O’Brien Talks About End of First Half Clock Management (Updated 9pm)

The comments that follow are related to the atrocious clock management at the end of the first half of yesterday’s loss at Florida State. As WV Wolf highlighted in comments:

  • Donald Bowens gets tackled with about 30 seconds left in the half.
  • Russell Wilson gets the play from the sideline at 22 seconds.
  • Ball is snapped at 17 seconds.
  • Penalty, clock is stopped at 13 seconds.
  • Clock starts, TOB has his arms crossed, hands on his shoulders, finally calls time out at 9 seconds.
  • Wilson’s timeout at 7 seconds gets whistled.

NC State had the ball at the FSU 38 yard line with 30 seconds and 3 timeouts left and could not manage to run another play until 7 seconds remained on the clock.


Note: The following was in the print version of the N&O today.

Missed Opportunity: O’Brien said he should have called a timeout as the clock ran following an illegal shift penalty at the FSU 38 yard line in the closing seconds of the first half. He estimated that NC State lost about seven seconds.

“I should have taken the timeout right then. I was talking to [offensive coordinator Dana Bible] about where we were going.”

NC State might have saved time by using a timeout even earlier, after an 8 yard completion to Donald Bowens with about 27 seconds remaining in the half that preceded the illegal shift call. The Wolfpack used just one of its first half timeouts.

Nonetheless, O’Brien said Wilson still could have passed to Tony Baker in time for a gain that would have put the Wolfpack in range for a final-play field goal attempt. Wilson threw an interception down the field on the final play of the half instead.

The only reason that people aren’t talking more about the poor clock management at the end of the game is because of just how bad things were at the end of the first half.

For some reason the Wolfpack chose to burn their second time out of the half after a critical first down on their final drive. Simply getting to the line of scrimmage and spiking the ball would have taken just 1 or 2 extra seconds off the clock but would have saved the Wolfpack a very important time out.

Of course, of the Wolfpack’s cause wasn’t helped very much by a Doak-Campbell clock that seemed to run with a mind of its own. Valuable seconds consistently evaporated after officials whistles on almost every play…and the Wolfpack appeared to lose between five and ten seconds when the clock prematurely started before the chains were set after a Wolfpack first down – an observation that even the poor Raycom announcers noticed.

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44 Responses to O’Brien Talks About End of First Half Clock Management (Updated 9pm)

  1. BSIE80 11/01/2009 at 6:17 PM #

    Yes he made a mistake.
    I don’t understand why RW didn’t realize that the clock started after the penalty and called the TO himself.
    TOB should have taken care of it, but what was everyone else thinking. Is there no teamwork here….

  2. 61Packer 11/01/2009 at 6:30 PM #

    Losing 7 seconds doesn’t concern me nearly as much as giving up an average of 7 touchdowns a game in our last 3 games.

  3. Gene 11/01/2009 at 6:41 PM #

    Someone should’ve been paying attention if the head coach was talking to the OC and jumped up and down on the sideline trying to get a time out.

    Bad delegation of duties.

  4. wolfonthehill 11/01/2009 at 6:42 PM #

    So let me get this right…

    “I may have screwed up, but so did Russell… and if he hadn’t screwed up, my screw-up wouldn’t have mattered.”

    Really, Tom? REALLY? We’re throwing last year’s all-conference QB under the bus now? Awesome!

  5. LRM 11/01/2009 at 6:50 PM #

    The reason he didn’t call the timeout is because he was talking to Bible? So now we’ve gone from simple end-of-half clock mismanagement to the more damning game micro-mismanagement because our head coach can’t multi-task and lacks game awareness?

  6. WV Wolf 11/01/2009 at 6:56 PM #

    Posted this in the gameday thread on the forums but it bears repeating. I rewound the DVR at halftime just to document the events.

    Bowens gets tackled with about 30 seconds left.
    Wilson gets the play from the sideline at 22 seconds
    Ball is snapped at 17 seconds
    Penalty, clock is stopped at 13 seconds
    Clock starts, TOB has his arms crossed, hands on his shoulders, finally calls time out at 9 seconds
    Wilson calls timeout at 7 seconds

    We had the ball at the FSU 38 yard line with 30 seconds and 3 timeouts left. Didn’t run another play until 7 seconds. That is just pathetic.

  7. wolfbuff 11/01/2009 at 7:47 PM #

    Agree WV Wolf, this is pathetic. And it’s about the 3rd time this year. To make matters worse, our 2:00 offense at the end of the game was equally pathetic. This is organization, and is as basic to good coaches as blocking and tackling are to a good team. This coaching staff is unorganized and undisciplined. It’s any wonder, the team is as well. This type of stuff should not happen past game 1 for any staff. And for a HC/OC duo who have been together as long as they have, it is unfathomable.

