A few days I wrote that NC State could make statement Friday against Tennessee.
Unfortunately for the Wolfpack, they made the wrong kind statement in a 35-21 to Tennessee loss that wasn’t that close. Sure the defeat looks bad for the ACC. The Wolfpack were considered a darkhorse in the ACC Atlantic, but lets not get too carried with that. A darkhorse is exactly what they were.
This was the ACC’s 5th or 6th best team losing to the SEC’s 7th or 8th best team. That said for the NC State program this was a huge game. Was NC State ready to take that step forward and be a real contender in the ACC? The answer was resounding no.
I got slammed on Twitter by some NC State fans when I said the Wolfpack could have easily been down 20 at the half. Funny I got hammered for not supporting the ACC, when not many support the conference as a whole more than this site does. I wanted them to win, but I know what I was watching. Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray shredded the Wolfpack secondary for 332 yards in the air, and this was without the Vols best receiver Da’rick Rogers playing. Yes the NC State defensive had trouble pressuring Bray, but the Wolfpack were torched time and time again through the air. Was it a defensive scheme issue? Simply over matched? Hard for me to say, but what I am sure of it was an all-around bad defensive effort.
That’s the part that should concern NC State fans. The secondary was supposed to be the strength of the defense, and in a word they were awful tonight. I credit the Wolfpack for fighting to stay in the game. The goaline stand to end the 1st half, the late score to cut it to 11, the Wolfpack didn’t quit. Mike Glennon had some poor moments, but I don’t think he played that badly. His receivers dropped several passes, but he showed enough skill and savvy that he alone will be able to get the Wolfpack to a bowl game. Beyond that this team needs a lot of work defensively. They couldn’t pressure the quarterback, they couldn’t stop the run, and Tennessee receivers looked like they were catching passes in practice.
There are still some quality passers on the Wolfpack’s schedule like FSU’s EJ Manuel, Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, Wake Forest’s Tanner Prices, and UNC Bryn Renner. What I saw tonight didn’t look like a team that could make an ACC run. Just when I was ready to lay off head coach Tom O’Brien, the Wolfpack deliver this disappointing performance. Sorry NC State fans, as I said I wanted the Wolfpack to win, but there isn’t much positive you can take from this game.
Let’s get back to the conference thing. It would have helped if NC State would have won, but Saturday is the showcase game with Clemson and Auburn. NC State is a developing\rebuilding program. Clemson is the defending ACC Champs coming off giving up 70 points in the Orange. From a conference standpoint Clemson can make everyone but Wolfpack fans forget this game.