Monday, October 4, 2010

Assessing Saturday: Kudos to Pack fans ... what was Graham thinking? ... Volleyball ahead ...

You have to give N.C. State fans their due – the Wolfpackers turned out in droves on Saturday to watch the Wolfies take on Virginia Tech.

Gotta love Carter-Finley on game day
Carter-Finley Stadium had 58,083 fans, which was third all-time. The largest crowds were 58,650 for East Carolina in 1986 and 58,300 against the Pirates in 1985. Considering N.C. State’s poor efforts on the field in recent seasons, you have to be impressed by the support they’ve received from the fan base. ...

Speaking of N.C. State ... what exactly was T.J. Graham thinking when he tried to run the ball out of the endzone on the final Virginia Tech kickoff? N.C. State had to score a touchdown to win, and all Graham had to do was take a knee and put the ball at the 20-yard line.

Instead, Graham tried to make a big play – and did, for Virginia Tech. He got smacked to the ground at the 11-yard line, and burned eight seconds. That left Russell Wilson with 1:19 to play, and Wilson forced up a throw on first down under pressure. You get the feeling that with State in a hole, Wilson felt he had to take a chance.

Great teams play smart in clutch situations, and State’s blunder on the kickoff put it in a deep hole. ...

Quick switch to another sport … we know many of you are counting the days until the big volleyball showdown between Duke and North Carolina. What – you’re not?

Well, you should be. Both teams are 5-0 in the ACC and meet Friday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium at 7 p.m. If you haven’t seen a college volleyball match, it’s a fast-paced affair that’s quite engaging to watch. Duke and Carolina are always at the top of the ACC standings, and are again there this year.

There is no ACC Tournament in volleyball, so these regular-season matches are huge. Oh, and they are cheap, too, and you can get a good seat.

How Wallace Wade will look if Duke doesn't turn it around
Is Duke still playing football? After all the preseason talk about trying to reach a bowl, the Devils are now 1-4 and essentially irrelevant. You can’t be last in the ACC in scoring defense at 39.8 points per game and have a chance to be competitive.

David Cutcliffe is a great guy and smart coach, but one has to wonder if the historic problems that have sunk Duke football will swallow him whole as well.

The Blue Devils have to play better defense and run the ball. The problem, as always, is getting enough athletes on campus to be able to do that. Duke can pitch and catch but can’t match its rivals in other areas. Finding a way out of this morass is a monstrous challenge. ...

The slew of news on North Carolina can almost seem comical, with the sports pages full of the details of the inner workings of the honor court and every headline having something to do with a tutor or the NCAA. But the Capital Sports Report is more interested in the quiet workings of the Secretary of State’s office.

Remember, the NCAA can’t subpoena and can’t imprison. Ah, but the state of North Carolina can. Our state, like others, has a Uniform Agents Act, which has been as toothless as a law can be in recent years.  But the state can, and should, pursue this issue ruthlessly. The state should not assume the school will investigate itself, and should use its power of subpoena to push hard in this matter.

There’s a reason, after all, that former UNC coach John Blake resigned and grabbed prominent Raleigh attorney Wade Smith to defend him. The state should go after anyone who abused the rules and use this dismal season as a way to prevent further abuses. ...

Wake Forest is 12th in the ACC in total defense, giving up 441.6 yards per game. Whew, you have to know that’s keeping Jim Grobe up at nights … The Deacons will never have overwhelming talent but they have played smart, tough team defense in Grobe’s tenure.

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