The State of State Football (Pre-October)

They had more energy than we did. You can’t do that, especially on the road in a conference game.” -TOB’s post-game comments after the Wake game.

After the loses to Wake Forest and Cincinnati, the Wolfpack’s only two D1A games this season, a lot of people are left look at Tom O’Brien for encouragement and signs of life, especially before meeting up with Georgia Tech on October 1.  Showing the fanbase something to get excited over has never been Tom’s strong point and now that affect is starting to seep into the roster and the fanbase.  Let’s review where we are against D1A opponents (and stay tuned for the “NC State Football By The Numbers” segment that WV Wolf posts weekly).  Maybe we can look at where we are and figure out what to expect from here.

Where we currently stand.

First, some combined stats from our two D1A match-ups…

NC State 2011 Craptacular! 34-27 Loss 44-14 Loss D1A Totals
1st Downs
19 22 13 24 32 46
Total Yards 424 438 322 503 746 941
Passing 315 337 348 263 663 600
24 41 23 36 28 40 25 34 52 81 48 70
Yards per pass
7.7 9.4 8.7 7.7 8.2 8.55
Rushing 109 101 -26 240 83 341
Rushing Attempts
26 34 22 46 48 80
Yards per rush
4.2 3 -1.2 5.2 1.5 4.1
Penalties 4 33 4 42 6 40 3 35 10 73 7 77
Turnovers 1 1 3 1 4 2
Fumbles Lost
0 0 1 0 1 0
Interceptions thrown
1 1 2 1 3 2
Possession 29:35:00 30:25:00 26:04:00 33:56:00 55:39:00 64:21:00

A few other factoids from the stats:
Glennon is achieving a 64% completion rate.  Our opponents are completing 69%.  Consider that both Wake and Cincy’s QBs are “experienced”.  Also note that he is only completing 1 foot LESS per attempt than his competition.  Guys, Glennon is good.

– NC State out-threw both of their opponents, but is getting crushed in rushing offense (83 vs 341 yards).  Some of this stat includes the terrible offensive line which lead to multiple sacks, including one for -14 yards last night. 

We are averaging 1.5 yards per rush.  Some of this is due to the sacks being averaged into the 83-yard statistic, but from looking at the game, it’s obvious that the predictable play-calling is part of the blame.  According to ESPN, last night’s rushing performance marks the worst in the entire ACC since 2001.

– On 1st and 10 situations, Bible called a rush up the middle 3 out of 4 times against Cincy in the first quarter for total yardage of -1 yard. 

-Glennon was not sacked once during the Wake Forest game, but suffered 6 sacks last night against Cincy.

Injuries, Personnel And Depth

NC State obviously has issues with injuries.  The question is, can the problems experienced by our team, primarily on defense, be explained by injuries?

Before last night, NC State had the following injuries: Mustafa Greene, HB; Terrell Manning, LB; J.R. Sweezy, DT; Thomas Teal, DT; Andrew Wallace, OG. During the game last night, Brian Slay was also taken out of the game as well as AJ Ferguson, who later returned.  That leaves… ummm… crap.

Things got to the point that we were sending the walk-ons to the field.  Now, for those who have never been through the NCAA recruiting circus, it’s important to note that walk-ons at the D1A level are frequently players that are extremely talented and coaches ask to come play for them with the promise that if they stick it out for a year, and a scholarship opens up the next season, they might sign them on.  I’ve heard it said walk-ons at the D1A level are frequently players that would be solid at the D1AA level.  Still, when Ferguson was helped off the field, we had Jacob Kahut (6’4″ 245 JUCO from Campbell) in at defensive tackle.  Understatement of the season: We’re thin.  Very thin.

With regards to recruiting, the battle lines are pretty clearly drawn.  There are those that think O’Brien has the right idea in trying to identify not chasing talent then there are those that are saying you can only get so “good” with solid coaching and no raw talent.  Either way, if you look at O’Brien’s recruits, you see a ton of 3-star recruits, several 2-star recruits, and a few walk-ons.  As far as four stars go…
– 2008: Brandon Barnes (ATH), Mike Glennon (QB), Sam Jones (OL), Kyle Linney (DT), Turrel Manning (LB), RJ Mattes (OL)
– 2009: Byrd (DB)
– 2010: Crisp (OT), Hunter (DE), Randolph (DT), Amerson (S)
– 2011: Hakeem Flowers (WR)
-2012: James Summers (ATH)

Draw your own conclusions from that list.  Even if you aren’t a fan of “star chasing”, just look at the 2011 and 2012 recruiting classes.  My question would be how aggressively O’Brien’s staff has been in capitalizing on the success of the 2010 season in landing top-level talent.  So far, O’Brien’s first recruiting class has been his best by far, but that was also when he was able to rest on the laurels of his success at Boston College.  Again, I’ll let the community draw conclusions from this statement.

