The Wolfpack Is At A Fork In The Road…Which Way Will They Go?

With the season now half over, the Wolfpack football team has mixed grades and is at a crossroads: they can either improve and go on to a decent year for a still-rebuilding program, or they could have another shambolic finish that leaves huge questions not only about the state of NC State football but also questions about the ongoing tenure of head coach Dave Doeren and crew.

Starting Saturday against Boston College, the direction that the team will travel will start to become apparent.

The Eagles are going on the road for the first time, and have a young team.  “I think our guys like to play at home,” BC head coach Steve Addazio said yesterday in his weekly press conference. “I don’t think you ever look forward to going out of town. It’s just what you have to do: You have to go on the road and win. It’s part of it. When you’re at home, you’re in your routine and in your element. When you don’t have a senior-laden team who has a lot of experience in that, it’s hard,” he added.

That doesn’t sound resoundingly confident, and perhaps the Carter-Finley faithful can add to the intimidation that Addazio expects his charges to face. BC will be rested and well-prepared, however, as they haven’t played since September 27th, when they lost 24-21 to Colorado State.  Since then, they lost CB Bryce Jones, their fourth leading tackler, when he was kicked off of the team for violating team rules.

For the Wolfpack’s part, it’s a return to the friendly confines of Carter-Finley Stadium after being completely demolished by Clemson in Death Valley.  There’s not much that can be pointed to from this game that could be labeled a positive — except perhaps that it’s over and done with.  It was a 41-0 defeat that wasn’t even that close.  In all phases of the game, State was thoroughly beaten, and now they must regroup quickly to face a team in a winnable game that would leave them one victory shy of bowl eligibility.

While this week’s game is winnable — BC has lost to the likes of Colorado State and a so-far pedestrian Pitt team — victory won’t come easily, as BC’s greatest strength will be matched against NC State biggest weakness.  The Eagles are averaging 316.8 yards per game rushing after five games, with QB Tyler Murphy gobbling up an average of 115.8 yards per contest — something that NC State’s porous defense must be dreading after Clemson’s DeShaun Watson torched them for a “mere” 62 yards and 2 touchdowns. BC also has a solid running back in Jon Hilliman, who’s averaging 73.8 YPG on his own.  Both players have scored six touchdowns, and together they present a dual threat that will present quite the challenge for a defense that has yet to stop anyone.

To win, obviously the Wolfpack defense will have to slow Murphy and Hilliman, and to get itself off of the field in order to give the Wolfpack offense a chance to move the ball and score.  That will require fundamental execution, something that State’s defense has struggled with all year.  The team has been plagued by arm tackling, by being out of position and by allowing receivers to be open in too many inopportune times.  They’ll need to improve if they want to win, and if they don’t, Dave Doeren will have to keep looking for his first conference win as NC State’s coach.

Addazio also pointed out that his quarterback and State’s signal caller are quite familiar with one another. “[Murphy and Brissett are] buddies,” he said. They’re really good friends. Brissett’s a hell of a player. He’s making a ton of plays and I have a ton of respect for him. I’ve watched him a lot; I’ve watched every snap. He’s pretty darn good.” He’ll need to be good Saturday, as will the entire NC State offense.  It will need to be efficient and it will need to convert on as many of its chances with the ball as it can.  Boston College will have a decided advantage when it has the football, and when a team averages as many yards on the ground as do the Eagles, they tend to gobble up the game clock in large chunks — something that will lower the number of chances their opponents will have to be on offense themselves.

Fortunately, State has a solid running back corps, decent receivers and a QB who’s a lot better than what he showed against Clemson’s defense.  The Wolfpack scoring unit will probably be fired up to demonstrate that the game last week was an exception and not the rule, and it may be them who limits BC’s chances with the ball, not the other way around.

In other words, this game has every look of a tossup wherre victory will be awarded to the team that executes its game plan the best, limits its mistake and has a better day on special teams.  There is no glaring talent gap.

Overall, this looks like a good matchup, but one that will require the Wolfpack to play better than it did last week and in the first half of several other games this year.  It will need a complete effort to secure victory, and if they can provide one, it will be a sign that the young team is maturing and improving.  If they don’t, and squander a chance to secure a win at home before heading back on the road to face Syracuse and Louisville, the chances of another catastrophic campaign increase dramatically.

What happens is, of course, up to the players.  Tune in Saturday at 3:30pm to see if they are up to the task.


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Home Forums The Wolfpack Is At A Fork In The Road…Which Way Will They Go?

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    Alpha Wolf

    With the season now half over, the Wolfpack football team has mixed grades and is at a crossroads: they can either improve and go on to a decent year
    [See the full post at: The Wolfpack Is At A Fork In The Road…Which Way Will They Go?]


    Alpha, Thanks for starting the BC conversation. There really isn’t a whole lot to say about the Eagles vs. the Wolfpack that hasn’t been said – 2 very young teams, both needing a win, both needing to get themselves bowl eligible. The Eagles have had 2 WTF games — a win vs. USC and a loss at home vs. Colorado State. The Wolfpack has had 2 WTF halves — a great first half vs. FSU and a miserable first half vs. CU. (You could say that we had WTF halves in both the GSU and ODU games.)

