We are half-way through the 2011 NC State Football Season and this week just happens to be the Wolfpack’s bye week…so, there is no more appropriate time to take a step back and put together a mid-season look at the Pack. ESPN’s ACC Blogger, Heather Dinich has penned her view of the first half of the Wolfpack’s season in an entry that can be seen by clicking here.
Record: 3-3, 0-2 ACC
This is the team that won nine games last year and finished in the Top 25?
No, itâ€™s not, starting at quarterback, where Russell Wilson is now a Heisman hopeful at Wisconsin.
Injuries have decimated NC Stateâ€™s defense, the team has yet to win on the road or in the conference, and the Wolfpackâ€™s win over Central Michigan was its best of the season. With two FCS opponents on the schedule, NC State needs seven wins to reach bowl eligibility, and thatâ€™s looking like a stretch at this point. Itâ€™s not quarterback Mike Glennon’s fault. He has a strong arm, heâ€™s gotten noticeably better as the season has progressed, and heâ€™s good enough to win. Most of NC Stateâ€™s problems have occurred around Glennon.
The Wolfpack is No. 107 in the country with three sacks allowed per game. NC State is No. 97 in rushing offense, and has lost seven fumbles this season — all problems that have nothing to do with its ailing defense. On that side of the ball, NC State is allowing just more than 30 points and 172 rushing yards per game. Granted, it hasnâ€™t helped that entering the Central Michigan game, NC State had used three different starting combinations on the defensive line in five games. Two of the top six linebackers were also injured in reserve Sterling Lucas and starter Terrell Manning. Cornerback Jarvis Byrd was a projected starter, but he suffered a season-ending ACL tear in July. A total of 12 injured players, including 2010 leading rusher Mustafa Greene, missed the Georgia Tech game.
The bye week couldnâ€™t have come at a better time for NC State, as it needs to get better on the field and in the training room. Expectations within the program were much higher entering the season, as those within the NC State were intent on building upon last yearsâ€™s success. Now theyâ€™d have to win out during the regular season just to match it.
Offensive MVP: WR T.J. Graham: Heâ€™s No. 7 in the ACC with 80.7 receiving yards per game and has 484 yards and four touchdowns. Heâ€™s made a name for himself in the return game, though, as the track star leads the ACC with 18.5 yards per punt return and one touchdown. He is second in the ACC in kick return average (24.2), and leads the league in all-purpose yards with 210 per game.
Defensive MVP: CB David Amerson: Amerson leads the country with six interceptions and has 77 return yards. He ranks third in the ACC in passes defended with nine and has been a bright spot on an otherwise dreary defense. Heâ€™s fourth on the team with 34 tackles.
Before the season started I had hoped that State would realistically be at least 5-1 at this point in the season with a ‘fear’ that we could lose at Wake or Cincy for a worst case scenario of 4-2. I am not breaking any new ground proclaiming that it is a huge disappointment for the Wolfpack to be sitting at 3-3 while still needing four more wins to become bowl eligible this season.
The ‘bright’ side is that the second half of the schedule is not necessarily as difficult as we originally thought it would with an awful Boston College, a close to awful Virginia, a struggling Maryland at home, a UNC-CH program that we have beaten four years in a row, and a trip to play a weakened Florida State (whom we traditionally play tough).
The more macro question for NC State fans would be if another middling season at 7-5 is enough to keep them excited for a sixth year of a Tom O’Brien regime?
Could State turn the ship