You can forgive anyone associated with NC State football if they'd just as soon forget about the last two outings. Offensively the Pack has been, well, ‘offensive'. State hasn't been able to generate anything consistently in the ground game with their running backs and once in predictable down and distance situations, the opposition has simply teed off on the Wolfpack quarterback.
Against both Wake Forest and Syracuse there were way too many drops, turnovers and penalties. These are absolute killers for a unit with such a fine line between success and failure.
Saturday will provide a fresh start for the NC State offense. Nearly all of the weapons that have been out for one reason or the other will return. The Pack enjoyed a week off to get healthy and prepare for the No. 3 Seminoles.
QB Brandon Mitchell will be back and that should give the Pack a spark, particularly in the run game. State has had to be inventive when it comes to manufacturing a rushing attack and Mitchell is a better fit for what offensive coordinator Matt Canada likes to do on the offensive side of the ball.
Priority one for the Wolfpack is to come out of Tallahassee with a win but outside of the team and a few hardcore fans, no one will give State a chance. Realistically, winning this game is a long shot but there are goals that can be reached regardless.
The Pack needs to show progress. Most felt good about the future of the team after a tough loss to Clemson. A solid showing against FSU would certainly boost confidence and could be critical to the Wolfpack's chances at making a bowl game as they head toward the final stretch run of the schedule.
LOOKING AT THE PAST
In the Pack's previous two wins over Florida State, State identified holes in the Seminole defense and exploited it effectively.
Three years ago the Pack spread FSU out and when the middle linebacker vacated the box, Russell Wilson made the Noles pay with several big runs up the middle.
Last season, State struggled to move the ball in the first half but made adjustments at half time. In the second half they used several shallow crossing routes across the middle and were able to nickle and dime Florida State with short passes en route to another upset win.
The return of Brandon Mitchell should allow State to at least take a look at doing this once again. Obviously the Pack is going to spread the field and if the middle opens up then Mitchell gives you the ability to take advantage of the middle of the field.
State has also used the shallow crossing patterns successfully this year so that could be something they attempt against Florida State as well.
MOVING THE CHAINS AND EXECUTING
State has to find a way to keep the chains moving and the Florida State offense on the sidelines or they could be in big trouble.
The Pack simply can't afford to turn the ball over and give the Noles a short field and they must find a way to stay out of third and long. The Wolfpack offensive line isn't talented enough to allow FSU to pin their ears back with no concern for the run game.
To have any realistic chance at all the offense is going to have to play over their heads. First and foremost will be to keep the Wolfpack QB upright and then convert with touchdowns when they get in the end zone. In short, beating the Noles is likely going to take NC State playing a perfect game.