Saturday's Keys

As this weekend's NC State-Wofford game draws near, Pack Pride looks at several keys to the contest.

NC State Offense vs. Wofford Defense

Utilize Brown And Eugene
NC State has really struggled rushing the football, averaging just 70.5 yards per game, but they have to establish Andre Brown and Jamelle Eugene in this matchup.

If the rushing attack continues to struggle, look for both players to be assets in the passing game where they can make plays in open space. Brown is tied for first with John Dunlap in receptions, averaging five catches per game for 45.5 yards. Eugene, who is also explosive in the open field, will get more chances as he is now NC State's No. 2 tailback with Toney Baker sidelined.

Whether it is running or receiving, NC State has to find ways to get Andre Brown and Jamelle Eugen more touches.

Dominate The Trenches
NC State's offensive line averages 306 pounds across the two-deep. Wofford's eight regulars along the defensive line average 268 pounds.

The Wolfpack's offensive line MUST play more physical and smarter up front so Harrison Beck can have time to make plays and Brown/Eugene are able to make it out of their own backfield.

Wofford's 3-4 scheme could present problems, so NC State's offensive line has to execute and have no missed assignments. The unit should use this game as a chance to develop some positive momentum heading into the heart of the schedule.

Value The Football... Air It Out
NC State enters the game No. 14 in the country in passing, and Wofford has allowed 276.5 yards through the air against questionable competition.

In his second career start, Beck should have plenty of opportunities to make big plays, but he has to take care of the football and play smarter. He has plenty of talent and now he needs to continue developing his game. When the deep pass isn't there, take the check-down and let his backs or receivers make plays. If a receiver is double-covered, look elsewhere. If he is being pressured, take the sack or throw the football away instead of forcing a pass. Mainly, value the football.

If Beck plays within the system and takes what the defense gives him, it will allow the Wolfpack's playmakers to do what they can do, as their backs and receivers are as talented as any group you will find.

NC State Offense vs. Wofford Defense

Maintain Discipline
Wofford's option attack creates a unique game plan for the Pack. While NC State will likely have a size and speed advantage, they must stay disciplined and play assignment football. When one defender comes off his responsibility to help out with another, that's when you can get into trouble.

It won't be surprising if Wofford has some success early running the football because it may take time for State to adjust to the speed with which they run their offense and to clarify assignments. However, State has to stay focused, contain the run and attack the football. The Terriers are averaging 359 yards per game on the ground.

Create Turnovers
One of the advantages created by size and speed is the ability to force turnovers. Wofford has only turned the ball over twice this year but they haven't faced a team with the talent and depth of NC State, either. If the Pack attacks the ball carrier and can pressure quarterback Ben Widmeyer into errant throws then State should be able to notch some takeaways.

Nothing remedies a struggling offense more than a short field so this aspect of the game could be important to the Pack.

Don't Ignore Wofford's Passing Attack
If Wofford does have success running the football it's going to put NC State in a position to get their safeties more heavily involved in run support. That's just about the time that Wofford will look to fake a run and drop back for a deep post.

NC State has to respect Wofford's ability to throw the ball. The Terriers don't put up huge numbers in the passing game (107 yards per game), but they would love nothing more than to create some big plays off of their play action. If State stays disciplined in the defensive backfield they should be able to take the passing game away from Wofford.

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