It's no secret what concerns NC State Head Coach Chuck Amato the most about the Miami Hurricanes. Featuring some of the nation's top athletes, Miami's speed and intensity will present a challenge that the Wolfpack hasn't seen this season.
"Category six," Amato responded when asked just how explosive the 'Canes are. "They are fast, and they play extremely hard. With great intensity on every play. They don't take a play off."
He even went so far as to say that this year's Miami team compares favorably to those of the past seasons.
"They are good... they are very good," Amato said. "The names have been changed, but that's all. Same type of plays, and they are talented. They are well-coached. They do what they are asked to do."
The Wolfpack has two more days to prepare for Miami, with Thursday being a light workout. Friday the team will rest and stay at an off-campus hotel to get ready mentally for a huge ACC game.
The winner of the NC State-Miami game could have sole possession of first place in the ACC.
Three games ago, NC State entered halftime down 14-0 to Wake Forest at Carter-Finley Stadium. Fans were growing impatient and so was the coaching staff. Amato chose to go back to Jay Davis at quarterback, and that move looks to have been brilliant as Davis led NC State to a comeback victory over Wake Forest and played well against North Carolina and Maryland.
"I'm Einstein right now... the dunce cap has been taken off," Amato said. "It was the right decision for us to do at that point."
Red-shirt freshman Marcus Stone struggled passing the ball during his time at the position, and that was a factor in Amato's decision. However, he still remains high on the athletic signal-caller.
"When Marcus was in there he didn't set the world on fire, and he's at such a growing stage," Amato commented. "He's right on... where he should be. We're glad we decided on that."
Davis is now third in the ACC in completion percentage (61.6) and fourth in the conference in passing yards per game (176.0). He's earned the starting position and has stepped up to make huge plays in the past three games.
The Wolfpack will need that to continue against Miami's outstanding defense.
Berlin has Amato's Attention
A lot of people seem to want to complain about the play of Miami quarterback Brock Berlin. It's safe to say Chuck Amato's not in that group as he's praised the quarterback for his leadership skills and ability to make big plays all week.
"He's a youngster that everyone in the country recruited," Amato said. "He went to the University of Florida and a big reason was the style of offense. I'm sure Steve Spurrier played a big role in that too."
"He's done an outstanding job of picking up a new system and leading a football team," he added. "That's what a quarterback needs to do."
Most of the problems media and Hurricane fans have with Berlin has been his, at times, suspect decision-making and sporadic play.
"You don't know when he's going to be sporadic, that's the problem," Amato said. "I don't know how many games you've seen him play, but we've seen him play quite a few. He knows what he's doing... he knows what he's doing."
"Probable" is the key word this week on NC Sate's injury report as the following players were listed as such on Monday: Tackle Chris Colmer (shoulder sprain), running back T.A. McLendon (hamstring strain), rover Andre Maddox (hamstring strain), cornerback Dovonte Edwards (knee sprain), defensive tackle Tank Tyler (knee sprain) and tight end T.J. Williams (groin).
All six players are likely to play against the Hurricanes, but for how long will not be determined until the game is underway.