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September 26, 2011

Monday morning quarterbacking

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The Pack was hoping to redeem their road loss at Wake Forest when they traveled last Thursday to Cincinnati. Instead they suffered an embarrassing 44-14 loss on national television. Now it's time for the Monday Morning Quarterbacking.

Key moment of the game:

It's hard to pinpoint a key moment in a game that was so lopsided, but there was a possibility this contest may have been more competitive if the defense could have made some key stops in the first quarter.

Cincinnati was up 7-0 and had just taken over at its own 37. After a one-yard pass, Bearcats senior quarterback Zach Collaros was sacked by NC State fifth-year senior linebacker Audie Cole. The ball came loose on the play, but Cincinnati was able to recover at its own 30. Facing third and 17, Collaros scrambled out of the pocket and connected with junior receiver Kenbrell Thompkins for a 44-yard gain down the sideline to the NC State 26.

Three plays later, Cincinnati should have been setting up for a long field goal of about 39 yards after a third and five pass fell incomplete, but NC State redshirt sophomore defensive end Darryl Cato-Bishop was flagged for an obvious roughing the passer penalty. Two plays later Collaros ran for a 13-yard touchdown and the rout was starting.



Three things that worked:

1. Senior receiver T.J. Graham
Graham had a bad fumble, but in a game of very few bright spots, Graham gets a mention here. He finished with seven catches for 176 yards and two touchdowns. He had over half of redshirt junior quarterback Mike Glennon's passing yards. Graham added 160 yards on kickoff returns, averaging nearly 23 a run back. He finished with 336 total all-purpose yards.

2. Freshman punter Wil Baumann
If there has been a bright spot for NC State on the road, it's Baumann. He punted six times for an average of 42.5 yards per punt and had an average net of 38.5 yards. Baumann averaged 41.8 yards per kick when he kicked at Wake Forest.

3. Containing senior receiver D.J. Woods
The Pack's defense did not contain much last Thursday, but they did stop the Bearcats' star receiver. He caught six passes, but they went for just 22 yards. This is the same receiver who caught nine passes for 111 yards at Tennessee Sept. 10 and last year torched both NC State and Oklahoma in back-to-back weeks with a total of 13 catches for 317 yards and three scores.



Three things that did not work:

1. Winning the trenches
The stats tell the story. NC State ran for negatve-26 yards rushing. Their longest run was 12 yards, and that was a Glennon scramble. The pack gave up six sacks. Meanwhile Cincinnati had 240 yards rushing and allowed only one sack. The Bearcats had total domination on the lines.

2. Third down defense
Third downs continue to be a problem for the Wolfpack. They allowed the Bearcats to convert nine of 16. The Bearcats second and third touchdown drives included five third down conversions, giving them a 21-0 lead. Two of them were from distances of 17 and 13 yards. Later in the game, on another touchdown scoring drive, Cincinnati converted a third and 11 to get a 34-7 lead.

3. Making plays
The bottom line in football is you have to make plays. For whatever reason, State made very few plays while the Bearcats were brining their 'A' game. Even the Bearcats' punter was sensational Thursday night. When Cincinnati is playing at that high of a level, NC State needs to respond by making plays, and they clearly did not do that.



Breaking down the position battles:

NC State's OL vs. Cincinnati's front seven
Total domination by the Bearcats. See the numbers alluded to above.

NC State's front seven vs. Cincinnati's OL
Total domination by the Bearcats. See the numbers alluded to above.

NC State's WR vs. Cincinnati's DB
The Bearcats did not do a good job on Graham, and fifth-year senior Jay Smith quietly had a solid game with four catches for 37 yards. NC State redshirt junior Tobais Palmer though was held without a catch, and he's an important playmaker in the offense.

NC State's DB vs. Cincinnati's WR
State shut down Woods, which would have been considered an important part of the offense. However, sophomore Anthony McClung and Thompkins picked up the pieces for Woods. McClung caught six passes for 94 yards, and Thompkins added five receptions for 72 yards and a score.

Quarterbacks
Glennon was good, completing 25 of 36 passes for 334 yards and two touchdowns, but he also had two costly interceptions, one of which was almost indefensible. On the other side, Collaros rarely seemed to make a bad decision. He completed 25 of 34 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.

Running backs
As poorly as State's line performed, the running backs were not exactly hitting the holes and running hard when they got their carries. On the other side, senior Isaiah Pead wore out the Pack and finished with 27 carries for 167 yards and a score.

Tight Ends
NC State fifth-year senior George Bryan continues to be a non-factor in the offense, catching just two passes for 19 yards. Those were identical numbers to Cincinnati junior tight end Travis Kelce.

Special teams
Both teams had similar games on special teams. The difference was that Cincinnati punter Pat O'Donnell may have had the punt of the century when he boomed a 76-yarder in the first quarter that pinned State at their own one-yard line. That was the start of a long night for the Pack.





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