Fear and Loathing* in Carter-Finley

This time tomorrow, it will be gameday. For the first time in several years, disaster doesn’t seem imminent. The players are confident. The fans are confident. Hell, the weather is even going to be perfect. Doesn’t that scare the crap out of anyone else?

At NC State, we are always the most confident before impending disaster. And at least this first week of play, that’s what I fear is looming. Fortunately, we have a coach and a staff with a proven track record, not just that desperate, amorphous “hope” for a better day that we usually have as Wolfpack fans. They can right the ship, beat Pitt, go .500 or better in ACC play, and finish with a solid 7-5 or 8-4 record heading into bowl season. Keep in mind how they got their first two Wolfpack squads back on track after Hindenburg-like starts.

Beyond superstition, paranoia, and my well-known Eeyore-ish tendency towards pessimism – I also see a Gamecocks team with baseline SEC talent. South Carolina doesn’t have Georgia or LSU’s speed and strength…but it doesn’t have Vandy or Mississippi State’s, either. The optimist can claim that SC’s defensive speed is now playing on Sunday – but I doubt the cupboard is that bare for replacements. I also steadfastly believe that expectations are a year ahead of schedule. The kind of players that form the backbone of championship-contending Tom O’Brien teams (RJ Mattes, Audie Cole) are sliding up the two deep. But it won’t fully come together until the 2010-12 window of opportunity.

Predicting a Wolfpack win means betting on a futile Gamecock passing game. Recent history makes that a decent bet – but even bad QBs can be expected to make big plays against a Wolfpack secondary missing its only game-ready CB, DeAndre Morgan (who is out with an injury). This means that the guys we’ve heard about all summer not progressing rapidly enough for the staff’s liking? They will start tomorrow night. At both corner slots. With a former walk-on WR starting at one safety position. I like Clem Johnson as much as anyone, but unless we’ve cloned him in the offseason, we’re going to give up some big plays.

That leaves one route to victory – Russell Wilson single-handedly carrying us to a shootout win (think last year’s BC game, only with State having the ball last). Yeah, that’s possible. But it’s a little much to expect on opening night, when South Carolina has had all offseason to build a gameplan around containing one guy, knowing that nobody else can beat them.

My prediction? South Carolina 34, NC State 24. I hope like hell to be proven very wrong, and for the SFN community to mock me mercilessly on Friday morning.

* The loathing part is fairly easy. Todd Ellis’ invisible six shooter is the best embodiment of why I hate the chickens. Even when we beat these guys, we lose. The untimed down Hail Mary from Kramer to Peebles thrilled us in 1986, as I pointed and laughed at the stunned, toothless Gamecock faithful that dominated the grass bank seating. But EK aggravated an ankle injury on that play, and missed the next game. State lost to a 2-7 UVA squad behind horrid QB play, costing us the ACC title. That one still hurts.


SFN Notes & Comments – Updated 7:45am

(1) Please don’t miss our recently launched SFN Community Forums. If you currently have a login and password to use with SFN, that same login and password will work with the forum as well. The forums are also available on most mobile phones.

(2) Please note that this entry was logged by BJD95. Let’s be sure to rub it in to him when the Pack delivers on Thursday night.

(3) If BJD’s fear is to be realized – and if USC can truly score 34 points on anyone – then you can rest assured that it will rest with the lack of depth and talent in the NC State secondary. That secondary took ANOTHER big hit when starting cornerback DeAndre Morgan’s ankle injury was publicly announced. That means that three of the four projected starters in the secondary for this year – Javon Walker, DeAndre Morgan and Dominique Ellis will not be suiting up for the first game of the year.

(4) WhatifSports.com runs computer simulations for sporting events. They run 10,000 simulations of all games and their models show NC State playing at home wins 81% of the time against South Carolina by an average score of 21-10. (Link to Week One games)

BJD: That’s insane. I have a hard time believing we could hold a high school team to 10 points with the lineup we’ll trot out tomorrow night.

