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Austin & The Moose Discuss Week 3

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Austin Johnson:

Well that was a thing that happened. I have no idea what to take away from that game other than it not inspiring more confidence in the season going forward.

On the one hand, the Pack was unstoppable offensively after halftime against ODU's atrocious defense. On the other, Old Dominion pretty much did what it wanted offensively and our defense looked both hapless and clueless at times. Its the kind of defense that causes you to break things when watching at home, so I have to keep fragile objects away from my reach at all times now.

The most concerning thing, and the biggest problem going forward I think, is how little pressure the defensive line got on the quarterback. Theoretically they should be able to throw around what's basically an FCS offensive line but instead the ODU quarterback just sat back and picked us apart all day. I fear that against mediocre or better quarterbacks, we'll get torched going forward unless we find a way to get pressure with some more inventive blitz packages because I don't think the front four is going to get the job done.

How did you handle watching the game on Saturday and do you think these are correctable problems on defense?

Weather Moose:

I'll be OK. I think.

Watching this game was like a slow descent into madness for me. Frustration led to anger, which ultimately led to great sadness even in victory. I'm actually surprised I don't have some sort of facial bruising from all the face palming I was doing. As you said, the offense was efficient in the second half but the defense continued to be worthless. I feel like I've done well so far not to throw anything while watching, though we're only two games into the season.

Like you said, the defensive line is the biggest issue and probably exacerbating any problems that exist in the secondary. I thought going into the season that the defensive had the most depth and skill and would cause the most trouble for opposing teams. So far, they've seen a spread option offense and a very capable quarterback that made quick reads and decisions. I think I read that State had its first sack of the year? Is that right? God help us. I don't really know how to correct it, necessarily, and I'm not sure you really can. Most teams I've watched that have had defensive line issues initially were never really able to jump start it later in the year. I think we just have to settle in and hope for the best.

And I want to apologize to you, too. I feel like I planted that seed of optimism last week and watched it blossom into expectation that slowly vined its way around our necks and squeezed the life out of us.

Now we have a road game to look forward to this week, where NC State recently has been dreadful. Fortunately, South Florida is brutal in its own way. What are your expectations for the Wolfpack as they head south?

Austin:

Well I'm something of an expert on USF now, having spent two e-mail exchanges with their SB Nation blogger, so I feel pretty qualified to discuss what we'll see out of them.

The good news is they are also rebuilding after Skip Holtz pillaged their program and left its rotting corpse on the shore (Did you really think I wasn't going to turn that into a pirate joke?). But anyway that's a program in shambles being slowly rebuilt and the offense is very much a work in progress.

The quarterback situation is somewhat reminiscent of ours last year, in that the expected starter got hurt and now they are relying on a back-up while everyone just sort of waits for the savior to get a shot (in this case the savior is played by a much-hyped true freshman who I assume the staff would just red-shirt if possible). They don't have a ton of skill talent or a reliable quarterback so they'll just run it down our throats all game if they can. And, well, you've seen our front six so they probably can just do that. We might actually play three linebackers in this game for the first time all season.

The defense is pretty young, and they've played the Catamounts! and the Maryland Terrapin frightening new CGI mascot disaster train. On the flip side they've forced an insane nine fumbles (recovering five, so no crazy fumble recovery luck) and picked off four passes. Turnovers might be largely luck based, but they do seem to have a knack for creating chaos and in two games the opposition is averaging just 4.7 yards per play against them. Maryland had some success throwing the ball but both the creepy as hell CGI Terps and the Catamounts! averaged under three yards a carry.

That information in hand, what are your thoughts on this weekend. And of course, I need an official GIF prediction.

Moose:

Hey, I'm all for a Maryland dig at any point and this one was perfect. Making fun of that god-awful CGI disaster is and always will be hilarious. I feel like it ended up a weird mix of Tokka from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Littlefoot from the Land Before Time. Complete Maryland fail.

If you're telling me that their quarterback situation is similar at all to ours from last year, then I'm going to go into this game a lot more confident than I probably should. So, I hate you for that. One thing ODU had last week was an experienced quarterback and if USF is missing that, it's huge. Though I'm a smidge wary at the fact that they've forced so many turnovers and not allowed much in terms of YPP.

I feel like the offense has finally figured out what it needs to do to be successful, but it's just a matter of getting going early. The defense, at this point I think, is just a lost cause and we should buckle up for the ride.

I haven't checked the latest betting line on this one, but State was a -1.5-point favorite when it opened. And I think recent history indicates that State has been terrible against the spread while on the road...and just terrible in general. I'd expect we're in for another frustrating affair, with State turning it over more than they did the previous two weeks. We have to count on their offense making their sure of mistakes, which is entirely possible. All I know, is it's going to be amazing if I can make it through this without my blood pressure elevating. I can't really pick a winner, but I know it'll be like this:

Austin:

Yeah I tend to agree, this will be the ugliest game the Pack has played to date. I think South Florida will drag our offense down some and create some turnovers, while their offense will be bad enough to inspire some hope on our end before we realize that it's because they have no quarterback or semblance of a passing game. I think it's a complete toss-up game for the Pack, and I'm loathe to make a prediction either way but if I have to I'll pick the home team.

Either way, I expect it to be ugly to watch with most of the audience saying this sometime in the 3rd quarter.:

Moose:

Exactly. Basically: