CRITICAL QUESTIONS: Boston College

Pack Pride's James Henderson, Steve Williams, Rob McLamb, and Bryant Carson answer several critical questions facing NC State heading into Saturday's matchup with Boston College.

Pack Pride's James Henderson, Steve Williams, Rob McLamb, and Bryant Carson answer several critical questions facing NC State heading into Saturday's matchup with Boston College.
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NC State has to bounce back against Boston College.  What is the biggest key of the game for the Wolfpack offense?
James Henderson: Start fast.  I think that's the key, especially against a team like Boston College who struggles throwing the football.
The offense needs to put points up early to put pressure on BC's offense and enable the Pack's pass-rush game to become a factor.
Steve WilliamsI think getting back on track and gaining some confidence is going to be critical. Playing in Carter-Finley Stadium will definitely help. However, the Pack looked out of sorts last week. Some of that was Louisville but some of it was just on NC State. State has plenty of weapons and they need to get the offense moving again.
Rob McLamb: Getting off to a fast start would be ideal for NC State. Doubts can creep in after a bad loss. The Wolfpack needs to not let the Louisville loss linger.
Bryant Carson: State has to erase the last couple of weeks and get back to who they are.  BC will present a stiff challenge defensively so you may work on a game plan that gets the ball out quickly past the LOS but overall do what you do best—get Dayes and Samuels going early.  
Because of BC’s problems offensively this is an important game to build an early lead and then run, run and run some more to finish the game.  
The Eagles use a lot of different coverages and have one of the best defenses in the country.  How would you look to attack the BC defense?
James Henderson: I would look to get the ball out on the perimeter to the playmakers.  Boston College's defense is built to stop the interior run game and passing between the hashes.  Look for State's passing game to be critical.
Steve WilliamsI think you have to test them on the perimeter. It's going to be a struggle to try to run between the tackles so the one place the Pack may have an advantage is out on the edge. The quick passing game,toss sweeps and that option pitch may be plays State can look to take advantage of.
Rob McLamb: If Matt Dayes is healthy he likely will be featured. This could be a game where jet sweeps and quarterback keepers are effective in the running game. As always, NC State will need to take its shots downfield on occasion.
Bryant Carson: Last season State had some real success against BC going vertically down the field—I think you try to work some of that in this year with Harmon and Louis.  I also think you look at more screens and slants to get the ball out quickly to off-set some of their aggressive defensive play.  
At the end of the day though I don’t think you get too far away from the things that have worked this season—Dayes and Samuels in heavy doses.  
Strategically, what has to be the top priority for NC State's offense?
James Henderson: Like I said earlier, starting fast.  It's important for all three units: offense, defense, and special teams.  Boston College has lost 12 straight ACC games and is likely low on confidence.  You can't give them any early momentum.
Steve WilliamsAgain, I think the Pack has a speed advantage against Boston College and this should be a game of matchups. State has to identify the matchups that are advantageous and take advantage of them.
Rob McLamb: Not letting Boston College crowd the box.
Bryant Carson: Protect Finley, BC will be coming hard at him snap after snap.  The OL must hold up and give Finley time to distribute the ball.  
Pick one player who you feel needs to step up on the offensive side of the ball for NC State?
James Henderson: Ryan Finley struggled early against Louisville but seemed to get going in the second half.  Because of BC's prowess defending the run, he could be the key to a Wolfpack win.
Steve WilliamsRyan Finley. He was so methodical and poised the first six games but really struggled against Louisville. State needs leadership on offense and that starts with your trigger man. It won't be easy, however, as Boston College has a solid defense.
Rob McLamb: If Kelvin Harmon makes plays, the Wolfpack will be in a good place offensively on Saturday.
Bryant CarsonIt’s crucial for Finley and Dayes to rebound from the L’Ville game and get back to business.  Finely will need to be much sharper throwing the football vertically Saturday because the one thing you don’t want to do against BC is give up short fields or easy defensive touchdowns—make their offense earn points.  
Dayes will also be tested by BC’s very aggressive and effective defense, especially early on, so it will be vital for Dayes to grind out yards and keep the sticks and clock moving. 
Boston College continues to struggle on offense, and quarterback Patrick Towles is battling a hamstring injury. What would be your gameplan defensively to defend the Eagles?
