CFN Bowl Analysis ... Champs
NC State 23 ... West Virginia 7
So what can Dana Holgorsen do to keep the turnovers to a minimum?
There will be a major overreaction to the seven points put on the board against NC State’s good, but not elite defense, and the arrival of Holgorsen can’t come fast enough. But the Mountaineer attack worked reasonably well against the Wolfpack with the ground game outgaining State 128 yards to 101, but it was the fumbles that proved to be a killer making West Virginia looked like a distracted team that played like it was disappointed it wasn’t in the BCS.
Give NC State credit, though, for bouncing back from the major disappointment of losing to Maryland to put together a complete, relatively mistake-free performance. Russell Wilson showed once again how important he is to the offense and the team by making play after play to avoid trouble to keep the chains moving. Defensively, once the game started to turn, it was a floodgate as the takeaways made the tight battle a blowout. And now West Virginia needs more of a spark.
The Mountaineers weren’t bad offensively, but there isn’t enough pop and it wasn’t exactly creative. Enter Holgorsen who, make no mistake about it, will control the offense and should control the team. He’s going to be the one who gets to make all the big calls, and he’ll be the one who’ll open things up more to and he’ll be the one in charge of getting West Virginia over the hump.
At the very least, he’s going to be one who can win a Champs Sports Bowl. NC State played better, but West Virginia was far, far better than it showed.
- Holgorsen would’ve made sure that Noel Devine ran more than eight times.
- Out of ten Champs Sports Bowls, only one, the 2007 Boston College win over Michigan State, was truly interesting. Last year’s Wisconsin win over Miami was a clunker until the final two minutes, and every other game in the bowl’s history has been awful.
- Of course Russell Wilson, despite moving the ball at will on the great Mountaineer defense, should go play baseball full-time. He’s not an NFL quarterback and he might as well go where he has a chance to get paid the big money.
- Wilson did a magnificent job under pressure. He took five sacks, but didn’t blink.
- This should’ve been an even bigger blowout. That the West Virginia defense held State to three field goals on drives that could’ve easily gone for touchdowns kept the game within reason.
- WVU punter Gregg Pugnetti had a great game, pinning the State offense deep time and again.
Oliver Luck looked like the only Mountaineer in the building who had his act together on this night.
If there were any doubts why Luck, the West Virginia AD, has shaken up the staff in Morgantown, those are long gone. Unfortunately, Bill Stewart is the face of the program, and that face is a blank stare coming from the sidelines. The ‘neers need a new look, especially on offense. There’s way too much talent on this side of the ball for the team to be so incredibly inept. It needs newly-hired Dana Holgorsen to begin putting his fingerprints on the playbook. And it needs that to happen immediately. That’s especially crucial for QB Geno Smith, who still has half a career left and a high ceiling. It’ll be up to Holgorsen, in large part, to make sure he reaches it.
- Just because West Virginia looked like Keystone Kops on offense doesn’t mean NC State didn’t do a bang-up job on defense. It did, consistently collapsing the pocket and creating five takeaways. If he stays healthy, LB Nate Irving will be fantastic on Sundays.
- Less than 10 carries for a well-rested Noel Devine? Who gets credit for that stroke of coaching genius?
- With a budding baseball career in front of him, you get the feeling that was QB Russell Wilson’s final game. Too bad for the Pack and too bad for anyone following the ACC. He’ll be missed if he leaves football, though it would open the door for another gifted quarterback, former blue-chipper Mike Glennon.
By Matt Zemek
North Carolina State kept missing field goals and stalling on drives. The Wolfpack committed a false start on fourth-and-inches, and the boys from Raleigh didn’t chew grass before their own blind-flip-over-the-shoulder fake field goal. Les Miles would have ensured that the ball bounced right into the kicker’s hands for a first-down-generating run. North Carolina State dropped stacks of passes and generally played a Champs Sports Bowl that, if graded on an absolute scale in a classroom, would have amounted to a C-minus.
The Wolfpack won comfortably.
That tells you one thing: Dana Holgorsen can’t guide West Virginia’s offense soon enough.
Really, what more can be said about yet another dreary dud of a game, just 25.5 hours after an equally unwatchable Independence Bowl unfolded in Louisiana? The long layoffs aren’t conducive to elite performances – we get that – but then again, these teams do have plenty of practices in the middle of December. Playing on Dec. 28 is not the same as playing on Jan. 5, so these schools should be exhibiting more polish than they’ve shown so far. Captive (snow-bound) television audiences – large numbers of people who are taking a break over the holidays from many months of work – can’t be happy with the quality of football they’ve seen this bowl season. Give North Carolina State’s defense credit, but let’s not think the Wolfpack painted a Picasso in downtown Orlando.
--The best thing about this Champs Sports Bowl: A synthetic playing surface meant no major injuries to talented running backs (Graig Cooper of Miami last year against Wisconsin).
--NC State coach Tom O’Brien was right to fake the field goal, but the play didn’t work for him. He was wrong to punt just past midfield in the second half, but a West Virginia turnover turned that move into a field goal. These events offer more proof that bad moves can turn out well and good moves can create bad results. Such is life.
--No, Oliver Luck. Don’t fire Bill Stewart now. You made a commitment. It’s not as though Stewart will control or teach the offense. West Virginia played hard and well on defense; this team’s problems are almost entirely found on the offensive side of the ball. Insisting on a quick ax for Stewart is an act that fails to understand the meaning of the word “integrity.” Maybe the people who are pushing for Stewart’s immediate dismissal (looking at you, Mark May) approve of Steve Pederson’s firings of both Frank Solich (at Nebraska) and Ralph Friedgen (at Maryland).