Don’t Look Ethel

When I say that the title was the concluding sentence of a State football preview, I’m sure that some of our younger readers will be left scratching their heads. But before we get to that, here’s how I got to that line:

My first exposure to came in 2004 after State beat VT in B’burg. A co-worker printed out their review of State’s 10-sack performance and gave it to me. I was impressed with the level of detail that was put into analyzing what had to be a frustrating defeat for Hokie fans. Each sack was broken down by number of blitzers and time to sack. The “blame” for the sack was then given to Randall or the OL based on how much time each sack took. (The other thing that I find interesting about TSL is that they are a pay-site that is not connected with the University, Rivals, or Scout.)

So with such a positive first impression, I took the time to read their short preview of NC State. Here are a few of the more choice lines:

Tom O’Brien is entering his second year at NC State. He did a very good job in his first year, coming within one game of getting the Wolfpack to a bowl game. He did that despite having quarterbacks that threw the ball to the other team a lot more than they did to their own receivers….

Despite having three good runners, yards will probably be hard to come by. NC State has major weaknesses at pretty much every other position on offense. Their quarterbacks aren’t good, the offensive line isn’t particularly talented, and they lost both of their starting wide receivers from last year’s team…

…2008 will most likely be a don’t-look-Ethel kind of season.

It was interesting that I read that preview a minutes after reading an article from yahoo titled “Six Packs: 6 Teams Destined to Disappoint”

Look who we see at #3:

3) VIRGINIA TECH—Coach Frank Beamer’s Hokies have earned the respect they get in the preseason, but if you put a different name on this team’s resume, it probably wouldn’t be favored to reach the ACC title game. Tech returns only 10 starters and said goodbye to its leading rusher and four top pass catchers from last year. There are no obvious replacements. The top three tacklers on defense? Also gone. In fact most of last year’s typical tough D will be playing on Sundays this season. Rebuilding year, anyone?

The difference in these two reviews highlight my biggest complaint about most pre-season previews…losing a starter doesn’t necessarily mean that a team is going to stink at that position. It does mean that it is a major question mark for the next season. Every year, kids step up and perform beyond what was expected. Every year, some returning star gets hurt and misses the season or has some nagging injury that limits his performance. College football is as much about having quality depth as it is about having stars.

Bottom line: It takes alot of work to do a meaningful preseason review of a single team and even more to do an assessment of the whole conference. Anytime I see a preview without that type of work put into it, I rarely take the time to finish reading it. Even if you disagree with TSLs projection for State, at least they took the time to gather up some real facts about the team before drawing a conclusion….and VT doesn’t even play State this year. Don’t you wish national media outlets put as much effort into their articles?

VT fans should obviously be worried about the rotating QB situation and how that will affect those two young men. They should be worried about running back, since a crippled Brandon Ore was their best option last year. But until proven otherwise, I wouldn’t worry about Bud Foster’s defense until some weakness has been shown on the field. Given the pitiful state of offenses in the ACC, VT could easily be “down” on defense and still have enough to compete for the ACC title game. Even if they don’t make the title game, I find it doubtful that their season will be so bad as to qualify as disappointing.

Unfortunately for State fans, most of the negative comments about the upcoming season are based on the play of the returning starters. The question marks on new players simply compounds what is already a pretty bleak outlook. If you still want more, then I always like reading the team reviews from College Football News. I don’t remember CFN being associated with Scout last year, but it still has more facts (usually with a few errors) and less opinion than many of the other pre-season articles that you will find.

Putting as much positive spin as possible, CFN defines a successful season for State by:

The season will be a success if … the Pack reaches .500. There are no delusions of grandeur here, as NC State attempts to create momentum under O’Brien and his staff. A bowl game would be fantastic, but not the only measure of success for the program. If the Pack can improve on last year while being more competitive against the ACC’s better schools, it’ll qualify as something to build on for 2009.


I almost forgot…..for anyone that missed the significance of the title….Google “The Streak”.

About VaWolf82

Engineer living in Central Va. and senior curmudgeon amongst SFN authors One wife, two kids, one dog, four vehicles on insurance, and four phones on cell plan...looking forward to empty nest status. Graduated 1982

'08 Football General

65 Responses to Don’t Look Ethel

  1. Noah 08/11/2008 at 11:55 AM #

    If we make it to .500, I’ll be elated. I still think that our ceiling this year is 6-6.

    We’re still a couple of years away from being a team that can win eight or nine games.

  2. Dr. BadgerPack 08/11/2008 at 12:04 PM #

    Ha… Ray Stevens and football. Gotta love it.

  3. choppack1 08/11/2008 at 12:26 PM #

    What I find hard to believe is that we’re playing catch-up to Wake Forest. Who woulda thunk it?

    If you went to the spring game, you were probably disappointed in what you saw at QB. After reviewing the scrimmage #s thus far – I’m more than a little worried again.

    I really thought last year was a mixed bag. Had we beated UCF or Louisville or UMd or Wake and gotten that 6th win – I think it would have been a complete success – especially since we beat to teams we’d lost to the year before.

