RALEIGH NC - SEPTEMBER 16: Colby Jackson #48 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack celebrates with teammates after a sack against the Cincinnati Bearcats during their game at Carter-Finley Stadium on September 16 2010 in Raleigh North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Oh, there you are. I'm not sure State's offense was ten times better than it was against Central Florida, but the unit looked a hell of a lot better, and more importantly put plenty of points in the scoreboard. This was a performance much more in line with what we expected coming into the season, and it's hard to quibble with a 6.5 yds/play average.
They stalled a bit after the first two touchdown drives--the next four ended with a fumble, a fumble, a punt, and another punt. The first fumble squandered a golden opportunity to break Cincinnati's back in the opening quarter. That drive started at the Bearcats' 25 and ended with the Jarvis Williams craziness. The last of those four drives began at the NC State 47--another excellent opportunity to score off a short field--and ended with a punt from Cincinnati's 39. Two things here: obviously, I'm vehemently against that sort of John Fox-style nannypants crap. Probably don't need to reiterate that. The other thing is, the odds of converting 4th-and-11 are not exactly astronomical when you have Russell Wilson. And when your punter is Jeff Ruiz (his punt went 13 yards)...this doesn't seem much of a decision at all. Don't make Tenuta come up there and start calling the offense!
But I digress.
Poor Dean Haynes found out what happens when your job is far from assured and you screw up. He fumbled a couple of times in the first half, which opened the door for Curtis Underwood to be the Boom to Mustafa Greene's...Kapowza? Eh. We'll work on that. I don't think Haynes saw any action in the second half, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him bumped from the two-deep this week.
For the second consecutive game, State's defense was outstanding for three quarters before falling asleep. While Central Florida created all sorts of new issues with Jeff Godfrey's turbo button, I think they may have actually fallen asleep against Cincinnati. After the Pack went up 30-7, Cincinnati scored two touchdowns on drives that took a combined seven plays and two minutes. At the game I jokingly suggested that State had forgotten how to play prevent defense because they never do it anymore.
Those scores weren't particularly aggravating, not when they came as late as they did, but in the future it would be great if we could force opponents to take, I don't know, two or even three minutes per garbage time touchdown drive.
Josh Czajkowski couldn't find the end zone this week, but he averaged 64.5 yards per kickoff, and that's always going to be good enough, as far as I'm concerned. Cincinnati returned a couple of his kickoffs out past the 30 but made it no farther than the 20 on the other four. That's good work.
I was surprised by TOB's decision to attempt a 4th down conversion from Cincinnati's 30 rather than attempt a field goal. We've seen Czajkowski make kicks from that distance before, though it is near his limit. This observation has nothing to do with anything, really, just a decision that struck me as a bit strange. The coaches must have figured that 4th-and-5 conversion percentage > 47-yard FG conversion percentage.
Jeff Ruiz. Do they make a Shake Weight for legs? The one nice thing about a shank-inclined punter is that he really works wonders for your punt return coverage stats.
Grade: Nobody was offside this week. B-.