Ah shit…here we go again. Saturday night, the top two Atlantic teams squared off in a winner (basically) take all game for a spot in the ACC Championship. In a moment of euphoria, Person “got” the onside kick…seconds later, Wake Forest kneeled to a 45-42 win. Lots to take in, lots to think about.
315 to 74
Pretty big difference there, ehh? That would be the average rushing yards against Wake Forest in the previous four games, versus what State was able to put up Saturday. Embarrassing. Even worse, Wake Forest in those same games gave up 15 rushing touchdowns….FIFTEEN.
This State O-Line isn’t the best, but you can’t tell us that it’s in a worse shape than UNC, Duke and Syracuse. Bam Knight can almost go for two return touchdowns, but the longest rush of the day was for 16? Furthermore, the thought that WF is so bad at rush defense for State to have just 14 attempts is remarkable, and not in a good way. State got it’s yards and had their success through the air. But when you’re hoping to slow down a WF offense, spending some clock on the ground would have been ideal. From here on out, and retroactively for the last few weeks, we can no longer trust the State run game.
Adding insult to injury (and there was that too), State was able to force three Hartman interceptions. Most will make the case for Pitt’s Pickett, but Hartman is right there for ACC Player of the Year and we picked him off three times. Could even add in a missed field goal to the equation and it wouldn’t matter.
We didn’t do a thing with the opportunities.
- INT #1 -> 3 and out | -5 yards
- WF Missed FG -> Fumble two plays later
- INT #2 -> Missed FG
- INT #3 -> Five plays, 15 yards, punt
Down four late and Wake Forest tried their best to give State the lead and potentially the game. To have three of the four “turnover” possessions last a total of 2:40, is tough not only for chances of winning, but crushing blow to the defense to go right back out.
That would be the number of first downs Wake Forest got on third downs, fourth downs and by State penalties.
That. Is. Absolute. Brutal.
Wake Forest had a 50-50 shot at getting a first on every third down attempted. State ended up with a whooping 14 penalties for 119 yards. We can yell at the coaches all day long, but the latter was beyond frustrating. Were some calls ticky tacky? Sure. Can you blame the refs for the inability to do anything in big moments defensively? Absolutely not.
10 | 133 | 2
That was Emezie’s stat line. Carter’s was nearly identical, as well. But Emezie was that dude all night. Whether or not you consider him in your top-5 all-time State receivers or not, he has to be in your top-10 overall just “Joy to watch each Saturday” list. Runs clean routes, uses his body so well, just finds ways to make plays. It’s rare for him to have big drops or make mistakes, which is why he should have even bigger stats on the season…but that’s yet another conversation on play calling.
That’s the ACC Championship odds for the Wolfpack. They need to win out and have Wake Forest fall to Clemson and BC. Honestly? Not totally crazy, but unlikely. The injuries mounted up, but doesn’t cover the blame and fact that the conference was having it’s biggest down year in recent memory.
The number of wins still possible for State. Both home games against Syracuse and UNC remain. 9-3 would somehow be great and a disappointment, all wrapped into one. While I still fully believe State was the better team in the Miss State and Miami losses, this WF game seemed to not be the case. The Demon Deacons took the opportunities they were given. State, as all the numbers above speak to, did not. We can play “woulda, coulda, shoulda” all day long, but State went to Winston-Salem and got beat. We’ll be talking about the close loses for years…