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Pack Scores Win In Crucial Game Against Cincinnati 30-19

September 17, 2010

Taylor Gentry was one of many Pack players who played a great game Thursday night. (Courtesy the N&O)

The wolfdog was there.  So were the F-15s, the skydivers and the field-sized US Flag.

The card stunts were there, too.

But most importantly, the dead legs Tom O’Brien feared his team would feel from the short turnaround between Saturday and tonight were not there. State looked every bit the part of a fresh, inspired squad on both sides of the ball, controlling the line of scrimmage on offense and attacking relentlessly on defense on its way to a solid (if not wire-to-wire pretty) 30-19 win against Cincinnati.

State’s defense stole the show from Russell Wilson, frankly. They demoralized a Cincinnati team with wave after wave of blitzes that threw ‘Cats quarterback Zach Collaros completely out of sync. He did strike for some easy TDs resulting from blown coverage downfield, but Cinci’s passing game was largely ineffective and their rushing attack- -of which Collaros was a key component- -was completely shut down. The ‘Cats managed only 75 yards on 31 carries for a 2.4 YPC average.

I can’t say enough about how radically improved our defense seems to be relative to last season. We’re attacking far more with a variety of blitz packages that force opposing offensive lines and quarterbacks to keep guessing. Keeping the pressure on Collaros (State recorded four sacks and plenty more hurries) prevented him from getting into any sort of rhythm passing or rushing. By the end of the game he was visibly frustrated, slamming the ball into the turf and blessing out his receivers.

Contrast tonight and last week’s performances with the sieve-like, you-bring-the-ball-to-us-and-we’ll-try-to-make-a-play defense we played most of last year and it’s like night and day. We’ll have to see if it continues on through the year, but I like what I’ve seen so far.

While the defense gets my primary adoration, you can’t overlook Wilson bouncing back from his putrid performance at Central Florida with a 333-yard, three touchdown, zero interception night.

I guess I’ve been spoiled by nights like this from him- -those numbers are impressive and yet I merely feel it was what we should expect to see from Russell every night. But after the years between he and Philip Rivers, I should remind myself that quarterbacks like him are a rarity. Thinking it out, it’s great to be able to say Russell looks to have shaken the last remnants of rust.

So 3-0. It feels weird, almost. It’s strange to think it’s been eight years since we could say that (or 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9-0), but it damn sure beats 1-2 or 2-1, which is where I thought we’d be by now. A bowl game looks very good right now, and now we can start talking about possible records of 7-5, 8-4 and- -if this defense only gets better- -maybe even 9-3. If State hits the nine-win mark, you’d have to think State would have a great shot at representing the Atlantic given how uneven all the teams in the conference have looked to this point.

But most of all, this win tonight was a crucial one for O’Brien. He painted himself into a corner a bit criticizing the ACC scheduling office earlier this week, so winning eliminated what surely would’ve been some interesting questions during the postgame press conference. It helps silence some of the “hot seat” talk for a bit, and it lets State puff its chest out a bit for representing the ACC well in front of a captive national audience. The ACC banner may be tattered, stained and torn, but baby, we’re toting it right now. And that’s a good feeling.

Now it’s an extended week to prepare for Georgia Tech. This time, there should be no excuses.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 17, 2010 9:51 am

    Sorry for the non-Pack related comment, but what’s going on with the dashes? Is this some experimental thing you’re doing or is this a new wave of punctuation I have not yet observed? (I don’t have feelings on it either way — I’m just curious.)

    • September 17, 2010 9:57 am

      Good question Justin: For some reason, WordPress converts my double dashes into a single one rather than converting it into an “em dash” like it needs to be. I could pull up an ASCII code table and copy & paste it in there, but that’s a pain in the ass. So I’m trying this. It seems like it’s a little weird, I guess, so I might stop doing it.

  2. D. Hill permalink
    September 17, 2010 10:48 am

    I’ve noticed that the past 2 weeks State has gotten a few votes in either poll. Does a nationally televised win like this push us in to that 25th spot?

    • September 17, 2010 10:58 am

      I don’t know. I got the sense during the game, from the broadcasters and from folks I follow on Twitter, that this game was more about Cincinnati sucking rather than giving State any credit for their performance. So we’ll definitely get some votes given so many folks watched us on TV (yet another great reason for Thursday night games), but I don’t think we’ll sneak in unless there are a lot of upsets from the teams in front of us.

  3. Plz2BStateFan permalink
    September 17, 2010 2:31 pm

    I cannot be overstated how bad Cincys O-Line is.

    We are not world beaters.

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