There is no denying it: NC State cornerback David Amerson had a bad opening night against Tennessee.
He was not even close to resembling the player we saw a year ago, when he set an ACC record with 13 interceptions. First, there was the 41-yard touchdown pass to Cordarrelle Patterson. Then there was the 72-yard touchdown pass to Zach Rogers. Tennessee ended up passing for 333 yards, and questions about Amerson started popping up.
To his credit, Amerson took full responsibility for his performance, telling local reporters, "It’s not acceptable,” he said. “I don’t think I did enough to help my team win."
Coach Tom O'Brien was asked this week how much Amerson was to blame for the long scores.
"Well, I don't know if it was an Amerson problem or the fact that Tennessee's pretty dang good. Their skill level is high," O'Brien said on the ACC coaches call.
Amerson gets his chance for redemption this Saturday against UConn in what is shaping up to be another tough nonconference challenge. But there is a little bit of good news if you are a Wolfpack fan. UConn simply does not have the talent Tennessee does at the skill positions.
The Huskies have a junior college transfer at quarterback in Chandler Whitmer, who made his first career start for UConn last week in a win over UMass. He had good moments, and bad moments but he is not in the same category as Tyler Bray. Secondly, UConn has a pretty unproven set of receivers who do not have nearly the same size as the guys at Tennessee. Patterson is 6-foot-3, 205 pounds; Justin Hunter is 6-4, 200 pounds and Marlin Lane is 6-feet, 205.
For UConn, its top four options at receiver had a combined 17 catches a season ago. The Huskies feature Geremy Davis (6-1, 214), who had a nice game last week with five receptions for 79 yards; Nick Williams (5-10, 184); Michael Smith (6-feet, 201); and Shakim Phillips (6-1, 200). A bigger concern for NC State could be tight end, where UConn has two excellent options in Ryan Griffin and John Delahunt.
UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni had high praise for Amerson on the Big East coaches call, saying the cornerback has the "best plant and drive that I’ve seen in quite a while. He can really drive on the ball, gets his hands on the ball. He’s an outstanding player. Tennessee has some speed and outstanding receivers but we have a lot of respect for him."
Now Amerson gets his chance to prove last week was merely a fluke, because UConn may very well test him early.
"One of the great things about it is if you are a great player, especially as a quarterback or if you are as a corner, you're going to get beat," O'Brien said. "But you have to have amnesia and forget about it and come back and play from that point on. So it's a good lesson for him to learn, and we'll see how he reacts Saturday."