Wolfpack D Slays The Golden Knights 28-21

It almost feels odd to say, but the NC State defense carried the entire team in Orlando last night, and brought the underdog Wolfpack home with a 28-21 victory over the University of Central Florida.  Despite the fact that UCF is a non-BCS team, the victory certainly belongs in the quality-win column, given that it was on the road and against a team that’s considered a favorite to win their division in Conference USA.

A three-point road dog, State dominated the first three quarters of play and appeared to be on cruise control for an easy win until Central Florida sat starting QB Rob Calabrese due to his ineffectiveness and brought in freshman Jeff Godfrey.  The former Florida prep 6-A player of the year ignited the Golden Knights moribund offense and quickly made it a game that came down to the last UCF series over the last two minutes of the game.  He had the Knights marching towards a tie until NC State’s Brandon Bishop separated UCF’s Quincy McDuffie from the football – and any hope – on the Pack 11 yard line in the waning moments.  Three kneel-down formations later, a relieved and happy Wolfpack squad brought home the win and their first 2-0 start since the 2002 season.

Linebacker Audi Cole led the team with 12 tackles, including 3.5 for loss (19 yards), one sack (10 yards) and an interception. The former Golden Gloves boxer was literally all over the field and had a highlight-reel interception that shut down a Central Florida trickeration pass play.

C.J. Wilson, a member of the oft-maligned secondary, had a 43-yard interception return for the touchdown that gave the Wolfpack its winning margin.

No one seemed happier after the win than Wolfpack head coach Tom O’Brien. “That was a heck of a win for our team,” he said. “A couple of big, big turnovers were the difference in the game, but it’s always that way. Turnovers and penalties decide games.”  For a change, it was the Wolfpack forcing the mistakes instead of making them, and ultimately that — as well as the revived defense — made the difference.

The offensive attack of the Wolfpack had a decidedly mixed night. N.C. State had only 239 yards total offense, including just 79 in the second half, but at times in first half, they were able to move the ball at will against a stout UCF defense.  Tailback Dean Haynes scored from four yards after an interception and later, freshman Mustafa Greene had a 21-yard scoring run to cap a quick three-play drive after NC State recovered a UCF fumble. Russell Wilson also hit Darrell Davis with a 26-yard scoring pass to finish off an 83-yard scoring drive, giving the Pack a 21-0 halftime lead.

In the second half, State’s was far more ineffective as UCF’s outstanding defensive line players found ways to penetrate the NC State backfield and repeatedly disrupted plays.  The Wolfpack’s play-calling never seemed to be able effectively counter the UCF rush, and all too often in the second thirty minutes the Pack would be forced to punt after one or two series of downs.

Special teams continues to be an Achilles Heels for State – they gave up a 93-yard touchdown run to UCF’s Latavius Murray, they had several penalties, and the thrilling end of the game scenario was initially set up by a shanked punt by Wolfpack kicker Jeff Ruiz — his flubbed kicked with a little more than two minutes left in the game with the Pack hanging on to a 28-21 lead gave the ball back to a rejuvenated and effective UCF offense on the Wolfpack 49 yard line.

All in all, the win was ugly, and like all ugly wins, it was a decidedly mixed bag for the Wolfpack.  Fortunately, however, there are no pictures in the win-loss column, where State looks good: 2-0.  They still have much to work on — Russell Wilson needs to return to form, the O-line needs to find consistency, the special teams needs to become effective and the defense needs to work on outside containment when they are facing spread formations.  Those improvements will need to come fast, because the Pack returns to the friendly confines of Carter-Finley after a very short break, where they will face the Bearcats of Cincinnati in a nationally televised contest this coming Thursday evening.

Box Score

'10 Football NCS Football Tom O'Brien

62 Responses to Wolfpack D Slays The Golden Knights 28-21

  1. LifeLongWolf 09/12/2010 at 10:08 AM #

    Good post, accurate assessment. I thought RW’s footwork was clumsy in the pocket and he was less accurate with his throws. Irving is much slower than 2 years ago. Godfrey has great escapability, as he faked out Irving twice when it looked like Irving had easy sacks. Running game was a pleasant surprise.

