It's no secret that NC State has struggled mightily in Winston-Salem when facing Wake Forest. Going back to 1997, the Pack is just 1-8 on the road when facing the Deacs. For whatever reason State always seems to make mistakes against Wake that they seemingly never make against other teams.
One of the areas where State has had the most problems is offensively. During the last nine road games against Wake Forest, the Wolfpack has averaged a measly 18.6 points. During that time the Pack has lined up against the Deacons with three quarterbacks that are currently in the NFL.
One of the keys to avoiding a repeat of the past is to get off to a fast start on Saturday.
Fortunately for NC State, the Pack has been quick out of the gate so far in 2013. They've outscored their opponents 52-21 in the first quarter of games this season. For State to be successful this weekend they have to continue this trend. That means coming out aggressive, taking advantage of red zone opportunities, and limiting mistakes.
BB&T Field isn't one of the more intimidating venues in the ACC, and there will probably be plenty of red in the stands so the environment shouldn't be overwhelming. State simply has to avoid the weird mistakes that have haunted them in the past, try to build an early lead, and force Wake Forest to play catch up.
NC State has had to grind out drives the last couple of games, and it has caused the offense to sputter. Look for the Pack to come out of the bye week hunting big plays offensively.
Dave Doeren has talked about it since the last to Virginia Tech... the Wolfpack can't just continue to try and pound away at defenses... they must be more balanced and more explosive. It all starts with senior quarterback Jacoby Brissett.
He has yet to attempt 30 passes in a game this year and has rarely tested teams vertically. North Carolina throttled Wake Forest last week with a plethora of explosive plays that put the game away early. Don't be surprised if NC State looks to use a similar gameplan. Wideouts Jumichael Ramos, Maurice Trowell, and Nyheim Hines have the speed to get behind defenses, and tight end Jaylen Samuels is a matchup problem.
Being more aggressive is something NC State wants to do, and this week look for the to try and hit some home runs offensively.
Turnovers are the great equalizer and nothing will bring NC State down to Wake Forest's level quicker than fumbles and interceptions.
This is something that has dogged State in Winston-Salem, seemingly forever, and the Pack has to take care of the ball Saturday if they hope to win the game.
The Pack has turned the ball over just four times this season, fifth-best in the country. Winning the turnover battle will be critical in what could be a close game.