C&F covered the major points, but I do want to weigh in on a few things, so here goes. First the bad, then the good.
The QB Situation
I'm not sure if Smelley is really as good as he looked last night. The Wolfpack weren't bringing as much pressure as they brought to Beecher and they seemed to be laying off our receivers. Hard to tell how much of it was us playing better or them playing worse. However, Smelley's throws were for most part very accurate. That's much more than we can say for Beecher. Some of those interception balls were thrown when he had a receiver but just made a horrible throw. I really didn't see him make any good throws in the vertical game. He was being pressured quite a bit, but that's no excuse, especially considering that the team we play in two weeks will be bringing much more.
In sum: like C&F, I don't see any reason to believe Beecher can lead us to victory against top-flight SEC opponents. His defense bailed him out last night, but NC State is hardly the toughest offense we'll play all year. We'll need more offensive production against the better teams, and my thinking right now is that Smelley is the guy to bring it. Spurrier has a lot of thinking to do about who is going to be the QB by the time of the Georgia game. Heck, after what happened last year, he'd better figure everything out before Vandy, who, by the way, played well last night against Miami, OH. I know that he's said he's behind Beecher, but unless last night proves to be a complete aberration, he'd better pull the plug when the time is right. It'll be interesting to see what he has to say about all this over the coming week; right now he's playing coy.
Some may want to pin the blame on Beecher, but the line looked horrible in the first half, and Spurrier noticed and hints that he may make some changes. I expected this to some degree, as we knew that State has some nice players on their defensive front, but I was still disappointed at the lack of improvement from last year. They did play better in the second half, and played great when Smelley came in, but again, had State thrown in the towel by that point? It's hard to say.
One good thing: Jamon Meredith will be back in time for Georgia. Another good thing: when Spurrier chose to go for it a couple of times on fourth down, the line stepped up to the challenge and paved the way for us to get the yards we needed. Unfortunately, the first time this happened Beecher immediately threw an interception. The other time Mike Davis ran in a TD.
This defense is definitely legit. NC State was hardly one of the toughest tests we'll face, and the injury to Wilson derailed any hope of great offensive production for them, but shutting them out when we gave them a short field several times is really, really impressive. All in all, we held them to under 200 yards and they never got closer than the missed FG. Not bad.
And the defense created some turnovers. One thing this defense seemed to lack last year was a killer instinct on the ball. That seems to have changed, if this game is any indication.
With all the problems, after watching the game I feel OK about this team's future. After all, it was the first game, we won 34-0, and improvements are hopefully on the way. Spurrier definitely has his work cut out for him with his QBs and offensive line, but if he can make some adjustments that will at least lead to a decent, low-turnover offense, we could turn some heads this year and compete for a decent bowl. This defense is good enough to beat any team in the SEC; all we need now is a little bit more from the offense.
Stay tuned this week for more on Vandy. Again, they looked solid last night as they thrashed a Miami, OH team that was favored to beat them. Next Thursday will be no walk in the park.