The Wolfpacker

July 2012

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 33 of 155

2012 FOOTBALL PREVIEW BY MATT CARTER — a team that went just 3-9 in 2010, but would bounce back to play in the Music City Bowl last December — were proving to be a tougher-than-expected foe. With 8:35 left in the third quarter, Wake I Forest was up 27-6. NC State failed to score on its possession and punted away to the Deacs, making the game appear hopeless. n 2011, for the fifth straight year, NC State opened its ACC schedule on the road. This time it was in week two at Wake Forest, and the Demon Deacons No Wolfpack player entered last sea- son under more scrutiny than Glennon. He was replacing Russell Wilson, a three-year starter and all-conference performer. Wil- son was not graduating, though. Instead, he left NC State after Wolfpack head coach Tom O'Brien handed over the offense to Glennon while Wilson spent the spring of 2011 pursuing a professional baseball career. When Wilson began to consider coming THE PROGRESSION back to college football for a final season, NC State had already moved on and thus granted Wilson a release. Fifth-Year Senior Quarterback Mike Glennon Grew Into The Starting Role Last Season However, a defensive stop followed by a short Wake punt set the Pack up with great field position at the Deacons' 38 with 2:14 left in the third quarter. Then-redshirt junior quarterback Mike Glennon, starting his second career game, went to work. He completed back-to-back 19-yard passes, the latter a touchdown strike to tight end George Bryan. That started a string of seven straight completions to end the third quarter, including a 65-yard touchdown bomb to classmate Tobais Palmer that cut Wake's lead to 34-20 before the start of the fourth. With 5:34 left in the game, Glennon, staring down an all-out blitz on fourth- and-10, lofted a perfect pass to a wide- open T.J. Graham that resulted in a 63-yard touchdown, and the lead was cut to 34-27. With 1:15 left and the score the same, Glennon faced fourth-and-eight at the Wake Forest 38. This time the pass to Gra- ham was incomplete. Wake Forest would hold on for the win. "We had them right on the ropes at the end of the game," Glennon recalled nearly nine months later. "I felt like we were go- ing to come back and win it." Winning is the most important objective in football, but in this loss State gained something significant: a confident quar- terback. "It was definitely a game where I felt like I kind of took control of the offense and kind of took over," Glennon said. "I think that was very important for me. "Playing against an ACC level team, and it's no different than what it is in practice or whatever it might be. I think that was the big game for me." 32 ■ THE WOLFPACKER The change sparked heated debates on message boards, talk radio and newspaper columns. An average quarterback may have folded under the pressure, but Glennon had an advantage. In a way, he had seen this before. His older brother Sean Glennon was supposed to be the starting quarterback at Virginia Tech in 2007, his junior season, but instead shared time with talented freshman Tyrod Taylor. A year later, Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer handed the offense over to Sean and planned to redshirt Taylor. That strategy lasted one game. Taylor was back on the field one week after a season-open- ing loss to ECU and began starting in week three. The two split time throughout the season, but Taylor ended the year starting in Virginia Tech's ACC title game win over Boston College and the Orange Bowl vic- tory over Cincinnati. "I already had an idea what it was like, the pressure on a starting quarterback at an ACC school," Mike Glennon said. "I would say for me, I think Sean would much rather have my situation than his situation. Mine was at the beginning of my career, and his was at the end. I would much rather have had my situation. "It's working out, and I think it's going to continue working out for me." The younger Glennon took comfort in the fact that in O'Brien's eyes, there was no issue among the team over naming Glen- non the quarterback. "There were not distractions for us," O'Brien said. "It was [the media] that was distracted." "I think all the guys on the team, they and I knew that time was ticking," Glennon said. "I knew that I had hoped I had three or four years, and now I had two. I don't know if I'd say I had to make up for that time, but I knew I had to put a lot of pressure on myself that I finally had this opportunity. I've worked hard, and now it's time for me to go out there and do it." Taking Advantage Of The Opportunity NC State ended the 2011 season at home against Maryland Nov. 26. The year before, the Terps had derailed State's hopes of an ACC championship game berth by jumping out to a 38-17 fourth-quarter lead and hold- ing off a late State rally. This time, the two teams met with a po- tential bowl trip on the line for the Wolf- pack. Maryland again was looking to be a spoiler, leading 41-14 with 5:57 remaining in the third quarter when Glennon fired a six-yard touchdown pass to Palmer. The rally was once again on, only this time Glennon and the Pack came all the way back. After scoring six unanswered touchdowns, including a pair of Glennon throws and one Glennon rush, State won 56-41 in the second-largest comeback ever in an ACC game. Glennon tied a school record with six touchdowns in the contest. Glennon's final season numbers reflect a signal-caller who grew into the role. He completed 283 of 453 passes for 3,054 Glennon completed 283 of 453 passes for 3,054 yards with 31 touchdowns and just 12 picks in his debut season as a starter. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN had my back," Glennon noted. "They saw me put in the work. I never really heard anyone say too much about [Wilson]. "I knew it was something that was going to be asked [by the media], knew it was something that had to be handled. I just had this approach that I can't control anything he does, and I can only worry about myself. That's really what I want to do. I just want to worry about myself." Besides, Glennon had already put enough pressure on himself. He did not need to add more. "I had hoped to play early in my career,

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