Looking back at the Clemson incident.

I purposefully waited a few days to give any sort of opinion of “the call” from Thursday night.  There was a lot of anger I that I needed to process and many obscenities that I needed to get out of the way.  We were in the game, we were going to take the lead, and we were going to ruin the night of the people who were worried about the perception of the conference.

Now it’s a few days later and I’ve calmed down a bit.  Do I think it was the correct call?  Absolutely not.  His foot never went out of bounds.  If it had, it should have been called a touchdown to begin with and then overturned.  Did we get hosed?  We sure did.  That call changed the direction of the game and sucked the life out of the team as well as Carter-Finley.  However, here’s where I may anger a few of you.  Would we have won the game if the touchdown had been allowed?  I don’t think so.

There’s no doubt momentum would have been on State’s side if they had gone up 14-13.  Clemson would have been on their heels and the term “Clemsoning” would have had life again.  Dave Doeren had his team ready and they had performed admirably up until that point.  The team deserved the lead.  They didn’t get it though.

Beating a team with the talent that Clemson has this year isn’t an easy thing to do.  You need to have a nearly flawless game and take advantage of every situation you’re in.  The fact is, even after the run was called back, State had a first down with good field position.  If they could have put the call behind them and played the hand they were dealt they could have been alright.  Instead, a fumble by Pete Thomas led to a quick score by Clemson that basically put the game out of reach.  

I’m not saying that if the fumble hadn’t occurred then State would have won the game.  There’s no way to know that for certain.  The fact is, however, the fumble CAN’T happen when trying to defeat a team like Clemson.  There is too much talent on that team for mistakes.  

The call didn’t cost State the game – the team’s inability to deal with the call did. 

The game is in the past and the loss is in the books.  There’s nothing to be done about it and it’s best to try and forget it.  The thing to take out of Thursday night is this team is going in the right direction.  They competed against a team that could (or should) have blown them out of the water.  The defense is good and will get better as the year progresses.  The offense is behind the defense but is getting there and will only be better when Brandon Mitchell returns.  Dave Doeren is doing a good job and leading the program into what should be a promising future.  

It was a tough loss but at the end of the day it’s no worse than any other loss.  Having a 2-1 record after 3 games was expected by most and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.  

Plus, it’s better than being 1-2.  Here’s to you Carolina.

Go Pack
– DH 

Week 1 – Getting to know Louisiana Tech.

Week 1 will match the Wolfpack against the Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech. 

Louisiana Tech finished with a record of 9-3 for the 2012 season.  They had a conference record of 4-2 which led to a 3rd place finish in the Western Athletic Conference.  The Bulldogs will begin play in Conference USA this season.  

Tech put up frightening offensive numbers last year.  They had the top scoring offense in the country with 51.5 ppg while passing for over 350 yards per game.  The rushing attack wasn’t overshadowed by the passing game, however, as Tech also averaged 227 yards per game on the ground.  Just so we’re clear, those 2 statistics were good enough for 3rd and 16th overall.  They were quite bad on the defensive side of the ball as they gave up 38.5 ppg, but THEY SCORED A WHOLE LOT. 

The good news for State is that Tech lost the bulk of their team.  They also lost their head coach, Sonny Dykes, who listened to “California Gurls” one too many times and is now the head coach of the California Golden Bears.  Skip Holtz took over for LA Tech and is facing a major rebuild (not unlike Doeren’s job here at State.)  This is a totally different football team with different personnel as well as a brand new system. 

If this were the same Tech team from last year then we would all be quite worried going into Saturday.  As it stands, however, there should be a bit of a talent difference that will lead to a State win.  Their defense gave up plenty of points last year so this game should lead to a smooth start for our new offense.  Brandon Mitchell should be able to carve them up and put points on the board.  (Yes, I’m going under the assumption that Mitchell will be named starter.)  They lost the quarterback that put up those monstrous numbers last season so they’ll be in the same boat as we are on the offensive side of the ball.  The difference will be our defense handling the situation better than the defense of LA Tech.  

Prediction - 
Expect a sloppy game from both teams that leads to a 38-24 win for NCSU.  Also look for a breakout game from freshman RB Matt Dayes. 

It’s football season again. Enjoy.  If you’re out at the game feel free to come by and say hey.  Send me a tweet to find our tailgate and come have a good time. 

Go Pack.
- DH 

FOOTBALL IS HERE! Also, season preview action.

Hello, all. My name is Tim and I’ll be contributing to State Sports Beat. I’d like to thank Dustin for the opportunity. Just a little about myself: I’m from Hickory, NC, I’m a lifelong NC State fan, and I’ve been in the Army for the last 11 years. As I normally reside in Fayetteville, I’ve been fortunate to have attended many football, basketball, and baseball games in Carter-Finley, The PNC Center, and Doak Field at Dail Park. I have about 2 months left on my current deployment to Afghanistan, and I hope I continue to have the time to write here. It’s certainly a welcome distraction.