    I still think 5 wins is our ceiling.

    Hopefully I can find some tix to the Cincy game…

    Go Pack!

  2. GAWolf 09/12/2010 at 10:41 AM #

    I rewatched some of the game this morning.

    In the second half, had Mustafa switched the ball to the outside hand on the fumble that we recovered in the backfield, it appears to me he would have broken it for a huge gain once beyond the corner if not a touchdown. The last guy to beat to get around the end was the guy who lunged and knocked the ball out with a great play. A missed arm tackle there, and he certainly wasn’t close enough to make the tackle, would have resulted in a completely different result that drive.

    Great win, no doubt, and I’m pleased to hear TOB praise his team and staff on the win. As Alpha pointed out yesterday this was a CRITICAL game.

    The only other real beefs I have are:
    1) At times RW didn’t use the pocket and ran backwards when he didn’t have to.

    2) Our receivers seemed to go lazy on a few blocks on the outside that could have sprung the RB.

    3) Even with Cole’s great game, he literally gave up on pursuit that led to one of their touchdowns. Unless he bit on a pump fake from the quarterback, he definitely should would have beaten him to the corner of the end zone had he not let up.

    Again, I’m not complaining overall but had we been playing an upperclassman QB in the second half with that same skill set we would have lost that game in overtime.

  3. Alpha Wolf 09/12/2010 at 10:46 AM #

    LLW, I think 7-8 wins is entirely possible, especially since I think that the offense will pick up. Greene is a great back, and the line has shown a lot of promise. I am not too worried about Wilson yet, as he is still catching up his reps after a summer of baseball.

    Defensively, I think that the first two levels are proving to be pretty solid units, and the secondary is a LOT better so far than last year’s. The DB’s certainly need to tighten up the zone some, but collectively, this unit is light years beyond what we’ve seen in the past two seasons. Jon Tenuta has introduced a lot of variability in that D, and it will force run-oriented teams into some uncomfortable positions.

    I wonder – and it would be a great question for the coach’s show – did our D switch to assignment based schemes when Godfrey came in? Did they consider a spy linebacker? With VT, GT and Wake left on the schedule, we’re going to see that sort of QB again, and it is paramount to contain them as much as possible if the Pack hope to win any of those games.

    As for special teams, I really think it all starts and ends with the kicker. Low short kicks are going to make anyone look bad. O’Brien needs to seriously look for a soccer player or perhaps recruit an outstanding kicker. His record in this department is very shaky, unfortunately.

  4. 1.21 Jigawatts 09/12/2010 at 10:51 AM #

    GA, I agree about RW and the pocket. Several times our tackles were doing their best against the DE or blitzing LB and forcing them around the back to create a large pocket for RW. Instead of stepping up and sitting in the pocket he’d keep running backwards and right into the defensive player.

  5. T-FIC 09/12/2010 at 11:13 AM #

    The O-line had a real tough time last night. Crisp let several people blow right by him on RW’s blind side. I’m not going to blame all of RW’s poor play on him, he didn’t have much help up front.

  6. baxter 09/12/2010 at 11:14 AM #

    5 wins is the basement for this team LLW, look at the way the Atlantic is playing, factor in that the defense has gelled really well already, and the offense surely will improve as one, the OL gels, two, RW gets into mid season form, and three, the RB game becomes more confident and reliable.

    I thought the RBs did a great job considering their youth. I was frustrated several times by RW’s scrambles and very questionable passes (should have had several picks). I too thought they should have gone to a QB spy, though we had several opportunities to get deep sacks, and our guys just absolutely whiffed (NI in particular).

    Punting, god, that is getting old, I don’t know how long I can go watching that shank bs in critical game situations. It still disappoints that our backup kicker can’t beat him out. As far as recruiting a kicker, thats what Will Baumann is supposed to be.

