"Hopefully, it will give us a little boost," coach Tom O'Brien said. "We understand we're going to have to be a whole lot better against this football team."
The Wolfpack wobbled for much of the first month of the season. This is a program that has shown it can pull together down the stretch and this assignment against Florida State will give the Wolfpack a chance to prove that it can do it again.
N.C. State's offense is centered on quarterback Mike Glennon, and considering that Florida State knocked out Maryland's quarterback in its last game, there's heightened awareness that Glennon will be a target.
"You don't want him taking any hits," O'Brien said. "It's definitely a concern for us."
-- N.C. State tends to have difficulty against teams within its division. This is coach Tom O'Brien's fifth season and his N.C. State teams are a combined 5-16 against other Atlantic Division teams. The Wolfpack has one of those intra-division games this week at Florida State.
-- C Rashard Smith returned to action against Virginia for his first start in more than two years. The redshirt sophomore will be in his first game against Florida State this week because his season-ending knee injury in 2009 occurred in the game before N.C. State faced off with the Seminoles and then he missed all of 2010. In fact, he played in only one road game among his five outings in 2009.
SERIES HISTORY: Florida State leads N.C. State 21-10 (last meeting, 2010, 28-24 N.C. State).
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: There's an increased willingness to hand QB Mike Glennon more opportunities to make plays as the team's trust in his decision-making has grown. Even with WR T.J. Graham's impact wavering, Glennon has found other receivers and the receiving corps might be emerging with younger players. The offensive line's task will be significant against Florida State's front. Protecting Glennon will be crucial.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Wolfpack is coming off its best defensive performance of the season in keeping Virginia in check. It's a different kind of challenge against Florida State and tracking a fleet-footed quarterback will be one of the issues facing the Wolfpack. Putting more pressure on the quarterback will be one of the objectives after notching only one sack against Virginia. There's a willingness to use multiple player combinations along the defensive front and building some depth there is something that could help against Florida State.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've got to take hits off Mike in order to be successful." -- OT R.J. Mattes on limiting the contact on QB Mike Glennon, who threw 36 passes against Virginia without enduring a sack.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: N.C. State at Florida State, Oct. 29 -- Both teams hold two-game winning streaks and the winner will keep itself in contention in the ACC's Atlantic Division.
KEYS TO THE GAME: N.C. State needs to get its rushing game in motion to take some of the pressure off the passing attack because Florida State can cause havoc with a pass rush.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
WR Bryan Underwood -- He's coming off a breakout game when he scored two touchdown passes. The Wolfpack will want to give QB Mike Glennon enough time to allow Underwood to find openings down the field.
S Brandan Bishop -- He's the center fielder in the secondary and he has had spurts when he has been making numerous tackles. He has intercepted four passes this year, a number overshadowed by teammate CB David Amerson, who has twice as many pick-offs. Bishop is one of the players returning to his home state for this game.
RB James Washington -- He's handling most of the rushing attempts and his durability will be tested. He's coming off a 25-carry outing at Virginia, picking up 82 yards. He didn't have negative yardage on any of his carries.
-- DT T.Y. McGill moved into the starting lineup as a true freshman as the Wolfpack looked for more bodies to use along the defensive front.
-- WR Tobias Palmer might be available for the game at Florida State if he remains symptom-free. He missed the game at Virginia after he was injured during pregame drills. A collision with WR Jay Smith caused what initially was believed to be a concussion.
-- DT J.R. Sweezy has averaged about 27 plays the last three games as he has been eased back into the rotation coming off a foot injury.