TOB nailed the QB situation perfectly

Less than an hour after Harrison Beck led NC State to a win over William & Mary NC State Head Coach Tom O’Brien made it clear that Russell Wilson will start under center for tomorrow’s game against Clemson. BJD ran a fantastic analysis of this last weekend.

Although few people explicitly criticized Coach O’Brien’s decision, there seemed to be some whispers questioning the decision (and its timing) from some in the media and on internet message boards. Why?

Folks, Coach O’Brien could not have handled this quarterback decision/situation any better from a (1) media-management and (2) football perspective.

(1) The LAST thing that NC State needs/needed was to go through this week – and future weeks – with a faux ‘quarterback controversy’ manufactured by the media.

By announcing the decision IMMEDIATELY last Saturday night TOB diffused any potential momentum and controversy that could have grown on the heels of Beck’s strong performance. As Caulton Tudor said in this very insightful blog entry this week:

The upside for the Pack is that there’s a reasonably viable Plan-B with Beck and Daniel Evans should Wilson sustain another injury and the option series has to be ditched. While neither is the ideal alternative, both at least have experience in the offense of ‘07.

That should be good enough for everyone. The fact that Beck had the chance to step on the field and remind everyone his natural abilities are far superior to those of Evans and that he deserves the opportunity to be next in line should be more than enough benefit from Saturday’s experience. That’s one helluva improvement from where we were before when Evans was Wilson’s backup (please see pretty much every play from scrimmage run this year with Evans under center for supporting evidence).

(2) From a strategic football perspective, Coach O’Brien really had no choice in the matter. So that we are all on the same page – please allow me to recite a set of FACTS that you probably have forgotten or discounted over the last couple of weeks:

* Russell Wilson started his first college game on the road in front of 80,000 people at South Carolina of the SEC.

* With less than four minutes to go in the first half of that football game, NC State and South Carolina were tied 0 to 0.

* In the process of creating 2 or 3 turnovers, NC State had not yet suffered a turnover and had amassed more offensive yards than South Carolina.

* The Wolfpack had possession of the ball on USC’s 35 yard line in a drive that saw State create solid momentum by running eight consecutive plays and move the ball approximately 45 yards down.

* Then Russell Wilson got hurt. Then Daniel Evans entered the game. Then NC State was forced to run a different offense than had been the focus of practice since the spring. Then the wheels immediately came off the bus.

Again, Tudor explains the rationale behind the decision perfectly with some of the following comments:

But from O’Brien’s perspective, going back to Wilson is the percentage play now that we understand what really took place in the team’s practice sessions last spring and during preseason camp.

Amid serious secrecy, State’s offensive staff made radical schematic changes from its previous tactics by installing a full-blown option package that obviously revolved around the speedy Wilson’s ability to make defensive reads while on his feet and in the fact of defensive pressure.

The move, no doubt, reflected great reservation about the offensive line’s chances to adequately protect a traditional passing game and execute basic I-formation rushing plays.

Due to Wilson’s early-game head injury at South Carolina and running back Jamille Eugene’s ongoing injury problems, there’s still no way to actually determine whether the offense is functional. That still could be the case after the Clemson game, too. But O’Brien invested a lot of time in developing the strategy, and he simply has to know if the system will work. The longer he waits, the less likely the chance that the season can be salvaged. Up next are games against East Carolina and South Florida, both of which have defenses good enough to victimize an offense in flux.

But for now, the coach and his staff have little choice except to play out the schedule as far as possible with their original intent.

What O’Brien really had in mind for ‘08 was buying time with an offense that few of his opponents were expecting. It may not work. Odds are, it won’t. Clemson is favored by 18 points either way. But O’Brien made the decision to go optional last spring, and you can’t blame him for trying to find out if the 180 was worth it.

Unfortunately, NC State has now lost the opportunity to ‘surprise’ South Carolina our new offense and quarterback (Russell Wilson). We have lost the opportunity to hone the offense with game-practice against William & Mary to gear up for the rest of the schedule. But, we all still need to see if Wilson’s playmaking ability and leadership skills are enough to help compensate for the Wolfpack’s weak offensive line and inexperienced wide receivers. Daniel Evans limitations and Harrison Beck’s historical inconsistency and decision-making mandate it.

The odds are high that we still won’t have the answer of how effective the Wolfpack’s 2008 offense can be after Saturday’s game at Clemson. But, hopefully we will at least have had the opportunity to get Russell Wilson and the offense some practice and experience in hopes to win some games later in the schedule.

