NC State Beat: Everyone Take A Breath

Last weekend I did something completely out of character. Rather than watch NC State play the third ranked team in the nation, under the lights at Carter-Finley Stadium, I decided to head east and spend some time on the coast. I honestly thought it would be best for my health. For weeks, actually years, I have lived and died by every game, every quarter, and every play my Wolfpack have played. Doctors say at this rate, I probably won’t see 30. (No, not really) But it’s just who I am. I am that guy who can’t sit still during the game, and frequently go overboard when one little thing goes wrong.

Of course, when it came time for kickoff, my instincts kicked in, and I somehow found myself positioned squarely in front of a television, ready to take my weekly punishment. Needless to say, after watching yet another half of uninspired, disappointing NC State football, I couldn’t take it. I left and told myself I was going to enjoy my time at the beach and forget all about the Pack.

Yeah right, like that was actually going to happen.

I managed to take a little breather, clear my head, and again, somehow find myself squarely in front of a television, yelling, and pulling as hard as ever for the Pack. It was as if I hadn’t missed a beat. All the times State had hurt me, upset me, and disappointed me, felt like a distant memory.

The rest is history. NC State manufactured an incredible 16-point come from behind victory over a team many deemed national championship game worthy.

For the first time all year, the defense got constant pressure on the opposing quarterback and stifled the run. They may have bent, but they did not break. The offense, led by Mike Glennon, constantly put pressure on the Nole defense and they were in full-on attack mode. On both sides of the ball, the Pack finally did what I have been begging them to do all year; ATTACK!

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Under Tom O’Brien, when NC State has been at its best, the Pack have had relentless pressure from their defense, and took shots down the field on offense. State’s best season under TOB, 2009, saw a defense that was one of the top-5 in the country at making tackles behind the line of scrimmage, and a prolific offense that threw the ball around, while always keeping the defense on its toes. State hasn’t had a rushing attack under TOB, and still consistently do not. But what the Pack do have is a quarterback with a big arm, athletic receivers, and an above-average athletic defense.

State has to take advantage of its strengths and stay away from its weaknesses. More times than not, TOB appears to be stubborn and refuses to accept that he is no longer at Boston College, where his teams consistently were able to run the ball down their opponents’ throats. For whatever reason, he just doesn’t have that at State. The second half against Florida State, the Pack played to their strengths, and what do you know, they won. Against a pretty great team, I might add. The passion, desire, and the ‘refuse to lose’ attitude the Pack displayed is what State fans have begged for.

The Pack have the week off. All the momentum built in the second half of the Florida State game has to carry over for another week. But history has shown us that Tom O’Brien coached teams almost always come out of an off-week far better than they came in. In 2008, NC State lost their first four ACC games, and then won their last four conference games after the bye week. They are still the only ACC team to ever accomplish that feat.

The best is yet to come for NC State football this season, or so it seems. The Pack should head to Maryland in two weeks, with momentum and confidence on their side. And not to mention, a much needed week of healing. TOB is great at making sure his teams come out of bye weeks better than they went in, and hopefully that will continue. As I’ve said many, many times before, this NC State team can be as good as this NC State team wants to be. Leaders on the team showed they want to be great, holding a players only meeting before the Florida State game, and they can not take their foot of the gas. The Pack must constantly push each other, and take the next step.

The Pack’s fate is in their own hands.

Primetime with the Pack:

We may be in the heart of football season, but tonight, basketball is set to tip off on Tobacco Road. Obviously, my friend, Zach Evans, beat me to the punch when it came to talking about basketball on ITA. And that is fine, because for the first time in my entire life, there is legitimate excitement surrounding the NC State basketball team. And it is just not from overly optimistic State fans, either. The national media have taken notice of what Mark Gottfried and staff have built in just 18 months in Raleigh. And if fans of those blue schools down the road are honest with themselves, they’re a little nervous.

Tonight will mark the first time ever, that NC State’s basketball team has been a part of ESPN’s coverage of “Midnight Madness”. Primetime with the Pack will be streamed in its entirety on ESPN3, with ESPNU also covering the event. 18 months ago, this would have been just another Pack fan pipe dream.

However, Mark Gottfried has done what many outside of Raleigh thought was impossible. He has awakened, or more accurately, brought back to life, one of the all-time great college basketball programs. For twenty years, State fans have begged for a coach willing to stand up, look the rest of the Triangle, and the ACC, in the eyes and say “We are done being a bottom half team. NC State has been, and will once again be, a force to be reckoned with on the hardwood.”

This NC State team is far different from other teams State fans have tried to get excited about in the past. The return of hometown hero Calvin Leslie, the best point guard in the ACC, Lorenzo Brown, sniper Scott Wood, and a beast in the paint, Richard Howell, give NC State a returning core unlike any other in the ACC. Not to mention the fact that no one in the entire nation was able to secure as many McDonald’s All-Americans as the Pack. Expectations are high, as they should be.

State fans have a reason to be excited. State fans have been starving for over 20 years, in a way no other fan base in the entire country can even begin to understand. We’ve had to stand by, watching teams right down the road, raise banners that once upon a time, we raised. State fans have had to sit in mediocrity, and sometimes much lower, knowing full well what the program was capable of.

Mark Gottfried has shown that NC State is still capable of being an elite program. Only 14 schools have EVER won multiple national titles, and NC State is one. Will NC State win one this year? I pray to God they do, but I’m not going to hold my breath. It takes a lot to get there, and the Pack have some business to take care of around Tobacco Road first and foremost.

As it does every year, the road to the ACC title will go through Tobacco Road. Only this year, Raleigh will not be bypassed.


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NC State blogger Spencer HardisonSpencer Hardison has been writing about NC State athletics for over a year for various web sites, and has been talking about and passionately pulling for the Pack since the day he was born. He lives by the idea that numbers never lie, and firmly believes that defense wins championships. Spencer is one of the more opinionated and passionate people you will ever meet. Basically, he’ll argue with a wall, if said wall doesn’t agree with him. All in all, Spencer loves to be opinionated, make bold statements, and prove to everyone that he is right and they are wrong. Oh, and Taylor Swift has written three songs about him. You can find Spencer on Twitter at @SpencerHardison.

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