Sept. 26, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. -
After four straight non-conference games to open the 2012 campaign, the Wolfpack dives into its conference slate with a trip to Miami this weekend. The Pack is quite familiar starting its ACC schedule on the road, as the Pack will be on the visitor’s sideline for the sixth straight season in the first ACC game.
Not all the Pack players are upset about not getting to play in Carter-Finley this weekend, as senior safety Brandan Bishop will enjoy a homecoming down in Miami.
Bishop and his family are from Boca Raton, which lies about an hour away from Miami. While growing up and graduating from Boca Raton High School, Bishop admits his admiration towards this week’s opponent.
“I grew up a Miami fan, and went to quite a few games in the old Orange Bowl,” said Bishop. “I remember going to a lot of games down there. We paid to park in somebody’s backyard, we would be blocked in after the game. It was good times at the old Orange Bowl.”
The Pack has not played Miami since the 2008 season, a 38-28 win in Raleigh, and has not traveled to Miami since 2007, also a 19-16 win.
“It is a little odd that we only play a conference team once every four years or so,” said Bishop. “But I’m very excited. When I came on my official visit, (NC State) was actually playing (Miami) the game right around Thanksgiving. I’m excited to get down there and play them.”
Going down to Miami means having a lot of family and friends wanting to come out and support you. Bishop has already been busy trying to handle ticket requests from about 40 people he expects to see at the game on Saturday.
“Lot of ticket requests,” said Bishop. “I’m already trading away tickets months from now that I probably need.
“It’s a very big deal for us to play them. They are talented, and we want to get the ball rolling as far as ACC play goes.”
Bishop and the Pack’s defense will be charged with stopping a potent Miami offensive attack. The Hurricanes have averaged 41.5 points in their two ACC wins, scoring 41 points at Boston College and then 42 in last week’s come-from-behind overtime win at Georgia Tech.
“They have put up quite a few points (in their ACC games),” said Bishop. “It’s going to be a big challenge for us. They have speed and athleticism on the perimeter, and they will throw it around. I think it will be a good test for us, but I think we will be ready to go.”
Bishop and the Pack’s secondary have seen improved play as the season has progressed, but the Miami wideouts bring a different dimension of speed the Pack will have to adjust too.
“They have guys that are fast, real good athletes that can make plays,” said Bishop. “They are going to catch some balls, but we have to get them down on the ground and tackle really well. We need to limit the yards after the catch.”
After giving up 333 yards through the air in the loss to Tennessee to open the season, the Pack’s defense has surrendered just 164.7 yards in the air over the current three-game winning streak (aided by The Citadel’s 27 yards passing using the triple option).
More impressive, after giving up touchdown passes of 41 and 72 yards against Tennessee, the lone TD through the air NC State has given up over the last three games was an eight-yarder with 5:20 left in the fourth quarter against South Alabama.
Along with Bishop, three other members of the Pack are from Florida, but a little further away then Bishop’s hometown of Boca Raton.
Redshirt-junior cornerback Jarvis Byrd grew up in Pahokee, about a two-hour drive from Miami, while redshirt-freshman wide receiver Tyrell Burriss is from Daytona Beach, about four hours away.
Senior running back James Washington is from Orlando, also about four hours away, but he missed last week’s game against The Citadel. Despite his playing status for this week, Washington is more then excited to have the Hurricanes finally on the schedule.
“It’s big because growing up in Florida, you see Miami play on TV, and some day you either want to play for them or play against them,” Washington said. “This will be my first game I actually get to play against Miami. I was a big Miami fan growing up as a kid.”