"We've got to take care of the football," said Canada. "Ball security will be at a premium for both teams. We'll emphasize everything we talk about, being physical, making plays, etc... but the thing is we have to take care of the football."
According to Canada, much of the team's success has been associated with that one stat: turnovers. In the Pack's six wins, the team had a +7 turnover margin, and the offense had just three turnovers. However, in the Pack's five losses, the offense has turned the ball over 11 times, yielding a -4 turnover margin.
"[Turnovers] always matter," Canada stated. "In the game we've played poorly, we've turned it over. Obviously Louisville is probably the one exception, but if you look at Florida State, Clemson, Boston College, and Georgia Tech, we turned the ball over multiple times and lost them all. We certainly have to do a better job."
Another area the Pack must win is in the red zone. In the Pack's five losses they've been able to score just 10 touchdowns in 17 red zone trips while hitting three field goals. In the six wins? 21 touchdowns in 26 red zone opportunities, and State has really been hot in the red zone lately, converting five red zone opportunities into five touchdowns in the win over Wake Forest. The Deacons have one of the top red zone defenses in the country, currently checking in at No. 16 in touchdown % allowed in the red zone.
"Every game is different, but it was good for us to play a solid defense and play well in the red zone," said Canada.
NC State struggled in the red zone last season against the Tar Heels, scoring just one touchdown in three red zone trips in the 27-19 loss.
"Touchdowns are huge," said head coach Dave Doeren. "Last year we kicked three or four field goals in that game, and it was a very tight football game where those touchdown points would have mattered.
"Anytime you get inside the 25 touchdowns are huge and you flip it around defensively, anytime you can keep them from getting a touchdown it's a huge swing in the game."
Canada admits that he isn't concerned with statistics heading into the Wolfpack's finale. He knows the stakes are different in a rivalry game.
"This game, every stat on both sides won't matter," he said. "It will be an emotional game... I know our guys are excited to play.
"It will be a fun game to see who can maintain their emotions, take care of the ball, and not have the silly mistakes that yields big plays."