5 big questions about NC State vs USC
Posted September 4, 2009
After the game I was hit with a million questions about the game. I wanted to answer them as quickly as possible. But in order to really get a good handle on what unfolded in the 7-3 loss by NC State to South Carolina, I wanted to wake up the morning after and watch the game film before I reacted. Or overreacted. So here are the 5 main questions from the game:
NC State’s offense just didn’t seem to click, was it the South Carolina defense or the NC State offense?
When you have two schools from major conferences (SEC and ACC), chances are both teams have plenty of good players on both sides of the ball. So generally the answer to this question is BOTH. The Gamecocks defense played with speed and intensity. They were able to hem QB Russell Wilson in and record 6 sacks. But after going back and looking at the game film, I saw only one real player on that defense, Eric Norwood. South Carolina was down 3 defensive lineman, but they are by no means a top defensive unit. Next week at Georgia, expect the Bulldogs to put up 30 plus.
NC State’s o-line performed very poorly. It would be difficult for me to single out any one player because at some point during the game EVERY guy up front allowed a South Carolina player to run free. It is virtually impossible for ALL 11 guys on an offensive unit to do their job perfect on a play. Football is a game of mistakes. Usually some of the best plays by GREAT players happen off of a guys mistake. But when you give up 6 sacks and could have easily given up 3 more something has to be done. In college football the game is won and lost at the line of scrimmage. NC State lost the battle up front!
Toney Baker doesn’t play for two years and he gets the starting nod only to fumble, why wasn’t Jamelle Eugene starting?
Toney Baker got the start because he EARNED it. The last thing that was on his mind when he went to bed the night before the game was that he would fumble State’s first possession. I talked with him before the game, and I know he was anxious to get out on the field. And there are times when you get so focused on how you’re going work the first offensive play that you forget the most important thing, “Secure the football!”
All that being said, TE George Bryan owes Toney an apology. He allowed a “head-up” technique defensive end with outside help to cross his face. His guy ran virtually scott free at Baker to cause the fumble. In the Tight End Bible of Blocking rule number one is NEVER GET BEAT INSIDE. Overall George played a solid game. But he is just as much to blame for the fumble.
Why wasn’t Russell Wilson running the football?
Russell didn’t run as much as fans would have liked. He is a duel threat quarterback. I do know the coaches have talked to him about staying a half second longer in pocket to allow his receivers a little more time to get in their routes. With that in the back of a quarterbacks mind, there’s a conflict when the pocket collapses so quick because of poor line play. And the main reason why I believed Russell looked like he was running in mud when he did run the ball was because he hasn’t been able to practice running the ball. Could you imagine asking a running back not to practice running the ball from the last game of the season to the first real game. A coaching staff would be crazy to allow their starting quarterback to run the ball in live scrimmage situations against their own guys. When you see him warming up before the game is he throwing balls to his receivers or making cuts in the secondary? He’ll get better at running the ball. Let’s just see over these next two games how good he looks before passing judgment on his running ability.
Do you believe the officiating lost the game for NC State?
No! You never blame the refs for losing a football game. Their decisions, or lack their of, are out of your control as a player. Did the refs from the SEC miss some calls? No question. But they missed some on State as well. You have to understand, players are told by their coaches before the game that inevitably there are going to be some missed calls by the officials. It’s their first game of the season, too. You have to rise above. Not to pick on one guy, because there were many to choose from, but if WR Jay Smith hangs on to the ball in the end zone, the officials are an afterthought.
What were the positives of that game for NC State?
1- The game is over. No joking. The game film however doesn’t need to be thrown away, as some coaches love to say. I learned twice as much from my mistakes than I did from my successes (and I learned a ton due to lack of successes).
2- The young defensive secondary that was in question played very well. RS Freshman CJ Wilson was solid. TRUE Freshman Rashard Smith is going to be a special player for the Wolfpack.
3- They WILL get better. If for no other reason, they can’t get any worse. This coaching staff does an outstanding job of teaching.
4- This wasn’t an ACC game.