The Next One

“It’s the most important game… Game 1 was the most important.  Game 2 was the most important.  Now it’s Game 3.  It’s just the next game, simple as that.”

These are the words of Kobe Bryant in June 2008 during the Laker’s series over the Celtics.  I hate NBA ball as much as the next guy who (a) doesn’t support business-bastardized teams, (b) are true fans of NCAA basketball, or (c) are white guys who can’t jump, but Bryant makes a damn good point.  The most important game to any champion-caliber team is “the next one”.

Of course, we all know Kobe was shamelessly ripping off Jimmy Valvano who commonly referred to the most important game of any given season as “the next one”.

As NC State moves to 4-0 (1-0) defeating favored Central Florida, Cincinnati, and heavily favored Georgia Tech, Wolfpack fans find themselves in a strange place: the top of the ACC.  Wolfpack fans defeated the reigning Big East champions 30-19 and the former ACC champions 45-28.  During the GT game, it’s worth noting that two of GT’s touchdowns in the fourth quarter were scored on a fluke drive caused by missed tackles and an interception (in one instance) resulting in a pair of +30 yard TDs.  Don’t get me wrong, games are won and lost on “fluke plays”, but it does speak to the quality of gameplay the Pack displayed.  But I digress…

NC State has been on fire.  Hell, we even got kudos from whom I view as my arch nemesis, ESPN’s Heather Dinich (she may not know it, but she secretly rues the day of my birth):

“The Wolfpack is the hottest team in the ACC right now and will have home field advantage this weekend against Virginia Tech. NC State is off to its first 4-0 start since 2002 and should have a lot of confidence after knocking off the defending ACC champs on Georgia Tech’s home field.” link

So how did NC State go from be a pre-season dog, picked to be second-to-last or last in the ACC to becoming the heralded “hottest team in the ACC”?  Simple; we just focused on the most important game.  Which game is the most important?

The next one.

What do you mean “the next one”?  Simple.  In Tom O’Brien’s fourth season, not yet being able to bring the old Marine magic he used at Boston College to conjure up 8-straight winning seasons and 7-straight bowl appearances to NC State, he has led us to little more than one pity bowl.  He was hired to win and has found himself, for whatever reasons, excuses, or acts of God, unable to accomplish his mission.  This season would be a pivotal one where the most rationale fans would be trying to determine whether he was “right” for the Wolfpack and the most fanatical believers in “Operation TOB” would be trying to figure out whether their messiah was a false prophet.  Tom needed to start at the basics; stop worrying about the entire season or the fate of the program; he needed to focus on winning the next game, and nothing more.  Tom’s most important game this season would be “the next one”.

So, Wolfpack Nation, let’s not try to fix what’s not broken.  NC State’s most important game this season is Virginia Tech this Saturday at home.  We must beat Virginia Tech.  We have to beat Virginia Tech.  The fate of our program for years to come amounts to this one game.  After this week, we must and have to beat Boston College.  After that, it’s ECU.  Let’s keep our noses to the ground, sniffing for our next kill and keep our egos even lower than that.  If NC State wins, it will not be because we have swaggered and bullied our way to the top, but because we were led with Marine-like discipline to become an elite, efficient, and fear-invoking machine stopping any offense that comes our way and slicing deeply with surgeon-like precision through our opponent’s defense.

Disciplined and Deadly

Keep humble, Wolfpack.  The hunt is going to be long and the prey will be strong.  Let’s not concern ourselves with all the other opponents in the field at the moment; just our next prey.  Come Saturday, this rabid pack of wolves is in the mood for turkey.

About NCStatePride

***ABOUT THE AUTHOR: NCStatePride has been writing for since 2010 and is a 2009 graduate of the College of Engineering.

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34 Responses to The Next One

  1. JVM4PACK 09/27/2010 at 11:16 AM #

    My sentiments exactly. Focused, driven, smart play minus any swelled heads and egos. Our season is now only 1 game long from this juncture. We have areas to work on and this team along with the slightly revamped coached staff will work diligently to focus the team this week. Excellent progress thus far, we must focus even greater attention at this point in the season. VT is coming to town.

  2. old13 09/27/2010 at 11:24 AM #

    And for all the cliche’ it is, “the next game is the most important game” is the way it gets done. Great article!

  3. Lunatic Fringe 09/27/2010 at 11:31 AM #

    Exactly. The team is a very mature team and do not get too high or low during game. Our fans should strive to do the same thing.

