Mark Thomas

Film Study: Devils, Heels and Pack Week 6

Posted October 7, 2012
Updated October 8, 2012

The three teams in the triangle were 3-0 this weekend – that’s pretty impressive. What’s even more impressive is that Virginia, Virginia Tech and Florida State were the teams going home with losses. I had a chance to watch each of their game films, and this is what I saw.

North Carolina 48,  Virginia Tech 34

First, we look at the obvious. Giovani Bernard’s knee is fine (262 yards, 1 TD). And apparently now bionic. He took low hits on each knee, and it just seemed to make him faster as the game progressed. Bernard is scary in the open field. The offense is continuing to blossom in the Larry Fedora fast-break offense.

The main reason for this: Bryn Renner.

Statistically, it was his worst game of the year. So you can’t look at the stat sheet to understand the difference. At the beginning of the year, even in some big wins, the offense looked a little disjointed at the start of plays. Renner would get the team to the line and try to get the play running as fast as he could. Yes, that’s a part of the offense, but your quarterback needs to be in control of the chaos. Renner is now getting his team to the line, waiting for receivers to get set, and then he knows where he wants to go with the ball.

Regardless of the popular opinion of the Virginia Tech secondary, they have athletes who can make plays. There weren’t a lot of open windows to hit receivers. The movement of the offense, even on running plays, starts with Renner orchestrating it.

Finally, Carolina has to clean up the silly penalties. You will lose games you shouldn’t when you give back 126 yards.

2. Duke 42, Virginia 17

Duke went in at halftime and made adjustments to what Virginia was doing on offense in the first half. Cavalier quarterback Phillip Sims was making his first start, and it appeared the coaching staff was giving him a limited playbook.

Some of the plays that worked, they continued to run, but Duke was having nothing of it after the half. But the most glaring thing I saw was Duke quarterback Anthony Boone staying poised in the pocket and throwing the ball down the field.

Congratulations to wide receiver Conner Vernon for breaking the ACC pass reception record. Vernon caught a touchdown pass in the second half to give Duke the 35-17 lead that essentially iced the game. It was one of the most impressive plays I’ve seen this year. Vernon runs a skinny post with speed to get past the corner who was trailing close with a safety rolling over to help. Boone throws a pass right in between perfect coverage and Vernon halls it in for the TD. The safety and the corner did everything right. I’m sure their coach was watching film with them and said, “Well, there’s NOTHING you could do.

Duke’s defense manhandled Virginia’s O-line in the second half, plus, zero turnovers for Duke. It was the best game I’ve seen this team play this year.

3. NC State 17, Florida State 16

Jimbo Fisher was outcoached by Tom O’Brien.

NC State was having to reshuffle their offensive line again with the loss of guard Zach Allen (the fourth different starting O-line in six games). And with defensive ends Cornellius Carradine and Bjoern Werner coming to town, O’Brien and Dana Bible had to devise a plan to slow down the best pass rush in the country.

Let’s be honest, regardless of what was to happen against Florida State, the last thing the coaching staff needed was quarterback Mike Glennon to take a beating. So, the gameplan involved a heavy dose of runs in the first half with Tony Creecy and Shadrach Thornton. The thought was to wear down a defensive line that has all four starters slated to play in the NFL.

It was a physical first half of football that saw the Seminoles get out to a 16-0 lead. It wasn’t ideal, but Glennon had only been sacked one time and the patchwork offensive line was able to be the aggressor.

The second half was to be a completely different story. NC State only rushed the ball 11 times in the second half. They began running a no-huddle offense, at times, and attacked the middle of the field with linebackers having to defend slot receivers and running backs on pass routes. Glennon didn’t get touched.

On the defensive side of the ball, two players stood out.  Defensive tackles T.Y. McGuill and Thomas Teal were more than a handful for FSU quarterback E.J. Manuel and running back Chris Thompson.

Linebackers were able to make plays because of the pressure applied by the physical Tackles. The running game of the Seminoles went from unstoppable in the first half to nonexistent in the second.

Oh, and the quarterback getting hit was Manuel (sacked 4 times and hit 4 more).


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  • VT1994Hokie Oct 10, 2012

    State beating FSU was pretty darn special. The Hokies missed enough passes in the 1st half for two scores. Another killer was the Gio romp for 63 yards. I'll bet Foster will have 2-3 DB's backed off of the LOS in the situation next time. We need 4 strong quarters this weekend.

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again01 Oct 9, 2012

    View quoted thread

    I saw two missed holding calls. One on FSU and one on State.

    You don't know what you're talking about.

  • davidgnews Oct 8, 2012

    A big congrats to UNC and Duke, from a State fan !!!

    These wins are great for the Triangle, and great for the ACC.

  • StunGunn Oct 8, 2012

    View quoted thread

    I agree. The first half was all FSU, the second half was all State. FSU let State hang around all game, and they paid the price. State made the adjustments necessary to win the game. Fair and Square.

  • BattlingBishop 5 Oct 8, 2012

    Congrats to all 3....nice job.

  • kornfan2448 Oct 8, 2012

    View quoted thread

    The #3 team in the country, playing an unranked team, should not be in the position to have any "help from the officials" determine the game. I give State all the credit. They hung in, put themselves in a position to win and beat FSU...period.

  • trueblue0100 Oct 8, 2012

    View quoted thread

    NCSU did get a little help from the officials.

  • trueblue0100 Oct 8, 2012

    Just in case Mark Thomas doesn't realize it, North Carolina Central University is also in the Triangle Area and they also won getting a victory over South Carolina State University by a score of 40-10. They set a school recoed by scoring 30 points in one quarter.

  • StunGunn Oct 8, 2012

    It was a great weekend of football for the Triangle. I did pick State to beat FSU - just had a gut feeling they would, but watching the first half of the game, I had my doubts. Congrats to all teams, I wish Wake could have made it 4-0 for the Big Four. Grobe chose ethics and scruples by suspending six players who violated team rules; gotta respect a coach who puts doing the right thing over a win.

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