Friday, October 24, 2008

Guest Blogger: NC State YANCSSB

For a view of where the Wolfpack football team is at the moment I was able to ask a few questions of James at Yet Another N.C. State Sports Blog or YANCSSB for short. He has some great insights on N.C. State which has been an enigma to me even though I've seen them play a few times. Here is a link to my Q&A on his blog. I have heard the Fayette-Nam reference a few times now from a host of different people. Good thing my in-laws don't read this stuff, heyoo!

1. It seems like Russell Wilson is legitimate dual threat QB. Do you
think Tom O'Brien's offense allows him to showcase all his talents?

It's definitely geared to showcase Wilson's skill set. In fact, back in Spring when there was discussion of who would be State's quarterback, behind the scenes O'Brien and Dana Bible were reworking the playbook to install some read-option. Given that our other quarterback options at the time were semi-mobile Daniel Evans, tall-and-lanky dropback-passer Mike Glennon, portly Harrison Beck and the enigmatic-but-now-departed Justin Burke, it was clear that O'Brien and Bible knew that Wilson was going to be their guy. 

The effectiveness of the offense, of course, depends on the blocking skill of the line and the efficacy of the running game. But what makes Wilson so dangerous is his escapability and speed. It's been a while since I've seen a QB as comfortable dodging defenders IN the pocket as Wilson. There's not a lot of wasted movement or flailing about; he moves just enough forward, back or sideways to make the blitzer or lineman miss, and he always does so with his eyes downfield. His ability to lengthen any play forces the defensive secondary to work extra hard to stay with their assignment. What's scary is that, as a redshirt freshman playing in only the first games of his career, he has the potential to get even better. 

2. I've always thought Andre Brown was talented but it seems more like a running back by committee situation with the Wolfpack. If that is correct why do you think that is so?

I think it's a result of last year's injury to Brown, for a couple of reasons. One, he's still trying to regain some of the explosiveness he lost while on the shelf. He hasn't looked as explosive as he did a couple of years ago when he ran for 248 and 179 yards in back to back games. Two, his absence from the lineup last year, along with the injury to Toney Baker, allowed Jamelle Eugene to burst onto the scene and earn a name for himself. So now what do you do? Bench the star from last season (Eugene), or bench the star from two years ago (Brown)? Both are incredibly talented and provide enough of a style change-up from one another (Brown the sizeable powerback, Eugene the speed back with tremendous pass-catching skills) to keep them both in the rotation. The frustrating thing in the Florida State game for a lot of State fans was it seemed Bible went away from Eugene in favor of Brown when Eugene was racking up big chunks of yardage. It's a tough balance to strike, no doubt.

3. On defense it seems that the Pack have all kinds of problems in pass defense but do a decent job of getting interceptions. Who should Chris Turner be wary of in the secondary?

I don't think there's any one individual necessarily to point to. With the addition of defensive coordinator Mike Archer to O'Brien's staff, he's installed a more passive zone defensive scheme that puts a premium on creating turnovers. It's great when it works; it stinks when it doesn't. In the Boston College game, their offensive coordinator Steve Logan did a fantastic job attacking and exploiting the holes in the zone for big yardage. But, State picked up three turnovers as well, giving State the opportunity to tie the game late. So when you get turnovers it can work, but it opens the door for teams that take care of the ball to exploit it. 

4. N.C. State has looked competitive in the last two games only to fade in the second half. What is your explanation?

Well I think the biggest factors are our incredibly thin ranks on the two-deep due to injuries and attrition, and to our inability to get off the field on third down. The Florida State game, in particular, was especially tough. They converted three third downs of yardages of 14 yards or more, and converted a total of 10 third downs in 17 chances. That's way too high a conversion percentage to allow, especially when in the same game you only convert 1 of 9 on third down. Ouch. It's no wonder that the Noles had the ball for nearly 17 more minutes than State, and when your defense--that's already spread thin to begin with--is asked to be on the field that long, it's a recipe for disaster.

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