RUN THE FOOTBALL
This will be a key for NC State all season. The good news is State is expected to have a potent running attack led by tailbacks Matt Dayes and Shadrach Thornton, who is out this game.
Look for the Wolfpack to try and establish the running game early against Troy, a team expected to implement a 4-2-5 scheme under former UNC defensive coordinator Vic Koenning. NC State had a lot of success attacking that front last season on the ground, and offensive coordinator Matt Canada should have a feel of what formations could potentially work against Troy's undersized defensive front.
Matt Dayes should have a big junior campaign, and the Wolfpack coaching staff will try to get him going early and often against Troy.
"I know he's going to soak Matt in this game," said Dave Doeren on Thursday. "He's going to get a lot of reps."
Running the football is critical, but NC State's offense is at its best when there is balance. Last season the Wolfpack rushed for 2,659 yards and passed for 2,652 yards... outstanding balance for an offensive unit.
Finding balance on offense may boil down to playmakers emerging in the receiving game. You get a sense that NC State believes they will be able to run the football, and they seem high on several skill players in the passing game.
Offensive coordinator Matt Canada wants to be able to both run and pass effectively. If they can do both of those things well it will be tough for Troy to upset the Wolfpack.
INVOLVE THE PLAYMAKERS
There are several playmakers on NC State's offense, and now it will come down to getting those players as many touches as possible.
Swing passes, bubble screens, jet sweeps... there are multiple ways to do it, and plenty of options to take advantage of. Matt Dayes is a threat on the ground and in the air. Jaylen Samuels can line up anywhere on the field. David Grinnage is a threat at tight end. Nyheim Hines should be tough to contain in the slot. Jumichael Ramos has the size to be a weapon in the redzone.
State has guys that can make plays, and they have to find a way to get the ball in their hands. The Wolfpack's backs and receivers are going to have to step up and get open, but if they all are involved, NC State will be tough to beat.