    To me, 2007 represented “progress” and some fun moments – but that’s that. In 2008, I’m afraid we’ll have to settle for “progress” again. There is some good news in that we’ve got 3 teams we were in reach of in the 3rd quarter – BC, FSU and Wake – at home. (This is good news because in theory, the home field advantage could make enough of a difference to tip the game to a “W”.) We also have the “U” at home. We also had Duke to our schedule.

    2 of the other road games are at UMd and at UNC – I think both of these teams will likely beat us. However, these aren’t the kind of awe-inspiring opponents that we can’t beat. Simply put, if we play solid football – we should be in both of those games in the 4th quarter – and you never know what can happen in games if you just hang around (for proof just at look at the first 4 games against UMd in Amato’s tenure.)

    I’m hoping – probably against hope – that we see us play the kind of football TOB expects this year. A more physical, fundamentally sound game where maybe we get beat – but we don’t beat ourselves. And much like basketball and effort and execution- if we do those things, I’ll feel pretty good about our future.

  4. choppack1 08/11/2008 at 1:10 PM #

    I guess I’d break down our season as follows:

    Bill and Mary

    Likely Wins:

    Toss Ups:

    Likely Losses:
    Wake Forest

    More Likely losses:


    Unfortunately, when you look at it like this 5 and 7 would be the “expected” record – in almost a best case scenario. We could be an OK squad, losing only to bowl eligible teams and go 3-9.

  5. b 08/11/2008 at 1:20 PM #

    6-6 will be just fine as long as we are in all the games. We have too much youth on defense not to expect some mistakes here and there, and the QB situation. I’d love for us to upset one of the “more likely losses” to make some noise.

  6. burnbarn 08/11/2008 at 1:37 PM #

    I am not expecting much this season beyond a good foundation for next season. If we get to a bowl it will be a miracle. We have huge holes to fill on a defense that was not very good last season.

  7. RTPMedic 08/11/2008 at 1:45 PM #

    We’re still 17 days away from the FIRST game and folks are already talking about ‘next year’?

    I’m still not ready to concede a game to ANYONE…and certainly not to either ‘carolina’ or dook.
    GO PACK!

  8. whitefang 08/11/2008 at 2:42 PM #

    I am “football jonesin” so bad my thinking is clearly clouded, but I think we’ll be 6-6 at least.
    In 17 days I think it is, I will likely get a dose of reality!

  9. ChiefJoJo 08/11/2008 at 2:42 PM #

    After talking with a few people and seeing some of the scrimmage stats, I now feel better about the defense. I’m not convinced losing those three starting LBs is a bad thing, and I believe our DL will be a team strength.

    I tend to think we will still have most of our troubles on offense until I see otherwise. I’d love to believe we’ll be able to run & protect the ball consistently, but until I see evidence on the field of improved OL and QB play, I will assume we will struggle here. At least we have quality players to work with at TE, RB and WR.

    My assessment of this year’s team is that we’ll be more solid and well coached in all areas (fewer mistakes & hopefully no embarrassments), and that we’ll field a team that our fans can generally be proud of (how we play). Holes in talent and depth, combined with a tough schedule, may relegate us to another 5-7 season. I still think 6-6 is possible, but realistically I’d be fairly pleased to see 5 wins, so long as four are vs W&M, ECU, Duke, and UNC… and we do not suffer any blowouts.

  10. Noah 08/11/2008 at 3:09 PM #

    I have been told a couple of times that when the axe finally fell on Amato, he was rather stunned.

    I can only wonder what the heck he was planning on doing as he had assembled a team that featured no QBs, no OL and no linebackers.

  11. SaccoV 08/11/2008 at 3:42 PM #

    Choppack1, how are UNC and USC “likely losses”? I’m not saying that State definitely wins those, but given that the USC game is the opening game of the year on Thursday with national coverage, and that UNC is getting its reputation based on recruiting alone, how are those games not in the “toss-up” category?

  12. choppack1 08/11/2008 at 4:12 PM #

    Fair question Sacco – In both of these cases, if the season goes as expected, we’ll be underdogs in both games. Supposedly, we are already a double digit dog vs. USC.

    The UNC game is subject much more to how the season goes for both squads. However, if we’re both good, UNC will be favored – and probably by more than 3 points.

    If we’re an underdog by a TD or more, that’s a pretty likely loss. If we’re a 15+ dog, that’s more of a definite loss.

    I do think against both USC and UNC, we can hang around. The question is whether TOB’s team is going to be playing the kind of football he wants us to play.

    There’s a lot of variables out there. Football’s a funny game. If we get some confidence early, we could have a one of those really fun, special seasons. Of course, I’ve been a State fan for a long time, and I’ve witnessed only a handful of those.

  13. SaccoV 08/11/2008 at 4:18 PM #

    I agree with you on the MD and USF games. Confidence will be a huge factor this season with all the teams in this conference. Again, I will be surprised if this conference does well in the bowl season because this conference has very weak QB play across the board. I see the Red-and-White winning only 5 of their games this season, but I couldn’t tell you at this point which ones are sure victories. Reading up some of the web runs on Pack Pride, the coaches are still in quite a quandary over QB.

