Offensive Keys To The Game: Maryland

Shadrach Thornton and NC State's offense will play for the final time this season on Saturday against Maryland. Here are some offensive keys to the game for the Wolfpack.

NC State Offense vs. Maryland Defense

One of the biggest keys on Saturday for NC State will be to protect QB Brandon Mitchell. The Pack can do this a couple of ways. First, they have to keep themselves from consistently facing third and long situations that will allow Maryland to pin their ears back and get after the quarterback.

State can also use the short passing game to negate the Terps pass rush. This should allow Mitchell to get rid of the ball quickly and it also gives him easier throws to complete. He has struggled in 2013 when he's tried to go down field.

Maryland is one of the ACC's best at sacking the quarterback and you can rest assured they're hoping to continue that success against the Wolfpack.

DL Andre Monroe and LB Marcus Whitfield are the two guys that NC State must account for. Collectively they have 14.5 sacks on the year and both rank in the top 10 in the ACC in that category. The Terps logged seven sacks against Virginia Tech earlier this year. For State to be successful they must keep Maryland out of the offensive backfield.

It's no secret that NC State has struggled offensively this season so they have to take whatever positives they can find to build on.

The Pack finally showed the ability to move the ball through the air against East Carolina although it came late in the game when the final outcome had already been determined. The challenge now for the Pack is to replicate that effort when the game is still in doubt. State has scored way too often in 2013 during garbage time when the game was all but over and the opposition had put in the defensive backups.

State has cut down on penalties and they've done a better job of hanging on to the football of late. Their issues on offense really boil down to execution. They've been unable to sustain drives consistently on third down, there have been way too many blown opportunities in the red zone and third and one or fourth and one has been State's worst play all year.

For State to beat Maryland on Saturday they have to find a way to execute. The skill players have to simply make plays. The offensive linemen have to get a push and open running lanes while giving Mitchell time to find open receivers.

Accomplishing this will give State something positive to hang its hat on headed into the off season.

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