Wolfpack Kicks Off 2001 Season Against Indiana
Sept. 5, 2001
By Tony Haynes
For NC State, it was a season-maker. For Indiana, it was perhaps a season-breaker. One year ago, the Wolfpack and Hoosiers squared off in a college football game that would clearly define their respective seasons.
Indiana, which built a 21-3 lead in the second quarter and was up by 12 with just over four minutes to play, ended up suffering a loss that would hang over its head like a bad dream for the rest of the season.
For NC State, the remarkable 41-38 comeback win was just the beginning of an amazing 8-4 campaign. And along the way, thanks in part to the confidence it had gained on that cloudy afternoon in Bloomington, the Wolfpack would come from behind to win time and time again.
"We knew we were down and all, but we also knew we had a shot as long as there was still time left on the clock," recalled Pack safety Terrence Holt. "We weren't playing well at all, so we knew if we could put things together we could get back into the game."
But when it renews acquaintances with the Hoosiers Thursday night in the newly renovated Carter-Finley Stadium, NC State hopes to treat its fans to a less stressful brand of football. The come-from-behind theatrics of a year ago were indeed entertaining, but wouldn't it be a little more practical to get out of the chute a little earlier in games?
"Not that we were lucky last year, but you can't just depend on coming back that late in the game all the time," said quarterback Philip Rivers, who engineered so many dramatic rallies in his freshman season. "We've got to be more consistent and have more of that killer instinct from the get go."
More than likely, the Pack will need that killer instinct against an Indiana team that would like to do nothing more than to turn the tables on NC State this season. Just as the Wolfpack ruined the Hoosiers' home opener a year ago, IU would enjoy returning the favor this time.
"I think they basically hate us," Holt said. "They've been preparing all year to play us. They have a bad taste in their mouth towards us. Winning at their place in that fashion certainly left a bad taste in their mouth, so they're going to come out hungry and ready to play."
That bad taste was especially bitter due to a controversial defensive holding call on fourth down that allowed NC State to keep its eventual game winning drive alive late in the fourth quarter. Following the game, Hoosiers' coach Cam Cameron openly criticized the ACC officiating crew for making a call that he claimed had taken a victory away from his team.
"I think the thing that eats at them the most was the penalty on fourth down," Rivers said. "They're going to come in here ready to go and we will too. It's going to feel like a rivalry, looking at it the way last year was."
While his returning players may feel differently, Cameron says last year's game will provide no extra incentive for the Hoosiers.
"Last year was a different team," said Cameron, who's starting his fifth season at IU. "This is a new football team led by a new group of seniors. This senior class has some lofty goals and it all starts with NC State. In any opening game I think you're going to be excited. It just so happens that we have the same opener this year as we had a year ago. Last year is last year. We've got a new football team and I know they feel like they have a new and improved football team. It's this year that matters, not last year."
Ironically, NC State and Indiana were very similar clubs last season. Offensively, both teams averaged more than 30 points per game. The problem area was on the other side of the ball, where the teams suffered more than their fair share of defensive problems. In route to a 3-8 record, the Hoosiers yielded an average of 38 points per game. The Wolfpack allowed 28 points per contest.
During the off-season, both programs dipped into the junior college ranks in an attempt to improve their defenses. Indiana hopes that defensive backs Antonio Watson and Willie Northern will shore up its leaky secondary. Three juco defensive linemen-Shawn Price, Terrance Martin and Terrance Chapman-are expected to add depth and talent to NC State's defensive front, while Brian Jamison's move from defensive end to linebacker could also pay dividends for the Pack.
"It's a whole different year," said NC State linebacker Levar Fisher, who garnered ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors last season after leading the nation in tackles. "This is our second year in this defense and we have a great defensive line. We're more on the same page this year and our defensive line is getting more push. We're more of a unit this year and the speed is unbelievable."
This will be the fourth meeting between Indiana and NC State. The Wolfpack owns a 3-0 advantage in the all-time series.