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I’m Out Of Theories, Answers And Ideas

November 1, 2009
(Photo courtesy The N&O)

I don’t really know what else to say. Watching today’s game was like having your leg pinned in the train tracks with a slow-moving train bearing down. The feeling of impending doom, with no recourse or means to avert it.

That, in a nutshell, is Wolfpack Football.

In what universe should a team lose a game in which they post 538 yards of offense? In which the starting QB throws for 349 yards and FIVE touchdowns? Where your team averages 7.8 yards per play?

All things are possible on Planet Archer…where Defense goes to die. Where the 10-yard cushion is the norm and player confidence drops to all-time lows.

When you watch your team rally to score a go-ahead touchdown with 3:50 and yet are convinced that the game is lost, that’s the essence of N.C. State fandom these days. It’s a sense of dread and despair, and it looks just as palpable on the players’ faces on the field as it is on the faces of fans off it. You know it. I know it. THEY know it.

This game — perhaps more than any we’ve played this season — encapsulates the most frustrating aspect of Wolfpack Football. We have a ACC title-caliber offense that can score points in bunches…and we have a last-place-in-the-Mountain-West caliber defense that can’t stop anyone.

It’s the same old story for Wolfpack Football since the turn of the century: only one phase — offense or defense — can play at a high level, but not both. Philip Rivers never had a great defense to compliment him. Following his graduation, State led the country in defense the following year. State stocked the NFL with defensive talent in the final years of Amato’s time on the sidelines, and when that talent pool dried just as Chuck the Chest was shown the door, one of the league’s best QBs arrived — only to get mated up with this pitiful excuse of a defense you see trot out before you every week.

Yeah, State’s defensive backfield is thin. The whole team is. Nearly 12 percent of the team is lost for the year to injury. But that’s no excuse for the poor defensive effort we see every week. Enough with telling us how the players didn’t execute the scheme, coach O’Brien…it would take perfect execution on every single play JUST to generate a few three-and-outs. The players are executing the 10-cushion on the corners just fine as far as I can see. The players are doing what the coaches are asking them to do. I think they’re as baffled as we are as to why they constantly are put into position to fail. Setting up off the ball on 3rd and short, gift wrapping the 5-yard slant EACH and EVERY time. When Thad Lewis of Duke can’t wait to run back to the press to tell them how State fell right into their hands, showed everything in the game that State did on film and made it child’s play to march up and down the field, THAT’S coaching. NOT execution.

Assuming the same results are in store the rest of the year, there are some tough decisions looming for O’Brien ahead. He’s made his bed with Archer, calling out his players and shifting the blame away from his defensive coordinator. The excuses are wearing thin and there’s only so much time before the fans shift their ire from Archer to him. The more O’Brien hunkers down in this matter and refuses to acknowledge the defensive coaching as a problem, the more he will alienate himself from the fanbase.

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