It’s never too late to review the weekend’s games is it?
Let’s see now, what did we learn?
- The Hokies are better than I thought. They might just be a national-level elite team. I don’t think they are quite as good as that 51-7 score over Georgia Tech indicated, but they are obviously very strong. I don’t care who you are playing, giving up a total of seven points over three games is impressive. Still, I think that game was just one of those times when the better team played very well and the lesser team played poorly. The Hokies aren’t quite that good and the Yellow Jackets aren’t quite that bad.
- The Yellow Jackets are not a very good team. That’s not to say that they aren’t good. They just aren’t very good. You couldn’t really tell from their first few games. Winning them all, especially the road win over Auburn, said all good things, but it wasn’t clear what their ceiling was. Well, now we have an idea. Very good teams don’t lose 51-7.
- I didn’t give Boston College enough credit. Last week, I said that I wasn’t sold on them. Well, now I am. Winning in Death Valley is always impressive, especially against a pretty decent Clemson team.
- Wake might be headed for a really bad year. Yeah, that has been a possibility for a while now, but the Wake – Maryland game was kind of a Desperation Bowl. The winner had a chance for a middling, .500-type season, but the loser was in trouble. Well, the Deacons are in trouble.
- Chuck Amato is a fraud. More on that awful UNC – NC State game below.
- Miami is good. Duke is bad. Virginia might be good. We didn’t really learn any of those things this weekend, but they were just reinforced.
Now a few more notes about the significant games.
First, how impressive was that Hokie-Yellow Jacket score? Man. I never would have guessed. In some ways, it was inflated because Tech (Virginia Tech has now earned the right to be the ACC school known as Tech for this year) scored three touchdowns off of special teams and defense. On the other hand, those three plays put Georgia Tech’s offense back on the field three extra times and they still only managed six first downs. A truly impressive performance by the Turkey defense. I guess that’s why they were all named the Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week.
But before we all get too excited, as I said above, don’t read too much into that result. We’ve all seen it before – one week, a team turns in a completely awesome (or awful) performance and everyone assumes that that is now their standard. They then fail to live up to that. Teams just don’t play perfectly every week. Performance always goes up and down a bit. Clearly the Hokies are very good, but we probably won’t know just how good until late October and November when they play BC, Miami and UVA in consecutive games.
OK. [Deep breath] Now we can talk about that North Carolina – NC State game.
I caught bits and pieces of the game on TV and the radio as I ran errands throughout the afternoon. I was recording it for later viewing, but decided to go ahead and keep up with how it was going. So when I watched the game on TiVo that night, I already knew the outcome and the general flow. Carolina would get the early lead and hold it through the first half. State would score twice early in the second half leading everyone to think that they’d seize control of the game and cruise to the win. Instead, the Heels scored right back and eventually took back the lead and won. It was a surprising outcome, but one that didn’t shock me.
What did surprise me, somewhat, was just how poorly played the game was. Good lord was it ugly. I think it’s safe to say that judging by the play of their teams, neither Charlatan Amato nor John Bunting are members of Mensa. The game was so bad that I decided to take notes. Ineptitude at level deserves notice. I couldn’t stomach watching the second half, so this only runs through the first two quarters:
- Kickoff. Carolina gets the ball first.
- Nice 61-yard run by Barrington Edwards. Tell ya what though, he looks slow. I think Serge Zwicker could have gained at least 50 yards through that hole.
- And Matt Baker kills a great first drive with a horrible interception in the end zone. He threw it directly to the safety who was deviously standing still in the middle of the field.
- State’s ball.
- Punting out of the end zone … bad snap .. seven yard punt … nine yard return for a touchdown. That has to be some sort of record for shortest punt return for a touchdown. I see that they eventually ruled that a blocked punt, but I don’t know. I don’t think anyone hit it. Quite a start for the Wolfpack, huh?
- Kickoff to State.
- It looks like Bunting has sent in his wife to play middle linebacker for the Heels. She looks tough.
- Jay Davis fumbles the snap and it’s UNC’s ball. Wait … nope, flag on the field. UNC had twelve men on the field. Nicely done fellas. Your incompetence trumped State’s. The Pack keeps the ball.
- State celebrates their good fortune by committing back-to-back false starts.
- Some nice running by Toney Baker. Kid looks like a stud. State kicks a field goal.
- Carolina ball. They are opening HUGE holes in the Pack D-line. Where are all of those All-Americans?
