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November 7, 2012

NC State offense must stay on track




NC State's offense hit the field already down 7-0 against Virginia last Saturday, and it never got any better.

The Wolfpack ended up losing 33-6 against the Cavaliers, but the struggles in the first half when the game was still up for grabs was magnified by the final score.

NC State struggled with self-inflicted wounds — dropped passes, penalties, sacks and turnovers. NCSU offensive coordinator Dana Bible likes to talk about staying on track, but it's hard when different mistakes are occurring.

NC State basically had eight drives in the first half — a ninth started with 16 seconds left before halftime when the Wolfpack took a knee — and four of the drives faced third down and extremely long. NC State only completed one of those scenarios, converting on a third down and 15.

NC State has a new week to work on its mistakes and will need a much-improved effort in a home game against Wake Forest on Saturday. NC State could become bowl eligible for the fourth time in coach Tom O'Brien's six years with a victory.

"You have to stay on schedule," NC State offensive coordinator Dana Bible said. "You have to be opportunistic when the chances are there, and that wasn't the case."

NC State was going backwards instead of forward due to the self-inflicted wounds. Bible doesn't have as many plays for third down and 18 or third down and 25.

"The list is not very long," Bible said. "In those cases, we put ourselves into those situations, and we have to get ourselves out of it."

The fifth drive of the game ended in an interception, the seventh with a safety and the eighth with a fumble.

"That is always frustrating because as a coach, you can live with the defense beat you on something. They made a better play, they have better players or their coach made a better call, whatever. You can live with that. The ones you struggle with are the gimmes. That is hard.

"That has never been a calling card for us and out of character. We are doing our best to make sure that is a one and done."

Five of the first eight drives started inside the NC State 15-yard line, including three inside the nine.

NCSU finished going 2 of 13 on third downs and 1 of 3 on fourth. Virginia's defense definitely gets the credit, but NC State didn't make life easier for itself. The Wolfpack finished with three interceptions, fumbled twice, allowed six sacks and committed seven team penalties, including one that wiped out a big Rashard Smith punt return that could have led to first-half points.

The Wolfpack could also feature more no-huddle offense to snap out of the funk from the Virginia loss.

"We jumped into it a bit Saturday and did that too, but that wasn't the answer on that particular day," Bible said.

O'Brien also mentioned how the UVa defense did a good job of taking away the deep ball. The Wolfpack took a few shots downfield, but its longest pass completion was just 14 yards. Wake Forest will likely take a page from the Virginia playbook.

"I think they have some of their players back and are healthy," said Bible about the WFU defense. "They believe they are playing well and are improving each week. We know we will see a heck of a football team and a heck of a defense coming in here Saturday.

"We know that. It's a high stakes game, and they all are, but this is another one."

Bible has coached future NFL quarterbacks such as Russell Wilson and Erik Kramer at NC State, and Matt Ryan Tim Hasselbeck, Quinton Porter and Brian St. Pierre while at Boston College. He also had some good quarterbacks at Stanford and San Diego State, plus a stint with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1998.

NC State fifth-year senior quarterback Mike Glennon is the latest protégé to get NFL discussion. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. ranks Glennon as the fifth-best senior quarterback.

The NFL Draft discussion can wait, but Bible knows how important the next three games are for Glennon and the offense.

"We are nearing the end of the season here and there are less opportunities than there were a month ago to play this game," Bible said. "You have to appreciate and value the opportunity to play this great game. It's not infinite in terms of number of games and not forever.

"Mike is well aware of it. I know in his case he is maximizing everything in his control to give us the best chance to win. Right now, everything is focused on being successful against Wake Forest."


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