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    Quintin Payton was named to the watch list for the Biletnikoff Award this week
    Quintin Payton was named to the watch list for the Biletnikoff Award this week

    The O-Line Shuffle

    Game 6: NC State Wolfpack (3-2, 0-1) vs. Florida State Seminoles (5-0, 2-0)
    October 6, 2012 • 8:00 p.m. • ESPN2
    Raleigh, N.C. • Carter-Finley Stadium (57,583)

    NC State and Florida State have met 32 times on the gridiron, with the Seminoles holding a 22-10 advantage.  The Wolfpack and Seminoles played from 1952-57, from 1963-69, and then resumed a yearly rivalry when Florida State joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1992.

    In 2001, NC State became the first ACC team to beat Florida State in Tallahassee since FSU joined the ACC with a 34-28 win, then followed that up with a 20-15 win in 2005 to become the first ACC team to defeat the Seminoles at their house twice.

    In the last seven meetings, State posts a 3-4 mark against FSU, including the Pack's 28-24 victory in 2010 at Carter-Finley.
    Logic dictates that teams ranked in the polls are better than teams that aren't, but NC State seems to play better against Florida State when the `Noles are in the polls. The last six times that the Pack has played FSU when they were ranked, NC State has pulled off four victories.

    Florida State was not ranked in 2007, 08, 09 or last season and State dropped all four of those contests.  Here's a look at the last 10 matchups between NC State and Florida State:

    Year Site FSU Rk. Result
    2011 A NR L, 0-34
    2010 H 16 W, 28-24
    2009 A NR L, 42-45
    2008 H NR L, 17-26
    2007 A NR L, 10-27
    2006 H 17 W, 24-20
    2005 A 9 W, 20-15
    2004 H 11 L, 10-17
    2003 A 13 L, 44-50 (2OT)
    2002 H 14 W, 17-7

    When the nation's top teams visit Carter-Finley Stadium, the Wolfpack posts a 5-4 record under head coach Tom O'Brien.  

    The Florida State game will mark only the second time that the Wolfpack has hosted a  top-10 foe at home during O'Brien's tenure.  Seventh-ranked Clemson visited Carter-Finley last season and left with a 37-13 defeat at the hands of the Pack.

    Here's a look at the Pack at home versus ranked teams under Tom O'Brien:

    Date Opponent Opp. Rk Result
    11/19/11 Clemson 7 W, 37-13
    10/1/11 Georgia Tech 21 L, 35-45
    10/28/10 Florida State 16 W, 28-24
    11/28/09 North Carolina 23 W, 28-27
    11/14/09 Clemson 24 L, 34-43
    9/27/08 South Florida 13 L, 10-41
    9/20/08 East Carolina 15 W, 30-24
    10/27/07 Virginia 18 W, 29-24
    9/22/07 Clemson 14 L, 20-42

    Although Florida State holds a definite advantage in the overall series with NC State (22-10), the `Noles just hold a slight 6-5 lead in the last 11 matchups.  And in nine of those 10 contests, the score was decided by 10 points or less.  

    Despite the injury turnover on the offensive line and the injury/suspension turnover in the running back corps, the Wolfpack has been efficient running the ball - more efficient, in fact, than it's been in a decade and a half.

    Against Miami, State gained 224 yards on the ground.  On Sept. 22 against The Citadel, the Wolfpack rushed for 282 yards - it's highest tally since 2006.  It marks the first time since late in the 1998 campaign that the Wolfpack has posted over 200 rushing yards as a team in back-to-back games.

    In the first three games of 2012, State averaged just 100.0 yard rushing as a team, with an individual high of just 68 yards.  Over the past two contests, the Pack has averaged 253.0 yards on the ground with a 100-yard rusher in both games.

    In the win over The Citadel, freshman Shadrach Thornton was the leading rusher with 145 yards.  Against Miami, Tony Creecy gained a career high 120 yards.

    Heading into the 2012 campaign, the Wolfpack offensive line was one of the most solidly entrenched (no pun intended) units on the squad.  All five starters on the OL had started games previously during their careers, while four plus a projected backup had been season-long starters.  

    In order to get the most experienced, most talented players on the field, the coaching staff did some shifting in the preseason.  Senior R.J. Mattes moved to the fourth starting position of his career, left guard, so that talented junior Rob Crisp could man the left tackle spot.  Andrew Wallace, a season-long starter at guard two years ago, moved over to right tackle.  Center Cam Wentz and right guard Zach Allen stayed put.  The unit entered fall camp in that alignment.

    That continuity was broken just a week into the season, when starting left tackle Rob Crisp, was unable to compete due to an injury suffered in the season opener.   Backup right tackle Tyson Chandler, a redshirt sophomore, has started in Crisp's spot in the last four games.

