Although North Carolina State can still be considered a "work in progress", they have reasons for optimism. First, Tom O'Brian is quietly doing a great job turning around the program at N.C. State as he led the Pack to a bowl game in just his second season. Another reason is sophomore quarterback Russell Wilson.
During his time on the gridiron last season, Wilson threw for nearly 2,000 yards and added another 388 yards on the ground. His most impressive stat was the 17 touchdowns he threw compared to just one interception. On the ground, Wilson also found the endzone four times. All of this, and Wilson was just a freshman which could be the start of a very promising career.
Other than Wilson, the Wolf Pack does not have too many weapons offensively, but there is some talent hidden in there. Running back Jamelle Eugene is a guy who can make people miss with his shifty moves and big play ability, but the offensive line has not been very good which limits him greatly. If the N.C. State offensive line does not improve this season, Wilson will again be running for his life in a one man show.
Defensively, the secondary of N.C. State is suspect which opens the door for Christian Ponder to air it out. According to Richard Cirminiello of College Football News, the front seven should do its job, getting more pressure and continuing a trend of better run defense. However, the defensive backfield will be the target of every team until it can prove otherwise.
By this time in the season, Jermaine Thomas, Ty Jones and Tavares Pressley should be the focus of every defense and Christian Ponder should have developed more as a passer which should mean a game with several big plays against the Pack.
What Florida State must do to win: Stop Wilson. FSU's front seven has to get pressure on him when he tries to pass, and contain him when scrambling. The overall speed of the defense will allow the Tribe to do this as long as they stay disciplined.
NoleDigest way too early prediction: Florida State will take advantage of a weaker opponent exposing their faults winning decisively. Look for this game to make the same type of statement FSU did last year in Maryland and really bring it to N.C. State. The passing game will have one of it's best games of the season and the running game should remain solid.
FSU 41 N.C. State 14
*FSU 7-1 (4-1 ACC)
Stay tuned to NoleDigest all month as we continue out "Road to Tampa Bay" series with out next installment looking at the Clemson Tigers
Road to Tampa Bay: Game 8 - N.C. State
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