(5) IMHO, if BJD’s worst fears are realized, then a confluence of events similar to last year’s game would have to unfold – RW getting injured in his first game; no back-up quarterback option; a converted defensive lineman starting at center executing three horrendous snaps costing us possessions and field position; a young set of inexperienced wide receivers; and more. I just don’t know if that all is possible.

About BJD95

1995 NC State graduate, sufferer of Les and MOC during my entire student tenure. An equal-opportunity objective critic and analyst of Wolfpack sports.

'09 Football

55 Responses to Fear and Loathing* in Carter-Finley

  1. jdmann1288 09/02/2009 at 8:02 AM #

    I agree that because there is no expected disaster that could mean something horrible is going to happen. If I remember correctly, the last 2 times we had high expectations for the season it was disappointing. PR’s Sr year, (7-5?) and the next year with Jay Davis. Is Glennon scheduled to take any snaps tomorrow?
    Also, SC’s QB situation can’t be good enough to put up 34pts, last year’s opening night QB is now at FCS Liberty U and not even starting. I know that was last year but that is alot of improvement to undergo in one season.

  2. RickJ 09/02/2009 at 8:16 AM #

    “With a former walk-on WR starting at one safety position.”

    I believe this former walk-on WR will be starting at one corner position – that is actually a lot scarier. If memory serves me correctly, Morgan went down in last year’s game against SC and this player was promptly torched. Hopefully, he’s gotten a lot better with a full spring & fall practice. I expect to see our CB’s giving plenty of cushion with a lot of completed passes in front of them. Maybe SC will not be patient enough to make this work.

  3. RBCRowdy 09/02/2009 at 8:22 AM #

    It sounds oversimplified, but I think the game will be won by the offense scoring rather than the defense stopping the gamecocks. If the pack cant move the ball well early, I’ll expect your prediction of a NCSU loss to come true.

  4. VaWolf82 09/02/2009 at 8:31 AM #

    we’re going to give up some big plays.

    There’s no need to quibble about what defines “big”, but unless State can get pressure on the QB, you can expect alot of 15-20 yd completions on third down because the DB’s will be so far off of the LOS.

  5. StateFans 09/02/2009 at 8:42 AM #

    The best hope for our DBs is that our DL gets good pressure — which is a real possibility with our talent and USC’s recent struggles on their OL.

  6. choppack1 09/02/2009 at 8:44 AM #

    Regarding “all the stars” aligning. This is exactly how I felt when I rolled into Jax, FL for the Gator Bowl. I was awestruck by all the red I saw – and I just figured, this many Wolfpack fans and this much NC State enthusiasm in one place, there’s no way we’d be allowed to win…and this kind of “uh-oh, things are working out too perfectly” feeling hovered over me until we scored that key TD late in the first half. At that point I realized – fate wasn’t going to give us a black eye again.

    And don’t worry about the fate thing guys – this SHOULD be a perfect day. However, Thursday morning my Dad is having quadruple bypass surgery in Southern Pines. I may still get to the game, but my mind will be elsewhere – and oddly enough, that always seems to work out in the Wolfpacks favor. (For exhibit 1 – the Saturday Sid’s first State team beat UNC, I planned an elaborate 40th b-day party for my wife, and while I caught a lot of the game, I certainly wasn’t AT the game or in my typical game watching mode.)

    BJD – I don’t buy your gallows take here. I share your concern over the secondary. The good news is that we have a solid front 4 (though it looks like Rieskamp is out) – that, in theory, should be able to pressure SC.

    I expect our DBs to play conservative zone coverage. We’ll look for a QB who has made mistakes in the past to make them Thursday night. In other words, I think its much more likely our offense scores +25 points on them, than their offense scoring 25+ on us. I may be wrong, but I just don’t see them putting up those kind of points and us being as miserable as we were on offense when DE came in the game.

