Don’t worry folks, I haven’t gone anywhere. First with a bye week then with a hurricane, not a whole bunch going on ‘til basketball starts up next week. And I know y’all are just itching to find out how we are going to do against the Wolfpack in Raleigh. I’ll save the dramatics for the end, but first let’s look at NC State.
If it wasn’t for the 1950’s to the early 1980’s, the Hoos would have a respectable record against, well, pretty much everyone. The Wolfpack are prime examples. Overall, Virginia is 21-34-1 against NC State, but 23 of those losses came between 1946 and 1982, including stretches of 12 and 9 straight losses. From the GW Era on, Hoos are a more respectable 14-9. Personally, I can’t really remember any memorable games from this rivalry other than the 2007 loss in Raleigh 29-24, just when we started to get on a roll that year.
NC State This Season
The Pack are a very decent 5-3 overall and 2-2 in conference. The win of the year in the ACC had to of been the 17-16 victory over Florida State back in early October. Outside of that, it has not been an impressive win log, which includes wins over UCONN, Maryland, The Citadel, and South Alabama. In the loss column, the opened the season in Atlanta dropping a 35-21 blowout to Tennessee, and lost 2 heartbreakers to Miami and North Carolina.
I know this will come as no surprise to you, but NC State likes to throw the ball…a lot. Another year, and another Top 20 passing attack lead by senior Sean Glennon’s brother. While Mike’s passing touchdowns and completion percentages are down from a year ago, his yards per attempt are way up, meaning that the WRs and TEs are picking up yards in bunches…when they can catch it. Plenty of receiver options for Glennon, but the 5 to keep your eyes on are WRs Quintin Payton (603, 1 TD), Bryan Underwood (460, 10 TD), Tobais Palmer (333, 1) and TEs Rashard Smith (201, 3) and Asa Watson (182). Now Underwood has had 8 straight games with a TD reception and is poised to break Herman Moore’s ACC record if he catches one Saturday. Running the ball…it really doesn’t matter. They are 102nd in the nation and the Packs leading rusher, Tony Creecy has gains 385 yards and 3 TDs on a 4.1 average. Finally someone worse than we are.
I did a double take when I actually read the Wolfpack media guide. Of all the team I would have thought would still run a 4-3…I mean straight up UVa style 4-3…it wasn’t NC State. But here we are and it looks 90% like our defense, with the lone exceptions being that they have “up” and “free” corners, but it pretty much is how we run it. Now the name everyone knows on this defense is FC David Amerson, whose 382 interceptions last year stunned the world and landed him on the All-American team as just a sophomore. Well he won’t break that record this year with only 4 INTs to date, but teams like Tenn, UNC, and Miami really took Amerson to the woodshed. Other guys to watch out for are leading tackler LE Darryl Cato-Bishop and leading sacker WLB Rickey Dowdy.
I could sit here are weave you a tale of how Virginia can pull it off, but I won’t waste your time. As much as Mike London wants to let you know they are still fighting every game, the reality of the situation is the season is lost and the players have checked out. Two things stick out. First, it’s the coach speak. When a head coach refers to regular season games as “our bowl games”, your team is (1) banned for such by the NCAA or (2) so awful that you don’t have a chance to go to one of the 30ish exhibition games that even 5-7 teams get to go to (see 2012 UCLA). Secondly, when starters start getting suspended in the middle of the season for “team violations” the attitude this season is gone. I can see the beginning of the year when you do something stupid over the summer or around Dec/Jan when grades start coming out, but there is no excuse for Mathis, Coley, and Battle to garner a suspension around Halloween. Nobody is stepping up and challenging the kids to do better and it is showing on the field. Believe me I wish it was different, but when it has gone from not being able to run the ball to not being able to score (101st offense in nation) and from slowing down the passing game to stopping opponents from scoring (90th defense in nation), show me a bright spot. There will (or should) be some turnover in the coaching staff next year, and this game, along with the next 3, should put the nail in the coffin. NC State 38, UVa 16.