Florida State has an aggressive pass rush, and the Pack's offensive line is going to have a tough task on its hands Saturday afternoon. They need to be able to protect Mike Glennon, who operates much better if he can sit in the pocket, for long enough to allow him to get rid of the ball. The Pack needs Glennon upright if it expects to move the ball down the field at all.
The Pack's offensive line has been inconsistent at protecting Glennon throughout the year but has shown signs of improvement lately. After allowing 12 sacks over the first four games of the year the line has allowed just three in its last three games and did not allow a sack against Virginia last week. Some of the responsibility for this lies with Glennon as well, who will need to get rid of the ball quickly and be willing to throw the ball away to avoid negative yardage.
2. Where is George Bryan?
The disappearance of Bryan has been one of the biggest mystery's of the Pack offense this year. He's on pace to have his worst season since his freshman year – he's got just 10 receptions in seven games and has been targeted a mere 19 times all season. More than half of those nine incompletions have been drops by Bryan himself.
Yes, Bryan has received more attention from defenses than ever before. But it still doesn't completely add up – Bryan is presumably still capable of being the dangerous weapon that made him a near unanimous preseason All-ACC pick. Against Florida State the Pack coaching staff, Bryan and Glennon all need to make an effort to get him involved in the offense and give the Seminoles another threat to worry about in the passing game.
3. Will James Washington and Tony Creecy be able to keep the Seminoles off-balance?
No matter how good Glennon might be, the Seminoles will dominate defensively if the Pack offense becomes predictably one dimensional. It's easy to look at the stingy Florida State run defense and think that running the ball is a waste of time, but the Pack has to keep the running game in play to keep the Seminoles off-balance defensively.
The burden will be on the line as well as Washington and Creecy. The two backs have complimented each other nicely since Curtis Underwood's injury put Creecy in a more pronounced role. Both backs have averaged more than four yards a carry this season and both have also been weapons catching the ball out of the backfield – combining for 33 receptions. The Pack needs both players to pick up consistent yardage on the ground and hold onto the football on Saturday.
4. Can the Pack contain EJ Manuel?
The Florida State offense is an entirely different beast with a healthy Manuel behind center. The Seminoles haven't lost a game this year in which Manuel played from start to finish. He's a threat both with his legs (he ran for 62 yards and two touchdowns against Duke) as well as his arm. Manuel has completed 64 percent of his passers and has 11 touchdown throws to go with seven interceptions.
Manuel is hardly a bad pocket quarterback, but making him a one-dimensional passer is the first step in slowing down the Florida State offense. The Pack will need to keep Manuel contained first, then try to create enough pressure to force errant throws or rushed decisions from the junior.
5. Will the Pack keep generating turnovers?
As a massive underdog on the road in a very hostile environment, the Pack is almost certainly going to have to win the turnover battle to pull off the upset. The Pack is 3-0 when it wins the turnover battle this season and 1-3 when it breaks even or loses – with the only win coming over FCS foe South Alabama.
Interceptions specifically seem to be the road to victory for NC State. When it picks off more than one pass in a game the Pack is 4-0 while its 0-3 if it gets one or fewer interceptions. Eleven of the Pack's 15 interceptions have come in three games, so the team tends to pick them up in bunches, and being able to pick off Manuel multiple times on Saturday would go a long way to pulling off the upset.