This is one of those things I knew but had to see in print for it to really hit home. It's been ten years since NC State last won a football game in Winston-Salem:
George Bryan, a senior tight end, said that all of the N.C. State players are aware of the losing streak and also that Wake Forest has won four of the last five games between the programs.
"We were told that, yes," Bryan said. "We feel like that needs to change. We haven't won there in 10 years, and that's a long time to not win at a place."
It's a very long time to not win at a place, especially when that place is not much of an advantage in terms of atmosphere. There's an intangible horror to Jim Grobe teams that's come into stark relief over the last decade. I attended two of the games in Winston-Salem and can verify that the horror is real. Last year put a big dent in the mystique, but Wake's performance against Syracuse points to a team that's back on the track toward competitiveness. Which is much more encouraging than it reads considering what happened to this team in 2010.
I went in 2003 because it seemed like a good opportunity to watch the team warm up for Ohio State the week following, because that was going to be the big year. About the only thing I remember is that I had a great view of the destruction from a dozen or so rows behind the NC State bench, and that the leg room was lacking. That was the year we went without an official defensive coordinator, if I recall correctly, but whatever the case was, we never looked like we had a defensive coordinator at any point in 2003. In 2007 I went and we had a defensive coordinator and it was cold.
Some fun facts from this losing streak:
NC State outgained Wake Forest by significant margins in both 2003 and 2005 and kept it close (within 15 total yards) in 2007 and 2009. All together, State gained 1536 yards to Wake's 1344, a (decisive) difference of 0.6 yards per play. And Wake outscored the Pack 133-85. That's so Grobe.
State may have been better down-to-down, but from an efficiency/coaching standpoint, it wasn't close:
Penalties / Yards:
State: 33 / 295
Wake: 24 / 235
Turnovers / Margin:
State: 12 (10 INT, 2 FUM) / -6
Wake: 6 (2 INT, 4 FUM) / +6
Defense/Special Teams TDs:
(* -- Mario Williams forced a safety in 2005, so we did get a couple points from the defense.)
It's not the talent, it's the execution, and that's an easier fix than the flip side. So there is that. As Russell Wilson might say, a hundred yards is a hundred yards. There's no reason why it can't be different this time around.