I just went back and watched the game. Here's a quick summary of each drive.
1st drive stopped due to a holding penalty (punted)
2nd drive kicked a field goal because Benjamin drops a pass that was thrown behind him….he’s wide open and has a chance to score
3rd drive Moving ball very well despite holding penalty that takes away a first down and a sack on a first down play that puts us in second and long (completed a pass on 3rd and 17 BTW).
Drive ends with TD throw to O’Leary
4th drive EJ sacked on first play and second play, false start on next play….3rd and 21. Finish the drive by punting.
Was this drive play calling or execution? EJ does not pick up blitzes.
5th drive Thompson gets us inside the 10 yard line with a long run on the second play. Thompson stopped on next play to bring up second and goal. Swing pass to Thompson on the next play as he gets stopped on the 4 yard line. EJ dets pressure and forces a throw in the end zone after missing an easy check for a QB draw, in which he could have walked in the end zone. (Field Goal)
6th drive On first and 10, EJ takes a shot at end zone, pass defended well. On second down, EJ hands to Thompson, a read option that EJ should have been able to keep for a first down. Fisher seems to agree on the sideline (IMO coaching EJ not yelling). Now third and 11, we complete a 9 yard pass, just short of first down. (Field Goal)
END of Half 6.7 yards per play
1st drive First play, 9 yard pass. 2nd and 1, Lonnie stopped for 1 yard loss as LT does not touch OLB. 3rd and 2, Wilder stuffed. (some people think we got conservative here, but we missed a block and then did not convert on a play that had worked well the first half). (Punt)
2nd drive Begins after the NC State offense moves the ball very well, uses 6 minutes of clock and kicks a field goal. NC State has clearly made adjustments, found some rhythm and momentum begins to shift.
Manuel boot leg gets 9 yards. Thompson rush 1 yard for 1st down. Manuel take a shot deep to Kenny Shaw, but pass is well defended (conservative?) On second and 10, Thompson stuffed on stretch (OL allows too much penetration). On third and 9 EJ misses a wide open Kelvin Benjamin which would have been a TD. Nothing wrong with play calling, definitely not conservative.
3rd drive Thompson runs for 15 on 1st down. 5 yard pass to Kenny Shaw on next play. On second and 5, EJ gives to Thompson on the read option for no gain. EJ should have kept the ball for the first down run. (I was critical yesterday for Fisher not using EJ’s legs, but it’s clear that EJ doesn’t want to run or is missing opportunities to do so). Next play is a first down pass to Kenny Shaw. On 1st and 10, Thompson is stopped in the backfield. On 2nd and 10, Lonnie Pryor misses a block as EJ rolls out…EJ avoids the defender and has to throw an off balanced throw (yet another missed block). Receiver was wide open (bad play call or poor execution)? On 3rd down, EJ throws a pick to a defender who ran the slant route better than Rodney Smith did. I believe this is where Jimbo decided to try to shorten the game because the momentum had clearly shifted and based on the horrible execution by his offensive players, I don’t blame him.
4th drive Begins after an NC State TD. Momentum has clearly shifted and we have all of a sudden run into a buzz saw. 1st play is a screen that was well timed, but poorly executed. Thompson runs forever if we complete. On second and 10, EJ rolls out and is pushed out of bounds (don’t know if receivers were open). 3rd and 9, EJ completes 1st down pass to Benjamin (another horrible and conservative play call ?). Later, on 3rd and 2 at the 20, EJ makes another infamous spin move that possibly puts us out of FG range. EJ should have thrown that ball away to keep us in short field goal range, however, Jimbo should have still given Hopkins a shot.
I’m stopping here because the rest of the game is basically us trying to get out of Carter Finley with a win. The play calling from this point was questionable, but considering the lack of execution from the players, I don’t really blame Fisher.
I think most people are remembering the play calling at the end and assuming that the rest of the game was poorly called. The fact is, Jimbo’s play calling had us in the right position to score, but the players just missed too many assignments.
This was a very disappointing loss, but I refuse to believe the wheels are coming off. How many of you who are freaking out about this loss had a win share of 12 for the season. Mine was 10 and I would bet that is about the average. There’s still a lot of football to played.