Tuesday’s Football Bytes

===> NC State is half way through Tom O’Brien’s second season but the depth and breadth of the of Wolfpack’s inexplicable rash of injuries makes analysis of the program’s progress under Coach O’Brien challenging. Add to the mix that NC State competes against one of the ten toughest schedules in the country (as judged by Phil Steele) and apples to apples comparisons to other programs becomes more difficult. But, anecdotally I thought that the Boston College came represented a micro-example of some of the macro developments — NC State did not commit a single turnover in the entire game and was flagged for only one penalty. If that isn’t progress over the last season and a half then I don’t know what is.

===> Ironically, the BC game – the 6th game of the year – also represented a sadly ironic twist on NC State’s season: The BC game was the first game of the 2008 season where NC State did not lose at least one starter to injury.

===> As I take a very cursory look at the direction of the football program related to the immediate future (2009 season) I come to a quick conclusion that should help everyone rest easy — NC State will be deeper, more experienced and (hopefully) more talented at every single position on the football field next year than we are right now. Of course, this makes a customary assumption that injuries are ‘normal’ and not what we have encountered the last season and a half. The only position on the field where this premise could potentially be argued is the loss of Andre Brown at running back, which we hope is offset by the return of Toney Baker and the presence of Brandon Barnes (currently redshirting).

===> The Wolfpacker has a nice summary of the first half of the season that can be seen by clicking here.

===> The week off has hopefully provided NC State a chance to lick some wounds and get some players healthy for Thursday night’s game against Florida State, particularly on defense that was discussed at length in this entry. Unfortunately the depth chart for Thursday night does not include the names of Alan Michael-Cash or Nate Irving. Those would be the big improvements that we need on the injury front. Additionally, Curtis Crouch’s name is also absent from the depth chart.

===> As the N&O wrote yesterday:

N.C. State’s pass rush — or lack thereof — probably was its most outward sign of exhaustion. After totaling nine quarterback sacks over the first four games, the Wolfpack didn’t get a sack against South Florida and managed only one against Boston College.

That’s why the midseason open date is such a blessing. Coach Tom O’Brien gave his weary team, which is 2-4 overall and has lost its first two ACC games, a much-needed break.

“We haven’t gotten to the quarterback for two weeks in a row to put any substantial pressure on anybody, which we had shown the ability to do the first four games,” O’Brien said. “Now we have to get our legs back.”

===> The ACC announced yesterday that State’s game at Maryland will kickoff at 3:30pm and will be available only on ESPN360.

===> UNC-CH lost their best player – wide receiver Brandon Tate – for the year after a knee injury on Saturday. (Video and N&O comments linked here.) That at least evens the Tarheels with the Wolfpack at the WR position related to injuries — NC State lost our best WR (Donald Bowens) before the season began. At least Carolina got the benefit of Tate for half a season. Caulton Tudor is asking if the injury will derail Carolina’s season? in this link.

Injuries are football’s cruel equalizer. Already this season, they’ve cut deeply into N.C. State’s plans for a winning record and East Carolina’s hopes for a big bowl run. With Monday’s news that Brandon Tate will be shelved for the season by a bum right knee, North Carolina (5-1) will be fortunate to avoid becoming the third regional casualty.

===> If you are interested in the national picture then you can get a sneak peek at the BCS by clicking here and see more analysis and conversation by clicking here.

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'08 Football General

30 Responses to Tuesday’s Football Bytes

  1. primacyone 10/14/2008 at 10:05 AM #

    We’ve scored more than 23 points more than one time! That’s progress.

  2. choppack1 10/14/2008 at 10:26 AM #

    Coming into the year, we were starting 7 new starters on offense.

    Our defense was only starting 5 new starters. If you were at the USC game, it was clear that the D was what kept the game close for 3 quarters….

    Of course, the D lost one of those returning starters, the proposed starter at safety, and a budding superstar in Nate Irving. While the OL has seen Williams and Crouch hobbled by injuries, much of that unit remains in tact w/ Williams being replaced by the talented and mean Vermiglio.

    We all know the deal now. NC State absolutely needs Russell Wilson available to win any game remaining on its schedule. The worst news is that our opponents know this too.

    Russell Wilson and Nate Irving have been the surprises of this year. We might have expected good things from both, but they both have exceeded expectations. Wilson has thrown 1 INT to date, and has engineered 2 fourth quarter comebacks. All Nate Irving was doing before his injury was playing at an All-American level.

    I pointed out on another thread that we get back 33 guys on our 2 deep next year. We also bring in a hord of redshirt freshmen in the critical need areas of LB, DB and OL. We are playing tons of freshmen -and they are playing well.

