Talking points: Sloppy Pack torch division hopes
Posted November 3, 2012
1. Another week, another contest where NC State did not appear ready following the opening kickoff. Unlike previous weeks, the Wolfpack never shook their malaise and failed to stage a comeback against Virginia.
After the Cavaliers opened up a quick 14-0 lead, NC State’s defense eventually settled down in the 2nd quarter and forced five straight 3-and-outs and kept Virginia out of the endzone before halftime.
Slight problem -- Mike Glennon and the offense were ineffective all afternoon. Without sustained drives, the defense found themselves back on the field and eventually wore down.
2. NC State’s offensive output: 8 punts, 3 interceptions, 2 fumbles lost, turned over on downs twice and a safety.
The running game was non-existent with Shadrach Thornton and Tony Creecy combining for 41 yards on 14 carries. The Wolfpack continued to make it difficult on themselves with penalties that created long down situations and dropped passes. Yes, dropped passes. Stop me if you've heard that one before.
Virginia had one of the worst turnover margins in the country, forcing only 4 turnovers in 8 games. The Cavaliers surpassed their season total in a single afternoon against the Wolfpack.
After a week of positive NFL Draft buzz, Glennon had a game to forget thanks in large part to Virginia’s pressure. The Cavaliers had only brought down a quarterback seven times in the previous 8 games, but they sacked Glennon five times on Saturday.
3. The lack of discipline really hurt on special teams, where the Wolfpack had two punts marred by blocks in the back. The safety was a direct result of NC State costing themselves around 80 yards of field position.
4. Virginia simply did a better job executing their game plan and setting the tempo. There were specific instances where NC State whiffed because the effort lacked, the Cavaliers dictated play or both.
On Virginia’s first touchdown, David Amerson left fans and broadcasters scratching their heads as he failed to be the aggressor on Phillip Sims. Rather than attempting a tackle on the scrambling quarterback, Amerson froze near the goal line. It’s possible he was anticipating a last second toss over his head, but Amerson will be questioned for not engaging Sims until it was too late.
With NC State still stuck in a general haze after halftime, Virginia head coach Mike London landed a couple of punches on 4th down plays for the eventual knockout.
On their first drive of the 3rd quarter, Kevin Parks ran 2 yards for a fresh set of downs on the NC State 38-yard line and Sims threw a touchdown on the next play. The Cavaliers went for it again on 4th down from the Wolfpack 31-yard line with just under 5 minutes to play, which resulted in a touchdown run by Parks.
5. The listless performance by NC State comes as a surprise following a week of positive rhetoric from their head coach. O’Brien said his team was angry after the loss to North Carolina and that they weren’t finished with the season. The Wolfpack were not completely shut out of the Atlantic Division race either, a point O’Brien was quick to make at his weekly press conference.
“Even though we've lost the hammer, we haven't lost anything because we still have to play and make Florida State win 7 games,” said O’Brien. “If they don't win 7 games, then we're right back there. Our key is to make sure we don't lose sight of that.”
Except that’s exactly what they did against Virginia. Now the division is completely out of the picture and the season will sputter along to another mid-level bowl at best.
Because NC State insists on putting fans through a rollercoaster of emotions, it wouldn’t be shocking to see them reel off a 3-game winning streak. This team was capable of beating Florida State, so why couldn’t put together a great game against Clemson? It would be the most Wolfpack thing ever, but the players still need to buy in for that to happen.
As the season gets away from NC State, that'll be the focus of attention. Is the motivation still there to play out the string?