"Through five games now (with this being the fifth coming up), there's a different group," coach Tom O'Brien said. "It's hard to be consistent. It's hard to get things down."
Simply put, the Wolfpack doesn't appear to have the bulk that's likely necessary to shut down a punishing rushing attack. With that in mind, Darryl Cato-Bishop has been summoned to move from defensive end to defensive tackle so that the Wolfpack doesn't have to insert a walk-on in the middle of the line.
"Playing defensive tackle is more like a man's position," Cato-Bishop said.
N.C. State's defense has been trampled at times during the first month of the season, so adjustments are needed nonetheless.
"The guys that are playing defense are excited," O'Brien said. "This is a great offense (that Georgia Tech has). This is a great challenge for (our defenders)."
N.C. State has been injury-riddled during O'Brien's five seasons. In that regard, figuring out how to move on under such circumstances should be in ingrained in the Wolfpack.
"Nobody is feeling sorry for us, so we have to get it done," O'Brien said. "It's never too late. It's going to take a great effort. But I think we're capable of it."
-- Unless N.C. State upsets Georgia Tech, the Wolfpack will be 0-2 in ACC games for the fourth time in five seasons under coach Tom O'Brien. Last year, the Wolfpack opened ACC competition by defeating Georgia Tech. That was only the second time in six years that the Wolfpack has won its first ACC game of the season.
-- N.C. State's last home victory against Georgia Tech came in 2000. That game, which marked the debuts in ACC competition for coach Chuck Amato and quarterback Philip Rivers, went into overtime. It's the only home victory for the Wolfpack in the series since 1994. The 30-23 outcome marks the lone overtime game played between the teams.
SERIES HISTORY: Georgia Tech leads N.C. State 17-10 (last meeting, 2010, 45-28 Georgia Tech).
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The offense seems to take too long to get untracked. If WR T.J. Graham isn't on the loose for big plays, then there appears to be few other options working. QB Mike Glennon has been able to shake free to find good passing lanes at times, though coach Tom O'Brien has attributed some recent heavy pass rushes to solid coverages that have blanketed the Wolfpack's receivers. N.C. State has been quick to turn to an offense heavy on passing, with early deficits causing that approach. Avoiding third-and-long situations might give the offense a boost.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Wolfpack have been picked apart repeatedly and it has been particularly vulnerable along the front, where injuries have taken a toll. But the defensive backfield hasn't been anything special and that's supposed to be an area of strength. The secondary could receive a reprieve this week if Georgia Tech limits its passing attempts, but those defensive backs will be called up to assist in the run support.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Whoever is out there, we're good enough to get the job done. We'd love to have those guys back." -- DE Darryl Cato-Bishop, who'll move to the interior of the defensive line this week with the Wolfpack's defensive front that's missing several players with injuries.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Georgia Tech at N.C. State, Oct. 1 -- The Wolfpack has a couple of extra days to prepare after playing a Thursday night game at Cincinnati. The Wolfpack is 0-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The prospects of falling into a 0-2 hole would be dangerous for a team that some observers believed might be ready to challenge for the Atlantic Division title.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Georgia Tech is probably salivating about the opportunity to go against N.C. State's defense, so the Wolfpack needs to find ways to slow down the Yellow Jackets. The Wolfpack hasn't been the type of dominating force on defense that was expected. N.C. State is unbeaten in two home games, though both of those came against Football Championship Subdivision teams.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
WR T.J. Graham -- He continues to show big-play capabilities and at times that's been about the only thing the Wolfpack's offense can count on. His work against Cincinnati on kickoff returns propelled him to ACC Specialist of the Week.
C Camden Wentz -- He's from just outside Atlanta but says there are no special feelings about playing against his hometown team. He's more concerned with the offensive line upgrading its pass protection and helping establish a more productive rushing attack.
DE Darryl Cato-Bishop -- He's moving to defensive tackle for this game against Georgia Tech because the Wolfpack needs more run support and the defensive line has been depleted by injuries. At 281 pounds, he might be strong enough to hold his own in the interior. "He has to go inside and help us right now," coach Tom O'Brien said.
-- RB Mustafa Greene's target date to return was after four games, but he might not be ready for game action Oct. 1 against Georgia Tech as he continues to recover from offseason foot surgery.
-- LB Terrell Manning is expected to be out for three weeks after undergoing minor knee surgery a few days after the Sept. 17 victory over South Alabama.
-- CB Gary Grant, a redshirt junior, is no longer with the team. He was listed as a backup in the defensive backfield. He played in all 13 games last year, mostly on special teams.