The Roadmap to Charlotte

There seems to be a lot of confidence from the SFN faithful that we’ll cruise to a 10-win season in Tom O’Brien’s fifth season. I’ve been a State fan far too long to be that optimistic, especially considering we’ve got to figure out how to successfully traverse at least a couple of our regular obstacles.

Here’s the roadmap for how we get to Charlotte on December 3rd:

Win in Winston-Salem. We’ve won exactly once in Winston since 1995, and that was a decade ago, with the Great Philip Rivers (2001). Our games against Wake Forest at BB&T Field have been some of our worst; in my freshman year in 1997, we lost on a Thursday night when we failed to convert on a fourth-and-goal late in the game; in 1999, a few weeks after winning in Austin, we were taken behind the woodshed; in 2003, we were caught looking ahead to Columbus the following week; in 2005, 2007, and 2009 we were simply outcoached and outplayed. None of us seem to understand why we play so horribly at BB&T, considering it’s kind of like a smaller version of Kenan whenever State plays there.

Win in October. Tom O’Brien is a paltry 4-11 at State during October. Last season (2-2, 2-1 ACC) was a stark improvement over the 0-8 October winless streak in 2008 and 2009. Although State collapsed in the second half against Virginia Tech and couldn’t complete the comeback after we sputtered early at East Carolina, we responded after each of those losses with wins over Boston College and then Florida State. We’ve played Florida State four times in October under TOB, and we’re 1-3 against them, after we finally broke through last year. This October, we’ll play Georgia Tech at home, and then go on the road to play Virginia and Florida State in a stretch that could quickly end our hopes of playing in Charlotte.

Win in Charlottesville. Like BB&T Field, Scott Stadium has been a veritable abyss for State, lowlighted by either the 62-14 loss in 1996 or the 14-9 loss in 2002 (our third consecutive after starting the season 9-0). Wondering how long it’s been since we last won at Virginia? It was 30-27 in the 1994 season finale, on the old artificial turf, when Tremayne Stephens opened the second half with an 84-yard touchdown run and finished the day with 133 yards in the victory that propelled us to the Peach Bowl.

Win at Boston College. We’ve never done this before, and this year we go there late in the season, on their Senior Day, a week after playing Carolina, where we may be bloodied from numerous cheap shots (1:33 mark).

Beat Clemson. We last beat Clemson on a Thursday night way back in 2003. This series has been ugly since. In 2005, Clemson racked up nearly 500 yards of offense and chased most of the Thursday night Carter-Finley crowd out in the 3rd quarter; in 2006, Daniel Evans was only 10/24 for 95 yards while C.J. Spiller rushed for 154 yards; in 2007, Evans, Beck and Burke each threw interceptions and Clemson won by three touchdowns; in 2008, Russell Wilson was only 10/21 for 92 yards and our only touchdown was a pick-six by Nate Irving on the first play from scrimmage; and then, last year, the week after beating Florida State on Thursday night on ESPN, we went to Clemson in control of our own destiny when, late in the fourth quarter, with the game on the line, around midfield, needing only a single yard on fourth down, with the ACC’s best quarterback, we punted.

Beat Maryland in the season finale. Carolina is our rival and we hate them, sure; but Maryland is our bugaboo. My buddy Alvin says, “You can make a valid argument that they have opportunistically kept us from being a top tier football program.” You could argue with him, but you’d be wrong. In 2001, they prolongued the game with “injuries” that put them into position for the winning field goal, and then showered the field with oranges; in 2003, T.A. McClendon fumbled while trying to burn clock and then Nick Novak kicked a 43-yard field goal with seconds remaining to ruin Philip’s Senior Day; in 2007, with our bowl eligibility on the line, they beat us 37-0; and, of course, there was last year’s debacle in College Park.

Seems simply enough, right? Just do all of the above, and also sneak a win out of Tallahassee, and we should be set for a roadtrip to Charlotte on December 3rd.

About LRM

Charter member of the Lunatic Fringe and a fan, loyal to a fault.

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58 Responses to The Roadmap to Charlotte

  1. StateFans 08/25/2011 at 10:58 AM #

    Is the general theme that I can take from this that we need to win our games?

    :-)

  2. LRM 08/25/2011 at 10:59 AM #

    It certainly can’t hurt.

  3. golf76 08/25/2011 at 11:17 AM #

    Wow. I guess winning games really can make a difference! ;-)

  4. primacyone 08/25/2011 at 11:24 AM #

    If FSU looses a couple, that would help as well. But, who is going to beat them besides us?

    I only see Clemson as an option. They play Clemson 9/24 so we should all know where we stand going into the FUS game.

  5. travelwolf 08/25/2011 at 11:27 AM #

    I’m totally with you… a 10-win season is out of the question. TOB is great, but he’s human – as are our players. Don’t forget… now and then, we lose a game we shouldn’t. Every team does that… Also, I think that most people are expecting Glennon to be better than Wilson – being the State fan that I am, I doubt that will be the case. At best – they’ll end up being equal.

