sky is falling” blog then you’ve come to the wrong place. I haven’t been on any of the NC State sites or message boards today, but I pretty much know what they all say.
It’s way too early to be jumping ship and giving up on the season. It was one game. Yeah we played bad, but we found a way to hang around and still had a chance to win it at the end. Bottom line is SC was better than us last night. Tip your cap to them, learn from our mistakes, and move on to the next game.
I watched the game twice today. Yeah, I guess I’m a glutton for punishment. I wanted to watch for a few things and see if what I saw last night was actually what happened. It’s really not as bad as it seemed. Here’s my observations.
The O-line as a whole was bad. Way too many SC defenders were blowing up plays in the backfield, but the right side of the O-line was very solid. Larsen was a beast. He routinely dominated his defender and had multiple pancakes. McCuller was solid and Mattes getting his first collegiate action held his own. The left side was a whole different story. Williams, Barbee, and Wallace (all 3 plays he was in the game) were the main culprits. You know the signs at gas stations that say “pump has 3 second delay”? Whoever made those signs must have seen Williams try to block. His guy was in the backfield several times last night before he even got out of his stance. Barbee made it look like he was guarding Kobe Bryant as much as he was getting juked out of his shoes and whiffing on blocks. And I’ll give Wallace a break. The whole country heard how bad he was. I think we’ll be fine if we can shore up LT and LG.
The offensive playcalling was atrocious. The knock on Bible when he was at BC was that he was way too conservative. Well last night was not only conservative, but down right stupid. I think we ran variations of the same 5 plays all night. Slight exaggeration, but you get the point. Our whole running game was stretch plays out of the shotgun. Those plays only work when you run them a few times a game, yet we ran them all night. And the stretch plays only make it harder for a struggling O-line because they have to hold their blocks even longer. With all the blitzing SC was doing we didn’t run many short quick passing plays all night. Most of our passing plays were deep routes and Russell just didn’t have the time to let the plays develop. It was a totally different offense than what we ran at the end of last season.
Our receivers dropped way too many passes. Screens, slants, posts, and gos. You name it we dropped it. Even dropped a pass in the endzone that could have won the game. Can we move Lemon to WR? What an interception he had. Those were some of the softest hands I’ve ever seen. This is D1 football. I don’t care how “tough” the catch is, if the ball hits your hands (or chest) you have to make the play. This goes for Graham, J5, Jay Smith, Bryan, and Howard. Surprisingly Spencer caught every pass thrown his way.
I initially thought Russell looked a step slow all night. He didn’t seem to have that explosiveness that we remember from last year. But after watching the game it was more Russell hesitating and taking a tad too long to make decisions. All offseason TOB has harped on the fact that he wants Russell to go through his progressions more before looking to run. Well it’s time to scrap that. Let Russell play his game. Several times it looked like he wanted to tuck and run, but he hesitated a split second and the defense was able to get to him and make a play. Let’s also not forget SC’s defenders are very fast.
The defense played well, but our tackling was still very sloppy. The defense was swarming all night, but we let SC get a lot of yards after first contact. We have to get better at tackling or guys like CJ Spiller and Tyrod Taylor will have field days against us. Byers still is scared to hit anybody. Wolff looked very good and he needs to replace Byers in the starting lineup immediately. I don’t buy TOB’s line that Morgan was beat out at CB in the fall. Wilson and George did not impress me at all. The only thing keeping Morgan out of the starting lineup is the fact that he’s been hurt all fall. True freshman Rashard Smith was making plays all night and needs to be inserted into the starting lineup like yesterday.
The fans for the most part brought it. The stadium was loud and rocking most of the night. Even after we fumbled the ball away on our first offensive play of the year. I’m not a big fan of “white outs” and stupid stuff like that, but the students pulled it off. But I do have one huge major gripe. With around 8 minutes to go in the game (score 7-3) and our offense working on our best drive of the night, the fans decide to do the wave. Now anybody that know me knows how much I hate the wave. The three things I hate the most in this world are Tarholes, liberals, and the f-ing wave. But even if you like the wave, it was the absolute worst time in the world to do it. Hello dumbasses, there is a football game going on and this drive is pretty damn important. My bro heard several players on the sideline that were absolutely dumbfounded by what was going on.
Even with the disappointment of this game, football season is finally here. That’s reason enough to be exited. Bring on Murray St. GO PACK!