Lail: Give Them a Chance

You'd be hard-pressed to find another team in the Atlantic Coast Conference with as much offensive firepower as NC State.

Running backs T.A. McLendon, Darrell Blackman, Bobby Washington and Reggie Davis. Receivers Tramain Hall, Richard Washington and tight end T.J Williams. Any one of these players are more than capable of making a game-changing play.

What is conspicuously missing from this list is a quarterback.

Through the first three games of the season, neither Jay Davis nor Marcus Stone have shown that they can carry the Pack on their shoulders.

And it's not entirely their fault. There's an equation that can explain why State isn't getting much production from under center. (It's long, so get ready.) Jay Davis rarely enjoyed game experiences the past couple of years, not just because Philip Rivers was such a phenomenal talent, but because the Pack rarely put opponents away because State's defense had more holes than Swiss cheese allowing opponents to stick around because the Pack had no defensive coordinator because Coach Chuck Amato didn't think a defensive coordinator was necessary.

That isn't to say that if Amato had hired a defensive coordinator seasons ago that the defense would've been vastly improved which would've led to safer leads and thus more snaps for Davis, but it is an interesting theory. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, so State is left to journey on with two green signal-callers, and neither one will flourish or grow at the position until Amato tabs one of them as a true starter. Shuffling Davis and Stone in and out may keep opposing defenses off-balance, but it may also keep the Pack's offense on its toes as well.

Case in point: Early in Saturday's game at Virginia Tech, Davis - on second-and-2 - threw a pass to the end zone that was picked off. On the next series, out trots Stone. Not long after, Stone mishandled the exchange to McLendon, resulting in a fumble that the Hokies recovered. Not long after, back out came Davis.

Not only are the two young quarterbacks not given a chance to get into rhythm, they are also not being given the opportunity to make amends for their mistakes. Instead of putting the negative behind them with the chance to make something good happen, they're on the sidelines, wondering about their respective roles but no doubt ready to get "back on that horse."

Admittedly, the best case either player can do to remain in a game is to lead the Pack down the field consistently. Neither has to put up Rivers-like numbers. But like Rivers, someone needs to be given the chance to learn and grow as a quarterback. And this time around there's the defensive personnel around to help out.

ACC Rankings - One Man's Opinion
1. Miami: Canes get first ACC road test in Atlanta. (But which Georgia Tech team will show up?)
2. Virginia: In case you're wondering, the Wahoos have now outscored foes, 182-48.
3. Florida State: How long will it take before QB Wyatt Sexton gets booed? (Considering that the Seminoles host UNC Saturday, at least a little while longer.)
4. Maryland: When their backs were against the wall in Durham, the Terps reacted. Strongly. And Duke had no answer.
5. NC State: It doesn't matter how you do it. Just win, baby. (Ask Ohio State.)
6. Virginia Tech: One good kick away from still being No. 5 in this silly poll.
7. Wake Forest: It's only been a week, but all this talk about "Deacon Ball" is getting old. But, hey, Deacon Ball IS effective.
8. (tie) Clemson and Georgia Tech: The Tigers hung with FSU last week - until late in the game. Expect Tech to do the same with Miami this Saturday.
10. North Carolina: If the Heels don't at least show up and compete with Florida State in Tallahassee this Saturday there could be 25,000-30,000 Wolfpack fans in Kenan next week.
11. Duke: You get the feeling that the Blue Devils are a play or two away from turning the corner. Not "win six or seven games" turn the corner, but "win a couple and compete in just about every game" turn the corner. And it could start this week.

This Week's Games
Wake Forest at NC State:
This will be one hard-hitting, hate-filled game. The huge school with the flashy players (and sometimes flashier coach) vs. the tiny, Baptist school out to take on the world. Based on the performances of the respective defenses so far this season, one would expect a low-scoring game. No argument here. However, expect a couple of big plays from both sides in this long-standing rivalry game. (And it has become one heck of a rivalry game. Just imagine if Wake were still actually in Wake County!) NC State 17, Wake Forest 14

North Carolina at Florida State:
It's hard to figure out the Tar Heels. It's also hard to figure out the Seminoles. If the UNC team that beat Georgia Tech shows up and plays the Florida State team that showed up against Miami, then this one could be a good game. Unfortunately (for UNC), expect the "other" teams to show up. Spurrier's nemesis 34, Spurrier's future employer(?) 14

West Virginia at Virginia Tech:
West Virginia, which was spurned during the whole ACC expansion saga, takes on Virginia Tech, which was initially spurned but soon found its self in the league. The Mountaineers have already dispatched one ACC team this year (Maryland). But not this time, not a week after Tech's heart was broken. Virginia Tech 24, West Virginia 21
The Citadel at Duke:
If the Blue Devils can't gain some confidence this week, then when will they? John Feinstein's alma mater 28, Pat Conroy's alma mater 14

Miami at Georgia Tech:
The Hurricanes go into a hostile environment for its first ACC road game. The "U" needs a solid, mistake-free performance from Brock Berlin. Tech needs a superhuman performance from Reggie Ball.

Miami 21, Tech 10

Prognostication Record So Far (based on picking the correct winner only): 24-5


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