Plenty to Play For

Ignore the frustrated voices in your head, 11-2 would still be the NC State's best record ever.

Since Saturday's loss, all sorts of voices have been echoing in my head. Angry wolves barking within the corners of my mind, saying that NC State should have won, that it's all over, that it is indeed the same old Wolfpack. But, though faint, also heard were the howls of the optimistically strutting wolfie within me. As I struggle to come to terms with the fresh frustration and the positive reality that face me, I've decided the best way to cope with the season-changing events of State's losses is to write a transcription of the confusing dialogue between the wolf voices in my head.

CynicalWolves (note the plural, cynics always outnumber the optimists): It was only a matter of time. NC State had been winning games despite itself.
OptimisticWolf: Don't be silly, State is still 9-2, and has a good shot at going to a New Year's Day bowl.
CynicalWolves: I'd like to hear you say that sentence after we lose to Virginia.
OptimisticWolf: If there's one team the Pack knows how to beat, it's Virginia. Something about those prepsters in pressed khaki shorts just lights a fire in our guys.
CynicalWolves: Yeah, UVa and those bastard New Mexico Lobos. We own New Mexico.
OptimisticWolf: Don't be so cynical.
CynicalWolves: Don't use negatives in a sentence. Positivity, remember.
OptimisticWolf: Look, State didn't play its best in neither of the last two games, but still had a chance to win. Both Georgia Tech and Maryland needed big plays and near perfect games to win. We'll be fine.
CynicalWolves: Why can't we ever play our best game? We're hot and cold every other quarter.
OptimisticWolf: Not true, despite giving up those big plays, our defense has played the toughest eight quarters of ball I can remember. Three goal line stands in the past two games.
CynicalWolves: Yeah, but our defense stopped getting the big turnovers. Defensive and special teams scores were all that made our other big wins appear to be by convincing margins. Now we get no blocked kicks or defensive touchdowns and look what happens.
OptimisticWolf: Say what you will, but at the end of games we've been in the position to get the ball and drive for the winning score. A far cry from years past.
CynicalWolves: Too bad we prefer interceptions to winning scores. We need a quarterback that has a throwing release higher than from his hip.
OptimisticWolf: And preferably a passing rating worse than in the top five in the nation, too?
CynicalWolves: Of course your rating will be good if you never throw it farther than five yards. How many 3rd and longs did we have where not one of our four receivers ran a route longer than the first down line? It's like we play a prevent offense. We're destined to go to another Micron PC Bowl.
OptimisticWolf: Is that even still around? Hey, why are you lifting your leg... That is not a voice!!
CynicalWolves: No, it's an image. Like wolves can even talk, anyway.
OptimisticWolf: Ok, you're pissed. I understand that. But you know we're going to beat UVa and then beat Florida State. Amato is undefeated against Al Groh and Bobby Bowden.
CynicalWolves: He'd never lost to Chan Gailey before either. Just means we're due.
OptimisticWolf: This is Gailey's first year coaching!
CynicalWolves: See, statistics are for losers.
OptimisticWolf: That's it, I'm drinking a beer.
CynicalWolves: Optimists don't drink!
OptimisticWolf: Are you kidding? Why do you think I'm always in a good mood? I wish they still made "Red Wolf" beer. Looks like I'll have to settle for "Red Dog" instead.
CynicalWolves: Why don't you just have a glass of Chardonnay and take your pansy positive ass on up to Charlottesville.
OptimisticWolf: Why can't you just look at the bright side. By going 9-0 we were in the top 25 for most of the season and received tons of good exposure.
CynicalWolves: Yep, that "Wolfpack Extra" addition to the News and Observer really paid dividends. Nice that they start giving us coverage right when we start to suck again. And after losing to Georgia Tech, we still get a nationally televised game, and choose to play our worst fourth quarter of the year. Nothing more rewarding than proving your critics right on a national stage.
OptimisticWolf: Look, it was a good game! So we lost, give Maryland credit for playing well. And State plays for its fans, not the critics. Our fans aren't the type to quit on our team. Not like over in Chapel Hill. Hey, be happy we beat them this year.
CynicalWolves: They won the first half of the game. I'll never recover.
OptimisticWolf: For the love of- (*burp*) Ahh, Red Dog. So bold, yet smooth. It's time for happy thoughts. 11-2. Gator Bowl. UNC losing to Duke.
CynicalWolves: T.A. McLendon. Jerricho Cotchery. Shane Riggs. Doubtful. Day-to-day. Questionable.
OptimisticWolf: Look at the silver lining. Josh Brown had a higher rushing average than McLendon did against Maryland. And if Cotchery doesn't play, maybe one of our speedy second string receivers will get a chance to prove that he's the home run threat we need.
CynicalWolves: Koren Robinson would have been a senior this year.
OptimisticWolf: Ok, time for a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

You can email the author at brett@struttingwolf.com


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