I took a little hiatus from writing but let me catch you up real fast in case you have been under a rock for the past two weeks. Two weeks ago, I predicted that N.C State would either beat Clemson or lose by 50. A 45-point loss isn’t quite a 50-point loss but it is darn close. Then this past Saturday the Wolfpack folded in the second half to Louisville. This most recent loss extends the Wolfpack’s losing streak to 4. To be frank, not the most impressive past two weeks. However, trying to look on the bright side there is still something to play for…kinda.
N.C. State will have to regroup quickly after the Louisville loss due to a short week and having prepare for a road contest in Atlanta versus Georgia Tech on Thursday night. This is certainly a winnable game for the Pack. The Yellow Jackets are only 2-8 and in their most recent outing were shutout by Virginia Tech, 45-0. Not setting the world of fire either. What does bode well for State is the matchup that Georgia Tech presents. One of their biggest flaws for N.C. State it’s secondary and being picked apart by opposing quarterbacks. Well, as you probably know the Yellow Jackets are a run first team. They average throwing the ball just 23 times per game and average a mere 143 passing yards per game. In order to win, State’s defense has to be prepared to stop the run and make Georgia Tech beat them through the air. Force GT to do something which they are unaccustomed to and uncomfortable doing.
Now normally, if not 9 times out of 10, a game against a 2-8 team isn’t a meaningful game but ironically for N.C. State this one is. Very meaningful actually. To become bowl eligible the Wolfpack must beat Georgia Tech and North Carolina next week to get to the needed 6-6 mark. Yes, this season has been somewhat of a letdown due to injuries, inexperience and lackluster performances but the Wolfpack have played in a bowl game every year since 2014. For such a young team it would be morale boost to make a bowl game and to keep the streak going.
Personally, I try to think of myself as an optimist and tend look on the bright side of things so I am hopeful that N.C. State can win out to make a bowl game. However, there is something I want more than another bowl bid. What I long for, what I beg and plead for is to see a spark of emotion from this team. Teams typically take on the personality of their head coach and the Wolfpack have certainly done that in mimicking Dave Doeren. Always calm and never showing too much emotion. But in these final two games I am begging to see some real and raw emotion. Get mad. Get angry. Get fired up. Play as if everything is on the line even if you are down by three touchdowns. With that I would also love to see the Wolfpack go off script from what they have done all year. Start the game or a drive with a deep ball pass that no one expects. Have a backfield with both Houston and Knight, play more than one QB during a game, do whatever is needed to keep the opposing defense on their toes and guessing as to what is coming next. I mean what do you have to lose by doing that? A spot in the Birmingham Bowl? If that is all then it’s worth the risk.
I hope for a win on Thursday night over Georgia Tech to end the month of suffering but I pray to see a team that fights no matter what, one that is willing to pull out all the stops to compete regardless of the circumstances, one that shows some visceral emotion while trying to beat an inferior opponent. I'm curious and nervous to see what Wolfpack team shows up. The one that keeps doing what is has done all year but expects a different result or the one that is full of emotional and passion willing to adapt to the game flow in search of a much needed victory.