Former North Carolina State head coach Tom O’Brien says if he could do it all over again he may have started quarterback Russell Wilson as a true freshman. Doing so may have made everyone happy in Raleigh.
“We probably would have played him that first year,” O’Brien said during a conference call this week, according to Joe Giglio of The Charlotte Observer. Not starting Wilson, or at least giving serious playing time, in 2007 would have ended up avoiding what would turn out to be a bit of a complicated divorce between Wilson and NC State.
Wilson graduated from NC State in 2011 and wanted to continue pursuing a potential career in baseball. He had been drafted by the Colorado Rockies but O’Brien wanted him to focus on football. That hard stance from the football coach ended up with Wilson moving on from NC State. Eventually Wilson ended up at Wisconsin, having put the baseball plans behind him after a short stint in the Rockies minor league system. Wilson played his final year of football eligibility at Wisconsin after transferring from North Carolina State in 2011. He led the Badgers to a Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl berth, where Wisconsin lost a back-and-forth offensive battle to Oregon.
“I’m not clairvoyant, I can’t tell the future,” said O’Brien. “You make decisions based on the facts at that time. We had to make a decision that was best for N.C. State.”
NC State moved forward with Mike Glennon taking over as the starting quarterback. Glennon went on to have a 3,000-yard season with 31 touchdowns but the comparisons to Wilson continued. Wilson had comparable passing yardage to Glennon, two more touchdowns but eight fewer interceptions and provided the Badgers with more mobility. It was unfair to Glennon to compare and contrast with Wilson, but it was one O’Brien could not duck from despite going 8-5 with a bowl victory. NC State had gone -4 the year before with Wilson.
Daniel Evans was NC State’s starting quarterback in 2007. The junior passed for 2,030 yards with 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Harrison Beck backed Evans up but struggled when on the field as well. Beck ended the season with two touchdowns and nine interceptions. Going back in time and just assuming Wilson would have done better as a true freshman would be unfair, but given Wilson’s track record that would later be established, it may not be an unfair expectation.
Oregon touched the ball 15 times in its 41-24 win over Colorado on Saturday night. Jeff Lockie played seven of them, including the first. Taylor Alie played eight.
As long as Vernon Adams nurses his broken finger, this appears to be the plan for the Ducks.
“They’d both done enough good things in practice last week to merit playing,” head coach Mark Helfrich told the Oregonian. “We just felt looking at the game plan we could parcel out aspects with each.”
“Of course you want to get into a better rhythm but that’s how it goes,” Lockie said. “We’re just going to play the best we can and as long as we’re winning games, there’s no problem with me.”
Lockie completed 8-of-11 throws for 54 yards with an interception while rushing five times for 18 yards. Alie connected on 4-of-9 throws for 83 yards and a touchdown while adding 22 yards on five carries. Not quite Marcus Mariota numbers from either signal caller.
“It’ll just depend on the game plan,” Helfrich said of Alie and Lockie. “I think those guys they have differences. There are some strengths and weaknesses to different areas of their game and so we’ll think about that going forward of just how the Washington State game plan comes out.”
With Oregon playing Washington and Washington State (combined Pac-12 wins thus far: zero) before a tough closing stretch, Helfrich and company have time to alternate signal callers.
The polls are meaningless. Especially any poll that isn’t the College Football Playoff top 25 and even then, as the TCU learned late last season, even the penultimate ranking is as meaningless as the paper they’re metaphorically written on.
Still, they’re catnip to college football fans and observers. Place them in front of us and we can’t help but gnaw on them.
And with that said, a bit of milestone was reached in Sunday’s Associated Press Top 25, as the SEC was completely shut out of the top five.
That group breaks down as follows:
- Ohio State
- Michigan State
An SEC free top five hasn’t happened in nearly five full years; October 10, 2010 was the last time such a thing occurred. Oddly enough, two of the same five culprits occupied that ranking as well:
- Ohio State
- Boise State
Underscoring the lesson of the first paragraph, eventual national champion Auburn checked in at No. 6. Those Tigers moved up a spot the following week and never looked back.
None of this means anything at all, until it does. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun along the way.