So a lot of things went right yesterday. Finally. Not everything went right. But finally, enough went right to cover up the mistakes. It's amazing how you create your own breaks by playing well enough to earn them. And whatever things did go wrong, 33-6 lets you ignore them. Or at least rationalize them.
Of all the impressive things from yesterday, maybe the best of all is this: a coaching staff that kept a team interested in football even through a season-wrecking six-game losing streak. They stayed interested enough that just maybe the fans will stay interested too. On second thought, scratch the maybe; they played well enough that some people are actually talking about winning out.
That wouldn't be happening if the Hoos had squeaked through, Penn State-style. Not only did a 2-6 team upset a likely bowl-bound one, they won by enough that fans of the formerly 2-6 and now 3-6 team are thinking about a bowl game themselves. Huh? It's crazy. But maybe not that crazy.
That's how good the game really was. Not just good - maybe sustainably good. When you own the trenches, you can dictate a lot of things to a lot of teams. When a team is motivated and angry, it matters. When they're motivated and confident, it matters even more. In a twisted way, it's enough to piss you off even more about the last couple games, because, like, where could we be if that had gone like this?
As they say, though, it is what it is. The real beauty of this is that for a week, we're allowed our crazy thoughts. Maybe it's really stupid to think we could win out and scrape our way into a bowl. Maybe we shouldn't even be so damn excited about the thin possibility being 6-6 in the first place. At least for a week, though, even if it's crazy it's conceivable.
Further things in brief:
-- There's no other way to open up actual game analysis than with the defense. Of all the stats to emerge from this game, the best one is that they just about doubled their season sack total. All season we've been fretting that poor pass rushing would lead to coverage breakdowns and vice versa. Sometimes it's been true. On Saturday it was the opposite. The defensive line owned the trenches for every second they were on the field. Lemme repeat that, because it's the #1 reason that it's OK to dream about winning the next three games: The defensive line owned the trenches for every second they were on the field. And their job was made easier because the secondary played a very nice game, even inducing a coverage sack or two. Sacks were recorded by Jake Snyder, Mike Moore (who singlehandedly destroyed one NC State drive), Brent Urban, Will Hill, and two by Chris Brathwaite. Look at that list again; what do you notice about them? Give yourself a cookie if you noticed that two-thirds of the sacks belong to defensive tackles. Give yourself another one if you noticed how spread-out the action was. This adds up to total domination.
-- And then, after snagging only one interception all season, the secondary broke out with three. It's amazing how easy it can be to win a game when you're the one getting the takeaways. One each for Maurice Canady, Ant Harris, and Eli Harold, the latter being another example of that synergy between pressure and coverage. If there were coverage sacks, that was a pressure interception, and fine job on that play as well by Daquan Romero who was right on the ball and batted it to Harold.
-- Are the coaches slowly pulling back on the RB platoon? Kevin Parks got 25 carries to Perry Jones's 11, and was extremely effective carrying the water. Then again, Jones had six receptions, so it's not like he's being phased out.
-- Speaking of platoons. Stop it. You already know which position I mean. Mike Rocco was 12-for-23 and probably would've been better if he wasn't always coming into the game cold. Phillip Sims' 8-for-10 day could've been a lot bigger with all the snaps. I know Rocco came right in and directed a TD drive, but this doesn't work overall. It screws with the receivers, trying to adjust to two different ball styles. It screws with the quarterbacks, taking their heads in and out of the game. I know that both Rocco and Sims can make throws the other can't, but a better solution would be to teach Sims the throws he can't make.
-- Mike Glennon spent a lot of the day picking himself up off his ass, and the NC State O-line spent the whole day getting owned. But I nominate Wolfies' cornerback Dontae Johnson as the guy who'd most like to forget Saturday. Johnson was the guy burned on Tim Smith's long touchdown, Johnson was the guy that Perry Jones(!) blew up next to the sideline, and Johnson was one of the guys that Mike Rocco(!) juked off his soles to convert a 3rd-and-10 with his feet. Ouch.
-- I freaking love safeties. The eff-you-up-in-the-end-zone kind. Best play in football.
-- Phillip Sims completes either less than 50% or more than 60% of his passes. I wish he had thrown more so that it didn't look like I got this on a small-sample-size technicality, but he was 8-for-10.
-- UVA doesn't have a run play of more than 15 yards. Actually there were several. Hell, Rocco almost had one.
-- Sims is sacked at least three times. Sims was under more pressure than I'd have liked to see, but ultimately State only registered one sack. That's pretty good considering the Pack's solid pass rush.
-- Our running backs average at least half a yard per carry more than State's. By, like, so much.
-- At least twice during this game, something happens on special teams that makes me try and reach through the monitor to strangle someone. This one's a yes, and here's why. Number one was a missed field goal from 22 yards, which might've been prevented by taking a delay-of-game penalty. Even so you can't miss those. Can't. Number two was the punt where we got the ball back on a fumble. That was the telltale sign that this was one of those days where everything just went our way, but it didn't have to be such a long return if a couple people had paid attention to the ball. Ignoring the returner isn't exactly good fundamental football. And the punt was terrible too. Vozenilek had probably his worst punting day all season, in fact.
Another 3-for-5 puts me at 19-for-44, 43%. It's a good thing I'm not betting on our games, cause I'm 0-7-2 ATS and 4-5 straight up. Oh, how I hate being proven wrong. Oh please do not do that to me again. Please, Bre'r Fox, don't throw me in that ol' briar patch.