    I was proud to read comments on GT board that, for the most part, our fans were respectable when they visited ATL on Sat.

    I live in ATL, work with a bunch of GT fans, and buddies were waiting for me to talk smack walking out of game. I refuse to do it…lets enjoy it and move on to next week.

  4. Alpha Wolf 09/27/2010 at 11:32 AM #

    Pride, you have hit the nail on the head here. The only game that matters — win or lose — is the next one. Don’t look ahead and only look back to learn what mistakes to improve and what worked. Then use that for the next one.

    VT will be State’s toughest opponent yet, because this time it will be strength on strength: their D and our O. We will still need to 1) score as many as we can, 2) limit them with our D and 3) hold our own with the kicking battle.

  5. goalielax 09/27/2010 at 11:46 AM #

    don’t be one of those guys that dismisses stuff as flukes. flukes are when a ball gets tipped, bounces off three helmets and lands in somebody’s hands for a TD. flukes aren’t poor defensive efforts to close out the game in the 4th quarter with a lead for the third straight game. this defense has yielded 40 points in the 4th quarter against UCF, Cincy, and GT. UCF was driving for what could have been a tying TD and GT closed within 3 points with 12 mins to go.

    I’m glad state is 4-0, but there are some concerns when you see repeated defensive lapses like we have thus far

  6. ppack3 09/27/2010 at 11:46 AM #

    Pride, you could have also titled this article, ‘Survive and Advance.’ This is another Jimmy V slogan that relates to our situation in football in 2010. Until the BCS institutes some sort of playoff, (which I’m not advocating, BTW) the regular season IS our playoff. when you get a great start going, like we have, you have to start thinking about surviving each game, and advancing to next week.

    I’ve always felt like the term ‘survive’ conjured images of playing not to lose, rather than playing to win. But, it’s a valid mentality as long as you don’t approach the game that way, just the season.

    Next week, we have to get out of Carter Finley Stadium with a win in order to keep our run to the ACCCG going. Virginia Tech stands there, in our way. We must run through them. We must run around them. We must throw over them. But most of all, we must end up with the highest number on the scoreboard.

    Special Teams. Special Teams. Special Teams. I hope that’s not what this game boils down to, but 9 out of 10 dentists agree, it’s probably going to be a big factor.

  7. Ismael 09/27/2010 at 11:51 AM #

    great write-up but i think even mentioning the games AFTER VT was a little odd considering that we should only be focused on “the next one”. We should think of it as the last game of the season, the seniors should think of it as the last time they may get to play, “Go out on a winning note” etc.

    NCStatePride: I think you missed the point. The references to games after VT is because the “next game” isn’t just important here before VT. It’s important next week when we are saying “what game after this is the most important?” The answer is simple: the next game is the most important regardless of whether we are asking the question on 9/27 or 10/4.

  8. VaWolf82 09/27/2010 at 12:35 PM #

    I expected State’s offense to do well against Al Groh’s fundamentally flawed defensive schemes. VT and Bud Foster don’t have fundamental problems, but will have weaknesses based on personnel. VT replaced alot of starters and it has shown so far this year.

    Stopping the run is as important as it was at GT, but VT runs a conventional offense. They have two really good RB’s, but one was injured during the ECU game and I haven’t heard when he’s expected back. The other thing to watch with VT, is that they will throw down field hoping for a home run…and depending on their defense to hold if it is intercepted. Normally, VT doesn’t make much use of the shorter passing routes…which drives my coworkers (and VT alums) crazy.

    State will have to stop the run until they are up big or up at all in the 4th quarter. Beamer never gives his offense a chance to lose the game.

  9. Prowling Woofie 09/27/2010 at 12:50 PM #

    I’m proud of the Pack for the 4-0 start, but as goalielax pointed out, this team has given up two TD’s in the fourth quarter to each of the last three opponents. One was a pick-6, but the other 5 belong to the defense.

    We’re still somewhat young in the secondary, but the time for missed assignments and blown coverages is over – we’ve had Spring workouts, Summer workouts, and four games to get this resolved.

    Tighten the screws, guys; FOCUS is a four-quarter concept !

  10. tractor57 09/27/2010 at 1:48 PM #

    I agree with the blog post totally – the ONLY game that matters is the next one (other than beating the baby blues).

    Until this team proves they are focused on the game at hand (which I think they have been this season) I fully expect to be considered the underdog and with the history I can’t say I blame the pundits.

    Season so far this team has met the challenges – may that continue!