    If the D can peform the miracle during the bye week that the O did last year and we can keep RW healthy, we’ll be a difficult team to beat THIS year. I hate to harp on it, but next year should be very good. Of course, we’re the wolfpack, so in all likelihood there will be a string of injuries and defections for a variety of reasons to keep us from our goal.

  3. sf59 10/14/2008 at 10:37 AM #

    good post chop. i agree

    i’d also like to point out that our dbs are registering 70-80 snaps a game. we are so thin in the DB back field its scary. as much as it will help to get AMC and the Pred back… getting the DBs a week off was just as huge. lets hope they don’t wear down too bad by the UNC game 🙂

  4. Scooter 10/14/2008 at 10:44 AM #

    The fans have hope for improvement. That’s improvement over the late Amato era.

  5. burnbarn 10/14/2008 at 10:46 AM #

    Alluding to the comment on penaltys and turnovers (lack thereof) I agree wholeheartedly.
    This team just looks more organized and focused on the field. I have also been impressed with how hard the team is playing…even in lopsided defeat. We play to the end of the game.

    I agree our team was tired..I think it comes from playing too many snaps due to lack of depth. I do think we will be better and deeper at every position next year. Don’t forget we also have JE to help carry the load.

    Can this team go for another run like last year after the break? Assuming we have Cash and Irving I think we have a chance. I was leaving the canes gamer last night and the team was practicing. I got a perch out side of the stadium, but I could only see the left side of the defense on the field. I saw 41 alot..i did not see 56 over about 15 snaps.

  6. choppack1 10/14/2008 at 10:58 AM #

    sf59 – good point on the dbs. One thing item of clarification.

    We currently have 7 walk-ons/former walk-ons on our 2 deep. 2 each for OL, LB and DBs. We are redshirting several freshmen fo all 3 of those positions.

    I actually guess that next the DT spot goes back to being a concern. We should be solid at DE though. Maybe we move Kuhn to a DT spot.

  7. howlie 10/14/2008 at 11:10 AM #

    Serious logistical question:

    JUST HOW will anyone determine how many STARTERS we have RETURNING for next year.
    It seems “statistically possible’ to claim 33 starters returning.

    How DOES someone ‘offically’ determine that number that is claimed?

  8. ruffles31 10/14/2008 at 11:47 AM #

    Don’t forget though with all the weekends off the team has. Between the BC game on Oct 4 until the Dook game on November 8, they play twice. They had last weekend off, they play Thursday, then they go to Maryland, followed by another week off. That for a team with all of the injuries, is a great schedule. We can get players healed and ready for the stretch drive to play the Big 4 and the U.

  9. Noah 10/14/2008 at 12:26 PM #

    I don’t think we’ll be “very good” next year. But I think we’ll be better and should compete for a bowl game.

    I’m defining “very good” as “competing for a league title.” I think we’ll only do that in the vaguest, academic sense….sort of the way we will (technically) compete for the league title in basketball this year.

    I still think we’ll be awfully young at linebacker. I think the DL won’t really have the guys that O’Brien wants and I think the secondary will be lacking. (other than that, we’ll be fine)

  10. GAWolf 10/14/2008 at 12:28 PM #

    Two things I haven’t seen that gives me hope:

    1) Arm flapping by our DB after a receiver burns the DB and the QB overthrows the ball/receiver drops the ball

    2) Personal fouls for diving into the endzone (minus I believe AB in the Red/White game — uhhh who gets flagged for taunting his own team?)

  11. GAWolf 10/14/2008 at 12:33 PM #

    Also: I would expect the majority of our incoming freshmen to red shirt again…Especially those on the O-line. I just don’t see them being a factor at all for next year.

  12. BlackHole91 10/14/2008 at 12:38 PM #

    JC Neal expects all the injured players to be back Thursday, at least how I read this article: http://northcarolinastate.scout.com/a.z?s=178&p=2&c=800210

  13. McPete 10/14/2008 at 12:41 PM #

    i keep hearing about Andrew Wallace, RJ Mattes, and Zach Allen playing quite well on the scout team (in addtion to glennon and barnes). can anyone elaborate? and will these guys upgrade our team next year? i think the o-line is already improving, but we’ll have to replace Bedics, Green, and Crouch next year.

  14. Noah 10/14/2008 at 1:27 PM #

    Mattes and Wallace are going to be left and right tackles, respectively.

    Zach Allen is going to be a left guard. I think Denzelle Good is probably going to be a right guard. Sam Jones would’ve probably been a tackle…but we’ve lost him for good, it seems.

    I’ve heard really good things about Mattes and Allen. Mattes is just young and you don’t want to throw them out there too soon, if you can help it.