James Henderson: Load the box and stop the run... I would actually look to play more press man coverage on the perimeter and make sure I take the run away because Boston College lacks playmakers at wide receiver.
This weekend it all starts with defending the run for the Wolfpack defense.  BC could hit a couple of big plays because State shouldn't be playing a "bend don't break" scheme against the Eagles.
Steve WilliamsI would put eight in the box and force Towles to beat me through the air. BC is going to try to run the football and keep it simple in the passing game so the Pack has to win the battle at the line of scrimmage.
Rob McLamb: Perhaps NC State will attack in terms of blitzes packages with Towles hurt. This is a game where the defensive ends could be asked to not let Boston College play wide and contain both the quarterback and the running backs inside towards the tackles and middle linebacker.
Bryant CarsonI think this is a game where, if you wanted to, you could potentially be a little more aggressive and play a little more man coverage on the outside.  I don’t think you have to be as afraid of BC’s vertical game as you did against ND (weather permitting), Clemson and L’Ville and can therefore afford to take some chances with LB/S blitzes leaving your corners on more of an island.  
However, with that said, I’m not so sure you have to run a lot of blitzes either and you’d hate to give up easy points to BC because of a blown coverage or a minor mistake by a CB.  
Personally I’d continue to try to pressure primarily with my front four and only occasionally send some blitzes and make BC sustain drives to get up the field to score—you had pretty good success against a much better Clemson offense using that method so I’d think it would work against BC.  
What is the biggest concern for NC State's defense?
James Henderson: The unknown at quarterback.  With Patrick Towles dinged up, BC could have to go another route at quarterback.  It's not easy having to prepare for two, or three different potential quarterbacks.
Steve WilliamsMy biggest concern is State has shoddy tackling, makes a bad decision or gives up a home run play. I just don't think Boston College's offense is good enough to score a lot of points on State so they need the Pack to mistakes in order to have success.
Rob McLamb: The unknown. If Towles is hurt will that change Boston College's offensive philosophy?
Bryant Carson: Becoming its own worst enemy.  Despite the debacle at L’Ville I continue to believe State has a pretty strong defense and BC, at least to this point hasn’t been very successful on offense so avoiding costly mistakes and giving up chunk yardage from penalties would be my primary concern here.  
Again, make the BC offense earn their yardage and points because if you do that you’ll probably be in a pretty good position to win.  
Pick one player who you feel needs to step up on the defensive side of the ball.
James Henderson: Star defensive end Bradley Chubb has 21 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, and six  sacks in his last four games.  He's already stepping up, but this is a game where he could be a major factor for the Wolfpack.
Last year he totaled nine tackles, four tackles for a loss, and two sacks in the 24-8 win at Boston College.
Steve WilliamsI'm going with Jerod Fernandez. I think his presence in the middle is key and he needs to have a big day to limit the Eagle's success between the tackles.
Rob McLamb: B.J. Hill has played well this season. This game presents an opportunity for Hill to make more plays in the backfield and post numbers.
Bryant Carson: This could be a big game for the DTs so any of Hill, Jones, Nelson, Bryant, etc could make an impact.  Those guys must clog run lanes and put BC in third-and-longs where you can really pin your ears and get after the QB.  
After facing Kizer, Watson and Lamar Jackson in consecutive weeks—3 future NFL guys, 3 guys that can move—Patrick Towles should be a welcome sight from a DL standpoint.  
Prediction time... let's have it.  What do you think happens on the field?
James Henderson: I think this is a game where NC State looks to do enough to get the win.  I'm not sure you get a great performance coming off the last two outings and with Florida State looming, but Boston College just shouldn't have enough offense to win on the road in Raleigh.
I think the Wolfpack wins 31-13.
Steve WilliamsI think the Pack gets back on track. It won't be easy but State comes away with the win.
Rob McLamb: NC State 35, Boston College 13
Bryant Carson: I think the big concern, if you’re a State fan, remains the mental aspect of things.  Has the team regained their focus and are they truly ready to move forward with the rest of their schedule?  
If the answers to the above are yes then I think the Pack takes full advantage of being back at home against an opponent that certainly appears to be beatable.  34-16.

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