Make no mistake about it…today’s Wolfpack win over the favorite to win the Big East Championship marked a legitimate turning point for Coach Tom O’Brien and the NC State football program. We posted this previous comment as the game ended, so we were very pleased to see that we were on the same page with Coach O’Brien who said the following in his post game news-conference:
“…I told them the only reason they won was because we now know how to play hard for 60 minutes. We’ve learned how to do that. You can’t underestimate what a huge step that is in the life of a program. Now if I can coach them any better, maybe we’ll win some football games.”
As we discussed earlier in the week on our message boards:
HUGE, HUGE game for TOB and staff. Other than ECU, State has lost to every D-1 team outside the ACC during the TOB era – losses to UCF, USF, Rutgers, South Carolina (twice) and Louisville. 2 wins against ECU, so 2-6 against D1 during TOB era. We need this game, badly.
While we are highlighting some of the pregame ‘accuracy’ we supplied building to the game, how about a fantastically accurate pregame post from our own BJD for review?
For some game highlights and coverage you can click here for ESPN’s post game wrap from Carter-Finley followed by the following highlights from WRAL.
NC State trailed 31-17 with 4:15 left in the third. The last time the Wolfpack won after trailing by 14 in the third was in 2004.
State ended up with an astounding 530 yards of total offense behind the direction of Russell Wilson who threw for over three hundred yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions for the third consecutive game. In the end, Wilson passed for 322 yards and rushed for another 91 yards on 10 carries; none bigger than a 21-yard dash on fourth-and-14 with 13:06 to play in the game. Wilson’s 12 touchdowns in the last three games broke Philip Rivers’ record of 11 touchdowns in 2003 against Duke, Virginia and Florida State; and his 91 rushing yards represent a career high.
Wilson’s leadership was complemented by a breakout performance from Toney Baker who had a fantastic game with 81 rushing yards on 18 carries; a team-high 71 receiving yards on three catches; and two touchdowns. Baker moved passed Rahshon Spikes (1996-99) into 16th place on NC State’s all-time rushing list and is now tied for 11th on the Wolfpack’s touchdown list [with Anthony Barbour (1989-92), Bobby Crumpler (1986-87), and Charlie Young (1971-73)].
While we are throwing out kudos…allow freshman safety, Brandon Bishop to take a bow after he made two huge defensive plays on 2nd and 3rd down of Pitt’s last possession.
Don’t look now…but NC State has won seven of its eight seven regular season games.
Mark Thomas has some good “final thoughts” in this entry that I will supplement with a couple of random items I haven’t seen anywhere in the for profit media:
- Two defensive players that made some big plays on Saturday that need not to be forgotten are Alan Michael Cash and Terrell Manning. We know what AMC can do; but, it is very nice to see Manning evolving into the play maker we all expected when he committed to the Wolfpack.
- As you look for more about this game, you should definitely check out this conversation about Tom O’Brien’s reaction to the win.
- I never understood why EVERY media outlet couldn’t stop harping on ‘wondering’ if NC State could score against FBS opponents? Really? No doubt that things didn’t look good in the FIRST GAME OF THE YEAR against a strong South Carolina team (who just held #4 Ole Miss to 10 points). But, last year DOES MATTER when you return your quarterback, most of your skill players, and an offensive line that is projected to be better than the previous year. All of these questions and concerns were nothing more than media blather because they didn’t have anything else to discuss.
- NC State is now two games above .500 in a single season for the first time in the Tom O’Brien era. Let’s keep extending that streak!
N&O Photo Gallery: http://www.newsobserver.com/galleries/gallery/116727.html
N&O First Look: http://www.newsobserver.com/galleries/gallery/116488.html