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Thoughts on UCF, Cinci And TOB Whining

September 13, 2010

Audie Cole had his motor running Saturday night! (Get it!?!?) (Courtesy Gene Galin)

On the UCF game Saturday night:

  • Huge win for State Saturday night. State starts 2-0 for the first time under Tom O’Brien and means the Pack needs to find just four more wins over the next 10 games to become bowl eligible. Given how the rest of the league played the first two weeks of the season, I’m thinking four or more wins is most certainly possible at this point.
  • We’re already seeing the impact Jon Tenuta is having on this team’s defense. For the first time in a long time, I saw a State team ATTACK and force the issue. It paid dividends as UCF’s starting QB Rob Calabrese threw two picks and was yanked in the second half under heavy pressure from State’s swarming front seven. While I think it was disappointing the defensive coaches didn’t adjust well to UCF’s smaller, insanely fast backup quarterback, Jeff Godfrey, I think the front seven will only get better as the season goes on.
  • The running game was a very pleasant surprise. UCF’s front was supposed to be one of the better ones we’ll face this season, and at times the offensive line opened some tremendous holes against them. Dean Haynes and Mustafa Greene both had scores on the ground; Haynes posted a 4.9 yards-per-carry average and Greene looked quite adept at hitting the holes between the tackles. This most definitely needs to keep up, as it will allow State to grind clock and rest its defense over the course of the game.
  • Special teams continues to frustrate. The opening kickoff from Josh Czjakowski sailed into the endzone for a touchback, but from there it seemed both Czjakowski and Jeff Ruiz’s leg strength faded throughout the game. And when the Pack needed a monster punt at the end of the game to stave off a UCF rally, Ruiz shanked one about 15 yards down the field, allowing the Knights a short field and more hope they could draw even.
  • State was +5 in the turnover margin. Has that happened EVER since I graduated from State in ’01? I’m sure Steven knows.
  • AUDIE FREAKING COLE! Welcome to the spotlight, my friend–you earned it!

On Cincinnati:

  • State faces a short turnaround to prepare for a high-octane offense from Cincinnati. They’re 1-1, smarting from a tough loss against Fresno State two weeks ago and coming off a 40-7 whipping of Indiana State.
  • UCF’s passing game really didn’t challenge State much Saturday–the Bearcats most definitely will. State will need to pressure Cinci QB Zach Collaros as much or more than they did Calabrese in order to disrupt their potent passing game.
  • Russell Wilson will need to improve against Cincinnati, and he’ll need help from the offensive line. Hopefully the injuries along the line won’t be an issue come game time.

Finally, I want to say something about Tom O’Brien’s very critical quotes about the ACC scheduling office following the UCF game.

I understand the frustration with being dealt a hand like that. Your team gives their all in a big win on the road and must return home to Raleigh at a late hour to start resting up over the five short days leading up to the biggest non-conference game on the schedule. I realize no other conference team was dealt a similar short turnaround scenario.

However, bitching about it on the air doesn’t change things, and only makes you–and by extension your staff–look whiny. Yeah, the ACC didn’t do us any favors, but your argument about “offering [State] up as a sacrificial lamb” to Cincinnati would hold more water if Cinci weren’t also entering the game on five days’ rest. Granted, they played at home against a patsy versus a tough road game, but both teams will be coming in off a short week and the Bearcats will be the team traveling this go ’round.

If you want to broach the matter with Swofford’s folks in Greensboro through official communication behind the scenes and out of the media’s eye, go for it. I’m sure lots of coaches over the years have felt the same way and done the same thing. Play the game, prepare for and work toward the win, and if you come up short due clearly to fatigue, then maybe you can address it if someone else asks you about it directly in the postgame.

But blabbing about it on the radio before the game only provides bulletin board material for the Bearcats, and worse, tarnishes your image. I think most folks (outside of Chesnut Hill) think of O’Brien as a stoic, classy guy for the most part. I know O’Brien has made comments before that were meant to rankle opponents (the whole “Best Team In The State” postgame speech was a good one), but there was no jest or jabbing in this…this was straight anger at the folks at the top, and just looks bad. For proof of that, take a read through the comments section of that linked article.