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18 Responses to TOB nailed the QB situation perfectly

  1. Ismael 09/12/2008 at 2:22 PM #

    silence would be misinterpreted, no need to really, comment A+ writeup

  2. Girlfriend in a Coma 09/12/2008 at 2:39 PM #

    Has Eugene redshirted yet?

    Seriously. The way this year is going, we might as well redshirt everyone who still has it available.

    SFN: I actually have asked this similar question in multiple fashion. We have already picked up extra eligibility for FOUR potential starters NEXT YEAR with redshirts for Clem Johnson, Javon Walker, Donald Bowens and now Matt Kushner.

    In this spirit, it wouldn’t have surprised me to have saved a year of elgibility for Jake Vermiglio if we would have had anyone else who could have really contributed on the OL.

  3. primacyone 09/12/2008 at 2:42 PM #

    ^^ +1

    One of the most well written post that has ever been on this site.

    Nice job.

  4. SidtheKid 09/12/2008 at 2:59 PM #

    TOB knows how to be proactive. This guy was thinking about tomorrow when he woke up today. He is one of few coaches you stay the course with.

    Could you imagine what would have happened if he didnt do this? Instead of reading about Nate Irving all week, we would have had a QB controversy.

  5. ChuckAllYall 09/12/2008 at 3:26 PM #

    Excellent post SFN,

    My realistic hopes for this weekend are Russel taking leadership of the offense and taking care of the ball, continued development by the defensive unit, and NO MORE INJURIES.

    Obviously it’s still very early in the season, but the best case scenario would be Russel Wilson in the game “managing” the offense, making good decisions, taking care of the football (ie. throwing it away when there is no play) and leading long, clock killing sustainable drives. This in turn will allow the defense to rest a little on the side and when they’re in the game, not having their backs against the goal line.

    The worst case scenarion is probably what will play out instead

  6. b 09/12/2008 at 3:30 PM #

    RW was definitely starting to get the hang of things before he was hurt, and he made some good decisions. A lot of the throws Beck made would be intercepted by Clemson, so it was really not a difficlut decision from a strategic standpoint. If the trainers and medical staff cleared him, I don’t have a problem with him being inserted into the lineup.

    And on a strategic note, I don’t think we would have gained as much playing him against W&M as we might be hiding the “real” offense from Clemson from a film study prespective. It’s gamesmanship along with fact to say we still don’t know what we have with RW. I expect the coaches know pretty well what we have, or a relatively radical switch in approach from a coaching staff that rarely makes such moves would not have occured.

  7. Pack92 09/12/2008 at 3:37 PM #

    What drive were we on when RW got hurt? 2nd? 3rd? All I remember was we were running the ball down their throat and suddenly RW is on his back and not moving. The change in our offense after RW left was as big a change as I have ever seen in a football game. Maybe Beck will actually learn some things and develop under Bible. Has he ever really had the chance with all his transfers and OC turnover? ANd I’m not defending him either! He has truly made some bone-head plays with that cannon he has for an arm. The good thing is…he has a cannon for an arm. However, until otherwise shown, RW is light years ahead of Beck in decision making ability. RW will actually throw the ball away!

  8. BJD95 09/12/2008 at 4:07 PM #

    My goals for Clemson game:

    1) Don’t get Wilson hurt.

    2) Don’t get Irving hurt.

    3) Don’t get Andre Brown hurt.

    4) Don’t get shut out.

    Accomplish those tasks and I’ll be as happy as the proverbial pig in shit.

  9. Noah 09/12/2008 at 6:04 PM #

    I think those are all reasonable and hopeful goals.

  10. BJD95 09/12/2008 at 6:28 PM #

    ^ I will repet my goals for the Live Blog thread tomorrow, and be blasted for my pessimism until, say, the middle of the first quarter.

  11. redfred2 09/12/2008 at 7:05 PM #

    I expect to see a big orange orb rising up out of the eastern horizon, providing light and warmth (maybe a little too much if you’re an Al Gore fan) to the planets and all living things below.

    Those are my goals and expectations for tomorrow.

  12. b 09/12/2008 at 8:56 PM #

    I’d like to see State 1) run for 150 yards on a suspect run defense and 2) make some big plays (or avoid Clemson’s big plays) in the special teams phase. And have RW complete 50% of his passes.

    I can see a possiility of this game being close, but it would involve heavy and consistent pressure on Harper, as well and winning the turnover battle handily and getting points from it. Managing to keep their running game under 200 yards would be peachy, too. If there is game pressure late, they and their fans might panic as this is supposed to be a walk for them.

