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Q&A with Backing the Pack

For this week's Q&A  we were fortunate enough to connect with Akuna Wolf of Backing the Pack.  If you like a blog that isn't afraid to call it how they see it and that doesn't take itself too seriously, you'll enjoy their work as much as I do.  We're in the process of answering their questions and you should see them posted on their site on Thursday.  Thanks again to Akuna Wolf, as we always appreciate the time and effort other bloggers spend answering our questions.

STS: Mike Glennon had a lot of weight on his shoulders at the beginning of the year with the way the Russell Wilson situation turned out.  He seems to have to handled it well, progressing more and more as a quarterback as the year has gone on.  Talk about his development this year.

He's been struggling lately, or at least seems to be struggling. There are a lot of factors involved there, from shaky pass protection to inexperienced receivers to an inexplicably drop-prone former all-conference tight end. Overall, I'd say he's been fine. We've had to rely on him more than the coaches would prefer because we've fallen way behind in games or our ground game has been nonexistent. If you'd told me before the seaon that he'd have a 2-1 TD-INT ratio and complete 61.6% of his passes, I'd have taken that.

He does need to improve his pocket presence, and a lot of times it seems like he gives up on his progressions and just dumps the ball off. I feel like I've seen more checkdowns this year than the last five combined. I'm sure that's not the case, but that's how it feels.

STS:  NC State's running game has been non-existent this year, ranking 111th in the nation in yards per game.  Is this due to the personnel, play calling, or combination? If there is a team that can help NC State establish a rushing attack, it'd be Clemson, who's rush defense has been non-existent for the majority of the season.

Yes. All of the things. And behind it all, an underlying sadness. But enough about me. I think the offensive line has been a serious disappointment this year, and the bottom line is that we don't have a lot of talent at running back. We have guys who should be role players. But that's life without Mustafa Greene.

We've also had a very tough time stretching the field with the passing game of late, and I'm sure that's been a factor to some extent.

STS: NC State was playing guys off the street along the DL for a couple of weeks.  Is that still the case or have some of the mainstays come back from injury?

We've gotten healthier, thankfully, though the DL still isn't where we thought it would be at the start of the year. Defensive end Jeff Rieskamp won't play another down this year, as one example. I wonder about the difference these injuries have made on this season, but it's hard to imagine too many more wins given how the offense has played lately. It's the defense that's been carrying us over the last couple weeks.

STS:  Tom O'Brien is in his 5th year at NC State.  He has 3 losing seasons and 1 winning season, which came during last season's 9-4 campaign.  How hot is his seat in Raleigh?  What are the talking heads saying?

It's pretty toasty. I think TOB got a longer leach than most coaches do because people saw what he did at Boston College and maintained that faith for perhaps longer than was owed. Now there aren't many people left who still think O'Brien can be a success here, and I don't think anti-TOB sentiments have ever been stronger in Raleigh. Does that mean it's his last year? No, not by any means. We just bought out an athletic director and basketball coach. So that's a factor to some extent, I'm guessing.

STS:  At STS, we set our expectations at division title and 10 wins every season.  Hasn't exactly panned out well for us in the past, but it's what we expect.  Have NC State fans adjusted their expectations of their program over the years?  What are the expectations for the program?

I think we have fairly modest expectations on the whole. I know for me personally, if we're winning 7 games and going bowling every year, I'm probably not going to be too bothered by that. Of course, that would actually have to happen for an extended period of time for me to be able to really speak to that. I hope that most NC State fans have a realistic grasp of this program's history, which is not so good. I think most of us would be happy with regular bowl trips and wins over Carolina, and the occasional shot at the division.

 STS: Clemson has looked shaky in 3 out of their last 4 outings.  On top of that they are playing NC State a week after clinching the division and a week before playing at rival USC scares the crap out of me.  Is an NC State upset in the deck of cards?