NC State Offense vs. Louisiana Tech Defense
TACKLING THE UNKNOWN
For the most part, the quarterback position has been a given for NC State over the last five years. Russell Wilson and Mike Glennon gave the Wolfpack NFL caliber play at the position and State's offense revolved around the talents of those two players in particular.
The Wolfpack won't have that luxury in 2013. The QB spot is somewhat of an unknown and it's likely the State coaches will adjust on the fly as it determines which player- Pete Thomas or Brandon Mitchell- gives them the best shot at winning.
Thomas is more of a pass first guy while Mitchell will use his athleticism to bring an added element to NC State's run game. Perhaps the most important factor here, as was mentioned by head coach Dave Doeren earlier this week, is not to try to do too much. State needs their quarterback, whether Mitchell or Thomas, to simply manage the game, avoid mistakes and get the ball in the hands of the play makers
The first game in particular will be a feeling out process as the coaches figure out what each of the two QB's are comfortable with while developing a strategy to take advantage of each player's strengths.
FIND THE PLAYMAKERS
While the quarterback position is a big question mark, the skill positions are not. The Wolfpack returns a bevy of players with experience and big game potential.
While not flashy, the NC State coaches know exactly what they're going to get from junior RB Tony Creecy. He's going to run tough between the tackles, he's not going to fumble, he's not going to drop passes and will not make any glaring mistakes.
There has been a ton of buzz about freshman RB Matt Dayes during fall camp and when you combine that with the run ability of Brandon Mitchell, you've got a solid 1-2-3 punch of running threat.
At wide receiver, Quintin Payton gives State a versatile, reliable, possession receiver. Bryan Underwood and Rashard Smith are quick in space are should be natural go-to guys in Matt Canada's spread offense.
Asa Watson gives State good speed and athleticism at the tight end spot while David Grinnage is a player that big things are expected from as he develops.
Collectively, this group is experienced, talented and should be the work horses of the NC State offense. Their success should take much of the pressure off the Wolfpack's quarterbacks as they square off against a Louisiana Tech defense that is being rebuilt after ranking 120th in the nation last year in total defense.
AVOID SELF-INFLICTED MISTAKES
Perhaps nothing is more crucial in the opening game than avoiding self inflicted mistakes on offense whether it be turnovers or penalties.
You need look no further than last season so see how critical turnovers were to NC State. 14 of the 17 interceptions thrown last season came during the Pack's six losses. Collectively, State had 33 turnovers last year with 24 of those coming in the Wolfpack's losses.
While Carter-Finley will certainly be raucous on Saturday, the great equalizer to that energy will be mistakes. If the Pack can get out of game one on the plus side of turnover margin and with five or fewer penalties, they should be in a great position to get an opening day win.