North Carolina State is playing their first conference game this Saturday in Miami. With lots of content this week, lets jump right in to what Backing The Pack has to say. We were unable to get confirmation if they are fans of The Grey.
The 7th Floor: Is there any concern for the Wolfpack playing at noon in Miami? How conditioned is your team? Are these dogs going to be braying in the heat come the 4th quarter?
Backing The Pack: It’s looking like low to mid-80s for kickoff under sunny skies. The Pack go through preseason camp routinely exposed to murderous August humidity and highs well into the 90s, though they try to avoid the heat by practicing early and/or late in the day, but I don’t think the heat will be a factor. With the exception of a few positions, Tom O’Brien has finally recruited enough depth that State can rotate guys if the staff is at all concerned about wilting in the heat.
The 7th Floor: Sean Glennon was very good to Hurricanes fans over the years. What's the deal with his bro? Can we expect gifts disguised as inexplicable turnovers? I know Bruce Feldman was very high on Mike Glennon coming into the year and even had him as a dark horse Heisman candidate.
Backing The Pack: Mike was a big orange Santa Claus in the season opener against Tennessee, throwing 4 interceptions and adding a fumble for a safety when he had forever to throw the ball away, and State’s lackluster pass protection certainly does make him vulnerable to the WTF throw. He can also struggle at times to quickly get through his progressions. He threw for 31 scores last year with 12 interceptions. That’s a nice ratio, but obviously a pass-dependent offense comes with a lot of risk.
Though it has come against weak competition, Glennon has righted the ship over the past two weeks, completing 74% of his throws against South Alabama and The Citadel while throwing 4 touchdowns and 0 picks. Though he struggled mightily in the wind against UConn, Glennon did enough to get the win and he has not been intercepted since the opener. Bottom line: like most quarterbacks, if he has time he will hurt you, and he has some nice weapons to mete out the pain with in Quintin Payton, Bryan Underwood, who has a TD grab in every game this season, and Tobias Palmer.
7th Floor: These two programs haven't met for 4 years, and this is only their 4th meeting as fellow ACC members. Most know the recent troubles Miami has gone through. What has changed for you guys during the hiatus?
Backing The Pack: The biggest change for the Wolfpack coincided with the hire of Jon Tenuta as linebackers coach prior to last season. The Pack went from resembling cardboard cutouts on defense to being something almost resembling fearsome. After Tenuta’s hire State has finished 31st and 41st in total defense while finishing among the nation’s leaders in sacks and forcing turnovers.
So far this year State is a respectable 33rd in total defense, but the Pack’s gambling style is prone to giving up the big play. Only Eastern Michigan and Troy have yielded more than the 7 plays of 40+ yards that State has allowed so far. It is difficult to sustain drives against this group (opponents are converting just 25% of third downs), but with Miami’s athletes (*thinks about Duke Johnson, shivers violently*), the Canes are very likely to bust a big one or two.
The 7th Floor: What's the fan opinion of Tom O'Brien? Most thought he'd never leave BC, and I'm shocked to see he's been in Raleigh since 2007. What are the current expectations for his prolonged employment?
Backing The Pack: As long as TOB keeps churning out 8 and 9 win seasons and bowl wins over middling opponents, his seat will stay cool. I fully expect him to finish out his contract and retire quietly to his beach house. I think most of us love the irascible devil, though I think we feel like his success at BC is pretty much his ceiling. We’ll play for bowls but not for championships.
I will say this: especially in light of the embarrassment in Chapel Hill, it is really nice to have a coach who seems to actually value character and a reasonable commitment to academics.