The coach who proceeded you lost his job due in large part to his gaffs with the media and his inability to use them to his advantage. The media will go where there’s blood in the water, and if they sense they can sell more papers or get more hits by drumming up controversy, they will. Don’t give them any ammo.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. Alan permalink
    September 13, 2010 11:35 am

    Oh, come on. Don’t pick apart everything said in a post game interview. Tom O’Brien had his mind on getting his team home and rested and over the win and prepared for a Thursday night game. The ACC screwed up scheduling this after a Saturday night road trip. Tom was truthful about his feelings. I do not think it is whining. The man’s job is difficult enough without having his honest comments to the press criticized. He wants good relationships with press members and should be allowed to joke and commiserate. This type of criticism makes coaches feel they have to “measure” anything they say, and makes ’em “clam up”. Let’s be a little more understanding.
    I enjoy your writing; I just disagree with on this issue. Thanks.
    Alan Pate

    • September 13, 2010 12:03 pm


      Thanks for stopping by!

      I certainly don’t want Tom to feel like he can’t joke around with the media when warranted, especially with the folks at Wolfpack Sports Marketing. But he knew the schedule shaped up like this long before the postgame interview Saturday. He had plenty of time to raise the issue with the ACC offices and move past it by now. It seems to me he most certainly measured his words on this one–to levy a public complaint with the ACC. I take issue with the wisdom of doing so.

      I love Tom’s dry sense of humor and the fact he’s not afraid to poke the bear a little bit from time to time, but I don’t see what he hoped to gain raising this issue publicly, and he seemingly doesn’t care how it makes him and his staff look. I have to wonder…would he have said the same thing had State lost? Did winning make him feel empowered to “let fly,” and would a loss have kept his mouth shut? I don’t know. I just know it doesn’t look good.

      • TruthBKnown Returns permalink
        September 14, 2010 10:30 am

        I agree partly with the first guy (that it was OK for TOB to criticize the ACC publicly) and partly with you, J. Curle (that TOB’s words were measured and intentional).

        I think he did this intentionally, like when he proclaimed we were the best “program” in the state (not just team, but PROGRAM). At the time, he was being. beaten up on the recruiting trail, and that comment got a lot of free press, and surely made it to prospective recruits who may not have realized that we finished the season on a 4-game win streak.

        TOB had a beef with the ACC, and he DID previously take it up with the conference behind closed doors. Obviously, he didn’t get the response that he wanted, so he took his feelings public. And a lot of people are talking about it. He drew attention to the fact that the ACC did this ONLY to us. All the other Thursday night games in the ACC follow bye weeks.

        Does anyone really think the ACC would have scheduled such a game for one of the league favorites? Absolutely not. TOB is right. We WERE the sacrificial lamb in this.

        The man’s job is potentially in jeopardy this year. Every win is even more previous to him than to most other coaches, due to his very warm seat. The last thing he needed was the league scheduling such a game as we have this week.

        Without going into it, another reason not to schedule this kind of game on a quick turnaround is that the players may not be 100% and they are at bigger risk for injury.

        And does anyone think Swofford would have allowed this to happen to his beloved Tar Heels. Let’s be honest. Absolutely not!

  2. September 13, 2010 11:43 am

    you’re seeing exactly why people at Georgia Tech hated TAH-NOO-TA. He is incapable of adjusting his defensive plan. after beating Navy in 2008, he said he was going to run the same exact plan against the Mids in 2009. Navy game planned to attack that defensive plan and won for the second time in three years. Tenuta never made an adjustment to the Navy offense and Navy racked up 404 yards of offense while averaging 6.1 yards per rush, including the fullback going off for 158 yards on just 14 carries.

    I like the attacking when it’s called for. But I hope the defense realizes how badly it screwed up this game in the second half. The blitz needed to be dialed back after the first series with the backup and it never was. State almost paid for it.

    • September 13, 2010 11:57 am

      Good points all around. I will say that seeing a State defense that attacks is like gulping from a cold glass of water after wandering through the Shitty Defense desert for 40 years (or at least since 2004).