Remaining Schedule

Left on the schedule we have 3 currently ranked opponents, 3 away games (one against #11 FSU), and one OOC opponent.

#25 Georgia Tech – Oct 1
Central Michigan – Oct 8
***BYE WEEK***
@Virginia – Oct 22
@#11Florida State – Oct 29
UNC-CHeat – Nov 5
@Boston College – Nov 12
#21 Clemson – Nov 19
Maryland – Nov 26

A lot of discussion is going on over at the SFN message boards concerning what many people predicted pre-season and what people predict will occur now.  I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that it’s going to be a tough road and absolutely nothing on the schedule can be taken for granted.

Other News and Some [Editorialized] Thoughts

Some time ago, I did a series called “Benchmark Tom O’Brien” (Link 1, Link 2) in which I compared TOB’s success to those of our previous coaches.  Some members of our community were in agreement, but after the 9-win season last year, man were not.  That is the problem with 9-win season after several years of sub-standard performance: you can’t be certain whether one season is “turning the corner” or a flash in the pan.  Tom, for whatever reason, just hasn’t panned out at NC State and there isn’t much hope to think, moving forward into October competition against a ranked and pissed-off Georgia Tech that we will get too much better.

In addition to that, JP Giglio over at the News and Observer supposedly said that the coaching staff is considering a redshirt for Mustafa Greene this season.  So why would a coach in a rut, 4 games into the season, begin considering redshirting their best running back?

Looks to me like O’Brien, the strong, disciplined legend from Boston College, has decided to follow the same template he did during the end of the Wake Forest game:

I’m not into all this ‘we fought back’ and all that. We lost the game.
-TOB’s post-game comments after the Wake game.

Way to fight to the end there, Tom. If this is the same mentality that surrounding the locker room, maybe that explains a lot.

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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122 Responses to The State of State Football (Pre-October)

  1. Khan 09/23/2011 at 12:59 PM #

    We need a new coaching staff. Period. You can break down this or break down that. You can pull stats out here and stats out there. That’s all good analysis that really helps you dive deep into specifically what’s working and what isn’t. But when you cut through all the fat, it’s pretty simple. It all comes down to one of (or a combination of) 3 things:

    1) Current players are unprepared mentally, physically, or emotionially to compete

    2) Offensive and defensive planning is too poorly constructed to allow us to compete

    3) We do not have the talent necessary to compete

    We can analyze what went wrong on this play or what went wrong on that drive or who was injured or how many penalties we had or whatever. All that is useful information. But no matter how you slice and dice it, it all boils down to a huge coaching defficiency. For whatever reason, TOB & Co., Inc. are not able to bring in talent, get them to stay healthy, get them to execute or put them in a scheme that allows them the best chance to succeed.

    We don’t need to see another down out of this coaching staff to be able to understand that under this regime, we will be lucky to be a consistent middle of the road team. I challenge anyone to argue differently.

    As to the remaining schedule:

    Georgia Tech – LOSS

    Central Michigan – WIN

    Virginia – LOSS

    Florida State – LOSS

    UNC – LOSS

    Boston College – WIN

    Clemson – LOSS

    Maryland – WIN

    We have probably 3 wins at most on the schedule. The UVA and UMD games could go either way. We could lose to BC. The rest are solid losses. If this is where we are after 5 years under TOB, what else do you need to know?

  2. 61Packer 09/23/2011 at 1:03 PM #

    My pre-season prediction was 6-6 and folks shook their heads. Now they’re shaking their fists.

    The “state” of State football is even worse than many realized. Lee Fowler was to Wolfpack athletics what the clap was to Al Capone.

    Fowler’s basketball legacy was bringing that sport to its lowest point in Wolfpack history, period. And look at football. It may not be there yet, but the ghosts of Reid, Kiffin and O’Cain are lurking. Look at our present football team: an offense that couldn’t move the football downhill in an ice storm, a defense that is as effective as a screen door on a submarine, and a recruiting outlook that looks like the past two years of Wall Street leading indicators.

    I don’t want to see us lose any more than you do, but somebody in the NCSU Ivory Towers needs to wake up to reality. Last night’s ESPN matchup wasn’t just ugly, it was US. It’s who we’ve become. It was coast-to-coast ugly, described by 3 announcers who would’ve worn masks on-air had anyone on our team been diagnosed with flu.

