Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich
RALEIGH, N.C. -- It was not the opening act NC State had hoped for -- a Russell Wilson who looked pedestrian, at best, was sacked six times, an average of 1.9 yards per rush, and what looked to be complete ineptitude on offense.
Including last year’s 34-0 loss to South Carolina in the season opener, this year’s 7-3 loss makes for eight straight quarters against the Gamecocks and only three measly points to show for it. For how much anticipation was centered around NC State’s potential this fall, the Pack’s performance was deflating and uninspiring.
“This is a team that understands that maybe we let one slip away,” said NC State coach Tom O’Brien, who in July told reporters he would have a better team. “But they know to come back and work on some things this week and make corrections.
“We have to be able to run effectively and get things going, but now it’s back to the drawing board. Only giving up seven points is a good night for the defense, though.”
It was a great night, however, for South Carolina’s defense.
It’s unfair to come down too hard on NC State’s offense this early because it’s not like the Pack was facing Cardinal Gibbons, the high school down the street. This was another level of athleticism you don’t usually see in the ACC. It’s what separates the two conferences as it did today, and NC State might not see anything like it again this fall.
But NC State still needs more if it’s going to become a serious contender in the Atlantic Division, which is loaded with speed and athletes at Florida State and Clemson. The Wolfpack have to get better up front, control the line of scrimmage and run the football -- the basics.
Until they do, they’ll be fighting the same uphill battle they have been the past two seasons under O’Brien -- a slow start that ends in a mad scramble to finish the season on a winning note.