    • tjfoose permalink
      September 13, 2010 3:21 pm

      Tenuta is not the DC… sure he has influence, and has provided new tactics and a new attitude, but Archer is still the DC.

    • TruthBKnown Returns permalink
      September 14, 2010 10:38 am

      I disagree. The defense did a great job. The problem was the OFFENSE could not stay on the field for more than 3-4 plays at a time, so the defense stayed on the field a lot in the second half. And that QB that came in for UCF in the second half had fresh legs while ours were weary. Had he played the entire game, he would have been a step slower in the second half, too. If our offense had done, well, ANYTHING AT ALL, in the second half, our defense would have been just fine.

  3. David permalink
    September 13, 2010 12:38 pm

    I think TOB’s comments were idiotic…it made the team look like babies and more worse, it gave them an out. I can see the players being a little tired/sore and maybe just going through the motions this week with the mindset of if we win SUPER, if not ahh well we didn’t have enough time to prepare. The coach is supposed to have the ‘this is the hand we were dealt’ or ‘this doesn’t factor into our game plan’ mentality…sure it’s coachspeak, but there’s a reason they call it COACHSPEAK.

    He should’ve set, ‘this is not an ideal situation, but we’re excited to showcase this team in front of the Nation’ or something to that effect.

    As for John Tenuta, I was as huge fan of the aggressive defense, although I agree it should’ve been dialed back to try and keep the 2nd string fellow in the pocket. Also, I think the win overshadowed how poorly RW played. He missed some open receivers, including 2nd play from scrimmage, and threw into a lot of coverages that he probably shouldn’t have. I’d like to see more plays against Cinn that have him rolling out to stretch the line backers

  4. stevenbtp permalink
    September 13, 2010 12:43 pm

    To partially answer your question, James (don’t have my early-decade numbers handy): we were +6 against UNC in 2008. Since 2006, the UNC and UCF games are the only instances of a margin > +3.

  5. Plz2BStateFan permalink
    September 13, 2010 1:57 pm

    How much of the defensive adjustment was Archer’s call vs Tenuta’s?

    I know we adjusted a little after we realized how bad that QB was beating us. Does anyone know anything specific about the adjustments or lack of?

  6. sbas2 permalink
    September 14, 2010 7:23 am

    while most don’t like our coach to whine, one of the best coaches at NCSU was a whiner. Lou Holtz whined quite a bit especiallly with regard to Jerry Claiborne’s Maryland teams. i think he even closed practice because he though spies of opponents were watching State practice. win and whining is overlooked. lose-not so.
    i would have preferred Coach O’Brien to have not commented about being a sacrificial lamb.

  7. TruthBKnown Returns permalink
    September 14, 2010 10:41 am

    There’s nothing wrong with whining if:

    a) You have something legitimate to whine about in the first place, and

    b) You can accomplish something by said whining.

    As for (a), TOB’s beef with the ACC was a legitimate beef.

    As for (b), it remains to be seen, but I think it will serve to motivate the team (coach doesn’t think we can do it, so let’s prove him wrong!), and it also drew attention to a screwing that we took at the hands of the league schedulers.

    • David permalink
      September 14, 2010 2:10 pm

      ha, you’re homerism and wishful thinking transfers well from FANkind. You never see a coach talk about how something is impossible…what is he supposed to say before they take the field now…’OK guys, go out there, try your best, and have fun!’ I just don’t understand why he says the things he does

  8. Alan permalink
    September 14, 2010 3:00 pm

    Do you forgive Coach O’Brien now after this quote?

    “How much better do you feel today about getting ready for Thursday’s game than you did yesterday afternoon?

    I didn’t feel bad yesterday afternoon. It is what it is. The game is scheduled. We’re going to do the best job we can to get out there and put our best foot forward.

    • David permalink
      September 14, 2010 4:12 pm

      Nah, that’s what he should’ve said originally minus the ‘it is what it is’ still sounds to bitter and backdoor excuse’ish’


  1. O’Brien Certainly Has No Beef With The Schedule These Days « Riddick & Reynolds

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