  14. wufpup76 08/11/2008 at 5:20 PM #

    I will only be disappointed this season if we win 2 or fewer games total … I know that’s not exactly shooting for the moon, but we have way too many question marks and weaknesses to be disappointed w/ anything more (for me) … A tough schedule and lots of weaknesses doesn’t exactly bode well … I think we can (and will) win more than 2, but will not be dismayed if not

    I’m hopeful, but as long as we run a hard-working, classy, competitive unit out there every week I’ll be satisfied and optimistic for the future … Seeing some defensive improvements is key for this season …

  15. Dogbreath 08/11/2008 at 6:17 PM #

    All of the usual suspects on are pontificating about how Beck and Burke are out of the race.

    No one has mentioned the likelihood that both had early Monday exams, and were held out of this (the 2nd of 6) preseason scrimmages.

    Beck’s 1st scrimmage numbers looked quite good, and Burke’s were not too bad, either.

    I would not infer too much from their absence. This is still a 5-man race. O’Brien was being coy with his post scrimmage comments.

  16. redfred2 08/11/2008 at 7:02 PM #

    “Mooned her…right there in front of the fruits and vegetables…Boogada, Boogada”

    I’d love to beat both of the “carolinas” of course, but all I fully expect to see from football this season, basketball as well, are improved FUNDAMENTALS.

  17. redfred2 08/11/2008 at 7:14 PM #

    …and focused INTENSITY.

  18. Primewolf 08/11/2008 at 7:27 PM #

    I expect some offensive suprises this year from the Pack. The crowd is usually wrong in the stock market and more rarely in preseason football picks. But, I think we will move the ball more this year and open it up some. Our D will be as good as last year as long as the Dline stays healthy.

    6-6 is my best estimate.

  19. packalum44 08/11/2008 at 7:52 PM #

    i can tell there are alot of older people on this post. most comments are pessimistic. please tell me how we can do worst than last year? rhetorical question, don’t answer. i know, u have seen worst things happen or whatever. do u forget TOB is TOB. he is just as good as Jim Grobe. he took a squad last year and we were one game away from bowling. we are going this year. and i was having a good day until i read that someone thinks we will likely loose to UNC…err, TJ Yates??? they sucked last year, we beat the hell out of them (only two pick 6’s kept it close) butch won at Miami. the school that has had the most talent period in the past decade or longer. period, most nfl draft picks = most talent. TOB won in boston where the recruits are on par with Wake. we will be okay if our linebackers and our O-line improve just marginally. prey that sterling lucas, william beasely, and dwane maddox are good true freshmen (linebackers) and Sam Jones is as good as Jake V was last year. oh, btw South Carolina lost their last 5 games! we won 4 of 5. i’ll take that double digit spread any day!

    Go Pack!

    TOB is a master of setting expectations really low.

  20. redfred2 08/11/2008 at 8:23 PM #

    SCIENTIFIC NEWS FLASH: Your age automatically dictates whether you are an optimistic, or pessimistic, sports fan/human being/mammal/etc…

    Has everyone heard this old truism?

    What’s the difference between an optimist and a pessimist?


  21. highstick 08/11/2008 at 8:25 PM #

    South Carolina’s 5 losses last year are totally irrelevant to this year since they get those big bad defensive players back that were injured during that period. Those injuries played a big part in those losses!

    As I tell my Gamecock friends who are predicting an easy win, “Don’t dare underestimate Tom O’Brien”! But I also tell my fellow State Alums, “Don’t underestimate the talent on the South Carolina team”!

  22. waxhaw 08/11/2008 at 8:42 PM #

    We could make a bowl game without beating anyone from outside the state of NC and SC. I like our chances to win 6 possibly 7.

  23. choppack1 08/11/2008 at 8:54 PM #

    packalum – I’m just trying to look at things realistically. I think TOB is a solid coach – but I think we may have to suffer through this year and possibly another of rebuilding.

    I also think that the Heels we’ll see a better team in Chapel Hill. We did dominate them last year and the same could happen again this year.

  24. DuPack 08/11/2008 at 9:21 PM #

    I believe TOB is the difference. While the players certainly have to make all the plays on gameday, TOB is going to make us better. It has been a long time since we have have had a good and disciplined coach at State. MOC was just not good and CTC could not field a disciplined team. State’s lack of discipline under CTC had to be laid at the feet of him and his staff. We saw flashes of what I expect to see this season coming down the stretch last season. All that being said, the Umd game last season was mystifying.

  25. wufpup76 08/11/2008 at 9:33 PM #

    “All that being said, the Umd game last season was mystifying”

    I don’t think this was too shocking … State wasn’t a great (or even good) team last season, and riding a winning streak, the emotional high after the Hole game, and the pressure of getting to a bowl after a terrible start – a letdown wasn’t a huge surprise … Of course, it sucked – particualarly b/c it was Maryland and I HATE them … but I don’t put too much of that game on TOB … No excuses, of course – but I think the guys peaked and just couldn’t avoid a natural letdown

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