    Realistically, if they are able to keep Clemson under thirty and score double digits that would be progress. 27-10 would suck, but only in an instant gratification sense. If they are within one score into the fourth quarter as well that would be great. Gotta crawl before ya walk, and all.

  13. colapack 09/12/2008 at 9:16 PM #

    I really believe our defense can match Clemson offense. Also, looking at what Citadel did to their defense, I gotta be hopeful that our offense might almost match up to their defense. You have the Spiller/Davis factor and that is where things get scary. We cant take Spiller out of the equation with our kicking game. Clemson will bust out some big plays and that is where I think the differnece will be.

  14. Greywolf 09/12/2008 at 9:59 PM #

    I blasted Bible for not doing exactly what he apparently was doing until Wilson got hurt. I berated the offensive coaches for not doing what the D-coaches did, i.e., the O coaches visit around to pick the brains of “shotgun option” teams. [I’ve been wrong before when I thought I was wrong and I wasn’t. ;-)] I dont’t *know* that’s what they did but I’d bet on it. Doncha just love it? Old dog Tom O’Brian learning some new tricks. HELL YES!!

    I couldn’t pick it up on TV in a half of football but given all the good info from SFN (best message board writing I have ever seen) and adding 2&2, I’d say TOB and the O coaches have created a hybrid that will be tough to defend at least for a couple of years. Glennon may not start until he is a senior if this thing takes off and flies like it could very well do.

    In this light, Ant Hill being injured now can be seen in a new light. George Bryan is the kind of TE the thrives in this wide open offense. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Eugene and Brown in the same lineup with Eugene at some sort of H back with the field spread and in motion a full throttle behind the deep back for pitches while the D is held in by the threat of Brown’s inside running. Brown up the middle, Eugene wide in one direction and Wilson bootlegging in the otherm with WOs going deep taking DBs with them, TE in the middle along with Brown sneaking through as safeties try to decide between pass coverage and run support. Oh lord, please let me see those converted Dlinemen hunting LBs and DBs to block like they hunted down QBs and RBS. Dream on old man. You won’t have to wake up until sometime after noon tomorrow.

    I met Eric Weaver, the back-up TE, and his family summer before last. His dad and I talked about Wolfpack football and Eric being an invited walkon. Eric was attending his sister’s “graduation” from 6th grade. I was there for my granddaughter. Eric showed none of the usual teenager boredom and while I knew nothing of his football prowess, he made an impression on me as to the kind of young man he was — the kind that Tom O’Brian is going to have in his program. Eric has put on at least 20 lbs in the past 15 months and when he is a Red-shirt sophomore at 6-7 and 250 or 260 lbs, I predict he is going to be a force to be reckonded with.

    This is so much more fun for me complaining and picking the Pack and the coaches apart. To each his own OR what ever blows your skirt up.

    GO PACK!!

  15. Greywolf 09/12/2008 at 10:22 PM #

    “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” What does this mean? All my comments need moderation as does my drinking — well, my drinking did before I quit entirely.

  16. GAWolf 09/13/2008 at 7:01 AM #

    So far my opening morning of bow season has been about as eventful as the opening of Wolpack Football season. Wait. Take that back. I haven’t fallen out of the tree and broken something…yet. Anything besides a blowout for the rest of the season would better my expectations after seeing our o-line play.

    I don’t like the idiot that broadcasts on raleigh sports talk radio from the “Brickhouse used to be Playmakers on Hillsborough ROAD” but yesterday he did get a chuckle out of me saying everyone is going to be really excited in Clemson tomorrow (today)…especially Russell Wilson…oh yeah Russell Wilson will be pumped up…nothing gets your heart pounding like 4 big ugly dudes chasing you all over the field trying to rip your head off all afternoon.

    I hope they can find some way to get RW time…and protection (from injury).

  17. Wulfpack 09/13/2008 at 7:59 AM #

    Clemson has far more better players than us. They are in front of a home crowd. They have two excellent RBs that dominated us last year. NC State is dealing with a ton of injuries, is starting a freshman QB, and has a makeshift offensive line. Our TE is a third stringer for crying out loud. I think Clemson will find a way to get to Wilson. I don’t think we score a whole lot of points, at least not as many as Clemson will. Our D has been pretty good but has shown that it will wear down over the course of the game when the offense falters. Maybe we don’t lose by 18, but I don’t think there is any question that this is a double digit loss. If it is not, then hats off to TOB.

  18. GAWolf 09/13/2008 at 9:21 AM #

    agreed. I’m still in somewhat disbelief we found a way to beat W&M. and I’m not saying that to be chicken little, but the above post is the reality of the matter.

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