    I have a somewhat different view of the Clemson game. Standing in Clemson’s shoes I think they were apprehensive of the Wolfpack offense getting a good start, settling the team down and giving Clemson a good game. That Clemson took the ball instead of deferring is telling. Pure speculation but I’d say the Clemson game plan was to score early and unsettle the Pack before we could settle in with our previously potent offense. They did exactly that. Doeren said in his presser Monday that at 14-0 he had trouble getting his team to focus. Perfectly executed game plan.

    In a manner all to familiar with Wolfpack Fandom we have tried to make the Clemson game more wrong with us than was right with Clemson. Admittedly after the smoke cleared in the first half, we were out of the game. Had they made Watson their QB before the UGA game, they likely would be undefeated and ranked at or near #1. It’s no secret our defense is suspect but they didn’t allow Clemson’s juggernaut offense but a field goal in the second half. On the other side of that coin with the score at 41-0 Clemson likely lost it’s edge.

    Were the score more what was expected at the half, Clemson’s offense no doubt would have scored more in the second half but so would have we. But they didn’t and that’s the point. Looking for something to take from the Clemson game? This Wolfpack team does not quit. Some young defensive talent is starting to emerge. I’ve said before there’s not much a coach can do about the talent level in the first year of recruiting but he can do something about attitude. In that regard mission accomplished.

    Yes, this season may be at some kind of fork in the road. Is the football program really at a fork in the road? Only with those who have already decided it’s the south fork. And we all know who they are.


    When you get to the fork in the road, take it . . . .Yogi Berra


    @Greywolf… you are right… the way Clempson opened the game was much more a measure of “respect” for the young Pack than disdain…

    Kids will kids… two steps forward … one step backward… This season can only be judged as a whole, not parts…

    The old ‘bacca farmer told me while hitching his tractor up to my Pop’s LTD one summer Saturday night…
    “A man dat ain’t ever been ina ditch… ain’t ever been nowhere… and he sho’ don’t know how to git out of one either….”

    My recommendation as to which “fork” for our kids to take next Saturday is…. two lefts and a right…

    1. left on Western Blvd.
    2. right on Dixie Trail.
    3. left on Trinity Road…. and on to victory…

    #NCSU-North Carolina's #1 FOOTBALL school!

    1. left on Western Blvd.
    2. right on Dixie Trail Blue Ridge.
    3. left on Trinity Road…. and on to victory…


    Maybe they better just crash at the Murphy Center just to make sure they can find the place by 3:30.


    State wins and covers steadily declining spread. State goes on a winning streak and that last game is turned into a home game with a sea of red. I can’t and won’t contemplate any other scenario taking place.


    The good: Team is still on schedule to meet preseason expectations.

    The bad: Completely disappointed in last week’s performance. Not in the loss, but how they lost.

    Channeling my inner Stephen A Smith, quite frankly, I expected more in the mental toughness areas than what we got.

    But then, sometimes there’s no telling the inner workings of the mind with this age group. But then, it’s the job of the coaches to have a better handle on ’em.

    Coaches and players disappointed.

    Maybe I expected too much.

    Between wishful hope and sour grapes pessimism, I have no idea what to expect this weekend.



    I think Grey’s comment about the Coaching staff managing attitude is spot on. But I think it is an indictment of the Clemson game – Clemson hit us hard from the start and we didn’t respond. FSU out skilled us, but we fought them. I didn’t see enough fight in Death Valley.

    But this game is the one I have been looking at since the preseason. This is the one that gauges our improvement. Last year’s team won all of the OOC games and lost the rest. So, despite the obviously improved offense, we haven’t done anything yet.

    This one is winnable. We need to empty the offensive playbook, use every defensive scheme we know – leave no stone unturned.

    It’s a new season. Put the first half behind us. Let’s go Pack!!


    +1 to foose on the good and the bad.

    I would add that Saturday is a must win and a should win game. This will be the most telling game of his tenure thus far.


    @GreyWolf….Ha!.. just checking to see if anybody reads this…

    #NCSU-North Carolina's #1 FOOTBALL school!

    I’d feel a lot better about the rebuilding, if we were lighting up the recruiting trail.


    Very disappointing game. We were bulldozed and it is beyond me why you are not ready to play the game. Not being ready is on the staff. What was really disturbing was the fiasco right before halftime when we had a timeout and go into the locker room with no points with the timeout in our pocket. This chain of events is on the head coach. If this had turned out to be a close game and we lost because of the total mismanagement of the last few minutes of the half because our coaches choked. Our team is young but the coaches should know what they are doing by now.


    I’d feel a lot better about the rebuilding, if we were lighting up the recruiting trail.

    I would be very concerned if Doeren was landing the big fish like Butch Davis was when “Black Santa” was doing his recruiting. The last thing we need is an NCAA spectacle like they have over on Brokeback Hill.

