Home at Last for Wolfpack
Game 3: NC State Wolfpack vs. South Alabama Jaguars
The last time we all witnessed a football game at Carter-Finley Stadium, NC State was piecing together one of the most improbable and amazing comebacks in ACC history. It was on November 26 of last year that many Pack fans considered the possibility of drowning their sorrows in the parking lot after the Wolfpack fell behind Maryland 41-14 midway through the third quarter.
Despite the win, there were also some turbulent times on the field against the Huskies. Sacked six times by an aggressive, blitzing UConn defense, Mike Glennon's uniform probably required more Oxiclean than usual when the equipment staff stuffed his number eight jersey in one of the Murphy Center washing machines this week.
The Pack hopes to keep Glennon's uniform a bit cleaner on Saturday night and for the rest of the season.
"It all comes down to communication and paying attention to detail," Allen said. "We have to key on what we have to do collectively, knowing what man we have to take. It's communication."
Left tackle Rob Crisp missed last week's game with an undisclosed injury, leaving redshirt sophomore Tyson Chandler isolated on the edge against fleet pass rusher Trevard Williams. With Crisp still on the mend for at least a few more weeks, Chandler will likely be given the opportunity to secure Glennon's backside in his second career start this week.
But the intricacies of pass protection involve more than just what happens with the five massive men that anchor the trenches. Six others on the offense, including the quarterback, have a job to do in order to guarantee a successful operation against today's shifting and unpredictable defensive schemes.
"It's a three-pronged process," said NC State coach Tom O'Brien. "It starts with the protection, goes to the route-running and being in the right place at the right time and then it goes to [Glennon] making the right decision and doing what he has to do. All three of those aspects are going to have to get better if we're going to get better throwing the football."
Glennon had no problems throwing the football last year against South Alabama. Completing 17-of-20 throws for 274 yards and four touchdowns in only his third career start, Glennon pretty much had his coming out party against the Jaguars, who are still transitioning from the FCS to Division one, a transition that won't be fully completed until 2013.
"That was our first Division one game that we played last year," said coach Joey Jones, now in his fourth season at South Alabama. "Our kids were excited and played pretty well. I think it was 28-13 in the fourth quarter and they scored a touchdown to make it 35-13. I don't believe in moral victories, but I thought it was pretty good for the first time playing a Division one game."
Through two games this year, an insider trader would have a tough time getting a handle on South Alabama. After scoring 31 points in a two-point loss to Texas-San Antonio on opening night, the Jaguars never scored a touchdown in last weekend's 9-3 victory over Nicholls State.
"It was real windy and the ball was fluttering around quite a bit," Jones explained. "The defense and special teams were playing really good, so we got a little conservative with our play-calling."
Like Tennessee, South Alabama will try to line-up quickly and run out of the spread offense. Unlike Tennessee, however, the Jaguars don't appear to feature a couple of potential draft picks at wide receiver. C.J. Bennett and Ross Metheny have been splitting time at quarterback with Bennett throwing 44 of the 58 passes South Alabama has put up this year. Metheny did make South Alabama's biggest play against Nicholls State, hitting sophomore receiver T.J. Glover with a 29 yard pass early in the fourth quarter. Glover, who also returns punts and kicks, has 218 all-purpose yards through two games. South Alabama also returns tailback Kendall Houston, who rushed for 117 yards on 18 carries against the Wolfpack last season.
"We have to prepare for them just like we prepared for Tennessee and UConn," NC State corner Dontae Johnson said. "We can't take them lightly because as everyone knows Arkansas lost last weekend. I'm pretty sure they didn't want to look past the team that they played, but it happens. We'll try not to let that happen to us, especially in our first game at home."
The team that beat Arkansas last week, Louisiana-Monroe, happens to be from South Alabama's conference, the Sun Belt. All week, Louisiana-Monroe has kept a picture of the scoreboard from the Arkansas game posted on its official athletics site.
NC State wants to make sure South Alabama doesn't have the opportunity to do the same thing.
The broadcast weekend begins Saturday morning at 8:30 with NC State's newest TV show, "Inside Wolfpack Sports" airing at 8:30 a.m. on MASN and Fox Sports South. This week's show includes a preview of the South Alabama game and a visit with State athletics director Debbie Yow.
Radio coverage of the first home game begins at 4 p.m. with the Mathews Motors Countdown to Kickoff, originating live from the Fan Zone in front of PNC Arena. The pregame show continues from the booth with Gary Hahn, Johnny Evans and Tony Haynes from 5-6 p.m. Among their guests will be NC State chancellor Randy Woodson, who will discuss Notre Dame's decision to join the ACC.
Follow the Wolfpack Sports Network and submit questions to our game announcers both before and during the game on Twitter/@packradio. Or questions can be submitted by email here.