November 5, 2011

Keys to the game - revisited

NC State made it five in a row over their archrivals with a 13-0 win at Carter-Finley Stadium in front of 57,583 fans on Saturday afternoon.

Here are the keys to the game - revisited.

Leave the FSU loss in the past

What we wrote: The marching order from NC State coach Tom O'Brien following last Saturday's 34-0 beating at Florida State was to completely forget the contest. That is easier said than done, but the Wolfpack has tried to move on this week in preparation for North Carolina.

NC State still has to learn from its various mistakes against FSU. The offense was humbled in the loss, but will need to keep pace with the North Carolina playmakers.

The game could be a high-scoring affair, so redshirt junior quarterback Mike Glennon will need a quick start. NCSU found out what happens if Glennon doesn't get enough time in the pocket, and the Tar Heels have enough athletes up front to create a little havoc.

What happened: The Pack didn't get off to a scorching start, but it was much better than the majority of their openings in 2011 and they certainly didn't show any ill effects from the loss in Tallahassee.

Play with emotion in a smart fashion

What we wrote: NC State always seems to play differently against North Carolina, and it is easily the most important game on the schedule. The emphasis on defeating the Tar Heels has resulted in four straight wins.

There is no question that Carter-Finley Stadium will provide a loud and enthusiastic boost to the Wolfpack, even with the 12:30 p.m. kickoff. NC State will need to ride that wave of enthusiasm, but not get caught up in any cheap hits or costly penalties.

North Carolina has been pretty outgoing this week in its comments about, or digs at, NC State, starting from the top down with interim head coach Everett Withers, who is smart enough to know that if he has any chance of earning the job on a permanent basis he'll need a good win over the Wolfpack. The Tar Heels players will likely carry some of that boastfulness on to the playing field. Let UNC make the costly penalties.

What happened: Quarterback Mike Glennon may have come out a little too fired up, several of his early passes sailed high of his receivers, but, overall, the Pack kept their cool and played in a smart fashion with limited penalties in the heated rivalry contest.

Avoid missed tackles

What we wrote: The 5-foot-10, 200-pound Giovani Bernard has rushed for more than 100 yards in six of the last seven games, and is a factor in the passing game for North Carolina. He can also make a defense look bad if they don't tackle well.

Bernard's slashing style and quickness combined with enough breakaway speed to sneak by a defense makes him a tough running back to handle. He'll also likely be a four-year player and has a chance to post some gaudy numbers if he can remain healthy for UNC.

NC State will need to be sound as tacklers, which was a problem during certain stretches of the Florida State loss.

What happened: The Pack's defense lived up to the high preseason expectations most everybody had for them before the year began against UNC and that included a much better tackling effort than against Florida State. Bernard was bottled up for the most part and finished with XX yards while the Pack came through with several big sacks, which knocked the Tar Heels' rushing total down to XX.

Win the turnover battle

What we wrote: NC State is 4-0 when it has caused three or more turnovers and 0-4 when it doesn't. The Wolfpack will need to swarm Bernard and backup Ryan Houston, and while one defender is working on tackling them, others will need to be swiping for the ball.

The secondary should also get a few chances at picking off UNC sophomore quarterback Bryn Renner, who has nine interceptions on the season. Renner throws an accurate catchable ball, but doesn't have a rifle. The NCSU defensive backs, such as star cornerback David Amerson, who leads the nation with eight interceptions, should get the chance to drive hard on some of Renner's longer throws.

Another area that could bear watching is that the tight ends, backup wide receivers and fullbacks/H-backs haven't handled the ball too much this season against the Tar Heels. They could be most susceptible to getting stripped.

What happened:

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