    Here’s one man’s opinion regarding recruiting. Recruiting isn’t a one season game. We and others are getting commits from juniors and some sophomores. It takes time, sometimes years, for the coaches to create relationships with HS coaches as well as the athletes themselves.

    Turning a football program is like turning a cruise ship. It isn’t a whimsical operation. We will have conversations with big time recruits. Then we will land a few. Then we will land a lot. We have quality recruits in the conversation for coming to play at NC State. The numbers we will land will increase. Hang in there, hungwolf.

    Our time is coming.


    Papajohn, ECU is not in the ACC. We did not win all our OOC last year.
    rtpack24 – there are several aspects to coaching, and college coaching staffs have the added biggie of recruiting which may be more important than all the others. Bobby Bowden thinks so. Practice is one part under control, but just coaching 15 year olds I can tell you that game time is tough. You do what you can to have folks watching clock, player personnel and then boom, time for a fast decision. It’s dificult and I felt like the staff did well at the end of the first half. The refs did not even review and the announcers said it was a reviewable situation. I guess the refs felt we were beat and who cares about our field goal. But I have learned not to chew on a coaches ass for things like that unless it’s something that happens a lot.

    Gray Wolf, thanks for the assessment. I had to leave at halftime to coach a team and have only begun to watch the 2nd. Not sure why, but I live for the pain I guess. OUr first drive, 3rd and medium, Jacobie should have completed the short pass… I do think this young team got busted up early and did not know how to get their head right. Jacobie seemed out of sorts for the first time all season. I saw 14-0 as a real possiblity before our first possession but thought we would be OK. It got worse. Hopefully they will grow and get angry about it.

    If we lose well to BC I won’t throw in the towel. We could go 4-4 and then finish 8-4. GT will be strength on weakness though. Keep the faith Wolfpack nation!


    I will again be more curious o see how we attack this situation than anything else. Stopping the run will be tough, but the key will be how well we can hold up to the odd pass that BC will attempt.

    In the OOC games we would hold up against the run pretty well two downs out of three and then, shazam, 38 yards up the middle. Be cant let them bust off the 15+ yard runs. Hold them to three runs of 15+ and we win. More than 6, and we lose.


    Hopefully, BC will forget to throw the deep ball.


    Funny how one game can change opinions so much this early in a career. That’s just where this program is at this point.

    The effort, game plan and execution sucked Saturday. BC is huge.

    Will we have an aggressive game plan? Will we play inspired football?

    This team is definitely young and there are legitimate excuses for the performance Saturday: youth, fatigue, discouragement, fear, etc.

    But the team showed little fight. The staff looked just as bad.

    The beauty of sports though is that in most cases there is another game and a chance to right a wrong. A win Saturday will get us back on track…and makes it very easy to write the last Saturday off as a fluke.


    I don’t get the “team showed little fight” crap. It came down to

    1. Clemson receiving the first half kickoff, TD (not surprising)
    2. State going 3 and out after a deflected pass in a hostile environment
    3. State abandoning the run after getting down, only to watch Clemson get a ton of pressure with 4, sometimes 3 guys, dropping 7-8. I was very impressed with their front 4.

    You can show fight, just got whipped by that awesome D line


    Channeling my inner Stephen A Smith

    I hope that somebody puts me out of my misery if they ever catch me doing this.


    If Stephen A Smith is ever inner me, Ima go take a big one and get rid of it.


    Papa John, we lost an OOC game to ECU last year.


    I don’t necessarily see this as a fork in the road kind of game. We could lose and still go on to have a decent year with wins over say Cuse, Wake and perhaps UNC. That would surely be progress. Conversely, we could win and then potentially lose out, though I don’t expect that. Most importantly it is a very good chance to get Doeren’s first ACC win. We’ve been waiting a good long while for that.


    Very disappointing game.

    Yes, it was.

    We were bulldozed and it is beyond me why you are not ready to play the game. Not being ready is on the staff.

    Not surprised it was beyond you to know. Perhaps their not being ready to play was because of the emotional capital invested in the FSU game without a win as the return on investment.

    What was really disturbing was the fiasco right before halftime when we had a timeout and go into the locker room with no points with the timeout in our pocket.

    The coaches handled the last 8 seconds just fine. There was no need or opportunity to call a timeout. The clock should have stopped with the incomplete forward pass. The officials refused to review a reviewable situation. The timeout had to be save in the event that a pass was completed and the receiver did not get into the end zone. We didn’t need a “vanity field goal,” we needed a TD. Had the scenario played out that way, I would support going for the TD.

    If this had turned out to be a close game and we lost because of the total mismanagement of the last few minutes of the half because our coaches choked. Our team is young but the coaches should know what they are doing by now.

    If a frog had wings he wouldn’t bump his ass when he landed. You are entitled to your opinion that last minutes of the half were mismanaged, the coaches don’t know what they are doing and the coaches choked. Unfortunately your logic doesn’t support your opinion.


    As bad as Saturday was, it goes down as loss, regardless if 1 point or 41 points. We surely are better than what we showed, but still young. Perhaps a good smack in the mouth is just what the doctor ordered. Guess we will find out Saturday. Go Pack!

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