Three weeks ago Uncle Sam decided it would be a great idea to send me halfway around the world, put me on a small metallic island, and isolate me from by beloved Wolfpack. Back in the hallowed confines of my wolves’ den I am catching up on how things have been since watching NC State get beat like Carolina’s sense of integrity by Tennessee. The results are underwhelming but not totally surprising. The rhetoric, on the other hand, is a little depressing…
There’s not much value in dwelling on NC State’s season thus far (we all saw it and it happened). So far our biggest accomplishment is beating the snot out of a Citadel team that WolfpackWorld, and anyone else who knows what a “touchdown” is, predicted would be a bigger pushover than South Alabama. The loss to Tennessee was a feasible outcome in the minds of most Wolfpack fans, but in a year that media outlets and message boards/blogs were speculating that NC State could contend for an ACC Title, most NC State fans were hoping for more than a 10-7 win over a transitioning UConn football program. While some are already talking about what NC State needs to do to stage a good ACC season and shoot for the Title game, the Wolfpack finds itself one loss away from having conversations that include phrases like “this is what O’Brien needs to do to turn this season around.”
Six years into the tenure of a coach with a proven track record running successful programs, it is hard to tell who is more concerned: (A) Tom O’Brien that a sixth season of 7-8 wins won’t be enough to keep Debbie from looking for a replacement or (B) NC State fans who have been convincing themselves that they are “this close” to winning an ACC Title and are now realizing that their program is further from success than they thought. It’s depressing to think that Wake Forest may be closer to the words “ACC Champion” than your Alma Mater.
Find False Satisfaction in Shitty Statistics
The results of the season are depressing, but the attempts I’ve seen on Twitter to make this season not seem as bad as it is is downright delusional. Most of these come from NC State’s official football profile (@PackFootball) after the Citadel game, but the rhetoric is not limited to this one user…
During the Pack’s current three-game winning streak, senior QB Mike Glennon has gone 58-of-88 (65.9%), for 694 yards, 5 TDS and 0 INTs.
Shadrach Thornton is the first freshman to go over 100 yards in his first game since Joe McIntosh had 131 yards against Richmond in 1981.
Dating back to the Connecticut game, the Pack had held opponents to 0-16 on the last 16 third down attempts before the 3rd quarter.
Some of these statistics sound impressive until you consider the competition. NC State, for the second straight season, is effectively playing two FCS teams (“effectively” is only referring to the fact that South Alabama is a program that is considered FBS for the sake of bowl eligibility, yet their program is younger than some of the kids I see sitting in my church’s nursery each week). NC State bragging about having a completion rate of 65.9% over the last three games is no different from Heather Dinich tweeting auspiciously about UNC’s amazing performance in their season opener against Elon. Congratulations on beating the shit out of that kid in the wheelchair off Glee… I guess you’re ready for Holyfield, now.
Hell, Citadel only had 7 passing attempts against NC State, but completed 4 of those attempts. TECHNICALLY I guess they could brag about a 57% completion rate against an FBS opponent. NC State fans would have a hay-day blasting the blog that touted such a stat, but NC State is posting equally as ridiculous stats.
The facts are that NC State is 65.9% over the last 3 games only because they were 73% over the last two. Against UConn, the only game out of the last three worth talking about, NC State threw for exactly 50% which is hardly anything to flaunt. Defensively, NC State allowed UConn to complete 55.6% of their passes and allowed South Alabama to complete 66.7% of their passes (yeah, and technically allowed Citadel to complete 57%, but we’ve already covered that). Excuses be damned, this isn’t how an ACC Champion performs on the field with an “experienced” team.
Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
Going into the 2012 season, Tom O’Brien said this 2012 squad was experienced and he seemed pleased overall with their progress during the off-season. Now, given the results of the past FOUR (not three) weeks, NC State finds itself staring down the barrel of a road game against ACC foe Miami. While NC State is boasting 65% completion rates over the last 3 games with 1 FCS opponent and 1 pseudo-FBS opponent, Miami has competed against 3 FBS teams, including two ACC victories and a game against #21 ranked K-State, and managed to maintain a 62% completion rate. While NC State is averaging just 4.25 yards per rush against their last two powder-puffs, Miami has averaged 5.1 yards per rush against their entire schedule to date. Miami also exceeds NC State in both passing and rushing yards on the season, even after their complete annihilation of Citadel.
If O’Brien is going to take his “experienced program” and make a run at the ACC Title, he is going to need to step things up. While many will likely say it’s premature to begin this kind of talk, NC State “needs to turn things around” because if it continues acting like nothing is wrong and continues it’s current level of performance, O’Brien’s best chances for an ACC crown may turn into another week long prayer session during the bye-week where NC State fans offer sacrifices to the ghosts of Lou Holtz’s long-deceased sanity in search of December bowl eligibility.