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September 13, 2010Following NC State's win over Central Florida in Orlando on Saturday night, the team boarded a plane and flew back to Raleigh as soon as they could. The team arrived home in the early hours of Sunday morning in order to begin preparations for Cincinnati on Thursday night.
The short week may have dictated the Pack's travel plans after their first away game of the season, but it won't change much else, according to redshirt junior quarterback Russell Wilson.
"We've don't it before, especially the older guys, myself and the coaching staff," Wilson said of the quick turn around. "The older guys got to lead and make sure everybody is on the same page. We just have to get out here and work.
"Nothing really [is particularly tough about it], you just got to get in there and watch extra film when you can. The main thing is just getting your legs back and getting to work, getting better."
Going into the Pack's showdown with UCF, the team who spoiled coach Tom O'Brien's NC State debut in 2007 with a 25-23 win, the game was billed as the most crucial so far in the coach's tenure. The Pack's aerial attacks stalled in Florida, though, and a 28-7 lead in the fourth quarter quickly evaporated before the team held on for a 28-21 victory. Wilson finished 10-of-30 for 105 yards and a touchdown but the offense did not suffer from any turnovers while the defense forced five. While the offense uncharacteristically struggled, the Pack stepped up in other facets of the game.
"It's a team effort: offensively, defensively and on special teams," Wilson said of the win. "You have to credit UCF, they played really well, and we did, too. It was a battle, the whole game. We got to capitalize on some big plays here and there and just keeping playing the game one play at a time, that's all."
Wilson basked in the victory on the plane ride back until falling asleep, but he quickly turned his attention to Thursday's showdown on national television with Cincinnati after returning to Raleigh. Wilson said that it is an exciting opportunity for the Pack, who is anxious to get back out in front of the hometown fans.
"We got back home and I really realized that we need to get ready for Cincinnati," he said. "It's exciting, that's the great thing about football, you can play Saturday and then, this week, it's the next Thursday.
"It's no more exciting for me, a game's a game. The crowd may be a little bit louder here [on Thursday]. I know here they are always pretty loud. Hopefully, they are all in red but it's definitely exciting. At the same time, you have to just treat it like just another game, get out there and do your best."
According to the third-year starter under center, those closely-contested battles like Saturday's normally reveal the team's character. Wilson said that the UCF win was was no exception and the team excelled in areas they have been focusing on to improve.
"I think it reveals that we're tough and we're together more than anything," he said. "I think, this year especially, we are trying to really be together, work together and everything, whether it's offense, defense or special teams. [We need to] just keep fighting."