  6. StateFans 08/25/2011 at 11:38 AM #

    I wasn’t worried very much about road games to Cincy and Wake. Now that we already have four starters injured the early games vs Cincy, Wake & Georgia Tech take on heavier concern for me.

    I think we have to win all three of those to even dream of a 9ish win season.

  7. freshmanin83 08/25/2011 at 11:39 AM #

    Just win baby?

  8. hoop 08/25/2011 at 11:42 AM #

    Anyone who is confident of a ten win season is on crack.

    We are one broken leg away from a 6 win season. Let’s hope Glennon stays healthy and the receivers can figure out what the hell to do. And oh BTW they are all untested!

  9. wolfbuff 08/25/2011 at 11:45 AM #

    Unless we figure out how to move the ball (which it doesn’t sound like we are doing consistently from the tidbits we’re getting from the scrimmages), I’m penciling in the couch for Capital One Bowl Week. Hopefully, the cupcakes at the beginning of the schedule will give us a sugar rush. It’s a team with a lot of veterans. So if we can get in an offensive groove, I think we hurdle some of these traditional obstacles and have a good season.

  10. OwenDorm83 08/25/2011 at 12:01 PM #

    Ouch. All painful reminders…

  11. pooh 08/25/2011 at 12:14 PM #

    This should just be titled: “Why it has sucked to pull for State”

  12. pack44fan 08/25/2011 at 1:31 PM #

    I’m afraid that the offense will struggle mightly (think pre-Wilson) and teams will “T” off on Glennon taking advantage of a so-so offensive line and Glennon’s lack of mobility. I think the defense will be stout, but if the offense tends to be 3 & out too much, the defense will tire out over the year.

  13. Asclepios 08/25/2011 at 1:53 PM #

    ^…and fatigue equals injuries.

  14. cWOhLFrPAiCKs 08/25/2011 at 1:54 PM #

    “Now that we already have four starters injured the early games vs Cincy, Wake & Georgia Tech take on heavier concern for me.”

    I’m not as concerned about the injuries this year. Yes, it sucks when you lose a proven veteran starter like Sweezy, but I feel like a big topic this off-season has been the depth we’ve built with our injury filled seasons. There is decent depth on the D-Line to absorb the Sweezy loss for a few games. Obviously, losing Glennon would immediately kill all hopes for the season and I’m also concerned about the lack of reported offensive progress during training camp, but I do think at least part of that stems from the defense they are playing against. Some of the D’s we face this year will be on par with ours, but I don’t think many will be better or at least, not more experienced. I’m holding off judgement on the season until we see these guys play someone besides themselves.

  15. Lunatic Fringe 08/25/2011 at 2:24 PM #

    I have yet to forgive TOB for the Clemson game last year. I have been really happy with TOB and even back him in the decision he made with RW, but the decision last year at Clemson really is beyond defense.

    It could be that I was AT the game with my Clemson alum wife who has no problem reminding me that we have not beat them since we have been dating/married.

    It was the first time I actually had fans on the other team actually apologize for winning.

  16. packalum44 08/25/2011 at 2:36 PM #

    All good teams lose games they shouldn’t (Clemson/ECU/Maryland/VA Tech), but they also win games they shouldn’t (UNC/FL State). We came out on the wrong side last year, meaning we lost more than we won. We’re a better team this year. Has the competition improved as much or more than we have? I don’t think so, but I don’t keep up with other programs in the off season.

    What happened last year, much less ten years ago, is moot. 9/10 games is very achievable.

  17. TruthBKnown Returns 08/25/2011 at 2:36 PM #

    Yeah, that punting on 4th and 1 near midfield was pretty unforgivable. But it seems like TOB took some risks after that, maybe to make up for what he had to know was a TERRIBLE decision on his part. Like going for the TD (and basically win the game) against FSU on 4th down. We could have tied the game with a FG. That was pretty gutsy of him. So I forgave him. I’m still watching TOB out of the corner of my eye to not make any more blatantly bad decisions like that any more. :)

    As for our chances this year, I feel pretty good about things. TOB is not one to give out compliments or praise that is undeserved. I remember one year we beat a team pretty good, and his remarks afterward were that we were NOT a good team. He seems pretty confident now, though. So that gives me confidence.

    I don’t think it’s crazy to have hopes for Glennon to do well. He’s not as mobile as Russell, but he has a better arm (I hear). His height gives him better vision of the field. And he’s not as immobile as people assume he is (I heard that about him when he first “arrove” here…) The point is that we lose something by going from Russell to Glennon. But we gain some things, too.

    I heard Graham say that when he’s running his routes, he can SEE when the ball is released now, and that helps him get to the ball. With Russell, the ball would just all of a sudden be in the air.