  8. Primewolf 11/01/2009 at 8:14 PM #

    I have been a TOB supporter, based on his apparent leadership skills, consistentcy with players, and general public speaking skills that didn’t embarass the university like Amato did over and over again.

    However, here is my take on TOB: he is a high level leader and doesn’t get involved in details. He doesn’t like tricks and sticks to basic football,takes few risks, preaches fundamentals.

    I think all that is fine if he has exceptional coaches under him and can recruit with the top few teams in the conference.

    However, he doesn’t have exceptional coaches under him and is not recruiting with the top few teams in the conference.

    As a result, we are still a few years away from mediocrity, at best.

    My fear is that, like Amato, he will have peaked in the type and quality of his recruitment classes by his 3ird year. Amato’s recruitment went downhill rapidly and he ended up being outrecruited by Duke his last 2 classes.

    TOB can only play the BC recruitment card this year, maybe next. AFter that, folks won’t want to hear about what he did, since he will be in his 4th or 5th year with us.

    TOB needs to do some hard analysis of his coordinators and coaches after this season. If he sticks with them, I see us maybe becoming mediocre, but that will take another 2 years, given where we are and the level of coaching competency and innovation we are showing.

  9. Wulfpack 11/01/2009 at 8:37 PM #

    I wish TOB would be as critical of Archer as he is of RW.

  10. eas 11/01/2009 at 9:42 PM #

    Forget the one time out deal with 7 seconds tom, how about before that? We had 3 timeouts to burn and we should have started at the 1 minute mark. Poor mgt. Poor defense and the most conservative coaching staff we have had. Shake things up or leave. We hired him to clean things up but I think it may be worse now. We have decent players so that excuss is old.

  11. TomCat 11/01/2009 at 9:54 PM #

    didn’t the offense set records Saturday, scored a zillion points, a zillion total yards and RW passed for a bucket full of TD’s?….. The problem my friends is not… offense.

  12. LRM 11/01/2009 at 10:39 PM #

    “and the Wolfpack appeared to lose between five and ten seconds when the clock prematurely started before the chains were set after a Wolfpack first down – an observation that even the poor Raycom announcers noticed.”

    Everyone noticed it; except, apparently, our coaching staff. He should have been throwing a hissy to the closest official about the fact that the clock continued to run after a first down (remember, a game official, not the stadium clock operator, keeps the official time).

    A lack of game awareness and clock mismanagement by our head coach is very disconcerting, because it’s indicative of a much broader problem for this team. How on earth can we ever expect TOB to correct our vast array of defensive issues if he’s overwhelmed by a simple two-minute drill?

  13. Avid109 11/01/2009 at 11:03 PM #

    The poor clock management is what cost us a win in this game.

    Our coaching staff has some serious issues. This issue with clock management is a symptom. The poor defense is a symptom. The missed tackles are a symptom. Coach O’Brien needs to step up and correct the shortcomings of his staff. If he protects his staff at the expense of our team, then he has no business being our coach.

  14. wolfpacker 11/01/2009 at 11:11 PM #


    The funniest thing in the world is that in 2006, Kentucky Head Coach took over play calling for the defense and it got BETTER! He was on his way out at Kentucky? Archer resigned in January of 2007 to come screw up the Wolfpack defense. It’s hilarious because it’s in his wikipedia profile…


    Not to mention, has Kentucky ever had a good team, ever? Yet alone a good defense?

    Problem is that O’Brien worked with him previously and he has to be as blind as a bat not to realize that Archer isn’t working out…

    Almost as bad as keeping a QB in who doesn’t even belong in the league…(what we experienced last year).

  15. ADVENTUROO 11/02/2009 at 12:04 AM #

    TOB totally BLEW the Clock at the end of the first half. HAD we kicked a FG, then things MIGHT have been different….or they might NOT have been. FSU might have scored again, the rains might have come, etc. IT IS OVER. Let’s hope that TOB, staff and team learn from this. Maybe TOB will run laps like the players who get penalties.

    NEXT….FSU appeared to me to have a BETTER TEAM. They won, and we had a shot at winning. We just had a few lapses.

    It is TOUGH to say, but I felt that yesterday’s game COULD have been FAR more embarrassing….and that the team really tried.

    I am disappointed….as most of us are. But, it is WAY to early to tar and feather the coach….we’ve already done that. Chuck was probably a good coach. I watched the game and saw how Bobby approached and used him. He was a great recruiter. He, based on what I read, was NOT a good manager….poor people skills. He also was an optimist….almost cut from the same cloth as Jimmy V. He even made some of the same mistakes….but as a tactian, I think that he was pretty good. YES, I would recommend him as a replacement for Archer…but, seriously, we ALL know that ain’t gonna happen.

