A Wolfpacker's Perspective

I don't usually believe in omens. I don't read tea leaves, my horoscope or the stars for advice on how to live. The only time I'm superstitious is when I'm watching the Pack play, which is perfectly acceptable.

So naturally, I hold my beer with my left hand (label turned out slightly to the right) and take a sip before every play. But last Tuesday got me rethinking the supernatural thing…

My fiance left on Monday to go out of town for business for 5 weeks. No, she's not a roadie for Metallica (fyi, their new one, Death Magnetic, is their best album since the Black Album. It's jaw-dropping. And if you don't like Metallica, that's fine, enjoy your baby blue pullover sweater and cherry crepes while skimming the latest New Yorker Magazine for all those oh-so-irreverent comics). Anyway, my girl's out of town until November. It's just me, the dogs and Willis (our cat).

So I woke up on Tuesday at 5AM, made some coffee and went to check my email. On my Yahoo homepage was my horoscope. My horoscope is never on my homepage. So I figured, what the hay, I'll give it a quick look see. I clicked Libra, and it said, "be careful of the little things, they can eat you alive." Point taken. Don't sweat the small stuff, blah, blah, blah. I chug down a quick pot of joe, lasso the dogs and we head out for our run. As we get to the gate (I live on a tucked away cul de sac) I stopped. Right outside of my gate, is a 50-pound pig. With red painted toe nails. Rooting around by my gate. No other lights in the neighborhood are on. But there's a pig. In front of my gate.

I'm pretty good with animals but I don't know squat about the behavioral tendencies of a pig. Are they territorial? Are they good with other animals? All I know is that in Snatch and in Hannibal, pigs are used to dispose of human bodies because they eat the entire thing, bones and all. "Be careful of the little things, they can eat you alive."

So I'm looking at this possible killer porker with it's blood-red toe nails, beady black eyes and giant snout and I made a decision... I'm not going to tempt fate. Back to the house!

An hour or so later, cheerfully munching a delicious Granny Smith apple, I come out to go to work. I get to the gate and the coast is clear. As I get closer to my car, there it was. The beast was literally sitting by my car (on the drivers' side, no less), staring at me. It was calling me out. Daring me. We both knew what to be done. I had a date with destiny.

I carefully slipped my pocket knife out and opened the blade. This was it. Man vs. Beast. Survival at its most primal. I took one last bite from my apple (was this my last meal?) and threw it away. And without warning it charged!

Sneaky beast, it caught me off guard. Startled, I made the error that could cost me my life... I dropped the knife. The beast rushed me, and I let out a war cry. Weaponless, I lunged for the beast but it made a quick move and ran past me. It was too quick an opponent. Broken and beaten, as the beast closed in, I rose to my knees accepting my fate. "Be careful of the small things, they can eat you alive…"

Oh how true.

I could feel the cloven-hooved pig demon's breath. With a last, desperate, fight for survival, I dove out of its charging path (twisting my ankle in the process). If only for a moment, I had averted my demise. In immense pain, I looked up. And there was the beast. Eating the apple I had thrown away. That's when it hit me... I had outsmarted the beast!

I jumped up, hobbled to my car, got inside and locked the doors. I was safe. As the beast continued to feed on my scraps, I drove away. I gave one last look back and smiled through the excruciating pain. I had stared down certain death and lived to tell about it! I opened my door and repeated my war cry. The beast looked up and we held a long, intense look. I then beat my chest and yelled out, "Top of the food chain, #*&#@*!" I then sped away a different man than I was just a day before.

Reflecting back, of all the lessons I learned that day, one became most clear... I'm never reading my stupid horoscope ever again.

I have no idea what to say about the South Florida game. I keenly predicted that if Beck could play just okay, the defense would keep State in the game. I even predicted a Pack win. Wow. I've been wrong before. But I haven't been this wrong since I predicted a N.C. State blowout against Pitt in the 2002 Tangerine Bowl (34-19 Pitt... the score is very kind to State).

State's defense was as effective as a shredded condom. Without Nate Irving (and Alan-Michael Cash), there was no defense. Yes, South Florida is good. But State's tackling was non-existent. Somehow FIU was able to keep the game within double digits. State reverted back to the days when they made every opposing quarterback or tailback look like Heisman candidates.

Now for the detractors that tell fans who are unhappy to "shut their pie-holes" and just support the team (the beauty is in the contradiction). After the ECU win, there was plenty of love to go around. But that's not bandwagon. And Lord knows that the State bandwagon is like a Ralph Nader lovefest... all State fans love the Pack.

You show up on Saturday expecting a hard-nosed defense that just showed grit and toughness against a Top-15 rival, only to roll over the following week. That's just like taking your girl to a nice restaurant on Saturday night after a long week and having a meal. The waiter brings you what can only be described as a melted down hunk of Velveeta in a petri-dish with bacon bits.

I'm all for school spirit. But I'm also for getting my money's worth. If the menu had the pasta price set in the $13-$22 range, you got hosed. But if the menu said $4.95 per dish, then you got what you paid for. I was under the impression that our menu was at least worth Olive Garden's never-ending pasta bowl. For that I would have clapped... or at least asked for another helping. Just like South Florida did. They dined on our defense all day long.

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Which leads me to the Boston College game this Saturday. I, honestly, don't see how State wins this game. Without Nate Irving, I don't see how they win another game. Except for the fact that Tom O'Brien knows his old team better than they know themselves. Call it the Chuck Amato Syndrome.

Under Amato, State may lose to Maryland/UVA/etc... but criminy, we played Florida State tough. CTC would have our boys ready against ol' Dadgum himself. That's the one advantage we have against BC on Saturday. And I'm sure The Anointed One himself (Steve Logan) is chomping at the bits to show why he's the greatest coach to ever be on radio in the Triangle area. After all, he's the reason Matt Ryan was a top-five draft pick in last year's NFL Draft (right out of the John Bunting school of NFL prospect coaching).

Chris Crane is the 2nd coming of Jay Davis. Tom O'Brien is Dick Vermeil to Jeff Jagodzinski's Rich Kotite. O'Brien left the B.C. cupboard more full than a generous mom knowing her kids were coming in for a weekend. And Ol' Jags is the ungrateful turd that catches the kitchen on fire trying to make an omelet and blames it on the eggs.

I don't know if State will win against B.C. I really don't see how we will. But if we don't, it won't be because of coaching. But if we do, I wonder if Coach Jags will blame it on O'Brien's cupboard. But as any chef will tell you, it's not always about the ingredients, it's usually about who prepares the meal.

Stay safe and stay tuned...


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