    I just wish Mike Leach had been on this broadcast crew last night.

  3. hoop 09/23/2011 at 1:26 PM #

    I wrote Debbie last night with concerns and she wrote me back 2:37am. Pretty impressive. She definitely feels the pulse of NC State fans.

    As smart as Debbie is, Pride, I’m sure she sees that the recruiting isn’t where it needs to be or even where it should be after last year’s season.

    I think it’s likely she fires TOB after this season.

  4. Wolfpack F-14 09/23/2011 at 1:30 PM #

    Hoop, what did you write and what did she say??

  5. tjfoose1 09/23/2011 at 1:53 PM #

    Attitude reflects leadership.

    Is it basketball season yet?

  6. Ed89 09/23/2011 at 1:58 PM #

    ^^Attitude reflects leadership.

    Or lack thereof…

  7. BJD95 09/23/2011 at 1:58 PM #

    I was also thinking about a similar article. I have always thought NC State had significant institutional strengths in basketball, that only needed the right leadership to succeed. But we haven’t been nationally relevant in 23 years, and our last two coaching searches yielded Sidney Lowe and a guy who couldn’t get the Utah job (who may not have even been interested in our opening if not for a personal friendship with the AD). The facts are what they are, and the market has spoken.

    Now, I don’t think we have those same advantages in football. Our conference isn’t a selling point, our tradition is meek, and we have an overfished, mediocre natural recruiting base. We lucked into a consensus top 15-20 caliber coach, at the bargain basement salary we always offer. And not only didn’t he take the next step – he couldn’t even replicate the level of success he had at the football desert that is Boston College. Yikes.

    College football has changed. It’s so much a “speed game” now, maybe the Sheridan way is no longer feasible. And I’m not at all convinced you can recruit your way to success here (you can try, and end up with the “island of misfit toys” like Amato).

    Now, we can always catch lightning in a bottle, just like anyone (such as Indiana, Iowa State, or Washington State) can. But that’s pretty much it. Any fluky complete package would quickly opt for greener pastures anyway.

    We had a quality brand in basketball. We can argue what or who exactly killed it – but dead is dead. And with the failure of the TOB era, we have pretty well established the extremely limited ceiling for Wolfpack football (at least as a member of the ACC).

  8. eas 09/23/2011 at 2:16 PM #

    I think it may be easy for some to say “calm down” simply because of a slow start. HOWEVER, anyone who has watched/attended these games should be able to draw one simple conclusion….Something is wrong (very wrong to be exact). The product on the field currently may be the worst display I have ever scene at NCSU football. Does that mean we have bad players…NO. What it means is the team literally looks confused and lost the entire game.

    The Bearcats basically took the entire 4th quarter off and just ran out the clock (running basically every play) and they still put of 44pts quick. I felt sorry for the guys out there playing because it honestly looked like they were lost puppies.

    Glennon’s numbers are good and on paper it doesn’t seem that bad on offense (minus rushing). Unfortunately it looks terrible and reminds me of plays that we called in middle school.

    I mean why on earth do the games and team actually “look” this bad?

  9. old13 09/23/2011 at 2:20 PM #

    Maybe DY could reassign TOB to a position that is in charge of the champions in the classroom and in the community, and get someone else to handle the champions on the field part of our FB program! I very much appreciate what TOB does in those two areas.

  10. hoop 09/23/2011 at 2:28 PM #

    In a respectful tone I highlighted our lack of recruiting success compared to where it should be, especially given a 9 win season, and where it is and how that is unacceptable. Mentioned some staff members and then compared this season to Amato’s last. I suggested she survey the college football coaching landscape which I was sure she was already doing.

    She wrote back at acknowledged by thoughts and said “hang in there.”

  11. Ed89 09/23/2011 at 2:29 PM #

    Here is my take on the State of State Football:

    In five years, TOB is 8-16 (.333) on the road with a loss to ECU. Take out last year and he’s 4-13 (.235). He’s 0-11 against division opponents on the road. This while having Russell Wilson at QB for 3 years. He does not fire up his team to perform on the road. And his record is not stellar at home considering some of the cupcakes we play every year. He’s never beaten Clemson or Boston College. He’s beaten FSU, Wake, and Maryland once each. His record against our division is 3-18. 3-18 (.142 winning percentage against our division opponents!)!!! I REPEAT —- 3 wins against division opponents in over 4 years! Thank goodness for Butch (and Russell).

    TOB gets way more credit than he deserves. Looking at facts, you can only conclude that he has done an VERY below average job for over 4 years now.