    And I think the O-line is going to be better than it has since TOB “arrove”. (I don’t think I’ll ever say “arrived” again!) And what I’m hearing is the offense numbers are down because the defense is that good. And the offensive numbers from our 3rd scrimmage are better than they were in our 3rd scrimmage from last year.

    I refuse to predict a win total. But I’m going into this season with as much or more optimism than I did last year. All other things being equal, we have a weaker schedule. And our toughest games (outside of FSU) are home games.

  18. LRM 08/25/2011 at 2:48 PM #

    “Yeah, that punting on 4th and 1 near midfield was pretty unforgivable. But it seems like TOB took some risks after that, maybe to make up for what he had to know was a TERRIBLE decision on his part. Like going for the TD (and basically win the game) against FSU on 4th down. We could have tied the game with a FG. That was pretty gutsy of him. So I forgave him.”

    You’re confused. The Clemson game was the week AFTER that FSU game, so…that 4th-and-goal “risk” wasn’t a result of learning from the *wrong* decision at Clemson. But the fact that he made the exact right call against FSU just shows how inexcusably wrong his decision indeed was a week later at Clemson.

  19. PackerInRussia 08/25/2011 at 2:57 PM #

    “We are one broken leg away from a 6 win season.”

    In other words, it’s a good thing they play UNC in the latter half of the season.

  20. packhammer 08/25/2011 at 3:09 PM #

    Seems like we had other missed opportunities and other bad breaks in the Clemson game last year. Wasn’t the punt the right call from a traditional football odds standpoint?

    Anyhow, we really need to beat Wake to be relevant going into the second half of the season. A loss there will really put us in a hole. Problem is that it is early in the season and who knows what Wake has this year. Grobe is a good coach and they will be as ready as he can possibly make them. On the other hand, there is little chance that our guys will in any way overlook this game.

  21. TruthBKnown Returns 08/25/2011 at 3:16 PM #

    You’re confused. The Clemson game was the week AFTER that FSU game, so… that 4th-and-goal “risk” wasn’t a result of learning from the *wrong* decision at Clemson. But the fact that he made the exact right call against FSU just shows how inexcusably wrong his decision indeed was a week later at Clemson.

    You are correct, sir. I could have SWORN the FSU game was after that. So it must have been some other calculated risk that TOB took. Now I don’t know what it was. I had it all straightened out in my own mind, and now you’ve ruined it. ;)

  22. TruthBKnown Returns 08/25/2011 at 3:21 PM #

    Seems like we had other missed opportunities and other bad breaks in the Clemson game last year. Wasn’t the punt the right call from a traditional football odds standpoint?

    Seems like our defense was struggling to stop Clemson’s offense that day, even if Clem’s son didn’t have a ton of points on the board. With not much time left, I remember thinking even if we DO stop them and get the ball back, we’ll have no timeouts left, and not much time, either.

    The short punt didn’t help matters, but that wasn’t TOB’s fault. But that really changed field position. When we got the ball back, we had much further to go for the score than if the punt had been a more “normal” distance.

    I think given the circumstances, and we only needed one yard, and it was near midfield, that it would have been better to just go for it. Get it and we’re in good field position, 2-3 timeouts left, etc. Plus, we only needed a FG to win, anyway.

    Hindsight is 20-20, but I remember telling my wife that even if we somehow ended up winning the game, I thought that was still the wrong decision in those circumstances. If there had been a little more time left on the clock, maybe you punt. But if Clemson gets one first down (maybe two), we end up with no time outs and they’re taking a knee. It wouldn’t have taken much for them to run the clock out.

  23. packplantpath 08/25/2011 at 3:29 PM #

    The clemson game still irks me. I’m hard pressed to say it was the wrong call, but it still sucked. Clemson’s D-line had owned us the entire game and our D had really stopped clemson the whole game so TOB played the odds pretty well. I understand the go down swinging mentality of many of us, and share it at times, but I feel pretty sure we wouldn’t have gotten that yard.

    Call still sucked though. I think. Maybe. Mostly.

  24. howlie 08/25/2011 at 3:29 PM #

    ^That’s a overflowing boatload of hexes, curses, demons, & bewildering conundrums to exorcise in just one season…^

    But let’s get it all done in one fell swoop this season & get on to a new future.

  25. JSRy2k 08/25/2011 at 3:42 PM #

    @Clemson last year:
    It’s Bible, not O’Brien, I most blame for that miserable loss. Our offensive playcalling in the red zone, especially on down-and-goal if I recall correctly, was horrendous. Too many run plays for a mediocre-at-best run offense and not enough Russell Wilson in space. We would move down the field, then turn to an utterly drab playbook in the red zone and waste away our chances. The worst football game – both sides – I’ve seen in years…ugh!

    LRM, great analysis! Good news is, every program in our division has their own skeletons in the closet. It’s not like we’re the only ones with any history of woe.

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