Wolff gets win over Glennon in Wolfpack NFL showdown

cwright@newsobserver.comOctober 13, 2013 

— The trash talk started four days before kickoff, in typical 2013 form, too, with a tweet from one former N.C. State standout to another.

“@Mike_Glennon,” Earl Wolff wrote, “I only want 1 bruh. Is that too much to ask for??? Lol.”

The two Wolfpack rookies who arrived in Raleigh as part of Tom O’Brien’s touted 2008 recruiting class stood on opposite sides for the first time as pros Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. Glennon, the quarterback, made his second start for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Wolff, the safety, helped anchor the Philadelphia Eagles’ secondary.

Their paths crossed on numerous plays as Glennon repeatedly threw Wolff’s way, but the only time Wolff got his hands on Glennon was after the game. They embraced at midfield and chatted briefly after the Eagles’ 31-20 victory.

“I told him good game,” Wolff said. “Honestly, Mike was upset with me because I called him decent (earlier in the week). I didn’t mean decent in that way. He’s a good quarterback. Now if we went back to college and say how was Mike in college, I’d say he was great. It’s tough being a rookie quarterback. He did a great job today.”

Few defensive players, if any, know Glennon’s strengths, weaknesses and tendencies better than Wolff, who said earlier in the week he hoped to use their competitive practices at N.C. State to his advantage Sunday. He provided Eagles teammates with a detailed scouting report and joked that he wanted to intercept Glennon, just like their former college teammate David Amerson did in the preseason.

Wolff didn’t, but he did affect the outcome. His biggest play came in the fourth quarter, after Glennon had completed a couple of passes on him during a 90-yard drive. As Glennon methodically moved the Bucs from their 1 inside the Eagles’ 20, Wolff had plenty of time to reflect.

“What was going through my mind first was, ‘how is Mike in clutch situations?’ ” Wolff said. “Then I thought about the Florida State game, and he brought us all the way back and we won the game. I’m hoping that doesn’t happen today. That’s what was on my mind.

“He’s capable. He’s a clutch quarterback, and he could have done that in that situation. So I’m kind of happy he didn’t.”

Wolff saw to it, breaking on Glennon’s pass in the end zone on third-and-9 to force an incompletion. The Bucs settled for a field goal.

Wolff had other opportunities, too. Much earlier, with the Bucs backed up to their 13 and facing third-and-long, Wolff blitzed. He ran untouched through the Bucs line, chased Glennon out of the pocket and forced him to throw it away. Wolff nodded jubilantly in Glennon’s direction as teammates slapped his helmet. That play forced a punt, and the Eagles scored on the ensuing drive for a 14-10 lead.

“I don’t know if I hit him. I talked to him,” Wolf said. “I said, ‘Mike, you better get out, you know I’m coming.’ ”

Glennon’s response? After the Eagles scored, he led the Bucs on a 10-play, 89-yard touchdown drive, poking holes in Wolff’s scouting report along the way, most notably when he scrambled 16 yards for a first down. After Wolff saved a touchdown by tackling Doug Martin at the 1 yard line, Glennon finished the drive by hitting Vincent Jackson on a short fade route in the end zone, their second scoring connection of the first half and Glennon’s third career touchdown pass.

“When they scored,” Wolff said, “he walked up to me and said, ‘all right, you better come hard because I’m scoring.’ ”

And so it went for four quarters, this Wolfpack duel disguised as an NFL game.

Glennon, who finished with 273 passing yards and two touchdowns, opened the second half by hitting Tim Wright on a seam route left open when Wolff shifted to deep middle. Wolff eventually chased Wright out of bounds. When Glennon connected with Jackson for a 16-yard gain in front of Wolff, Wolff clapped his hands and shook his head. How many hundreds of times had he seen that?

Later, Glennon threaded a perfectly thrown pass past a diving Wolff for a 10-yard completion. Glennon’s accuracy is fodder for Tampa talk radio, but had that throw been even one foot off target, Wolff might have gotten his interception, like Amerson earlier, and walked into the end zone. Instead, again, Wolff was left grasping at air, shaking his head.

“He did, he did (give me some chances),” Wolff said, “and I was so upset with myself that I didn’t even get the (breakup). I was right there. I was so upset with myself because I knew I could have made that play.”

Wolff, who started the week with a friendly LOL, got the last laugh when his fourth-quarter pass breakup prevented the Bucs from regaining the lead.

“That was a PBU, but I’m not happy with PBUs,” Wolff said. “I like to make big plays for my team.”

Wolff paused and smiled.

“It was fun, playing a Wolfpack player; it was a lot of fun,” Wolff said.

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