Win The Trenches
North Carolina's offense is one of the best in the ACC, and a major reason has been the play of the offensive line. The Tar Heels spread out the box and allow the five linemen to win games for them upfront.
If NC State's going to have any chance in this game the Wolfpack defensive line has to win in the trenches.
The good news for the Wolfpack is their defensive line is the strength of the defense. NC State has totaled 31 sacks this season and is led by defensive linemen Mike Rose, B.J. Hill, and Bradley Chubb. Against North Carolina, the Wolfpack defensive line will get several 1-on-1 matchups, and they must win those battles.
They were able to win more than their share last season in Chapel Hill, and that nearly resulted in a shutout victory for the Wolfpack. NC State has to duplicate that performance.
Again, NC State has to win in the trenches if they are going to win this game.
Limit The Big Plays
In the passing game, Marquise Williams has been good all season. The Heels don't ask him to do a lot vertically, and his completion percentage/accuracy is built on a lot of underneath routes and quick screens/slants, but he has been successful this year. He is completing 64.7% of his passes with 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
However, like most quarterbacks, he seems to struggle when he is roughed up early and when pressured, so NC State must be able to get to him.
The problem for State is Williams can capitalize on mistakes and leads a big-play offense, which has been a problem all year for the Wolfpack.
North Carolina is going to take their shots down the field with Mack Hollins (averaging 26+ yards per catch) and Ryan Switzer, and the Tar Heels are also explosive on the ground with Williams and sophomore tailback Elijah Hood.
It's really simple for NC State. They must make North Carolina sustain drives offensively. They can't allow the Tar Heels to score on chunk, explosive plays or it will be a long day for the Wolfpack.
Play Aggressive... But Smart
This game is going to be intense and played with plenty of emotion. North Carolina might not have a lot to play for given they've wrapped up the Coastal and face Clemson next week, but you know they will be looking to avenge last season's blowout loss to the Wolfpack.
NC State must match their intensity and especially defensively. When the Wolfpack's been successful in this rivalry, especially recently, it's often been behind stellar defensive efforts (the 2011 13-0 victory in Carter-Finley Stadium and last year's performance come to mind).
They played aggressive, but smart and under control. It's been stated before, they are going to have to pressure Williams but also take away North Carolina's read-option attack.
A plus for NC State's defense is they have faced teams recently with willing runners at quarterback in Clemson, Syracuse, Louisville, and Virginia Tech. In fact, nearly every conference opponent featured a mobile quarterback with run-pass options heading up the offense.
State probably won't be shocked by what they see from North Carolina.
However, State has to play aggressive and smart. No bad penalties... keep everything in front of you... be on the look out for trick plays.