  7. Packfan28 09/12/2010 at 11:14 AM #

    Ruyssell is obviously rusty, and will get back on track soon. Remember how slow and tentative he looked in the S. Carolina game last year. Western Carolina wasn’t enough of a game to work the kinks out. The offensive line played okay, but definitely had too many whiffs where their assignments blew right by them. I think part of the success of the new QB in the 2nd half was due to the fact is was very hot and humid, and he was fresh while our guys weren’t. But that was good experience for the GT, VT and ECU games. Finally, TOB has been very good at improving the team as the season progresses, especially after the bye week. So I’m pretty confident we will have a decent season now. (7/8 wins).

  8. Alpha Wolf 09/12/2010 at 11:26 AM #

    Crisp let several people blow right by him on RW’s blind side.

    True, but to his defense, he is true freshman and is making true frosh mistakes. He also provided some good protection at times, so he wasn’t always road kill, but definitely had some issues he has to work on.

    From what I see from Crisp, he is a work in progress and over the course of the year is going to improve. Let’s not forget that this was his first real game against FBS competition, and against a stout defender to boot.

    Bottom line is that this kid’s upside is fantastic, and I think he’ll be an anchor in a line that I see as quite improved. Let’s not forget that he is playing one of the unsung “skilled” positions on the field. The pundits and a lot of fans like to focus in on WR, RB and QB as the skilled positions on offense, but I will say it again — the O-line requires as much knowledge, preparation, recognition and technique as any position on the football field. Also, as goes your line, so goes your offense.

  9. travelwolf 09/12/2010 at 11:39 AM #

    I wouldn’t be too excited about this game. When you have a 5-turnover advantage, you’d better beat them – and it should be by more than 7 points! Let’s hope that Cincinnati doesn’t have a running QB.

    The best news about the game was the lack of injury news.

  10. Dogbreath 09/12/2010 at 12:31 PM #

    I said this on the game thread, but Sam Jones was our best alternative at RT when Overgaard went down, and sealed off the end when Mustafa Greene had the long TD run. Then he vanished – was he hurt? When I saw Gary Gregory in there during the 3rd quarter I knew we were in big trouble.

    Its very disruptive when you lose a lineman during the course of the game. It looked like we were moving guys around and never got comfortable with the pairings.

    On the other side of the ball, our interior defensive lineman is awesome. Lots of penetration, forcing double teams and freeing up the outside guys and LBs to make plays in the backfield. Sweezy in particular was wreaking havoc. Looks like we have depth and can keep fresh guys in there. On the other hand, not being able to sustain a drive (see paragraph 2) in the 2nd half really fatigued the defense. Keep in mind it was 90+ degrees and terribly humid. Not good playing conditions.

  11. jwoerner89 09/12/2010 at 12:32 PM #

    Held UCF to only 9% conversions on 3rd down. Thats a huge improvement from last year!

    And like said above RW should have stepped up into the pocket quite a few times instead of scrambling backwards. If he had stepped up our WRS should have been able to get free.

    Now really excited for Thursday, especially if the offense gets back in to last years form.

  12. TOBtime 09/12/2010 at 12:57 PM #

    Alpha, you better believe the O-line is a skill position. All other offensive skill positions require you to initiate movement to avoid defenders. The O-line has to be a 300 lb ballet dancer who has to counter the movement of a smaller, faster defender. Those guys are incredible athletes IMO.
    I am looking forward to Thursday. It sounds like the D can really build on this. I also expected RW to be rusty for some time. RW will get there. It sounds like the O-line has improved and can get better. We’ll take the next step in the journey Thursday.

  13. tjfoose1 09/12/2010 at 1:05 PM #

    Godfrey, a true freshman, was awesome for the Knights last night. Wow. Now realize that he was playing high school ball last year… WOW.

    How would you like to be a DC in high school trying to scheme against him. He must have dominated. As 6A player of the year, I guess he did.

  14. tjfoose1 09/12/2010 at 1:12 PM #

    “…but Sam Jones was our best alternative at RT when Overgaard went down…”

    I thought the same thing. I thought he should be our backup tackle, ahead of Crisp, going into the season, this game, and during the game.