  7. BJD95 09/02/2009 at 8:49 AM #

    I didn’t see any way for Boston College (with a stiff like Chris Crane playing QB) to score 38 on anyone (even us) last year.

    But they did.

  8. StateFans 09/02/2009 at 8:49 AM #

    Prayers to your family, chop

  9. tvp1 09/02/2009 at 8:53 AM #

    Serenity now, BJD. Serenity now.

    We’ll be OK. I like Morgan quite a bit as a player, but his absence won’t swing a W to an L.

    The BC game comparison doesn’t quite hold up because BC had a top notch OL and DL. We were completely unable to run and couldn’t pressure the QB. Neither will be true against SC.

    And keep in mind that, for the first time in God knows how long, our OL is not a disaster waiting to happen!

  10. choppack1 09/02/2009 at 9:22 AM #

    Thanks SFN – I appreciate that.

  11. thebigwood 09/02/2009 at 9:35 AM #

    “Prayers to your family, chop”


    I thought people on here might be interested in this article from today’s State:


    Note the interviews with Les and Lee. The author, Ron Morris, is hated down here in Columbia.

  12. Clarksa 09/02/2009 at 9:43 AM #

    “Prayers to your family, chop”

    +1 here as well. My pops had the same quad by-pass the first week of July and is doing great now. The first few hours after surgery will be extremely tough for him and won’t be much fun to watch for you, but he should be back up and back to normal within a few months.

  13. tobaccordshow 09/02/2009 at 9:55 AM #

    You’re crazy if you think that RW + receiving corps will only put of 24 points.

  14. Ismael 09/02/2009 at 10:05 AM #

    I go alot by what TOB says because he doesn’t try and hype up the situation. In reality it SHOULD be a close game (but so should have the game in Kenan Stadium last year, or against Miami etc.) I think the quiet confidence that characterized last year’s 2nd-half-of-the-year team has morphed into a realization by the players (see Willie Young’s comments from yesterday) that they should be good. They are good enough to step on the field and execute and should be in every game no matter what. To me, THAT is how you start building a championship team; mentally. As fans its natural that we go as the team goes. But what we’re seeing on the part of ncstate fans i don’t think so much is unrealistic expectations, just more well-deserved confidence in our players and coaches. “We are starting to buy into the system.” Go Pack!!!

  15. bradleyb123 09/02/2009 at 10:15 AM #

    I think our guys know we got plastered 34-0 last year, and will be determined to make this a game. With our offense, and all their personnel losses from last year, I don’t see us losing this game, especially not at home.

    Unless the refs allow late hits to our QB’s head long after he started his slide. If they’re allowing junk like that again, all bets are off.

  16. highstick 09/02/2009 at 10:19 AM #

    BJD, I think you’re pretty close. All the fans(Gamecock and State) that keep comparing this year’s game to last year’s just don’t get it. If Wilson stays healthy and gets rid of the ball before taking so many hits, we’ll score some points.

    Anyone who underrates Stephen Garcia is asking for trouble. He’s finally had a year w/o disciplinary issues and the monkey is squarely on his back. But he’s a darned good athlete who just hadn’t learned to read defenses and was too quick to launch a bad pass or tuck it and run. If he holds up to what I’m expecting, they’ll also score some points. Their running game should be much better, but O line is still a question. Young defense, but watch out for Stephen Gilmore on defense and offense. This kid is good!

    I’m really concerned about State’s defense with the injuries which may be the deciding factor. However, SC also has similar issues. Do they offset? I’m not sure.

    It’ll be a good game, not like last year. Fans from both teams need to take off the rose colored glasses for this one. The Gamecocks are not going to win the SEC East, however 3rd place is achievable and with a little luck, who knows, maybe even 2nd. State is very capable of winning the ACC title with some of that same luck, particularly to offset the injury situation.

