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November 14, 2011

Monday morning quarterbacking



The Wolfpack had a devastating defeat at Boston College Saturday, falling 14-10 to the Eagles and taking a huge blow to the Pack's bowl hopes. Now it's time for a final look at the game with some Monday Morning Quarterbacking.

Key moment of the game:

Twice in the fourth quarter NC State appeared poised to drive down the field for a go-ahead, and given the way the defense was playing, winning touchdown. Both times the Pack turned it over.

The first came with 6:43 to go in the contest. State had started a possession on its own 18 and in 13 plays driven 59 yards to the BC 23 where the Pack had first and 10. Redshirt junior quarterback Mike Glennon and senior receiver T.J. Graham were not on the same page on a pass to the end zone, and the throw ended up in the hands of Boston College senior corner Donnie Fletcher for a touchback.

State forced a three and out and got the ball back with 4:27 left on its own 39. Once again, the Pack went on the move. It took 10 plays to get 37 yards to the Boston College 27, where State faced a fourth and five with 1:10 left on the clock. With no choice but to go for it, Glennon's pass, which appeared to be intended to fifth-year senior tight end George Bryan, was knocked down at the line of scrimmage by BC junior defensive end Max Holloway.



Three things that worked:

1. Second half defense
The numbers are eye-popping. Boston College had 20 plays for a net of negative-two yards total in the half and got just one first down. It should be noted that first down was aided by an offside penalty on NC State that turned a second and seven into a second and two. On four out of five possessions, Boston College went three and out.

2. Redshirt junior linebacker Terrell Manning
For the second consecutive game, Manning turned in a very good performance. The postgame box score credited Manning with a team-high 10 tackles, including two for loss and a sack. Manning had 11 tackles, including a sack, the week before against North Carolina.

3. Using the tight ends on offense
For the first time this season, NC State's tight ends were a weapon on offense. Bryan caught five passes for 50 yards. His previous best this year in both categories came in game two at Wake Forest when he hauled in three receptions for 40 yards, one of which was a touchdown. Backup Mario Carter, a redshirt junior, added three catches for 43 yards. He had not caught a pass since the Georgia Tech game Oct. 1 and entered Saturday with just four receptions for 24 yards.



Three things that did not work:

1. Overall offense
The bottom line is that you can point to any position outside perhaps tight end on offense and find faults in Saturday's performance. The Pack had just 267 total yards, Glennon did not play well, the line struggled to block, running backs were not getting big yards and receivers were not getting open or executing simple things like blocking on a screen pass. Saturday was an abysmal performance.

2. First half defense
Boston College piled up 192 yards of total offense in the first half, converted four of five third downs, misfired on just one pass and averaged 3.7 yards a carry. The reality is that NC State sophomore corner David Amerson's interception in the end zone and a missed field goal from BC sophomore kicker Nate Freese might have saved State from getting blown out in the first half.

3. Winning the field position battle
Boston College's average field position through three periods was its own 35-yard line. Four times they started on their own 41 or better. State meanwhile started three drives inside the 20 (compared to one for the Eagles), and the Pack's best starting field position was its own 40.



Breaking down the position battles:

NC State's OL vs. BC's front seven
Boston College came into Saturday with a reputation for being perhaps the worst pass rushing team in the ACC, but they managed to get good pressure on Glennon (although officially sacked just once). The Eagles also dominated State's running game aside from one drive in the fourth quarter.

NC State's front seven vs. BC's OL
The Pack really asserted itself in the second half and took the edge in this matchup. Boston College ended up averaging just two yards a carry, and State was able to get two sacks on the Eagles sophomore quarterback Chase Rettig.

NC State's WR vs. BC's DB
The Wolfpack wide outs caught a total of 10 passes for just 86 yards. Thirty-two of that came on a scramble play where Glennon eluded a sack in the backfield, rolled out of the pocket to his right and connected with redshirt sophomore Quintin Payton. State had only two other passes longer than 10 yards to a wide out.

NC State's DB vs. BC's WR
The first half did not look pretty when Boston College completed 7 of 8 passes for 114 yards, five of them to the receiving duo of Alex Amidon and Colin Larmond for 100 yards and a touchdown. The Pack tightened up though in the second half and prevented any big plays downfield.

Quarterbacks
Glennon finished 28 of 40 for 220 yards but had the costly interception in the end zone and was unable to consistently move the chains. Rettig did not do a whole lot, but he was not asked to either once Boston College went up 14-3. Redshirt freshman Josh Bordner gave the Eagles some tough yards on the ground too.

Running backs
The Boston College sophomore duo of Rolandan Finch and Andre Williams ran 21 times for 70 yards. Those are not eye-popping numbers, but in the first half they ran 13 times for 49 yards and were effective.

Junior James Washington led the Pack with 13 carries for 40 yards and a score, but his backup, redshirt freshman Tony Creecy had seven rushed for just 16 yards, and neither were able to make many plays in the passing game.

Tight Ends
As mentioned above, this was the best game for Wolfpack tight ends this season.

Special teams
Wolfpack freshman punter Wil Baumann struggled quite a bit, averaging just 31.2 yards on six punts, and that was a factor in the game, especially in the field position battle. Freese missed a field goal for Boston College, and otherwise the special teams were not noticeable for either squad.



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