    Whenever you ask insiders, “Who are the young guys that I don’t know about that I should look foward to seeing?” they always mention Allen and Brandon Barnes.

  15. choppack1 10/14/2008 at 1:38 PM #

    Noah – I think our DE’s are pretty close to being there. We should have 2 solid defensive tackles. We’ll return 2 starting LBs (in theory anyway, I suppose Irving could bolt), lose 2 walk-on LBs on our depth chart, both of whom should be replaced by RS Freshmen who the staff thought highly of.

    I really don’t know why we couldn’t compete for a birth in the ACC championship next year unless they change coaches at FSU or Miami. I’m not saying that we SHOULD be there, just that the ACC’s overall mediocrity and abscence of a team that is incredibly deep, athletic AND well-coached, allows for a solid season if we aren’t decimated by injuries and other issues that could remove talent from out depth chart.

    McPete – We do return 3 starters though and we only have 3 seniors on our 2 deep right now. As for Crouch, we’ve been going it w/out him much of this year. I haven’t heard anything about the youngsters on the line, but I like the opportunity for improvement that we’ll give. All 3 of these guys were recruited by the current staff and they’ll have had an entire season to work w/ them, so I feel pretty good about their potential.

  16. b 10/14/2008 at 2:02 PM #

    Clemson will lose all their skill players save maybe Spiller, Wake will lose their starting QB, and BC will lose their front seven. A spot in the league title game NY is not impossible given the assumption of “normal” injuries.

    RW with 6 more games of progression, Bowens back with a more experienced group of WRs, and another six games and spring on Bryan. Lucas and Maddox will be more stable with a year of experience, and the best of the freshman LBs, Manning, will return. If Cash and Irving don’t bolt, we should be able to push for a division crown until late in the year. The schedule is far more manageable next year as well.

  17. Sw0rdf1sh 10/14/2008 at 2:15 PM #

    The ESPN360 Maryland game is killing me.

    Again Time Warner has found a way to continually stick it to me, a guy who spends 200 bucks a month with them.

  18. Alpha Wolf 10/14/2008 at 2:39 PM #

    “Again Time Warner has found a way to continually stick it to me, a guy who spends 200 bucks a month with them.”

    I have Dish but won’t get the game either…

  19. GAWolf 10/14/2008 at 3:43 PM #

    I literally debated going down to the TWC office in Raleigh TODAY to ask for the highest ranking person in the office just tell that person that their customer service is not only pathetic but literally the worst on the planet.

    They have criminally held me hostage in my house for a total of 16 hours in the last two months while I waited for a tech to come service their crappy products that never work.

    I seriously told the lady on the phone today that the next time it goes out I’m not paying another dime. I’ll litigate the issue to no end. And if they want to come out and fix it so I WILL start paying for the “service” they’ll have to come to my house and sit outside of it between 5pm and 9pm during which time I’ll come home from work whenever I want to let them in. We’ll do that three times and after I don’t show for any of them I’ll give them a two hour window and tell them I’ll call them to let them know when I’ll be there. Then I’ll just show up the next day after not calling the day before and let their guy in should he be stupid enough to be still waiting for me. If he’s not there, I’ll throw all of their broken boxes, internet modems and phone modems out in the front lawn for them to pick up whenever they so please.

  20. wufpaxno1 10/14/2008 at 4:27 PM #

    b, Skinner is a Junior, and I don’t think there is any chance of him bolting early, he is not that high on the NFL radar.

  21. b 10/14/2008 at 4:30 PM #

    Wishful thinking on my part, wufpaxno1.

  22. Plz2BStateFan 10/14/2008 at 4:38 PM #

    NC State will beat UNC this year. Let me show you how.

    Ask yourself how many turnovers UNC needed to beat ND and UCONN.

    Then realize that Uconn is garbage and hadn’t played anyone, and ND is not ND.

    Now look at the information in this article.

    How many interceptions has Russel had this year? 0?

    How many players might we get back before the UNC game?

    We win. Mark it.

  23. wufpup76 10/14/2008 at 5:26 PM #

    ^I think we have a good shot at the Heels – all things being equal, like no more injuries – but a loss wouldn’t devestate me

    I’m still in the “They’re overrated” camp when it comes to the Heels

    … Time Warner blows … DirecTV has always done right by me – great customer service and more sports programming available than Dish or Time Warner combined

  24. PhilipRiversWannabe 10/14/2008 at 7:27 PM #

    Cash and Crouch will play on Thursday. Irving is listed as probable-75% of playing.

    Praise god!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. Greywolf 10/14/2008 at 10:29 PM #

    Noah, Who is “Denzelle Good” who you say is probably going to be a right guard? You didn’t throw that in to see who was paying attention did you? 😉

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