There have been many miscues behind NC State's four losses this season. None are more important than the Pack's tendency to turn the ball over. Just a quick breakdown of those four games- Tennessee (4 interceptions), Miami (2 interceptions, 4 fumbles), UNC (2 interceptions, 2 fumbles and Virginia (3 interceptions, 2 fumbles). That's 19 turnovers in just four games. There is virtually no team in the nation that can overcome that volume of turnovers.
The bad news for State is Wake Forest has generated 19 turnovers on defense this year with 12 of them coming in their five victories. They're currently ranked 19th nationally in turnover margin.
For State it boils down to running backs and receivers protecting the ball. Equally important is the ability of the Pack's offensive line to keep pressure off Mike Glennon. As for Glennon, he has to make smarter decisions and just throw the ball away when nothing is there. If you're looking for any indication as to how this game's going to go, keep an eye on State's ability to maintain possession of the football.
CUT DOWN ON THE MISCUES
In addition to turnovers, pre-snap penalties and dropped passes have been offensive killers for NC State. Way too often they've been forced into second and third and long and simply haven't been able to convert.
Dropped passes hadn't been a problem all year until the UNC game. While the receivers performed somewhat better against Virginia, there were still way too many drops and several effectively killed drives.
Avoiding pre-snap penalties and dropped passes is 99% mental. It's about focus and staying mentally sharp. This has typically been a staple under Tom O'Brien but for whatever reason it's been a huge Achilles heel of late.
Wake Forest is a team that State should be able to throw the ball on. The Deacs give up better than 260 yards per game through the air but gave up nearly 400 a week ago to Boston College. It's almost unfathomable that the Pack won't have some success against Wake Forest in the passing game but drops and penalties could be a huge equalizer. No team plays error-free over the course of a game but State has to cut the numbers way down or they will give themselves very little chance at success.
TIME TO RUN THE BALL
If State plays the way they're capable of playing, they should be able to run the football Saturday and that could be the boost the Wolfpack offense needs.
At times the Pack doesn't appear very interested in running the ball. However, Wake Forest has been porous at times defending the run and accomplishing this would take a ton of pressure off Mike Glennon to have to make every play.
The Pack is at their best when they have some level of balance between the run and pass and that's been sorely lacking at times this year, even in a couple of their wins. Running the ball can be about attitude and with an experienced line, State has to make up their mind that it's time to take the fight to the opposition and stop being the punching bag.