College Football: N.C. State-Murray State preview
RALEIGH ó It took only one terrible performance for North Carolina State to blow all the optimism around the program heading into the season. The Wolfpack can’t afford a repeat performance when it hosts Murray State today.
The Wolfpack (0-1) managed just 133 total yards in last week’s 7-3 home loss to South Carolina, a nationally televised game that was supposed to showcase the program and all-Atlantic Coast Conference quarterback Russell Wilson. It was a surprisingly inept showing for a team that reached a bowl game with a strong second-half surge and had been mentioned as a contender in the league’s Atlantic Division.
Now the Wolfpack is hoping to accomplish a simple goal against the Racers (1-0) ó finding the end zone.
“(The first game) gives you an indication of what you have to do because you see yourself against somebody else instead of playing yourself all the time,” Wolfpack coach Tom O’Brien said. “So now the big thing is can we get better? Can we score a touchdown? I don’t know. We have to score a touchdown.”
The problems were everywhere. The offensive line couldn’t protect Wilson, who took six sacks. Wilson looked tentative and wasn’t sharp, completing just 12 of 23 passes. The running game didn’t offer much help, with Toney Baker fumbling on the Wolfpack’s first offensive play to set up the game’s only touchdown. And the receivers had several drops, most notably Jay Smith’s failure to haul in a pass near the back of the end zone late in the game.
“We shot ourselves in the foot so many times,” offensive tackle Jeraill McCuller said. “You just can’t do those type of things against a team of that caliber. I know for me it’s just been very painful. I feel like we let them get away from us.”