Defense Reigns in Kay Yow Spring Game
April 16, 2011
RALEIGH, N.C. - As much as he would have liked to see it happen, NC State head coach Tom O'Brien figured that junior quarterback Mike Glennon wasn't going to have a big day in the third-annual Kay Yow Spring Football Game at Carter-Finley Stadium.
O'Brien has full faith that the Wolfpack offense will be in Glennon's good hands when the 2011 season starts on Sept. 3, but he also knows that his team's defense has been much better this spring than in previous years, especially the now-veteran secondary that has spent the last two years learning under fire.
"I've said all spring, the best thing we have in the secondary is a lot of competition," O'Brien said after watching the Red (second-team offense/first-team defense) beat the White (first-team offense/second-team defense) take a 13-3 victory in the end-of-spring contest. "Those guys are fighting for jobs. Michael Glennon wasn't going to throw for 400 yards against that defense.
"It's a little bit different defense from the last few years ... because we have guys with some experience back there."
Glennon completed 21 of his 40 passes for 182 yards. His longest pass was a 30-yarder to senior tight end George Bryan. He also had two passes tipped near the line of scrimmage that were intercepted by Wolfpack linebackers. On the first, junior linebacker Terrell Manning raced 53 yards for the game's first touchdown. Sophomore linebacker D.J. Green got his hand on the ball, the first of six Glennon passes that were either tipped or knocked down by the first-team defense.
"My goal for the spring was to take control of the offense and I think that is what I did," Glennon said. "Obviously, the offense would have liked to score some touchdowns, but the spring was about getting out here and getting better.
"There's probably an advantage to the defense in this game. Once the season gets here, the offense will be right up there."
The first-team offense did not reach the end zone, though Ellis Flint did put points on the board with a 33-yard field goal late in the first half.
"The defense made some plays, which is good because it shows that they are experienced and growing up a little bit," O'Brien said. "I think Mike threw the ball well. He had a couple of drops and a bounce-off interception that was returned for a touchdown and another bounce-off interception. Those things happen. Guys made some good plays.
"I think we still have some things to work out on offense, but we can solve those problems. It looks like we have a chance to be pretty good."
Because of impending inclement weather, the game started 10 minutes before the scheduled 1 p.m. kickoff and ended with 4:17 remaining on the clock, as the coaches and staff raced to finish the game before Saturday's severe thunderstorms and tornado rolled through the Triangle. The storm finally hit a little less than an hour after the game.
The threat of bad weather reduced the crowd, though 13,439 Wolfpack fans filled the lower levels of both east and west grandstands of Carter-Finley. More importantly, they also donated more than $15,000 to be split between the Kay Yow Cancer Fund and the Wolfpack Club's Kay Yow Scholarship Endowment.
The first-team defense was more dominant in the game. And, to be honest, that was good in O'Brien's eyes, since the Wolfpack has to replace half of its defensive line and has reshuffled its linebacker corps, moving junior Audie Cole to middle linebacker and Green from safety to strongside linebacker.
"I'm really proud of the defense right now," Manning said. "We had a good showing out there for the crowd. We're going to try to get after it like that all the time. I like the way our defensive line played. They are growing, driving to the ball on every play and getting their hands up when they can't get there.
"Any time you have a big d-line and they get their hands in the air, something good is going to happen."
He also believes it was their responsibility to give Glennon, who has seen little action in his first three seasons with the Wolfpack, a strong challenge in Saturday's game.
"We have to give him a hard time, because I know at the end of the day our opponents are going to do the same thing," Manning said. "I think Mike will be a great quarterback."
Red team quarterback Tyler Brosius, a redshirt freshman, completed 11 of his 17 passes for 95 yards. He also threw the game's other touchdown pass, a 1-yard completion at the goal line to fullback Tyler Purvis.
Overall, O'Brien was pleased, but like every other Division I head coach, he sees plenty of room for growth over the summer.
"We have to grow as a team," he said. "We have some guys in new positions. The question offensively is the guys on the perimeter catching the football. We had a few too many drops today for my liking. Michael can throw the ball he wants, but if the receivers aren't going to catch it, it won't do any good.
"That'll come along with time. What's really important is what we as a staff and players take from the game, that we learn from the mistakes we made and that we understand where we did things well and we understand what we have to do better."
The Wolfpack, which turned in a 9-4 record en route to winning the Champs Sports Bowl last season, will open its season at home on Sept.3 with its first ever meeting against Liberty. The Pack opens the season with four of its first six games at home.
By Tim Peeler, firstname.lastname@example.org.