Rob Crisp can be forgiven if he becomes wistful prior to Saturday’s contest between NC State and Wake Forest.
The redshirt senior, while excited about the opportunity to help the Wolfpack reach bowl eligibility, also will take the field at Carter-Finley Stadium for the last time, after a solid, yet injury-plagued career in Raleigh.
The former five-star offensive lineman from Raleigh (NC) Apex High School, who did not allow a sack during the entire 2011 season, has returned from a lower back injury in 2012 that cost him five games, and a concussion last year that forced him to sit out the final ten games, to excel in 2014.
“It will definitely be emotional, not just for me, but for everyone,” Crisp said of his final home game. “To think that I was given a second chance to come back will make it two-times as emotional. I will have both of my families on the field for the game so that is going to bring some emotion as well. You might see a tear or two come down my face.”
Crisp has started all ten games at left tackle in the current campaign after being granted a medical waiver to return to NC State for a fifth year following the 2013 season. The Pack, who faded to 3-9 overall in 2013, currently stands at 5-5 and needs just one win to earn a potential fourth bowl appearance in the lineman’s college career.
With two games remaining, both versus in-state rivals, to merely reach six wins is not sufficient for Crisp. He wants the Wolfpack to return to the level it reached during his first two years on the field, when State won 17 games during the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
“It would be awesome,” Crisp said of a possible return to postseason play. “That is what we have worked our butt off to do, to make it to a bowl game, but we don’t want to make it to just six wins, we want to win as many games as we can, including the bowl game that we would be eligible for.”
To earn a bowl berth, the Pack will have to get through at least one of its two oldest foes. The Senior Day game versus Wake Forest, along with the regular season finale at North Carolina, have a special meaning to Crisp that runs deeper than just reaching postseason play. It all begins with the matchup with the Demon Deacons on Saturday.
“We definitely take it to heart,” Crisp said. “It is the oldest rivalry in all of sports in North Carolina. We need to win this game. It would be good for our program and good for NC State University as a whole. We have got to go out there and get the win.”
It has been a struggle in 2014 for Wake Forest, but the Deacs will have a couple of days extra preparation for NC State after coming off a home-loss against Clemson in which the 2-7 team was tied with the Tigers at halftime before fading in the second half.
With so much on the line, and Saturday’s game being his final game at Carter-Finley, Crisp is wary of the threat Wake Forest presents.
“On third down, that is when they really bring the heat up,” Crisp said. “They run a defense sort of like the Jets and Rex Ryan. It can confuse a lot of people and they will bring the heat a lot of times. We have had a little negativity in terms of picking up the blitz the last couple of games, so we are expecting a lot of blitzing from them for sure.”
The left tackle is confident State will make the adjustments and send the graduating class out a winner in its final home game of the season.
“They have been successful in certain defenses,” Crisp said. “I think they have a good scheme in terms of every down and distance, but our guys have been working hard and I think we can pick it up.”