Wolfpack speed up to top the Turtles
Posted October 20, 2012
College Park, Md. — Contrary to the mold for North Carolina State, the Wolfpack were at their best Saturday when they were going fast at the line in a 20-18 win over Maryland.
A mundane first quarter saw Mike Glennon go 2-for-7 for 1 yard and Tony Creecy run five times for 17 yards. The result was three punts, a 3-0 deficit and an energy level that made Eeyore look over-caffeinated.
Then it happened. NC State inserted Shadrach Thornton at running back and went to a no-huddle look. The new result was a 5-play, 75-yard drive in less than two minutes that ended in a 25-yard touchdown pass to fullback Logan Winkles.
Yes, a fullback and yes a sub-two minute drive.
In fact, only one of NC State’s four scoring drives on Saturday lasted more than two minutes.
Out of the break, leading 10-3, NC State went back to their conservative game plan. With the exception of the 1-play, 68-yard score to Brian Underwood, NC State’s next five drives accounted for 80 yards and no points.
But with their backs against the wall, out of timeouts and running out of time, that offensive urgency returned.
A 17-yard pass to Underwood preceded a pair of 14-yard completions to Quinton Payton and Rashard Smith – the last one aided by heady sideline footwork. Next thing the Wolfpack knew, they had regained the lead on a 43-yard Niklas Sade field goal after a drive that lasted just 1:45.
It was just the second time all season that NC State did not hold the ball longer than their opponent (Tennessee held a 31:47-28:13 advantage in the season opener) and NC State’s 24:46 time of possession was their lowest since a 38-10 loss to Virginia Tech on Nov. 21, 2009 (23:34).
Now, does Tom O’Brien want to live with this game plan week-in and week-out? Of course not. The team is not built that way. But when the game warrants, being able to speed things up is always a good option - naturally, it is a tougher transition that having to slow down.
Give Maryland credit. Quarterback Devin Burns, replacing Perry Hills, turned the Terps into a one-dimensional ground team and their first four possessions after half all lasted 3:22 or longer. NC State’s defense was tired and was gifted a fumble with three and a half minutes to play, but they never gave up the backbreaker.
Next week against North Carolina, expect the Wolfpack to go back to a ball-control game, but Saturday night, they were at their best when they sped things up.