"We're 1-1 and we've got a lot of games left to play and a lot of good football players on this team," coach Tom O'Brien said. "Some of these guys need to wake up. This isn't last year. We've got to come out with a whole different mindset and effort and attitude than we've been getting out of this football team. I have to get it out of them, and I'm going to get it out of them."
The players are bracing for an in-their-face approach before more trouble brews.
"I think (O'Brien) is definitely going to come with a different demeanor to practice," tight end George Bryan said. "He let us know that we need to change some things."
If the Wolfpack was willing to rest on past good deeds -- of which resulted in a No. 25 national ranking at the end of the 2010 season -- then such an attitude should be wiped away.
"We've got to forget about games from last year," Bryan said. "We just can't think about it. We've got to worry about this year and what we're doing."
-- N.C. State is tied for second in the country on defense with its five interceptions. Yet those pick-offs can't hide the fact that the Wolfpack was vulnerable in the secondary against Wake Forest, which picked up 337 yards through the air. -- The Wolfpack plays its game against visiting South Alabama with a kickoff Saturday night. So the coaching staff will be looking for ways to conserve energy if N.C. State creates a comfortable margin. That's because the Wolfpack will be back in action five nights later with a game at Cincinnati.
SERIES HISTORY: First meeting.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Wolfpack has done a decent job at establishing a rushing attack and QB Mike Glennon has been solid at connecting on some big plays. Putting together sustained drives might be one of the goals for this game, especially if the big-play strikes don't develop. The Wolfpack involved TE George Bryan more often in the second game of the season than in the opener.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The defensive front has been hit by several injuries and yet that group has shown decent production with DE Markus Kuhn and DE Art Norman picking up some of the slack. There have been too many holes in pass coverage and that's something that will be addressed. This unit is supposed to be the core of the team and that has been slow to develop.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I just tried not to worry about the score when we got behind. Sometimes you can get two or three touchdowns and be right back in the game." -- QB Mike Glennon on his mindset as the Wolfpack has faced deficits in the second quarter of both of its games this season. N.C. State never led in the 34-27 loss at Wake Forest.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: South Alabama at N.C. State, Sept. 17 -- South Alabama has never lost a game since starting football in 2009, posting a 19-0 record during that span. But this will be the toughest test yet for the Jaguars as they take steps to move to the Football Bowl Subdivision by 2013.
KEYS TO THE GAME: N.C. State will want to get off to a good start because that's something that has been lacking in each of its first two games. In part, the Wolfpack's energy level has been questioned and it reasons that could be a concern in this game even with the team coming off a loss. If N.C. State's talent is superior, the Wolfpack will want to make sure that's evident right away.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
WR Tobias Palmer -- His play-making abilities have started to show through and the junior transfer is bound to become more involved in the offense. If he emerges on a regular basis, he'll be the idea complementary receiver to speedy WR T.J. Graham and it will give defensive coordinators more things to think about.
DT Markus Kuhn -- The Wolfpack has waited for him to emerge as a significant force along the defensive front and he showed signs of being that type of player during stretches against Wake Forest. At 303 pounds, he might be able to have his way against South Alabama, particularly if he's going one-on-one against an offensive lineman.
CB C.J. Wilson -- He's one of the more experienced players on the defense for N.C. State and he could be the type of player who might raise the level of play in the defensive backfield. The Wolfpack is looking for someone to emerge with some energy and Wilson is capable of providing that.
-- TE George Bryan has 96 career receptions, so he's closing in on the 100-catch milestone. Before he hits that mark, he's in line for another mark. Among N.C. State tight ends, only former player T.J. Williams with 98 all-time catches has more receptions.
--DE Jeff Rieskamp might be out again after missing the Wake Forest game because of a shoulder injury. He's a second-year starter.
--RB Brandon Barnes, a projected backup, hasn't played this season in what has been referred to as a coach's decision. His status moving forward has been rather cloudy. "We'll see this week," coach Tom O'Brien said. Barnes missed all of 2010 with an ankle injury.