Amerson's struggles painful for N.C. State
OCT 02, 2012 2:38p ET
Amerson led the nation with 13 interceptions a year ago and began this season as the front-runner for a few notable national awards. He was in the top 10 in every NFL mock draft. His highest current spot in any reputable mock draft in ninth, and in most he's dropped into the middle of the first round.
One site says Amerson is on a "slippery slope."
Slippery has been the opposing wide receivers getting open almost routinely against Amerson and the Wolfpack this season, especially in the team's losses to Tennessee and Miami. Volunteers quarterback Tyler Bray torched Amerson three times in the first half.
The 6-foot-3 corner picked off three passes in wins over Connecticut, South Alabama and The Citadel, but reality returned in Saturday's 44-37 loss at Miami. Amerson was scorched again notably on the Hurricanes' game-winning touchdown.
Amerson appeared to be right there with Phillip Dorsett on the 62-yard scoring reception. But for whatever reason, Amerson must have thought he was further behind Dorsett than he was. He simply made no play on the ball.
Asked how Amerson's psyche is, especially with No. 3 Florida State heading to Raleigh this weekend, O'Brien said it's "a work in progress."
"He's going to be challenged Saturday," the coach continued. "This is a team whose receivers top to bottom are as deep as anyone we play. Tennessee had two guys, FSU has 6-8 guys that can run and catch the football. It's going to be a great challenge for him, he's gotten away from fundamentals, it's been stressed the last couple of weeks, but if it doesn't hit home after last Saturday it's not going to hit home."
O'Brien said he and defensive backs coach Mike Reed are going to spend additional time with Amerson this week discussing the importance of fundamentals and probably the façade that's kept him from playing as he's been taught. He's been a loose cannon out there, as O'Brien says, trying to do too much, but not within the defense's frame work.
"If he does his job and 10 other guys do (their) jobs then we win the football game," O'Brien said about the loss to the Canes.
It's not just the coach calling out Amerson. Senior safety Brandon Bishop expressed his frustration, too. He didn't say Amerson by name, but it was pretty obvious.
"We've got guys that are turning around and, you know, you're supposed to be covering a guy," Bishop told the News & Observer of Raleigh following the game. "You can't just let him run by you and do it over and over and over again. It's frustrating. It's really, really frustrating."
Senior cornerback Earl Wolff called a players-only meeting Sunday to clear the air on a few things. O'Brien seemed satisfied with it Monday. But the reality is, the Wolfpack has to avoid major mistakes, and it's not just Amerson.
NCSU was flagged for 14 penalties and turned over the ball six times against the Hurricanes. Of course, a silly mistake by Amerson on a Miami field goal gave the Canes new life and led to a touchdown. But he didn't do it all himself.
FSU is a "different kind of cat," O'Brien said, and presents the Pack with many more problems than just pass coverage. But if NCSU fans can take any solace from this huge task is that the Wolfpack has a history of springing upsets, especially at home and when much of the game is under the lights.
A seemingly down-and-out N.C. State team clobbered a red-hot Clemson club last November, and has knocked FSU off its perch a few times as well. The Wolfpack is also 5-0 versus North Carolina under O'Brien, a clear indication his teams usually play well in very big games.
N.C. State and Amerson will need one of those performances to have a shot versus the Seminoles.
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