As ESPN.com reviews the Wolfpack’s 2008 Football season in this entry, Dave Glenn says that after an impressive stretch run, Wilson & Pack aim to contend in 2009
With UNC flirting with an ACC championship run this year before fading in November, and with the Tar Heels talking up big plans for another stadium expansion, the Wolfpack at times has had a harder time selling its program.
That all changed, though, with a November to remember for Pack fans. In-state rivals Duke, Wake Forest and UNC went down in order to State, the latter in an especially sweet 41-10 rout at Kenan Stadium. Then State capped the regular season with an impressive 38-28 home win over Miami.
The improvements O’Brien’s team showed from the beginning of the season to the end on offense were almost mind-boggling. State was shut out against South Carolina, then needed backup QB Harrison Beck to save the day against William & Mary when an injured Wilson missed the contest and starter Daniel Evans was ineffective. At times, people wondered if State could get a first down, much less score.
By the end of the year, State fans almost were expecting a touchdown every time the offense took the field. A mobile quarterback with a strong arm, good decision-making ability and rare leadership skills can do that for a team.
Now Wilson likely will have a new task next year, as the face of a team trying to sell itself as the real program on the rise. It so happens that the pieces could be in place to back up that claim, which is why N.C. State fans are smiling this holiday season.
ESPN’s ‘review’ really doesn’t offer anything that you don’t already know. At least it is nice to see that they recognize the impact of injuries; although it shouldn’t have been too hard for the “World Wide Leader” to do a little work and provide a specific number of games lost to injury as opposed to an ambiguous description of ‘mutliple games’.
Really? Multiple games? Is that 5 games or 65 games? Do you think such a distinction would be impactful? Oh Heather.
In 2007, 13 starters missed time, including six who missed multiple games. This season, 13 starters again missed multiple games because of injuries, including quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Nate Irving, arguably the team’s top two playmakers.
In NC State’s four-game winning streak to end the season, most of the starters were back in the lineup. NC State began the season 2-4 before finishing 4-2. With everyone healthy, NC State showed significant improvement on both sides of the ball, gaining over 100 more yards per game while at the same time allowing an average of 86 fewer yards over the past six games. O’Brien became the first coach in ACC history to lose the first four league games of the season and win the last four. No other team in the ACC won as many conference games in the second half of the season.