Sept. 4, 2005
BY TIM PEELER
RALEIGH -- The frustration of too many repeated mistakes was obvious in the NC State lockerroom. Jay Davis, after playing perhaps his most complete game as a starting quarterback, was in tears in the post-game interviews.
But mistakes - much like last year - were the Wolfpack's downfall in Sunday night's 20-16 season-opening loss to No. 7 Virginia Tech. There were 12 penalties for 105 yards, three turnovers and a critical special teams' miscue that backed the Wolfpack offense up against its own goal line.
And no one was more frustrated about it than the players on the Wolfpack's defense.
"We have to stop it," junior linebacker Stephen Tulloch said. "We worked in the off-season, talking about not beating ourselves, then we went out and beat ourselves again.
"I really believe we could be the best team in the country, but we have to eliminate the penalties."
There was no finger-pointing, no dissention. The players were just frustrated that the very thing that they had worked on in spring and in fall camp was the reason they could not pull off what would have been considered a major upset in a nationally televised contest, in the long-awaited opener.
"The defense didn't do anything to assure victory," senior linebacker Oliver Hoyte said. "We made it easy for them. We kept giving them automatic first downs.
"The people who made those mistakes, including myself, are going to be punished."
Junior A.J. Davis took responsibility for two costly facemask penalties. He said both were called at the line of scrimmage, when he made his initial bump on the receiver he was covering man-to-man.
"I really don't know what happened on either of those," Davis said. "I think my hands just got high at the line of scrimmage. I don't dispute the call, but it is something I have never done before.
"But when you are in man-to-man coverage, you have to be aggressive."
Amato found some things to be pleased about, in particular the play of Jay Davis, the senior quarterback who completed 27 of 43 passes for 311 yards. Amato also liked what he saw on his revamped offensive line, his kicker John Deraney, who averaged 40.5 yards per punt and made field goals of 33, 27 and 35 yards) and his young stable of running backs. But the thing that will dominate practice between now and the Wolfpack's next game, against Eastern Kentucky on Sept. 17.
Asked what the next week of practice would be like, Amato had a one-word answer: "Hard."
"We have mistakes we have to correct and they have got to get corrected," Amato said. "Period."
TOWE IN TOW: Former NC State point guard Monte Towe, now the head basketball coach at New Orleans, was able to make it to Sunday night's game, despite losing his house and most of his possessions in last week's catastrophic hurricane and flood in The Crescent City.
Towe was in Florida when the storm hit last week, and has not been back to New Orleans. He has made contact with all of his players, and is anxious to head back that general direction to begin individual work-outs with his players on Wednesday.
The school still plans to have a basketball season, and Towe is setting his team up at Tyler (Texas) Junior College for practice. He's not sure about his home games.
"I told Joan (Sloan, widow of former NC State coach Norm Sloan) that we might have to play 28 road games," said Towe. "I am a pretty good coach, but I don't know if I am that good."
DOUBLE-DUTYSunday night's game was just the first half of a double-header at Carter-Finley Stadium. Monday afternoon, the annual Aggie-Eagle Classic will kickoff between North Carolina Central and N.C. A&T.
So it will be an especially quick turnaround for the NC State stadium and grounds crew. Director of Outdoor Facilities Ray Brincefield and his staff worked through the night to make sure the field was ready and the stadium was prepared for a second game in 24 hours.
Brincefield's staff includes Dean Wade, Nathan Satterfield, Daryl Liles, Derek Liles, Bryan Hines, Brannon Powell, Casey Carrick, Curt Honeycutt and Joey Surratt.
You may contact Tim Peeler at email@example.com.