    Against The Citadel, starting right tackle Andrew Wallace suffered a foot injury, causing him to miss the Miami game.  Last week at Miami,  right guard Zach Allen left the game with a lower leg injury and will be unable to go this week

    That means that against Florida State, the Pack will start its fourth different lineup at offensive line in six games.

    Opp LT LG C RG RT
    Tennessee Crisp Mattes Wentz Allen Wallace
    UConn Chandler Mattes Wentz Allen Wallace
    S. Alabama Chandler Mattes Wentz Allen Wallace
    Citadel Chandler Mattes Wentz Allen Wallace
    Miami Mattes Christophe Wentz Allen Chandler
    Florida St. Mattes Christophe Wentz Fordham Chandler

    If the first five games of the season are good indictors, the punters should get a lot of work when NC State faces Florida State on Saturday evening.  Those two teams lead the ACC and rank third and 11th nationally in third down conversion defense.  The Seminoles are allowing their opponents to convert at just a 22.4 clip, while the Pack is limiting the opposition to a 27.5 mark on third down.

    In the last four games, the Wolfpack defense has held the opponents to a .250 (10-40) percentage on third down conversions.  From late in the UConn game, until the 3rd quarter against The Citadel, opponents went 16 consecutive third downs without a conversion.

    On Sept. 15, Mike Archer's defensive unit held South Alabama without a third or fourth down conversion on the game as the Jaguars finished 0-for-11 on third down and 0-for-1 on fourth. The last time NC State  had held a team without a third down conversion came in 1992, when the Pack forced Virginia Tech to an 0-for-12 mark, a span of 228 games.

    The first quarter has been a rough one in terms of scores allowed for the Wolfpack defense in 2012.  NC State is allowing 10.4 points in the first quarter this season.  Of the 52 total points allowed in the opening quarter, 45 were scored by Tennessee (22) and Miami (23).  

    The second quarter, however, has been a different story.  No one has reached the endzone in that period this season - even though Tennessee and Miami each had a first and goal situation in the second quarter.

    State has given up 52 points in the first quarter this season.  In the last three quarters combined, the Pack has given up 55 points.

    It had been a while since a freshman rushed for over 100 yards in his first career game - 31 years to be exact - before rookie Shadrach Thornton surprised Wolfpack nation against The Citadel by running for 145 yards on 21 carries in the win.  Thornton, a true freshman who had not played a snap before that Sept. 22 contest, came out of the gates strong - gaining 35 yards on four carries on the Pack's first series, including a 19-yard touchdown run.  

    Thornton became the first freshman since Andre Brown in 2005 to rush for over 100 yards in a game.  He became the first freshman to pass the century mark in his first collegiate game since Joe McIntosh had 131 against Richmond in 1981.

    Thornton tallied 171 all-purpose yards in the contest, also catching four passes for another 26 yards.  Against Miami, he came off the bench to rush for 87 yards.

    The Wolfpack currently ranks 16th nationally in tackles for loss with an average of eight per game.  That mark ranks second in the ACC.  Fifteen different defenders have tallied stops behind the line of scrimmage for State this season, led by linebackers Rodman Noel with seven and Rickey Dowdy with 6.5.

    The Pack has tallied 12 sacks this season, the fourth-best mark in the ACC.

    Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Bryan Underwood ranks third on the team with 12 catches this season, but he leads the team and ranks fourth in the ACC in touchdown scoring.

    The most diminutive member of the NC State wide receiver corps at 5'11, 174, Underwood has scored in all five games this season.  That five-game streak of touchdown receptions is tied as the longest in school history.  Only Koren Robinson has posted a streak as long, opening the 2000 season with five straight TD grabs from quarterback Philip Rivers.

    Four of his six scoring grabs have been for 33 or more yards.  Last season he scored on a 33- and a 79-yarder at Virginia and this season has caught TDs for 44 and 46 yards.

    Here's a list of the longest touchdown reception streaks in NC State history:

    Rk. Name Yr Consec. Games w/ TD catch
    1. Bryan Underwood 2012 5
    Koren Robinson 2000 5
    3. Torry Holt 1997 4 (twice)
    Roland Hooks 1974 4

    Fourteen different players have caught passes for the Wolfpack in 2012, as five wide receivers, three tight ends, five halfbacks and a fullback have all been on the receiving end of a Mike Glennon throw.

    The wide receiver spot was an area of concern heading into the 2012 campaign, as both starters from last season and another senior graduated.

    Quintin Payton has been on the recieving end of the majority of Glennon's throws, catching 19 passes for 421 yards.  He ranks 10th in the ACC in receptions (3.8/game) this week, and is sixth in receiving yards per game with 84.2.



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