Wolfpack, Doeren need 'moral victory' at FSU
Posted October 25, 2013
The term “moral victory” isn’t used very often these days. Coaches – especially football coaches – have managed to pretty well weed the phrase out of their dialogue.
But at the same time, many of those coaches have gradually replaced “moral victory” with the more manly expression “competitive loss.”
Call it what you will, but N.C. State needs and should get one Saturday at Florida State.
No one expects the Wolfpack (3-3, 0-3 ACC) to win the 3:30 p.m. (ABC, Mix 101.5 FM) assignment against Florida State (6-0, 4-0). The Seminoles are favored by 33 points and may well be the best team in the nation.
But taking into account the fact that State is coming off an open date, getting back No. 1 quarterback Brandon Mitchell and No. 2 pass receiver Rashard Smith a week after the Seminoles won their Super Bowl equivalent by a staggering 51-14 count at Clemson, the game should end up being a relatively inviting situation for the Pack.
It’s difficult to imagine the Noles being as geared up for State as they were for the trip to Clemson in a nationally-televised spotlight game.
And as seemingly certain one-sided games go, the trip to Tallahassee amounts to as much of a statement opportunity for first-year coach Dave Doeren as he’ll have, other than next perhaps week’s game against UNC.
With the Tar Heels 0-3 in the conference and 1-5 overall, the State-Carolina game this season will be as regionally insignificant as any in recent years.
For sheer impact purposes, a competitive performance against Florida State would make as much of a favorable recruiting impression for Doeren’s program as a win over reeling arch rival.
The steady run of injuries and spotty offensive execution have combined to put the Wolfpack two wins behind expectations. On paper, State should have been able to get past Wake Forest and Syracuse and possibly would have won both if Mitchell could have played.
But the vision of a 5-1 first half has morphed into the reality of 3-3 and Doeren’s first season seems to be at crossroads.
With five winnable games on the schedule after Saturday, an 8-4 record and decent bowl bid is still within grasp. But an ugly loss and quick surrender Saturday would hardly set a promising tone for crosstown rivalry.
PIRATES GET BIG ASSIST
Thanks to Middle Tennessee’s last-second 51-49 upset win at Marshall on Thursday, ECU got an important open week bonus.
At 3-1 in Conference USA, the Pirates (5-2 overall) moved into first place in the East Division.
Marshall (4-3, 2-1) was in prime position to win five straight and take a 7-0 league record into the Nov. 29 showdown against the Pirates in Huntington.
The win by Middle Tennessee (4-4, 2-2) turns the East race into a triangular shootout. ECU got a 24-17 win in its Oct. 5 game against Rick Stockstill’s team.
The Pirates resume play next week at Florida International (1-5, 1-1).