So here we are, just 3 more days until State’s first game of the season. I’m really excited about what Coach Dave Doeren has been able to accomplish this offseason. From recruiting to rebooting, he and his staff have done everything they can to prepare the 2013 version of State football for a great season. I’m optimistic that State can win at least 10 games. The schedule is easily the preseason MVP for State football. The schedule includes 8 home games and only two trips outside of the state of NC, with those two trips coming Oct 28th at FSU and Nov 18th at BC. In case you haven’t noticed, the Wolfpack is 16-3 in home games at Carter-Finley from 2010 until now. Also of interest is that this year, State doesn’t play any of those three teams (VT, GT, UVA) that have won at C-F in that time-frame. The non-conference schedule is pretty soft, although most observers think that ECU is good enough to win its conference. That match-up isn’t until November though, by which time State will be seasoned and comfortable with the new schemes installed by the new staff. State gets bye weeks before both Clemson and FSU, another scheduling advantage. The last time Clemson came to Carter-Finley didn’t turn out to so well for them, and I’d wager that our coordinators will see if they can do some of the things that worked so well for the Pack in the last match-up at home. With games against inferior non-BCS opponents Louisiana Tech and Richmond to start the season, it would make sense to keep the offense vanilla and unleash on Clemson the full-on Oregon/Wisconsin hybrid offense that Doeren has espoused. I believe State has a good chance to head into the FSU game with a 6-0 record and then put up a good fight there.

Another feather that Doeren can put in his cap in his inaugural year as head coach at NC State is the “State Championship”. If the Pack is victorious in games with Wake Forest, Duke, Carolina, and ECU, then that will secure bragging rights against all of the major FBS teams in Our State. This opportunity comes along very rarely due to scheduling quirks (thanks expansion).

With this year being Maryland’s last in the ACC, the last game of the year has additional significance as well. I’m sure a good amount of y’all dislike the Terps as much as I do, so I hope that win number 10 comes against the Terps and in their last ACC conference game ever. Don’t let the door hit ya on the back of your carapace, Testudo.

As far as the Xs and Os of the season, one major aspect where Doeren and his staff differ vastly from the previous staff is their ability to improvise and adapt their game-plan based on what is available. I expect Arkansas transfer Brandon Mitchell to get the nod as the starter at QB, but I won’t be surprised if Pete Thomas gets plenty of snaps in mop-up duty versus La. Tech and Richmond. Some other impact players that I expect to have big seasons are Rashard Smith in the return game and Shadrach Thornton and Matt Dayes at running back. Smith has great vision, and I won’t be surprised to see him take a few kickoffs or punts back to the house for touchdowns. Thornton and Dayes are both promising young running backs, and I expect one or both to emerge at the end of the season as 1,000-yard rushers. Tony Creecy may have something to say about that as well, but I have a gut feeling that those two will produce more. The players in general have responded very well to Strength and Conditioning Coach Jason Veltkamp’s regimen, so I won’t be surprised when previously unproductive players on from last year’s team have All-ACC seasons. In this offense, big plays can come from so many different positions. It’s going to be exciting. I’m really disappointed that I’ll be in Afghanistan for the first few games, but I do come home on the day before the game with UNC-CH. That’s going to be out of control. I’ll conclude my first post here, but I’ll do my best to contribute new posts regularly. Now that the season is here, we won’t have any shortage of things to discuss. I hope y’all enjoy. Saturday can’t get here soon enough.

GO STATE

-Tim

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Could it end any other way?

We all saw it coming. Everybody knew it would end up this way as soon as the game was over on Sunday. State took down the big brother on a national stage. At the time it was arguably the biggest game in the baseball program’s history. Come tomorrow it will pretty much pale in comparison to the task at hand. Take down the flagship for a second time in a row. The kicker? Take them down in an elimination game at the College World Series. 

This is more than a rivalry game on a big stage. This is a game that would give an entire school, it’s alumni, and it’s devout fanbase the last laugh. NC State hasn’t had the last laugh often. It wouldn’t be just another chance at downing a rival. This is a shot at ending your rival’s season and chance at a national title while keeping yours alive. 

The teams have balanced out on the season. They’ve played 4 times now and have split the games. The first 2 games consisted of a 7-1 loss and a 7-3 win. The 3rd game took 18 innings to decide and State lost a heartbreaker 2-1. The 4th game was just this past Sunday as State handled UNC 8-1. After that game it was technically up in the air as to whether or not State would face the Heels again (but we all knew they would.) It would either be in an elimination game on Thursday or it would be in a situation where the Heels would have to beat NCSU twice consecutively with a berth in the final on the line. Of course, that could only occur if UNC got by LSU. That would guarantee a rematch. It was up to State to decide the situation in which the rematch would occur. 

Trea Turner smoked a ball last night against UCLA. State was down by a run and Turner came to the plate and did what he was supposed to do against the best closer in baseball. He knocked the cover off a ball that fell on the warning track. If this game were held anywhere else (including most major league stadiums) that ball would have been gone. (On a side note, the NCAA has got to do something about that stadium. Kids are getting robbed and it’s hurting the game.) An inning later and the game was over with a loss. A huge loss. A win would have put the Wolfpack a win away from going to the final. The worst part of the loss, though, is that it took the best pitcher in the country out of the equation for an elimination game. If State could have squeaked out a victory against UCLA then they wouldn’t have faced elimination for a while. The loss, however, put them in an elimination game on Thursday. 

