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No Time To Panic About Nate Irving

September 7, 2010

Nate Irving will need another game or two to return to form. (Courtesy

Nate Irving’s stat line at the end of the Western Carolina game was pretty barren: Nothing.

Zip. Zilch. Nada.

In basketball, they call it joining “Club Trillion.” One number in the “minutes played” column and zeros in the remaining 12 stat columns. If there’s a football equivalent, Nate joined the club Saturday.

So should State fans worry the old, dominant Nate is gone for good?

Of course not, and here’s why.

  1. Nate was held out of all but the last preseason scrimmage. Practice is one thing; getting back on the field with folks flying around in a game-type situation with time and score being kept is another.
  2. Nate’s playing a new position. If you add up all the other hurdles Nate’s faced getting out on the field, you can increase the degree of difficulty by a few factors because he’s switching from the wideside linebacker position to the middle. When Nate was out in space, he was able to use his instincts and raw athleticism to make the spectacular plays he became known for. By switching to the middle, Nate’s now responsible more for reading the offensive set, calling the defensive set in response, getting folks in place and taking away the interior of the field. Not only is this a totally different skillset, it will take some time before Nate’s head ceases swimming and he can go back to relying on his instincts.
  3. Just like any player returning from a knee or leg injury, getting those first hits out of the way help cease the butterflies. Nate would be inhuman if he were able to completely block out the thought of all the injuries he had to overcome and whether any of those will impact his play. Even if he wasn’t in on a tackle, hopefully he was able to fully uncork on a blocker or two to get that first big impact out of the way and move on from there.
  4. I wasn’t impressed with the play of the front four on defense. They got little to no push on Western’s smaller offensive line. WCU linemen were also able to pinch down on State’s linemen, shake loose and engage the linebackers at the second level. If State’s defensive linemen can’t occupy blockers in the middle and create lanes, the linebackers won’t have clear paths to attack the ballcarrier. Hopefully the defensive line play will improve and if it does, expect to see Nate free to do get involved much more in run defense.

People make some wild and crazy assertions after just one game. Suddenly, TJ Yates is a great quarterback, Kellen Moore is your Heisman Trophy frontrunner (no kidding–just ask Joe Schad) and Maryland can challenge for the Atlantic Division. Let’s let a few more games transpire before we start going down those roads. Do the same with your evaluation of Nate Irving. I expect to see The Predator back to form before we hit conference play.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    September 7, 2010 2:11 pm

    Excellent observation. I completely agree.

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