NC STATE VERSUS NORTH CAROLINA
Saturday's meeting will be the 101st in the series between NC State and North Carolina, a rivalry which began in 1894. The Tar Heels hold a 63-31-6 overall edge on the Wolfpack, including a 27-13-4 advantage in Raleigh. More recent history favors the Pack, however, as NC State has won the last four games and three of the last four contests in Carter-Finley.
Since 2000, NC State has won seven of 11 games against UNC, with three wins coming at home and four coming in Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill. State hasn't won five in a row against North Carolina since 1992, when head coach Dick Sheridan completed that feat with a 27-20 win in Chapel Hill.
Three of the four NC State victories in the current winning streak have been nail-biters. NC State won 31-27 in 2007, 28-27 in 2009 and 29-25 last season. Only in 2008, a 41-10 NC State victory, was the game not in question late in the fourth quarter.
Head coach Tom O'Brien was adamant at his weekly press conference Monday that NC State needed to forget all about its 34-0 loss at the hands of Florida State last week, and players and coaches have taken those words to heart.
Offensive coordinator Dana Bible on Wednesday said that players and coaches learned what they could from the loss to the Seminoles but moved on quickly in preparation for the game against North Carolina.
"We move on, regardless of a successful venture, a big win, or a disappointment, either way," he said. "We did our work on it, we know what we have to straighten out and what we have to improve on and it's old news."
Not allowing the results in Tallahassee to carry over into the early part of Saturday's showdown will be key for the Wolfpack. It's a common cliche, but it's absolutely true, you can't let a team beat you twice. ,P. NC State has done a good job moving on during the week of practice leading up to Saturday, but the Pack likely won't be completely over the FSU game until some positive things happen against the Tar Heels. The earlier those things happen, the better it will be for NC State.
BRYAN TAKES BABY STEPS
There have been more moments in 2011 that tight end George Bryan would like to forget than he'd like, but despite a difficult year the senior is trying to stay positive as he closes out his record-breaking career in Raleigh. Drops, especially early on in the year, had Bryan frustrated, but his three catches in NC State's loss to Florida State tied a season high and allowed Bryan to continue taking what he called baby steps forward.
"I'm frustrated with myself because I've dropped some balls that I should have caught," he said Wednesday. "I've had to do some other things this year that I didn't do last year or the year before that. I'm learning new things but it just hasn't worked out to where I've caught as many passes. The season is not over with."
Bryan has caught more passes (106) than any tight end in school history and sits at 15th overall in receptions. He also is in a tie for fifth in school history with 15 career touchdown catches with Owen Spencer and Koren Robinson.
Bryan said the key for him moving forward will be concentration, something he admitted has hurt him when he's dropped passes this season. Bryan has two catches for 29 yards a touchdown in his career against the Tar Heels.
"I haven't lost yet to Carolina and I don't want it to happen," he said. "There has to be more for me this game. I have to step up."
GLENNON LOOKING FOR SIMILAR OUTCOME
Although Mike Glennon has not played against North Carolina in his four years at NC State, he said he expects Saturday's game against the Tar Heels to be just as intense as it was in 2010 and earlier.
"It was crazy, you think of the big plays," Glennon said of the 2010 game. "The throw it up in the air touchdown, T.J. [Graham's] punt return. I went back and watched the film, they played a good game against us. They were getting a lot of pressure on us but we just executed some plays. Hopefully it will be the same outcome this year."
Glennon will be looking to bounce back after he struggled in Saturday's loss to Florida State, throwing for just 130 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. Following a tough game in a loss to Cincinnati in late September, Glennon responded, throwing six touchdowns and just one interception in his next two games. It'll take a similar rebound from Glennon for NC State to beat North Carolina for the fifth straight time Saturday. Bible said responding after adversity is a strength of Glennon's.
"I think Mike Glennon is strong in that area. He's had setbacks throughout the course of the season," Bible said. "He has his own way of internalizing it and going through the process of correcting it and I have seen him in the past just move on. The good news is, move on and be the better for it."
Although Glennon will be starting for the first time against North Carolina Saturday, it won't be the first time he's faced off with Bryn Renner, also a first-year starter for the Heels. Glennon and Renner faced off in the Virginia high school playoffs in 2007 when Glennon was a senior and Renner was a junior. Westfield High, led by Glennon, came out on top.
AMERSON IS THORPE SEMIFINALIST
Sophomore corner David Amerson, the national leader in interceptions, has been named a semifinalist for the 2011 Jim Thorpe Award. Heading into the North Carolina game, he has two more interceptions than any other player in the FBS ranks. The Greensboro native now has eight for the season and has picked off two passes in three different games.
Amerson tied the single-season school record for interceptions at Virginia that had been set just a few years before he was born. Art Rooney picked off eight passes in 1937 and again in 1938.
Amerson, who was one of just three true freshmen to start a game for the Pack in 2010, is the baby of the defensive secondary, even though midway through his sophomore campaign he already has 16 starts to his credit. Last season, he didn't have a pick in 640 snaps played.
Three more interceptions would tie Amerson with Jayron Hosley (Virginia Tech) and Dre Bly (UNC) for the conference record in picks in a season. Hosley had 11 in 2010 and Bly hauled in his 11 back in 1996.