It was a dark day for the Pack in Raleigh as the early evening came along and the light of the midafternoon faded away. Little by little, the last few rays of golden light slipped into the darkness of night.
Maybe it was proper that the NC State-Virginia game was scheduled for a noon kickoff, because otherwise, the metaphor above wouldn’t have fit as well. As the game clock ran out on Saturday afternoon, the Virginia Cavaliers achieved their first ACC win of the season over the NC State Wolfpack, as what was left of the crowd at Carter-Finley Stadium headed out in shock, anger, and sadness.
Last week I posted on what NC State needed to get done early in and throughout this matchup. I laid out the truth in a clear and coherent way, but what the Pack brought out onto the field wasn’t even close to what needed to happen. The Cavaliers opened up the first quarter harassing the Pack Defense with a quick lead of 14-0. Even though the Defense was able to settle into the second quarter, the offense and special teams handed over the rest of the game.
Mike Glennon looked really good coming out of the Carolina game. He had thrown for five touchdowns and over 400 yards. However, this game was a major blow to his NFL draft stock. Seriously. Even though there is plenty of blame to drop on the receivers’ corps, a lot of the heat will eventually come back to reflect on him as quarterback and leader of the offense. Glennon threw for 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions. The offense punted 8 times and had 3 fumbles along with multiple turn overs on downs and a safety. Let’s not even mention the running game of which there was none.
In general, Virginia came down to Raleigh ready to hammer down at a Pack team that obviously doesn’t have the mental game to win when it counts. Yes, they beat a No. 3 ranked Florida State: congratulations. But every single loss this season has been a vein cut out on the fight for the division title—a title that is completely beyond sight after this weekend. Whether due to Mike Glennon and/or the receivers/running backs, the Pack hasn’t been able to be consistent on offense, with only 2 strong offensive games against FBS opponents this season (I will not count South Alabama as an FBS opponent just yet). And the Defense, well, they have strong games and horrible games with also a lack of consistency.
Where do we go from here? Even though a sports writer and a fan of all of football and many sports, I will admit at the end of the day that I am part of the Wolfpack and a devout fan of NC State. Therefore, I am taking the perspective of a fan and alumnus at this point. This second half to the season isn’t looking good or even decent for the Pack and the coaching staff. Mike Glennon and David Amerson (CB, #1), who ended last season looking ready for an NFL future, have not performed to expectations. Even though the QB needs the receivers to perform, and those receivers haven’t done so recently, it will all end up reflecting on Glennon. As for Tom O’brien, I am not a BCS championship fan. NC State is fifteen years away from even being considered for the BCS championship game, if ever.
However, the Pack should be in the mix for the ACC title every year, and they have been the last two. But this year we have seen State shoot itself on both foots time and time again. The Pack needs to be an 8-win team. I am not trying to be prideful or unrealistic. There is nothing unrealistic about finishing the season 8-4 and losing the bowl game or 7-5 and winning the bowl game. It has been six years since TOB took over at NC State. If he isn’t able to lead the Wolfpack into at least 8 victories (including the bowl game) then we may see a change of the guard take place at Carter-Finley Stadium and at the NC State Wolfpack football program.