Offensive Keys To The Game: North Carolina

Shadrach Thornton and NC State are going to have to light up the scoreboard against UNC. Here are some offensive keys to the game for the Wolfpack.

NC State Offense vs. North Carolina Defense

Finding Something That Works

Through an 0-4 start in conference play NC State is averaging a paltry 14 points per game. When the Pack hasn't turned the ball over or shot themselves in the foot with penalties, they've sputtered offensively and haven't been able to pin down anything that they can do well consistently.

The numbers are pretty depressing. State is 90th nationally in scoring offense and that includes a 40 point game versus Louisiana Tech and a 48 point effort against Central Michigan. Take away those two games and NC State falls to 117th with only seven teams ranked lower than the Pack.

In the ACC, State is next to last in scoring offense, passing efficiency and touchdowns scored.

At times State has thrown the ball well. On occasion they've been able to put up respectable rushing numbers. However, there has been no consistency. The Pack has been terrible on third down (38%) which means they haven't been able to extend drives.

The Pack has play makers. They just have to figure out a way to get those guys the ball whether it be in the short, quick passing game or through jet sweeps, reverses, whatever. State just has to figure out some type of offensive identity and give themselves something they can build on.

Running the Football

This has been a staple in keys to the game every week. The good news is State had one of its better rushing outputs of the year last week putting up 188 yards against Florida State. Of course the Pack lost 49-17 and much of State's success on the ground came at the expense of the FSU backups.

On the flip side, UNC gave up over 200 yards rushing last week against Boston College and won 34-10.  

On the surface it would appear running the football isn't necessarily a key for NC State but the reality is that it's a huge facet of the Pack's game plan.

The Pack needs to run the football so they can throw it when they want to instead of throwing when they have to. With a struggling offensive line, obvious passing downs have killed the Wolfpack's offense.

In losses to East Carolina and Miami, the Heels averaged giving up better than 230 yards per game on the ground. It may be a stretch to say that NC State can put up those kinds of numbers but they must find a way to run the ball consistently and effectively.

Momentum

State needs momentum on offense. It simply hasn't been there in 2013. There's been success in fits and starts but nothing consistent. The Pack is one of the nation's worst in red zone trips and is just as bad in converting with touchdowns.

The offense will have a rowdy home crowd on their side and they have to force Carolina back on their heels. Big plays would be nice but there's not a lot of evidence thus far in 2013 to say the Pack can execute. State's going to have to stay ahead of down and distance and play their best game of the year to come out with a win.


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