    Not a knock of Crisp’s talent. It is a testament to his ability that he is playing tackle, at all, as a true freshman. But I simply do not think he is ready unless our opponents will agree before the game to only attack him head up.

  15. tractor57 09/12/2010 at 1:17 PM #

    Issues yes as many have mentioned but some positives – a 2-0 record, UCF basically could do nothing on 3rd down and a vastly improved defense compared to last year. I’m certainly not ready to call for a conference championship (although looking at the results from the rest of the conference games …) but I do see significant progress.

  16. Plz2BStateFan 09/12/2010 at 1:24 PM #

    Just remember cincy will have a short week as well. Will all the thurs games we have we nevee end up with a shorter time to prepare for any teams compared to our opponents. The scheule is very good in that regard

  17. whitefang 09/12/2010 at 1:26 PM #

    Is there a worse color guy in the booth than Mike Leach?
    Thought he was bad when I watched last night while I was having a couple, but watching the replay sober today, he’s terrible.
    I guess that’s what you get when your game is on a JV channel.

  18. VaWolf82 09/12/2010 at 1:37 PM #

    I wouldn’t be too excited about this game. When you have a 5-turnover advantage, you’d better beat them – and it should be by more than 7 points!

    It’s always nice to know that someone else watched the same game that I saw.

  19. graywolf 09/12/2010 at 1:49 PM #

    A Win is a Win……….2-0 for the first time in the TOB era. I’ll take it and not complain.

  20. wolfman1959 09/12/2010 at 1:50 PM #

    Leach was absolutely horrible as an announcer in the booth…… Did anyone notice how well we played on the defensive line when Kuhn, Lemon, and Sweezy were in there ??? Those 3 do not get enough reps IMHO….. they are effective ,big and strong…and they actually remember to raise their arms to block a pass when the rush has failed to get to the QB…,,Central Florida made RW look like a rusty college QB…all they did was raise their arms, knock down passes and it showed RW’s achilles heel….5’11”

  21. wolfman1959 09/12/2010 at 1:53 PM #

    After Russell missed Owen Spencer on that wide open look on the 2nd play of the game(a certain TD) , he really never looked sharp all night, except for one series…….

  22. wolfman1959 09/12/2010 at 1:58 PM #

    Did anyone else hear TOB’s pregame interview with Gary Hahn?? It was horrible !! You would have thought he was being interviewed by the enemy.. Woody Durham!!! When asked if Sweezy, Kuhn and Vermiglio wpould play he replied, “you will have to wait until game time and see”” It’s the WOLFPACK SPORTS NETWORK and it is 10 minutes before gametime….give us a break Tom !!!!!

  23. LifeLongWolf 09/12/2010 at 2:00 PM #

    Alpha, Baxter: As my name implies, I’ve been a Wolfpacker for many years. I don’t gloat until there are triple zeroes on the clock, I feel like we’re going to lose even when we are ahead by 3 touchdowns, I say “Oh no, this is bad…” to myself about 5000 times during every game. A lifetime of reinforcement causes me to always think that something bad is going to happen.

    Yet I still hope.

    Such is the life of a Wolfpacker.

    I’ll be the happiest man on Earth if we win 7-8 games. I just won’t believe in it until it happens.



  24. 61Packer 09/12/2010 at 2:16 PM #

    If yesterday’s results are any reasonable indicator of how strong the ACC is this season, then there’s no reason we shouldn’t win at least 5 more games this season. Every future Wolfpack opponent suddenly looks very vulnerable. Wilson’s performance last night was by Wilson standards lousy, but he’ll be better, and we now know we finally have a half decent defense. If we don’t do any better than 4 more wins this season, maybe we need to get Mike Leach out of the broadcast booth to our sidelines next season.

  25. slushy1975 09/12/2010 at 2:26 PM #

    Mike Leach as color commentator was certainly different but I didn’t mind it. It was straight-forward and as if a coach had just started a job as a TV football analyst. I don’t need Herbstreit’s slickness for every broadcast.

Leave a Reply