    GO PACK…let’s see what will happen next week.

  16. MA Wolfpack 11/02/2009 at 12:40 AM #

    The FSU folks hate Amato. He’ll never have another coaching job once Bowden stops protecting him. He has no idea what he is doing.

  17. redcoatrevival 11/02/2009 at 12:54 AM #

    Please make the screen capture associated with this story the lead photo on SFN for a while. Please. We were cringing and yelling at all the Rainman self-hugs during Saturday’s game.

  18. StateFans 11/02/2009 at 1:02 AM #

    We deleted some of Adventuroo’s comments because they were inaccurate. Going back and reading what remains makes me almost just as sick.

    We lost to FSU because they were a ‘better team’? Ya think?

    Hey…newsflash, adventuroo…EVERYONE is a BETTER TEAM THAN WE ARE. How do you not understand THAT IS THE FRIGGIN PROBLEM!?

    FSU had previously won ONE ACC game hadn’t won a home game against a Div One opponent in almost a YEAR. Friggin Jacksonville should have beaten them in Tallahassee!

    Gotta love the ‘wait til next week’! Classic NC State — wait til next year! If we don’t win this week we’re in even worse shape than I thought.

    But, of course, it will somehow be acceptable (and the rest of us will be bad fans) as long as Maryland is the better team? Makes total sense to at least 2 or 3 people out there.

  19. GAWolf 11/02/2009 at 2:12 AM #

    He sounds like a little kid who blames his friend for something he knows damned well he’s responsible for. That “yeah but” attitude is just not very becoming for any leader… much less a college football coach.

    It completely SHOCKS me to read that those words came out of his mouth. Baker for a fieldgoal attempt? With decent clock management that driver could have easily ended in a touchdown OR a GIMME kick.

    He’s lost his mind it seems.

  20. BJD95 11/02/2009 at 7:37 AM #

    Just more confirmation that TOB has checked out mentally. Just a matter of time now.

  21. Wulfpack 11/02/2009 at 7:46 AM #

    “Chuck was probably a good coach.”

    No, he wasn’t. If he was, then your standard for what qualifies as a “good” coach is much lower than mine. Chuck was an outstanding recruiter for a period of time, then PR left and the the wheels fell off, and then nobody wanted to play for him. That’s how Duke out-recruited us his final two years.

    And that was Chuck’s defense out there getting blitzed by our O all day long on Saturday.

  22. Rick 11/02/2009 at 8:41 AM #

    “Just more confirmation that TOB has checked out mentally. Just a matter of time now.”

    When you adjust your mindset to this it is all too apparent he is done. He took this job as a bridge to retirement. He knew he would get at least 6 years of higher pay from little head jed. My prediction is the program will be in shambles when he leaves in 3-4 years.

  23. Alpha Wolf 11/02/2009 at 9:21 AM #

    Daniel Island looked very nice in the Nationwide Championship last week. Wonder how long it will be before Toby spends his autumn afternoons chasing the white ball down the pasturelands.

    He sure as hell has me doing it now. I am playing golf and skipping the Maryland game. Y’all have fun with it.

  24. Khan 11/02/2009 at 9:40 AM #

    I realized Saturday that even *IF* 1) we get elite players, 2) keep everyone health for a whole season, and 3) get lucky enough to have every break go our way, we will still never be an elite team with the current coaching staff.

    If they are unwilling or unable to manage critical end-of-game or end-of-half situations, if they are unwilling or unable to get passionate about being cheated by bad calls or poor/unfavorable clock operation, and if they are unwilling or unable to make any meaningful in-game adjustments, then we will never have a championship team. If you are to be a championship team, you will most certainly face each or all of the above situations in some of your games throughout the year. Those games will come down to in-game coaching.

    If our coaches don’t get that now, then they’re not going to get it later, no matter how much talent/health/fortune we have. We will continue to chop wood and squander important opportunities.

    We lost this game because of defence. Period. But we could have snuck out with a win or at least put ourselves in the position to do so with good sideline decision-making. Unfortunately, I realize now that that will never have a place with this current staff.

    Chop, chop, chop…..

  25. Tiew 11/02/2009 at 9:59 AM #

    I still really like Tom O’Brien. I usually find his comments classy and honest.

    I liked what he said about the interception/fumble. Something like, “Well, he was trying to make a play, and I love him for it, if you get the ball try to take it in.”

    The offense did really well Saturday. Tom O’Brien is ultimately responsible for the defense, but I’m inclined to give a coach who’s doing well in other areas and has a proven track record time to build a defense.

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