Tony Haynes: Wolfpack Gets Ego Check
BY TONY HAYNES
“The first thing they’ve got to recognize is that they’re not as good as they think they are,” O’Brien said sternly during his regular Monday press conference. “A lot of these guys have an over-inflated image of who and what they are. With the limited ability that’s here, they have to play hard and play smart every game. If they don’t, we’re going to have the same result week in and week out.”
O’Brien remarked that Saturday night’s game was essentially a microcosm of the type of inconsistency he witnessed during fall camp. Some days, the Pack would come out and practice hard and practice well. Other days...well, those other days were like the first half on Saturday when NC State put itself in a 25-3 hole before storming back to within two points after intermission.
“We reverted back to some of our old bad habits,” O’Brien said. “We were doing things that we hadn’t seen in preseason camp, things that we thought we had corrected coming out of spring practice. Once the lights went on, they went back to some old bad habits that we still have to work on and we still have to get corrected.”
It took no time for some of those old bad habits to manifest themselves on Saturday night. On
“We were lined up incorrectly against a formation we might have seen 1,000 times,” O’Brien said. “It’s a game and those things happen. You have to relax and play the game. The same play didn’t make anything the rest of the night because we were lined up, took our fills and got in the right spots.”
After giving up 261 total yards in the opening half, the Wolfpack defense allowed only 38 yards and just two first downs after intermission. The offense, which was anemic in the first half, caught fire in period number two as well. In relief of starting quarterback Daniel Evans, who was 7-of-10 for 65 yards and an interception, Harrison Beck got the offense moving, connecting on 17-of-28 throws for 207 yards and a pair of scores.
After losing the battle for the starting job to Evans during the preseason, Beck will get the start in this Saturday’s ACC opener at
“We made an evaluation and we thought Daniel had done the best job in preseason camp, which he did,” O’Brien said. “There are some guys that play better in games, but you don’t know about that until you put them in football games. Practice situations are different. [Beck] was a much better decision maker than we had seen previously. He distributed the ball where it was supposed to go and controlled the offense a little better. He made some nice throws. The ball was on the money.”
The announcement that Beck will get the start on Saturday means that two-thirds of the starting offensive backfield will be different than it was against
“It’s a devastating blow for our football team,” O’Brien said. “We’ve lost two very good football players for the year in Anthony Hill and Toney
Andre Brown and Jamelle Eugene will now be rotating at the tailback spot. Brown was NC State’s rushing leader in the season opener, running for 87 yards on 14 carries, a performance that included a 33-yard touchdown run.
Of course, this week will be a unique one for O’Brien, who will be coaching against a
Wolfpack linebacker Ernest Jones, who led the Wolfpack with eight tackles on Saturday night, doesn’t want to let his new coaches down.
“This sort of reminds me of the three branches of government,” Jones said. “The coaches are like the legislative part. They create the rules and everything like that. The officials are the judicial part of the system. As far as the players, we’re pretty much the executive branch because we have to enforce what the coaches say. It’s up to the players to show on the field what the coaches have instilled in us.”