ACC: Pack hopes to avoid repeat of 2007 finish
RALEIGH ó N.C. State’s football players can’t forget their finish to the 2007 season, but they have vowed to avoid a repeat performance in 2008.
The Wolfpack (5-6, 3-4 ACC) enters its regular-season finale against Miami needing a win to become bowl eligible. The situation was identical a year ago against Maryland, and N.C. State fell 37-0 in Raleigh.”I think we learned from our mistake last year,” cornerback Jeremy Gray said. “We know that if you don’t come to play, you’ll get embarrassed. We don’t want that to happen again.”N.C. State will face the Hurricanes (7-4, 4-3) with plenty of momentum. The Wolfpack, which has won three consecutive games, is coming off a 41-10 victory at North Carolina in which it forced six turnovers and set season highs in points, rushing yards (187), passing yards (279) and total yards (466).
The Wolfpack’s 31-27 win against the Tar Heels in 2007 capped a four-game winning streak that included a 19-16 overtime win at Miami. The win over UNC turned out to be N.C. State’s final highlight rather than a springboard to success.
“Talking to some guys from last year’s team, that’s basically what they said: We were satisfied beating North Carolina, and it was almost like the season was over at that point,” N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien said. “We’ve made a big emphasis that the season isn’t over.”
The Wolfpack has come too far to throw away its final game again.
It got its season back on track thanks in part to a players-only meeting held after a 27-24 loss at Maryland on Oct. 25. Senior tight end Anthony Hill called for the gathering, asking coaches to leave the room after the regular meeting.
N.C. State was 2-6 at the time and stuck in a four-game losing streak.
“I felt like we needed to sit down and kind of talk about things and find out what we needed to do as players to get this thing turned around,” Hill said. “We just sat down and had a heart-to-heart. Guys came out of the meeting, and we understood that we had to turn everything up times 10.”
That day’s practice was sharp, setting the tone for future workouts and laying the foundation for the team’s current winning streak.
“They’ve gotten to be a much better practice team,” O’Brien said. “Our practices the last three weeks have been as good as any time since I’ve been around here.”