TAKE ADVANTAGE OF PLAYMAKERS
NC State is the more talented team offensively and have plenty of playmakers. They must use those weapons against Old Dominion's defense.
The Pack has speed at the wide receiver position and a talented pair of running backs in the backfield. Jaylen Samuels and David Grinnage are difference makers against linebackers and safeties. State should be able to get these players the ball out in space and force the Monarch defenders to make plays.
State doesn't necessarily have to go deep down the field. The Pack should be able to utilize swing and screen passes that will spread the ODU defense across the field and give the Wolfpack skill guys an opportunity to turn short plays into potential explosion plays.
WORK IN SHAD
Shadrach Thornton returns from a two-game suspension and Dave Doeren has indicated that the senior tailback will jump right back into the mix at tailback. The question is, how much of a workload will he receive given the strong play of Matt Dayes?
Look for Dayes to start the game and receive the early work with Thornton gradually mixed in. Dayes doesn't need to carry the ball 20+ times with Thornton back, and the duo complement each other really well. Having Thornton in the backfield allows NC State to move Dayes around the formations, taking advantage of his receiving skills.
Regardless of how many carries he receives, Thornton has to be involved. He's strong in between the tackles and is reliable around the goalline. He brings a different element to the offense with his physical, downhill running style and after adding 15+ pounds of muscle in the offseason he's going to be even tougher for defenses to contain.
Thornton is pivotal to not just this game but the Wolfpack's season. Finding that balance with him and Dayes will benefit NC State in the long run.
JUMP OUT EARLY AND LIMIT MISTAKES
Old Dominion will not be intimidated by NC State. They played the Wolfpack tough last year in Carter-Finley Stadium and will be playing with a lot of emotion given it's the biggest home game in the program's short history (NC State is the first Power 5 school to play at Old Dominion). State can't afford to take the Monarchs lightly.
Defensively, Old Dominion was awful last season, but they return a lot and expect to improve due to the experienced they've gained. With that being said, they shouldn't be able to slow down NC State. The Wolfpack must take care of business and continue to play sound, error free football like they've done the first two games. State's focus, demeanor, and attention to detail has been impressive.
The Pack has to continue to avoid pre-snap penalties and turnovers. For Old Dominion to pull off the upset the Wolfpack's going to have to contribute to it. If NC State limits their mistakes it's going to be really difficult for ODU to win.
Finally, NC State's offense has to start fast. The crowd is going to be rowdy and the Pack can't give ODU any momentum. A fast start is what it might take for NC State to turn the lights out early.