Tonight was the culmination of all the worrisome things that happened during the first three weeks of the season, and as bad as I thought this team might be, I can't say I expected it to reach this level of bad.
Mike Glennon started the game pretty well, actually, and led the offense into Cincinnati territory on the first drive of the game while playing through a couple of drops. Then the real omens started. Wil Baumann dropped a perfect punt inside Cincinnati's five yard line and State had like five dudes right around the ball but managed to barf it into the end zone. State's defense delivered a three-and-out and the Bearcats' punter launched one over 70 yards. That's just the way it was gonna go.
Glennon threw a couple of picks, the first on a tipped ball, the second on a poor decision in scoring territory, and the Bearcats had a 3-TD lead before the Pack managed to get on the scoreboard. I don't know yet what the stats say, but I know that--beyond the first five minutes or so--this never, ever felt like anything closer than a three-score game. Cincinnati was much, much better, largely because they destroyed us up front. State QBs were sacked seven times (we were fortunate Mike didn't get hurt), and the running game...dear sweet heavens.
So--and this is the part where I toss in the heavy sigh--I don't know where they go from here. Two more defensive tackles got banged up in the first half; AJ Ferguson left but returned, while Brian Slay got rolled up and may be out of action for a while. Even with the theoretical return of Rieskamp and Sweezy on October 1, there's the depth issue. It's feeling a lot like 2009 all over again and I don't know that there's a way out.
Eventually Rece Davis had to bring up what he termed the "elephant in the room," though the references to said elephant didn't come nearly as often as I would have guessed beforehand. Let's bear one thing in mind before this spirals out of control, because the Russell Wilson ordeal was the big news of the off-season and will be the overriding topic throughout the rest of 2011: you remember when Russell Wilson was here and we had a defense that was awful? NC State won a total of five games, two of which came against I-AA teams. We're going to hear about how much Wilson could help this team, and I love him and I'm sure he could, but I'm not going to sleep tonight worrying about the quarterback position, and neither should you. Shit's hitting the fan much harder in many other places.