  12. the reality 09/23/2011 at 2:35 PM #

    There has got to be… something???

    There’s some relic, some common thread, that’s been heavily involved with NC State since way back in the 1990’s, and that has yet to vacate the premises in the time period since???

    Everything needed is there and just waiting, yet there’s this huge, green, funk, hanging all over the place.

    If another coaching search is in the offing, let’s please just forget about “etablished” or “name brand” entirely. I want a young coach, who is enthusiastic, and who thinks that he can take on the world… all by himself. This is NC State afterall, and that attitude seems to just work out better anyway. Going it alone as a HC at NC State is, uh, well, there are no guarantee’s involved, that’s for sure, but it’s better than falling among the rank and file, and getting no where.

  13. eas 09/23/2011 at 2:41 PM #


    Maybe someone should send DY a list of the numbers you just provided. Wow!!!! It sure looks different when it is broken down like that. Seriously, I hope someone is giving her the stats.

    3-18 vs our division opponents and 0-11 on the road? That is crazy! It’s amazing how a 9 win season (when it has been so long) turns into a set of blinders.

  14. eas 09/23/2011 at 2:45 PM #

    The green funk hanging all over the place is a result of bargain priced middle of the road coaches. We have pumped so much money into the facilities and the program. Maybe we should pump some money into the coaching search for a change. Just saying…

  15. redsteel 09/23/2011 at 2:47 PM #

    Those TOB numbers are mind boggling. And, true, it certainly looks different in print. Send that to DY immediately……

  16. the reality 09/23/2011 at 2:54 PM #

    Those stats are abysmal ed89!!! It’s boggles the mind as to how the guy has had a constant shower of praise and accolades since day one.

    But, who knows, and like I said above, there may be some weird element lurking within NC State that is actually the culprit for this lack of an all-out DESIRE TO BE THE BEST!!!

  17. coach13 09/23/2011 at 3:11 PM #

    It’s always been that way…smoke and mirrors. When PR was here, his best season (11-3) was an illusion with to DII wins, which is 9-3 against DI and a win over a ND club that has been down a good while. Tied for 4th best finish. there are simply no smoke and mirrors left. I don’t know if we will ever be able to compete for an ACC championship in football, or any major sport for that matter. the truth hurts and I’m State alum, but we suck…across the board.

  18. hoop 09/23/2011 at 3:12 PM #

    He’s seen accolades because it takes years to build a football program. It looked like he succeeded last year. This year it looks like he’s fallen off the wagon.

  19. tjfoose1 09/23/2011 at 3:15 PM #

    I’ve said it many times, on various threads…

    Jimbo Fisher wanted our job, he was bringing Bo Pelini with him (LSU’s OC and DC, respectively, at the time) . The interview was scheduled.

    Fowler told Jimbo not to bother, canceled the interview, and hired TOB.

    Granted, Pelini would’ve only stayed a year or two, but he would have been able to establish a sound defensive and philosophy before he left.

    We needed young and energetic, we went safe, conservative, and crusty.

    We’ve had our chances guys… we’ve repeatedly squandered them.

    Our leadership hasn’t cared about winning since Valvano was AD. From that perspective, the results are what you’d expect.

    Woodard and Yow are up.

  20. NelsonHall97 09/23/2011 at 3:15 PM #

    Take the Russell Wilson banner off please…it’s making me cry, and I’m at work.

  21. tjfoose1 09/23/2011 at 3:17 PM #

    for the record, TOB did defeat BC last year.

  22. the reality 09/23/2011 at 3:28 PM #

    ^ Yep tjf1, safe and acceptable seem to be the factors that drive it all at NC State. Amato was the one exception to the rule.

    NC State’s colors may be red and white, but their persona is blue hair… to the max!!!

  23. NelsonHall97 09/23/2011 at 3:29 PM #

    I don’t really see us landing a NAME coach after TOB. But…and this is a big but…could the eventual conference realignment prospects tempt some good coaches in schools that might get left behind to jump. I’ve mentioned Skip Holtz more than once on here today. I’m not saying he’s my guy becuase I haven’t really thought about it until today.

    Just sayin’ a good coach on a soon-to-be-left-out D1 team could be our target.

  24. Ed89 09/23/2011 at 3:31 PM #

    My bad. Clemson is the only team he hasn’t beaten in our division. He has 1 win against the other 4, for a 4-17 overall record. Still pretty abysmal considering he had Russell Wilson at QB for 3 years.

  25. Ed89 09/23/2011 at 3:32 PM #

    I’d take Butch Jones of Cincinnati in a heartbeat…

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