Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wolfpack's offense rolls, defense stifles Cincinnati

Looking like a team that is for real, N.C. State handled Cincinnati 30-19 on national television tonight. Russell Wilson passed for 333 yards and three touchdowns, and when he wasn't passing, he was running away from trouble and picking up first downs.

Meanwhile, for the second week in a row, the Wolfpack defense proved to be a big-play squad. The blitzing Pack got to the Bearcat quarterback five times and hurried him four more times. When the Bearcats still had a pulse, the Wolfpack defense stopped them on a fourth-and-one play early in the fourth quarter.

“We wanted to blitz to help keep their quarterback (Zach Collaros) from running the ball," State coach Tom O'Brien said. "He’s a real good quarterback, and fast. So our focus was to stop him. We thought if we could stop him then we could stop their offense.”

State wrapped up the game with a special team's play when the Pack blocked a punt which led to a touchdown to make the score 30-7.

Cincinnati made the final score respectable with a pair of late touchdowns. N.C. State moves to 3-0 for the first time since 2002 when Phillip Rivers was at quarterback. Cincinnati, winners of the Big East last year, falls to 1-2.

Some are already comparing this team to the State team that started 9-0 in 2002 but O'Brien isn't thinking about that just yet. “I think we can be a better football team," he said, "but more importantly, I think our football team knows they can be better. The good thing is we didn’t get shook up when we made mistakes. If we can do a better job of coaching and making them (the players) smarter, then we can be a much better football team.”

Random Thoughts: The most important point of the game came after the Bearcats scored on a long pass play right up the middle with just over three minutes to play in the first half to pull within a touchdown at 14-7. Wilson led the Pack right down the field in about two minutes for a score to up the halftime margin to 20-7.

Kicker Josh Czajkowski missed the extra point after making a school record 83 straight.

State's Mustafa Greene, a freshman, ran for 84 yards and a touchdown and caught five passes for more than 50 yards. Jarvis Williams, a senior, caught four passes for 111 yards.

It was military appreciation night and State athletics went all out, using halftime and each timeout to honor the troops. There was also a fly over at the beginning of the game and an impressive parachute drop-in at halftime.

N.C. State picked up 28 first downs, compared to 18 for Cincinnati. The only negative about that is having to put up with many State fans arm pointing and yelling "first down" in unison. Not only does that get old, but I'm old enough to remember that ECU fans and their stadium announcer started that years before Wolfpack fans were doing it. Kind of reminds me of UNC fans yelling "airball" at basketball games when that chant was started by Duke students.

Speaking of the fans, I'm not really down with guys making that cute little wolf sign with their fingers. Young women look ok doing that but come on guys.

To end on a good note, if Wilson stays healthy and the defense continues its overpowering play, this could be a special year for Wolfpack football.

Check out this Game Photo Gallery.

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