Carlos Rodon has absolutely owned UNC. He doesn’t have a lot of wins to show for it, but games he started that resulted in a loss were out of his hands. He showed it again on Sunday and was finally rewarded with excellent run support as State whipped Carolina. Who else would you want to face them in an elimination game? The problem is Rodon just pitched on Sunday. While at State, Rodon’s career and arm have been managed beautifully by Elliott Avent. There’s no way that he’ll come to his ace and ask him to go on such short rest. It would go against everything he’s done for the kid thus far and would make him look a lot like the manager down the road in Chapel Hill. Everyone can see how well that’s worked out for their ace. 

Avent won’t ask that of Rodon, but what happens when Rodon asks that of Avent? It’s hard to imagine Rodon not begging for the ball. This is the stuff people dream about as kids. To the guys playing this game it’s every bit as big as Yankees/Red Sox in an ALCS game 7. This is Curt Schiling bloody sock type stuff. This is why they play the game. Rodon is going to ask for the ball. Lots of people say there’s no way he gets it. It’s not that simple, though. Avent has a big decision on his hands. He’s not led us wrong yet.

This is for a season. This is for a program. This is for a national title. The bonus?

This is for a chance to say GTHC in front of the whole country.

Go Pack.
– DH 

The year that could have been.

Do you remember when State started the season with a ranking in the top 10? How about when they were supposed to win the ACC? CJ Leslie as POY? It seems like so long ago that the media was crowning this as the team that was going to bring glory back to Raleigh. Mark Gottfried was the savior for Wolfpack basketball. He was breaking the Wolfpack from the chains of the blues down the road. Is some of that true? Yes. As much as we all wanted? Absolutely not.

Most RATIONAL fans knew that the season wasn’t going to be as pretty as it was being predicted. Unfortunately, the media didn’t, and fed the rest of the country NC State steroids. This was portrayed as a team that wasn’t on the rise, but was already there. After hearing it on ESPN, hearing it on the radio, and reading it in print and online – a good portion of us really started believing it. That’s why we sit here now, the week of the ACC tournament, feeling as if we have to have a good showing to save the season. 

This team is easily the most talented that’s been in Raleigh in years. There’s no denying it. CJ Leslie is arguably the most talented player in the league. Richard Howell turned into an absolute beast that was well deserving of his 1st team honors. Lorenzo Brown (while healthy) was everything that he was supposed to be. Scott Wood continued to be a threat from outside and the trio of freshmen generally lived up to their hype. This was it. This was the year. Unfortunately, it’s in danger of turning into the year that could have been.

From terrible fouls, to terrible decisions, to sometimes what seemed to be bad luck – this team didn’t come close to their ceiling. 3 or 4 years ago we would have all been happy with a 11-7 record in the ACC and a 22-9 record overall. To be honest, we should be now. This program has taken great strides. Looking back on it, though, this team could have easily been 14-4 and 25-6. A smarter play here, a few less silly turnovers there, and we’re not playing until Friday this week. We also wouldn’t be staring at a dreaded 8/9 game in the NCAA tournament. 

For some reason it just never came together. Things just always fell the wrong way. Lorenzo Brown suffered his ankle injury during the worst part of our schedule. B1G member Maryland blew a 17 point lead against UVA in a game that could have given us a bye in the ACC tournament. Nothing ever worked out. The season that was supposed to put us back on top had us finishing 5th in the conference. 

Does all that matter? Yes and no. We should have been better during the regular season. There’s no denying that. This team should have never lost against Wake Forest. They should have finished strong against Florida State and not depended on Maryland to help them out. That never happened though. Does that make for a lost season? It depends on what happens from here on out.

If this team loses to Virginia Tech on Thursday then I feel sorry for anyone with access to the internet. The sky will fall, Gottfried will be the equivalent of Sidney Lowe, there may even be a Teen Mom marathon on every station. Life will suck. If the team has a strong showing and makes a run to Sunday everyone will forget the Len buzzer beater. If they make a deep run in the NCAA tournament then the Wake Forest game never happened. 

If you grew up watching and loving ACC basketball then you know one very important fact – the regular season means nothing. Growing up in North Carolina meant living for tournament week. It was like Christmas and your birthday rolled into one. You got to watch the early game at school and you raced home from the bus trying to catch the end of the second game. You had your team and there was nothing else. Residents of the state of North Carolina learn to talk trash from kids watching the ACC tournament at school.

As an adult, the same still applies. It doesn’t matter who won which game over who in the regular season because the regular season is just a warmup for the tournament. It doesn’t matter. It’s all practice for the games that really matter. 

Rest easy State fans. This isn’t the year that could have been quite yet. This year is just getting started. 

Go Pack.
–DH