    You can say I don’t know what I’m talking about and that’s ok, but I’ve had season tickets in Columbia since my son was a sophomore 11 years ago and I don’t miss many games there because it’s such a short ride. I’m looking for a very close and exciting game. Last year my money was on the Gamecocks and this year my money is on the Pack(but I can assure you it wasn’t much money either year). My son and I have agreed that the loser will wear the other team’s baseball hat exclusively for the rest of football season.

    Make me a winner, Pack!!!

  17. Texpack 09/02/2009 at 10:54 AM #

    The most important part of our “defensive improvement” in the second half of last season was Russell Wilson making plays and limiting their snaps. I look for USC to be completely overmatched

  18. Broccoman 09/02/2009 at 11:01 AM #

    Our defense now will not be as good as our defense during the stretch last year.

    Our offense is going to have to be better. I think RW is going to feel the pressure and I’ll predict his streak without picks gets broken.

    I still think the game is winnable, but we shouldn’t be the favorite.

  19. 61Packer 09/02/2009 at 11:13 AM #

    Fried Chickens will be served shortly after 10pm tomorrow night.

  20. Sam92 09/02/2009 at 11:21 AM #

    all in all, south carolina should be favored to beat us, for various reasons, but the big difference is, they are a good team, and we can play with them with some confidence.

    i think this game will be very telling for our season. a win against usc and i can see us winning 9 games. a loss and maybe we still make 7 and go to a stinky bowl

  21. choppack1 09/02/2009 at 11:38 AM #

    highstick – that’s pretty fair and even-keeled analysis.

    I’d like to add the following – on defense, I’d rather be strong up front and weak in the secondary, than vice-versa. Ideally, that’s the category we’d fall into.

    I’d like to think we can stuff the run and pressure the qb enough to help mitigate the pressure on our DBs. If you combine that w/ an offense that will hopefully put up some points, you’ve a QB performing in a very uncomfortable situation where at least our DBs know the pass is coming. Hopefully, the entire DB has learned from those horrid performances vs. BC and the second half of the FSU game.

  22. ppack3 09/02/2009 at 11:39 AM #

    That video makes me cringe. And, those weren’t the only cheap shots delivered to Wilson, before and after the whistle, that weren’t called. I can’t believe that UofSC got away with some of those hits without penalties or fines. The last hit looked less intentional than the others. Regardless, their game plan, from the beginning was to knock RW out of the game.

    That’s not going to happen tomorrow night. And if they actually get to RW, my man Glennon is going to step in and take care of business. IMHO, the COCKS got away with assault (w/ intent) on the field last year. If that stuff is ‘let go’ tomorrow night, there might be trouble with a capital ‘T.’ – Let’s Go Pack!

  23. GAWolf 09/02/2009 at 11:42 AM #

    A USC grad just told me today that “Garcia is a knucklehead.” No one has a clue whether he’ll show up ready to play or not. The one thing we’ve got in wilson IF nothing else (i say there’s a lot “else”) is that he’s a sharp kid with a good head on his shoulders who will come ready to play and play smart. that’s huge.

  24. LKNpackfan 09/02/2009 at 11:46 AM #

    Don’t discount the fact that Spurrier Sr is calling the offensive plays this year. That’s a drastic improvement over Spurrier Jr last year.
    I think USC can and will score some points; OBC will be setting up the play-action and throwing to the flats to get in the ball to the track star, who can easily beat an inexperienced true freshman corner. But execution errors are inevitable with USC, and their running game sucks, so Wilson and TOB will be able to manage the game slight better.
    31-24 Pack.

  25. highstick 09/02/2009 at 12:26 PM #

    As far as the “knucklehead”, yep Garcia’s got a reputation to overcome, but Michael Vick was a knucklehead too and he still won. There’s a lot of USC alum turned off with him and he’s got to prove it to me also. But, he’s big, strong arm, and can move his feet. If he can begin playing smart, he’ll be ok.

    They’ll be out to test Russell’s ability to take a hit, that’s a certain! I sure hope TOB has corrected his tendency to slide head first.

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