  11. Rufftown Wolf 09/27/2010 at 2:31 PM #

    The “Next One” will be a tough one for sure. Virgina Tech is a couple of plays from being in the top 5 in the country. That being said we can beat these guys. Being in Raleigh will help out a lot. Having Russell Wilson will be the difference. Go Pack!

  12. YogiNC 09/27/2010 at 2:38 PM #

    Isn’t it funny how winning has taken our attention off the blue school down the road. Oh, trust me, I still want to see the hammer fall on their heads, BUT, that will happen in due time. Right now it’s “the next one”, and that’s all that really really matters.

  13. GoldenChain 09/27/2010 at 2:42 PM #

    The chances of going undefeated are zero (well about 0). I’m just waiting to see how many ‘fans’ will jump off the bandwagon when the 1st L comes.
    Every W we get will bring increased excitment and increased pressure.

  14. packplantpath 09/27/2010 at 2:58 PM #

    Undefeated would be nice, but is highly doubtful to occur.

    10-2 would be fanfreakintastic though.

  15. Alpha Wolf 09/27/2010 at 3:00 PM #

    Virgina Tech is a couple of plays from being in the top 5 in the country.

    This is the team that lost to James Madison, right?

  16. YogiNC 09/27/2010 at 3:36 PM #

    Betcha Tenuta has been watching that film and devising a plan. JM is a very good FCS team. Granted they ARE FCS, but just sayin’

  17. El Lobo Loco! 09/27/2010 at 3:42 PM #

    To be honest VT is quite scary, they have a very good defense
    I hope NC State can pull off this one, as every time they are ranked is an omen

  18. pack44fan 09/27/2010 at 4:54 PM #

    Virginia Tech always plays sound, fundamental football. To be successful, I think the pack must continue to play mistake free football and hope the punting game holds together. Tech has alway been excellent on special teams and our punting has been a glaring weakness. We won’t be able to overcome missed field goals this week. Also, Tyrod Taylor is much like Russell Wilson in that he extends plays which will make it more difficult for our secondary maitain their coverage.

  19. NCcoastalwolf 09/27/2010 at 5:11 PM #

    We are gonna SMOKE V. Tech. I think you guys are just to afraid something bad is gonna happen. Very simply, We have Russell, They don’t. Our offense is one of the most potent in the ACC if not the country. The defense is much improved. V. Tech is not back, they justed played ECU and BC. Which from what I have seen are not that impressive. Either Way, I smell atleast 7-0 VICTORY IS OURS. GO PACK!

    NCStatePride: Just remember not to write off a game. No game is more important to win or more pivotal to our season than “the next game”. This week, “the next game” is Virginia Tech. Don’t overlook them… bury them.

  20. pack44fan 09/27/2010 at 5:16 PM #

    Glad you are optomistic nccoastalwolf. All I know is that you can’t overlook Tech. It would be a major mistake.

  21. coppertop 09/27/2010 at 5:36 PM #

    One of the best lines I’ve read on this site:

    If NC State wins, it will not be because we have swaggered and bullied our way to the top, but because we were led with Marine-like discipline to become an elite, efficient, and fear-invoking machine stopping any offense that comes our way and slicing deeply with surgeon-like precision through our opponent’s defense.

    Great imagery!!

  22. NCStatePride 09/27/2010 at 5:58 PM #

    ^I don’t know if you meant it this way, but I take that as a huge compliment.

  23. RabidWolf 09/27/2010 at 6:57 PM #

    I wholeheartedly agree with coppertop….that was by far the greatest line I have ever read on this site. Outstanding article!

  24. NCcoastalwolf 09/27/2010 at 7:05 PM #

    NCStatePride I am most definitely not overlooking the Hokies. It’s just that I think these WOLVES have finally learned how to eat at feeding time. With the exception of the coaching staff not willing to go for the kill, I think these WOLVES are ready to be unleashed. Long have I wished and hoped we would finish our kill quickly and efficiently. The jackets should have been lifeless @ halftime. Unlike most posters who want to remain humble and fly under the radar until we prove or win something, I am more than glad to have the College football world watch us feast. IT’S FEEDING TIME BOY’S. WOLVES!

  25. gtspack 09/27/2010 at 7:58 PM #

    One thing that has served us well this year is our schedule. We have gradually gotten more difficult teams from WCU to GT. Each game has been tougher than the last and VT will be the toughest. That being said we have risen to the occasion every week. KEEP IT GOING PACK!!

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