Now that Russell Wilson’s long-awaited decision is over and the final chapter of his NC State career has been punctuated with a farewell on ESPN’s College Football Live, it’s time to start looking at the player who will actually be taking the snaps in Raleigh in 2011: Mike (or Michael, as Tom O’Brien likes to call him) Glennon.
Glennon checks in at 6’6″, 225 lbs. and he’s grown each and every year he’s been at NC State. In the 2011 spring game, Glennon no longer looked frail. That will be huge for him in the fall and should help him withstand hits he wouldn’t have been able to handle even a year ago.
He’s got a strong arm.
By all accounts, Glennon has a cannon. And not just a high school or college quarterback cannon, but an arm that could even translate to the next level. He can make all the throws and should have no trouble completing all the routes that are common within NC State’s offense.
Glennon is sharp both on and off the field. He finished his undergraduate degree in three years and is listed as a Graduate student on his bio page on GoPack.com. By now, I’m sure he could repeat the entire playbook word for word, twice.
There are other things we might know, but at this point, those three things — which are all very important, mind you — are the only things I can definitively say about Mr. Glennon. Everything else is up in the air and will be until NC State takes the field against Liberty Sept. 3.
There are plenty of reasons for optimism. Glennon has performed well in both spring periods he’s been the number one quarterback (2010, 2011) and he’s looked sharp in limited action during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. He’ll be well-protected in 2011 by an offensive line which returns multiple starters, and he’ll have plenty of options in the backfield. Glennon will have to develop chemistry with a group of unproven wide receivers, but given the fact that he’s worked with several of these players in practice during the last two seasons, that transition should go smoother than some might think.
And even more important, Glennon won’t have to score 30+ each week to be in football games. The NC State defense will be stout in 2011 and will give the offense time to progress during the first month. That time should be invaluable for Glennon and the others who will be starting for the first time on offense.
But even will all that, there is still an element of uncertainty which has me worried. What happens if Glennon is average or worse? It’s unlikely, but it’s certainly not impossible. How excited was everyone about NC State’s basketball roster heading into last season? Heck, the Wolfpack got picked fourth by the media (the people in the know) in the pre-season. How’d that work out? I realize football is different and Glennon has been in the program for three years, but he’s just an inexperienced as CJ Leslie, Ryan Harrow and Lorenzo Brown were going into Sidney Lowe’s final season. The situations aren’t identical, but Glennon has been put on a bit of a pedestal and he’s never had to perform in the clutch. That will change very soon.
The other piece of this puzzle (which could be bigger than people think) is how Glennon will deal with the pressure of replacing Wilson. Because of the way that whole situation played out, Glennon’s season and week-by-week performance will forever be linked to what Wilson does at Wisconsin. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the way the world works. Tom O’Brien has put his faith, and in a lot of ways, the future of the program, in Glennon’s hands. Is that fair? Maybe not, but Glennon will have to be ready come September.
Last night on Twitter, I asked my followers to tell me “what the perfect season for NC State in 2011″ would look like. I received some very rational responses. Here are a few.
@Douglas_Powell: 4-0 is likely start. So hoping for 7-5 to 9-3 range. Of course Glennon is key. Hope he is the real deal.
@chadlydorite: 7/8 wins would be a good season breaking in Glennon, and bigger expectations for 2012. Realistic but not all fans would agree.
@joesph_mott: With a new QB I’d say competing for the Atlantic division title would be nice. 8 wins and a decent bowl game would be perfect.
@the_Jameson: perfect would be Mike Glennon being stellar, no WTF losses… beat UNC, Clemson and Maryland
@InTheBleachers: if I’m a NCSU fan I see no reason 10-2 or 11-1 isn’t a possibility. Easy sched early, no GT/VT this year, UNC/MD/CU at home.
@PackPirate50: At least 9 wins. Must build on 2010 success. Plus TOB thinks MG is better QB than RW so no excuses. D is great as is oline.
The folks who responded are on the right track with their 2011 expectations. The talent for a 9 or 10 win season is there, assuming Glennon is as good as advertised, but if things don’t go perfectly 6, 7 or 8 wins is very possible. Fans should be ready for some growing pains early in the year, even against weaker competition in the first three weeks of the season.
Will Glennon be good enough to keep NC State in contention for the ACC’s Atlantic Division? Will he put up ridiculous numbers Wolfpack fans have grown accustomed to watching from Wilson the last two seasons? Will NC State return to a respectable bowl and continue its upward trend in O’Brien’s 5th season?
Your guess is as good as mine.