Working Out The Kinks

The first game of the season against a lower-division opponent at home was important for several reasons for North Carolina State.

Near the top of that list was allowing the team's young specialists a chance to play a game in a friendly environment.

Now it's a different story as N.C. State's first road game also counts as its first Atlantic Coast Conference assignment when it visits Wake Forest on Sept. 10.

N.C. State has true freshmen in roles as kicker, punter and long snapper.

"The kickers, we survived," O'Brien said of his team's 43-21 win over Liberty in its opener. "We got them through the game."

O'Brien said a couple of missed extra points could be attributed to factors other than what Niklas Sade did in actually kicking the ball, with one of his attempts glancing off an upright. O'Brien said a less-than-desirable snap was part of the overall failure in execution on one of the extra points.

As for the punting, Wil Baumann averaged 36.4 yards per attempt. He had a shanked punt, and that ended up being his longest boot of the game as it rolled for what turned out to be a 50-yarder.

According to information from N.C. State, the Wolfpack is the only team in the country to start true freshmen at kicker, punter and long snapper (Scott Thompson). Only two schools -- Colorado is the other -- have true freshmen at kicker and punter.

NOTES, QUOTES
-- This marks the fifth year in a row, all under coach Tom O'Brien, that the Wolfpack plays its first ACC game of the season on the road. N.C. State is 1-3 in the previous four assignments, with its only victory coming last year at Georgia Tech.

-- The Wolfpack has taken a hit along the defensive line with DT J.R. Sweezy and DT Thomas Teal out after undergoing foot surgeries. Sweezy suffered his injury in the preseason, while Teal went out while making a sack during the third quarter. So this means an expanded role for DT T.Y. McGill, a true freshman who appeared in the opener vs. Liberty. Coach Tom O?Brien said the plan is to still redshirt a couple of other players on the defensive line.

SERIES HISTORY: N.C. State leads Wake Forest 62-36-2 (last meeting, 2010, 38-3 N.C. State). This is the longest-running series for N.C. State. The Wolfpack has won only one of the last five meetings against Wake Forest.

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: QB Mike Glennon did enough good things throughout the opener that coach Tom O'Brien said the first-time starter set a solid foundation in many areas. That will need to continue in order for the Wolfpack to become stable on offense after what was a rugged opening quarter, especially for the offensive line, against Liberty. Wake Forest won't be overly large across the defensive front, so N.C. State's linemen will be charged with making a difference in the trenches.

N.C. State might receive a bit of a break because Wake Forest's conversion to a 3-4 defensive alignment is the same set-up the Wolfpack faced in Saturday night's opener against Liberty. The running back tandem of James Washington and Curtis Underwood, who rotated series, will remain in place.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Wolfpack will want to improve on its overall execution against a Wake Forest team that's capable of picking apart opponents. N.C. State forced seven turnovers against Liberty, but there were holes at times that made the Wolfpack appear off balance. N.C. State faced Wake Forest last season after the Demon Deacons altered their offensive system and so some of those elements have been carried into this season and that might help N.C. State in its preparation. Recognizing the correct reads before the snaps will be vital for the Wolfpack.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We were told that. That needs to change." -- TE George Bryan on the fact that a decade has passed since the Wolfpack last won a game at Wake Forest.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'S GAME: N.C. State at Wake Forest, Sept. 10 -- N.C. State hasn?t won in Winston-Salem since 2001, a string of four consecutive road setbacks in the series. That 2001 victory for the Wolfpack is its only road success in the series in its last seven visits.

KEYS TO THE GAME: N.C. State will need for its defense to impose its will on the Demon Deacons, who did a decent job of converting on third downs in the opener at Syracuse. The Wolfpack will want to keep pressure on Wake Forest QB Tanner Price, who might be available after suffering a knee injury in the fourth quarter of the opener. N.C. State will also look to take advantage of what could be a shaken Wake Forest defense, which was strong for three quarters at Syracuse before crumbling down the stretch in the overtime loss.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

LG Duran Christophe -- He recovered from minor knee surgery near the start of preseason workouts in order to be in the starting lineup for the opener. The offensive line had rough stretches early in the game, so getting certain issues straightened out will be important against Wake Forest.

LB D.J. Green -- He made his first career start in the opener against Liberty and he rated with the highest grade among starting linebackers after coaches reviewed the game film. He was mainly a special teams player in the past as a safety, but he seems like a good fit in his new role as an outside linebacker.

FB Taylor Gentry -- He has never carried the ball despite being N.C. State's primary fullback. But where he comes in handy is as a pass-catcher out of the backfield and on special teams. He has led the Wolfpack in tackles on special teams in each of the past two seasons and he got off to another good start in that department this year with five tackles on special teams in the opener vs. Liberty.

ROSTER REPORT

-- S Earl Wolff suffered leg cramps against Liberty in the first game of the season, but those aren't expected to be a long-term problem. However, he was taken off a kickoff coverage unit to allow him to recover in the opener and so his role on special teams might be re-examined.

-- DT Thomas Teal is out for at least a month after undergoing foot surgery Saturday night following the opener. He suffered a broken bone in his foot in what's described as the same injury sustained by DT J.R. Sweezy during the preseason. Teal played 15 snaps and posted a sack.

-- WR T.J. Graham has moved to 10th all-time in all-purpose yards at N.C. State with 3,486 through the season-opener. His 521 career punt return yards rate as the sixth-most in that category in school history.


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