That first half was about what we've come to expect from this team, except this time the offense decided to show up early. While Ryan Radcliff was getting whatever he wanted, Mike Glennon led a pair of touchdown drives in the first quarter, which was a sight for sore eyes, to say the least. His third touchdown pass and a late fumble recovery by Earl Wolff ensured the Pack would have the lead at intermission despite allowing Central Michigan to rack up over 250 yards of offense.
I don't know if they made adjustments or just improved their execution, but State played significantly better defense in the second half and finally got Radcliff to look like the error-prone quarterback he is. A dreadful decision under pressure ended with the ball in Terrell Manning's hands and the Wolfpack offense in great shape for its first score of the 3rd quarter. Takeaways like that one, and the strong play by the defense in general, gave us an opportunity to remove all doubt before the start of the 4th quarter. State's first three drives of the second half began in CMU territory but they only managed points on one of them.
Given that State's average field position in that quarter was the CMU 44, it should have been worse for the Chippewas, but they were able to stay close enough to make things interesting late in the 4th quarter, after about half the crowd had left the stadium. After they pulled within 38-24, they recovered the ensuing onside kick and quickly drove inside State's 15. A score there and they'd have had time enough to kick it deep and play defense. As it was, Radcliff locked onto his guy in the corner of the end zone and paid the price. David Amerson was working his zone assignment in the shallows, kept his eyes on Radcliff, read the throw all the way, and shaded back into the end zone for an easy pick. State's running game took care of the rest.
So in the end, a good, comfortable win that probably should have been easier than it was, but considering how that opening half went, I'm just happy we were able to pull away and limit the potential impact of shenanigans and/or NC State shit. Central Michigan gained 158 yards in the second half, and almost 50% of that came on one long touchdown run--they got 77 yards on that play and 81 on the other 26 plays.
Now we have some time to get healthy, and let's pray that's actually what happens. Terrell Manning was back ahead of schedule, which is a good start. If we can get back a few guys up front, maybe we'll come out of this bye week looking like a different team. I'm not going to hold my breath on that one, but hey, I still got hope.
-- Nik Sade continues to worry me with his inconsistency (made a long FG, missed a chip shot), but at least we can say we've yet to lose a game because of the kicking game.
-- I'm still a little amazed that the rumors about alternate uniforms were true. And there were stripes on the pants! Craziness. I wonder if there's a black/red top in addition to the black/pink top to go with those pants. I'd be interested to see how the red helmet looks with our regular uniform combinations too.
-- NC State ran the ball almost 80% of the time on 1st down (27/34). If success is defined as 4 yards or more gained, those plays had a success rate of around 33%. Only one of them resulted in negative yardage, though, so they managed not to fall way behind schedule on those plays.
-- Mike Glennon has 16 TDs against 4 INTs this season.