Pack emerges from players-only meeting confident, together

Pack emerges from players-only meeting confident things will turn around

jgiglio@newsobserver.comOctober 2, 2012 

— Sunday was not a normal Sunday for N.C. State.

The 44-37 loss at Miami on Saturday was anything but normal, so why would the next-day routine be the same?

It wasn’t. Instead of the usual practice in Carter-Finley Stadium, N.C. State’s players held their own meeting, without the coaches.

At 3-2, N.C. State’s season has not started the way anyone on the team imagined, not with the experience and talent returning from an 8-5 team a year ago.

Quarterback Mike Glennon and linebacker Sterling Lucas, the team captains, led the meeting, which in the words of senior safety Earl Wolff, boiled down to one question.

“We’re just trying to get everybody on the same page and make sure everybody is all in,” Wolff said. “Basically we said, ‘if you’re not all in, you can get out right now.’ ”

No one left, and the players spent about three hours watching film Sunday, coach Tom O’Brien said.

There was plenty to be dissected from the Miami loss, with mistakes made by both the offense and defense.

“We are all frustrated by the Miami game,” senior offensive lineman R.J. Mattes said. “Mental errors cost us that game.”

Mental errors such as eight pre-snap penalties, out of 14 called against N.C. State, for 100 yards, or giving up on a play because an offsides penalty was called. And there were physical mistakes, including blown coverages and turnovers.

N.C. State set a school record with 664 yards of total offense but also turned the ball over six times.

The defense allowed Miami’s Stephen Morris to set an ACC record with 566 passing yards, including nine completions longer than 20 yards and seven longer than 40 yards.

Lucas said one point made during the meeting was to understand the positives from the Miami loss.

“When we’re good, we’re good,” Lucas said. “It’s all about eliminating the big plays on defense and taking care of the ball on offense.”

Big plays and turnovers are the common threads in N.C. State’s two losses. Tennessee scored on touchdowns of 41, 72 and 67 yards in a 35-21 win in the season opener. The Pack committed four turnovers. And both games featured a safety by the opponent after an errant snap.

In State’s other three games, all wins, it turned the ball over a total of three times.

Hence, the level of frustration throughout the program, O’Brien said, because the mistakes are correctable.

“We have nobody to blame but ourselves,” O’Brien said. “I don’t think anybody in this building feels like we’ve been beaten by anybody other than ourselves.”

Even with No. 3 Florida State coming to Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday, Lucas said the players left Sunday’s meeting with confidence.

The Wolfpack has shown a resilience the past two and half seasons. They are 9-1 since the start of the 2010 season after a loss, including a 10-7 win over Connecticut after the Tennessee game.

N.C. State also has been good at home, winning 13 of 15 games over the same time span, including a 28-24 decision over Florida State in an October night game.

Last season, in a similar situation after a road loss to Boston College, N.C. State had to face Clemson, then ranked No. 7. State beat the Tigers, 37-13.

“We overcame that, so we can overcome this,” Wolff said.

The veteran players agreed Sunday’s meeting was time well spent, but there’s one way to see if the message got through.

“We’ll see what happens when we show up on Saturday,” senior safety Brandan Bishop said.

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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