It seems the North Carolina State Wolfpack have worked themselves into a frenzy over their rematch with the South Carolina Gamecocks.
In an unprecedented move by a Tom O’Brien-coached team, several members of the Wolfpack have been running their mouths concerning Thursday’s game. On top of that, the trite and clichéd “white out” is planned for the student section—with NC State officials offering free shirts to any student headed to the game.
O’Brien has been quoted as saying, "This is a great opportunity for us to play the first game of the season on national television. It is certainly the buzz around town right now. For the players, this is a special treat. They look forward to this opportunity to give everyone an indication of where we are in our program, playing against a great team like South Carolina. It will be a great test of our team."
This is the University of South Carolina we’re talking about, right?
No disrespect to the Cocks, but South Carolina has never been mistaken for a top-tier team. Not only that, but the Wolfpack are a favorite in this game.
If NC State thinks they are going to wake up the world to their greatness by beating an average and very young Gamecock team, perhaps they need to re-prioritize this season’s goals.
As for all the smack talk, senior defensive end Willie Young has been the bulletin board material ringleader for the Wolfpack, proclaiming twice that Steve Spurrier is not an “offensive genius” and that Wolfpack players will individually overcome any scheming Spurrier might do.
Young went on to state that dual threat Stephen Garcia is not a concern either: "Until he hurts us, I'm not worried about him," Young said.
"It's as simple as that...He's not getting around (defensive end) Shea McKeen over there. And he's definitely not turning anything up the middle between (tackles Leroy) Burgess and (Alan-Michael) Cash. You can take it to the bank."
Of course, Gamecock tight end Weslye Saunders couldn’t help but let the comments get to him and told media members that he was going to ask Spurrier for permission to get a celebration penalty after scoring a touchdown against the Wolfpack, to which Young responded, "I think he's trying to draw attention to himself, if what he's trying to do. Because I know, me and my goons, we ain't seeing it."
Whether or not Young is right about being able to shut down the Gamecock offense remains to be seen.
But Young is right about one thing—he and his teammates are indeed goons.
Why NC State is treating this game like the Super Bowl is beyond anyone’s imagination. Perhaps it’s the ACC’s inferiority complex. Maybe it’s revenge against a team that embarrassed them last year by the score of 34-0.
Whatever the case, all the drama Young stirred up with his comments has created a lose-lose for NC State. If they win, all they’ve accomplished is a W against a team they are favored against—not to mention the fact that few people are predicting more than seven wins for the Gamecocks.
Meanwhile, a loss to one of the bottom half SEC teams would immediately stamp out any visions of even a decent season for NC State—and would immediately bring down the ACC yet again.
Needless to say, it should make for an interesting Thursday night.