Yesterday we talked to Steven from the NCSU blog BackingThePack about the upcoming game this weekend. Today we talk to James Curle of RiddickAndReynolds,(formerly known as YANCSSB) an NCSU blog that brings quality information to the internet. You can also follow James on twitter here. He sent us questions as well and I answered them.
Philip Rivers (NC State Demigod of Football) went 1-3 against the Jackets. What does Russell Wilson bring to this clash of football titans that P. Rivers couldn't?
I think the easiest answer is mobility. As great as Philip was, no one ever confused him for Pat White or Michael Vick. Russell Wilson, who dazzled State fans with his ability to rush for huge chunks of yardage his first season when pressured, worked very hard last season and this at staying in the pocket as long as possible. It caused his touchdown numbers to jump from 17 his first year to 31 last year, and kept him healthy the entire season as well. All that being said, he still has the speed and ability to escape the pocket and pick up crucial third downs with his feet, something that Rivers rarely had the ability to do.
Tell us what NCSU is doing well this year that has led to a 3-0 start?
Our 2010 defense looks roughly 1000% better than the previous year's. While it may be premature to lay all the plaudits at Jon Tenuta's feet just yet, there's no doubt that his presence on our coaching staff has amped up the aggression level of our defense--particularly among the front seven--and turned our once-passive, come-to-us-and-we'll-tackle-you-when-you-get-here unit into a gambling, attacking one that reminds us greatly of the 2004 State defense that led the country in total defense. And while NO ONE wants to bring it up out of sheer superstition, we have managed to avoid the injury bug this offseason and through the first three weeks that plagued us so mercilessly the last three years. (Knock on wood.)
The Georgia Tech Wreckbone Offense is difficult for a team to prepare for. How is the Wolpfack preparing for our attack?
The "Fack" (boy, we're never living that one down...) have tried to emulate the "Wreckbone" as best they can in practice. Tobias Palmer, an extremely athletic WR/RB talent, is playing the role of Joshua Nesbitt on our scout team. We've tried to put as much speed at the QB, A-back and B-back spots on the scout team as we can, but I don't know that any scout team will ever be able to accurately emulate what Paul Johnson does offensively. Part of the reason being, Johnson's play-calling adjustments over the course of the game seem to be as adept at keeping a team off-balance as is the offense itself. Just when you think you've got it figured out, Johnson will tweak something here or there and negate any leg-up you may have gained. It sounds simple, but subtle in-game adjustments when Tech's on offense could cause huge problems for State's defense as the game progresses. If you're Tom O'Brien, I'm not sure how you can prepare for those eventual in-game changes when so much time is merely trying to learn the spread option basics.
In 2005, the Wolfpack stole a game from Tech fans that had to be the work of witchcraft. How many NC State virgins were sacrificed in order for Calvin to drop that pass in 2005?
None, actually. Typically it's the standard 72, but we swung by Chapel Hill that year to pick some up and none could be found. I guess, for the football Gods that year, it merely was the thought that counted.
How many games does Tom O'Brien have to win this year for him to keep his job?
Honestly, it would take a monumental collapse at this point for him to lose his job. This is easily the best start to a season he's had since he's been in Raleigh, and that's quickly quieted any drumbeats there might have been prior to the year. I felt like heading into the year if the team were to go 5-7 there was a chance he might be let go because of the recent change in athletic directors. So if State were to melt down and finish the year 2-7 from here on out, I would guess that might still do the trick because of how promising the year began.
Give us a high level summary of your offensive and defensive schemes and what we can expect on Saturday.
High-level summaries? You sure you've got the right blog? "High-level" isn't really my thing. :)
But here goes: On offense, obviously the big story is Russell Wilson. What folks may not know is just how many targets Wilson has at his disposal. Owen Spencer, Jarvis Williams and TJ Graham are all big, fast receivers. George Bryan is probably the league's best tight end. Both tailbacks, Mustafa Greene and Dean Haynes, can both catch swing passes out of the backfield, and even State's fullback--Taylor Gentry--caught a touchdown pass in last week's game. Tech's defense will need to generate enough pressure to force quick decisions from Wilson, because at any time the Wolfpack will have 4-5 legitimate pass-catching threats. And then there's the little matter of what to do when Russell takes off with the ball...
On defense, State's been making hay through aggression and well timed blitzing. I doubt that methodology will work against Tech's Wreckbone, however, as flying all over the place will only leave folks way out of position and lead to easy scores.I honestly have no idea how well we'll do Saturday, Here's where it's nice having a guy like Nate Irving back in the lineup to offer up some leadership and the MLB position.
Finally, we all know about Russell Wilson but that's about it. Who is another player that we should be on the lookout for on Gameday?
I would keep my eye's peeled on Michael Lemon. GT fans may recognize the name; he signed with the Georgia Bulldogs coming out of high school but ran into some charges after assaulting a man shortly after his mother was killed. He paid his debt to society and has been given a new lease on life here in Raleigh. He bolsters the defensive line that has performed quite well this year despite a lot of personnel losses from last year. I wouldn't be surprised to see Lemon play quite well in a return to Georgia, facing the bitter rival of his old school.
A big thanks to James for his Guest Blogging abilities.