Amato And Wolfpack: Full Speed Ahead
Nov. 19, 2001
By Tony Haynes
Raleigh, N.C. - If he had a chance to go back and replay the last three minutes of his team's game against Maryland last Saturday night, would NC State football coach Chuck Amato change his strategy? Probably, but he also understands how fruitless it would be to sit around and second guess himself or the members of his coaching staff.
"It's over, it's absolutely over," Amato said during his weekly press gathering on Monday afternoon. "We can sit here and second guess, asking should we have done this or should we have done that. There's nothing we can do. It was a tremendous football game. If there is something we can say positive about that game it's that we participated in two classics within an eight-day period. We won one and we lost one. The one that we won came down to three seconds and they didn't catch a pass. The one that we lost came down to the last 41 seconds and they did catch a pass. That's just the way it is. Every Saturday there's a 50 percent failure rate in college football. I don't care how good you play, one team is going to win and one is going to lose."
With that, Amato said it was time to move onto the business of preparing for the regular season finale against Ohio University this Saturday at 1:00 p.m. A win over the 1-9 Bobcats would likely send the Wolfpack to one of a handful of Bowl games that have tie-ins with the ACC. NC State also needs a victory to equal last year's regular season mark of 7-4.
But last Saturday night, the Wolfpack came within an eyelash of moving itself up another notch on the ACC ladder. In yet another memorable contest, NC State held a 19-16 lead before the Terrapins clinched the ACC title by scoring the game-winning touchdown with 41 seconds remaining. The game came on the heels of the Wolfpack's pulsating 34-28 upset victory at Florida State the week before.
"I felt so bad for those young men in that lockerroom," Amato said. "It was encouraging because they hurt. If they didn't hurt, it would have told me that it was a moral victory. It wasn't a moral victory. I told them, 'I failed you. I have had the opportunity to have been in many, many big games. I failed you because I couldn't help you more to win that football game in the last two minutes.' But we've got to get over it. I'm watching film and I'm back in the same routine."
Up 19-16 with 2:51 left in the game, NC State had possession of the ball at its own 20 needing just one first down to put the Terrapins away. But after three running plays and an offside penalty against the Terps, the Pack wasn't able to get the yardage necessary to avoid a punt. Ten plays and 61 yards later, Maryland scored the game-winner on an eight-yard pass from Shaun Hill to Guilian Gary.
"It's easy to say now what I would have done differently," Amato said. "If we would have executed, the things we called would have worked and we would have had the first down. And if we execute the defenses we called, we would have stopped them. No matter what we would have called, it still would have come down to execution. We did the right thing by trying to run the ball to get a first down to keep the clock going. There are so many 'ifs.'"
NC State's motto of "Full Speed Ahead" will certainly come in handy this week. The Wolfpack must move on and get ready for an Ohio team that would certainly love to end its season with a major upset.
"It sounds crazy but two weeks ago nobody gave us a prayer, and right now nobody is giving [Ohio] a prayer," Amato cautioned. "This is their bowl game. They're telling their kids 'we're going south and this is our bowl game.' We've got to do our business. Our kids will understand the fact that we've got too much to lose."
Injury News: For the second straight week, NC State emerged from a physical game with no major injuries. The only question mark for the Ohio game is freshman wide receiver Sterling Hicks, who suffered a concussion against Maryland.
Wolfpack Radio Network coverage of the NC State vs. Ohio contest will begin
at 12:15 p.m. There will be no TV this week.