Nov. 29, 2013
Wednesday Football Notebook
Game 12: NC State Wolfpack vs. Maryland Terrapins
November 30, 2013 • 12:30 p.m.
Raleigh, N.C. • Carter-Finley Stadium (57,583)
TV: ACC Network/ESPN3 | Radio: Wolfpack Sports Network | Live Stats
Game Notes | NC State Twitter | Ask the Analyst
RALEIGH, N.C. - Just call it ‘good-bye day’ at Carter-Finley Stadium. While NC State says farewell to 20 seniors who will be suiting up at home for the final time, the ACC will bidding adieu to the Maryland Terrapins, who will be playing their final conference football game before joining the Big Ten next season.
And if this is indeed the end of the football series between the Wolfpack and Terrapins, fans of the two schools will likely be rekindling memories of what is and has been the most tightly contested series in ACC history.
In 69 gridiron meetings, the Pack holds a scant 33-32-4 advantage in a series that began in 1909.
Kick-off for Saturday’s regular season finale for both teams is set for 12:30 p.m. The Wolfpack Sports Network begins its pregame coverage at 10:30 a.m.
Many of the 20 NC State seniors who will be playing their last home game on Saturday will be awash in memories when they meet their families and friends during pregame ceremonies. One of their best memories may have come from Maryland’s last visit to Carter-Finley. Trailing 41-14 with seven minutes to go in the third quarter back in 2011, the Wolfpack staged the greatest comeback in school history to author a 56-41 triumph over the stunned Terrapins.
First-year NC State head coach Dave Doeren has spent the entire week celebrating the accomplishments and commitment of a senior class that has experienced bowl games, thrilling moments, a coaching change and a plenty of bumps and bruises. There a lot of games during the career of a college football player, but only one senior day.
“It’s always an honor to be in this week of the season,” Doeren said. “You get to go through a series of lasts with some guys who have put a lot of time, a lot of energy, a lot of work and have been through – like everybody who goes to college – a lot of growth during their time at NC State. Even though I’ve only had them for nine or 10 months, I know all the guys have grown a lot this year. One of the biggest honors as a coach is to send those guys out with a big win.”
Many of NC State’s seniors have been around the program as long as five years, while a few others will be leaving almost as soon as they got here.
One such case is quarterback Brandon Mitchell, whose story this year fits a microcosm of the Wolfpack’s entire season. After transferring in from Arkansas because he wanted a chance to be a starting quarterback, the fifth-year graduate student saw his season unravel on the first drive of the first quarter of the first game when he broke the fifth-metatarsal bone in his foot. After spending all of last season as a wide receiver, Mitchell needed early season reps, reps that would never materialize because of the injury.
On Saturday, in his last college start, he’ll be playing in back-to-back games for only the second time this season.
“Obviously, we wanted to compete in our division, win every game and win every game in the state,” Mitchell said. “We didn’t get those goals done. A lot of it was due to injuries and a lot of it was due to being in that fourth quarter either with the lead or being within one score behind and not finishing.”
Mitchell seemingly found his rhythm in the second half of last week’s game against East Carolina, finishing with career highs of 312 yards passing and four touchdowns. His goal this week is to pick up where he left off in hopes of giving his team and his fellow seniors a big lift.
“Our big focus this is week is trying to send all the seniors out the right way, and also help the program build for the spring and recruiting seasons,” said Mitchell. “Coach Doeren has been stressing that he wants the seniors to go out the right way.”
Doeren’s ‘growth through adversity approach,’ has kept team chemistry up and work ethic consistent for the duration of a season that has been sidetracked by injuries and razor-thin depth issues. The seniors have bought in and so to have the underclassmen.
“As hard as it’s been, we’ve grown very close as a team and these guys want to see our seniors finish the year the way they deserve to finish it,” Doeren said. “Playing an ACC game at home and playing our last game with these guys is enough of a reason for these guys to want to play well.”
Maryland was off to a 4-1 start before quarterback C.J. Brown went down with an injury. Along the way, the Terps have also lost other key starters, including running back Brandon Ross, wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, and tight end Dave Stinebaugh. Maryland has also played without as many as five starters on defense this year. The Terrapins are bowl eligible, but have lost four of their last five games, including a heartbreaker on the last play of the game last week against Boston College.
“We know that they’re a good football team,” Doeren said. “They were 4-1 going into Florida State and lost their quarterback. Then they had two great receivers lose their seasons. I don’t feel for them; I’ve been through it here as well. It’s a part of the game and you deal with it. Since all of those injuries they’ve struggled. Last week they found a way to be in the game against a good Boston College team, so we know we’ve got a good team coming in here.”
Maryland’s plight proves just how shaky the foundations of a new program can be. In this Randy Edsall’s third year as coach, the Terps were on schedule to make a dramatic jump forward before the untimely chain of injuries again forced more back-ups and young players on the field than planned.
And while injuries will prevent both NC State and Maryland from fielding the teams they were hoping to have in week 12, the show must go on Saturday. And in this case, it could very well be the final scene from a show that has produce memorable moments and great games over the years.
The Wolfpack Sports Network begins its pregame coverage Saturday with the Mathews Motors Countdown to Kickoff beginning at 10:30 a.m. In hour two of the pregame show, former NC State All-American Johnny Evans fields your questions about Pack football on ‘Ask the Analyst’ presented by Farm Bureau. Questions to Johnny can be sent via Twitter @packradio or here.