Friday, September 4, 2009

Eugene, Wilson's mobility are concerns for Pack

After months of anticipation followed by a disappointing evening Thursday, N.C. State fans have to live with the fact that they won’t feel better about their team until at least Sept. 26, when the Wolfpack plays host to Pittsburgh.

South Carolina’s 7-3 victory at Carter-Finley Stadium exposed soft spots in the N.C. State lineup, most noticeably on the offensive line and at wide receiver. The next two opponents, Murray State and Gardner-Webb, will be so overmatched that it will be difficult to gauge whether the Wolfpack has improved in those areas until Pitt comes to town.

As N.C. State’s fans hunker down for a long stretch of meaningless football, here are some leftover points from Thursday night’s game:

- Running back Jamelle Eugene’s time on the trainer’s table was a bad sign. Eugene was banged up at times last season and missed spring practice because of injury.

That’s a huge concern, especially after Toney Baker didn’t seem to show the burst he supposedly flashed during the preseason. The only promising sign was a brief appearance by freshman James Washington, who apparently is too talented to redshirt.

His 12-yard gain in the fourth quarter might have been the best run all night for the Wolfpack.

- The most debated point among fans until the Pitt game might be the reason for Russell Wilson’s failure to break free for long rushing gains.

Has Wilson lost a step because of the knee injury he suffered in the Bowl? Is the brace he’s wearing slowing him down? Are the Gamecock defenders just extremely fast? Or is Wilson spending more time looking downfield for second and third receivers to come open rather than scrambling into open spaces?

It may be some combination of all four.

- Washington and cornerback Rashard Smith illustrated right off the bat that although O’Brien’s 2009 recruiting class wasn’t highly touted, there’s some excellent young talent there.

Smith made four tackles, including a sack, as he played the nickel back position. He also electrified the crowd with a 31-yard punt return in the fourth quarter.

Asa Watson, who’s the No. 3 tight end, is the only other first-year freshman who played. He worked on the punt return team.

Despite those contributions, the freshman class is unlikely to immediately produce help where N.C. State needs it the most – on the offensive line.

If you’re into recruiting rankings, Watson was a four-star recruit, Washington a three-star recruit and Smith a two-star recruit according to

- N.C. State’s fans appear to have acquitted themselves well in a potentially combustible situation.

ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews was making her first broadcasting appearance since a surreptitiously filmed nude video of her appeared on the Internet. There was a fair amount of attention paid to Andrews in her return.

An columnist even followed her around all evening and blogged about it. If even one out-of-control fan had held up a tasteless sign or behaved inappropriately toward Andrews, N.C. State would have come off looking foolish on national TV.

But it appears as though the fans showed some class and didn’t bother Andrews.

Ken Tysiac


Anonymous said...

Heard she flashed the student section before start of the 3rd quarter. She's got the fever.