- The Heels have to punt … and they hike it over his head. Nice. Each team has screwed up a punt now.
- Did I mention that Toney Baker is a stud? TD, Wolfpack. Finally the red faithful can breathe and cheer a little. Surely the game’s over now, right?
- Carolina is now playing their backup RB, Cooter. Love that name. Just like Barrington Edwards, who sound like he plays tennis at the club, Cooter’s running through huge holes. You could fit Chuck Amato’s ego through some of those things.
- State’s John McCargo doesn’t get enough attention. Not only is he a big fat guy, which I love, but he makes plays.
- Carolina to punt – another high snap, but he caught this one. Oops, a flag. Illegal formation.
- Try again – same formation. Same flag. Good work there, fellas. Someone toss the (very) special teams coach a rulebook.
- State’s ball. Davis makes the awful decision to throw a swing pass with Shaquille O’Neal right in his face and it gets swatted down. Carolina jumps on the ball, and the refs say it was a lateral. After replay, they all agree – stupid play, fumble. Tar Heel football deep in Wolfpack territory.
- No worries though, the Heels give it right back. Barrington Edwards got popped and he coughed it up. Some game, huh?
- And that ends the first quarter.
- Second quarter. The Wolfpack celebrates by fumbling another center-QB exchange. Carolina ball at the 2. To rehash, Carolina got the ball deep after a State fumble. They pinned the Pack deep by fumbling it themselves back. Now the Heels have the ball again after State fumbled. Clever planning by the Tar Heel staff. I think that should be their game plan from now on. Fumble deep in enemy territory and then hope they fumble it back.
- Touchdown Tar Heels. Wait, there’s a flag. Oh, nevermind. It’s on State. Meanwhile, the line judge gets treatment for tennis elbow.
- State ball. Amato asks for a replay. Apparently there was a good shot of him on the sidelines with the sun glinting off his glasses and he just wants to see it again.
- Moving ahead to further action … At this point, I can’t chronicle every possession. It’s too painful.
- Touchdown Heels. Nice pass by Baker to give the blue bellies the lead.
- The Heels are now playing their third-string tailback despite getting great production from their first two. Asked about this after the game, Bunting explains that it’s just how they do things at Carolina.
- Carolina punts and Darrell Blackman is there to retrieve it. Clearly the coaches taught him some lessons after his embarrassing fair catch at the one yard line a few weeks ago. This time he catches a ball at the 6, while under pressure and running towards his own end zone. I’m guessing Blackman isn’t in the Engineering school at State.
- Carolina driving … TD! Wait it’s a flag. Delay of game? Nice of the refs to let them go ahead and play the down, don’t you think? The Heels settle for a FG attempt … which they miss. The only thing this game is missing is a player taking a dump at midfield.
- State driving near end of half.
- Bunting removes his wife, who has two sacks, three tackles-for-loss and a fumble recovery, explaining that he doesn’t like his best players to play too much. They get tired.
- As time runs down, State is in scoring range. They call their last timeout with less than 30 seconds left. They need to take one or two cracks at the end zone and if they don’t score, kick a figgie. The only thing they can’t do is run or throw a ball to the middle of the field short of a first down, because they can’t stop the clock.
- Davis throws the ball to the tight end in the middle of the field where he is swarmed. The half ends with the ball on the four yard-line. A couple of short busses pull up to take the teams into the locker rooms for their halftime naps.
I think you can see why I didn’t make it to the second half. Evidently the second wasn’t quite as bad as the first, but that’s not saying much. I honestly believed that with their stable of running back studs, a second-year starter at QB, an NFL-quality defensive line and some playmakers at receiver that NC State was a legit sleeper team – a squad that could sneak up on folks and maybe even get to the ACC Championship game. I was wrong. After that game the only thing I’m sure about is that both of those teams are very poorly coached. Carolina won, but only because their stupid mistakes added up to less failure than the Wolfpack’s stupid mistakes. Big deal.
Remember when Amato said he was going to make the team more disciplined? That was before the season. Then, after their week one debacle against Virginia Tech, he said it again. What now? Well, now the Wolfpack Nation turns on him, that’s what. And they should. He’s been selling them a whole lotta swampland over the last few years and they’re finally catching on.
Yesterday, in a press conference, Amato was faced with the task of addressing his criticism. Would he be a man and accept fault and admit that things aren’t going well? Or would he show his true character and lash out at the messenger, deny the truth, claim that no one is really complaining and then refuse to talk any more? See for yourself.