Pack Hold Toys for Tots Drive This Saturday
Game 10: NC State Wolfpack (5-4, 2-3) vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (5-4, 3-4)
November 10, 2012 3:00 p.m. RSN
Raleigh, N.C. Carter-Finley Stadium (57,583)
TV: RSN | Radio: Wolfpack Sports Network | Gametracker
Game Notes | #GoPack Twitter Talk | NC State Twitter | Ask the Analyst
Over the course of a 12-game football season, teams tend to change and so do their goals. For NC State (5-4, 2-3) and Wake Forest (5-4, 3-4) on Saturday, the number one goal will be reaching the six-win plateau and the automatic bowl eligibility that comes with it.
The Wolfpack and Demon Deacons clash for the 106th time in the ACC's longest running series at Carter-Finley Stadium starting at 3 p.m. Airtime on the Wolfpack Sports Network is 1 p.m.
With its hopes for an ACC title now dashed, NC State has adopted a very simple, short-term quest this week.
"Right now, we need to get this win," said tailback Tony Creecy. "We need to get back to the drawing board and do the little things that turn into bigger things which turn into a win. We have a lot of football to play and we have a lot more to look forward to if we can get a win. It's still a positive outlook on things."
The atmosphere at Carter-Finley was anything but positive during the second half of last week's 33-6 drubbing at the hands of Virginia. With the outcome already a foregone conclusion in the fourth quarter, disappointed Wolfpack fans filled the exits on the way to the parking lot while State players repeatedly glanced at the scoreboard with looks of disbelief etched on their faces.
This wasn't the same team that had made a stirring, determined comeback to beat Florida State 28 days before.
"We've beaten Florida State, we know what we're capable of and we know the talent is there for us," Pack safety Brandan Bishop said. "We need to keep getting better and come out with a better effort because, quite frankly, it was embarrassing last weekend. We don't want to disappoint our fan base and our school anymore."
In order to again become the team that beat the Seminoles on October sixth, the Wolfpack must get better play from its front seven on defense, stop turning the ball over and run the football more effectively.
Bishop and fellow safety Earl Wolff were busy players in the Virginia game, probably too busy. Between them, the two seniors on the back end of the Wolfpack defense combined for 26 tackles as the Cavaliers continued to gash the forward wall.
"The linebackers need to make more tackles," said Pack head coach Tom O'Brien.
All too often last week, Virginia's interior offensive linemen got to the second level of the Pack defense after knocking off the tackles inside. The result was a 248-yard rushing day for the Cavaliers.
On the flip side, NC State's anemic rushing attack produced only 17 net yards on the ground, a number that was also lowered by six sacks of quarterback Mike Glennon for 34 yards. Since pounding out 226 yards rushing at Miami on September 29th, State's running game has fizzled, averaging only 48 yards over the four games since. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Wolfpack lost its best run blocker, right guard Zach Allen, to an ankle injury in that contest at Miami.
"We definitely need to pick it up in the running game," Creecy said. "Missing Zach Allen has been a key part, but it can't be the only thing we depend on. Zach Allen was a great blocker, but we have other great blockers. I also have to pick it up more, make better reads and run tougher."
Although Creecy leads NC State in rushing yards with 398 this season, he's averaging under the benchmark average of four yards per carry (3.9).
"We've had to replace the right side of our offensive line," O'Brien said. "Zach Allen was our best run blocker. We had to expel our best running back (Mustafa Greene) and lost our most experienced running back (James Washington) with an injury. The combination of those things has made us a work in progress, which we shouldn't be this late in the season. The more we can get settled up front the better we'll be."
A more effective running attack would contribute to more balance on offense, which could make it easier to protect Glennon. A little more balance might also help the Wolfpack protect the football better. In its four losses, State has 19 turnovers, including the five giveaways it recorded in the Virginia game.
Valuing the football will be particularly important on Saturday against a Wake Forest team that has turned the ball over just 10 times in nine games (five interceptions, five fumbles) this season. The Deacons own a plus-seven turnover margin, a figure that is tied for first in the ACC.
The Wolfpack defense will certainly be focusing in on Wake Forest wide receiver Michael Campanaro, who leads the ACC and ranks fifth nationally in receptions per game (8.6). In Wake's 28-14 victory over Boston College last Saturday, the cagy Campanaro tied an ACC record with 16 catches, three of which went for touchdowns.
"He has a great feel for finding cracks and seams in the defense," O'Brien said. "He has a great relationship with the quarterback. They've been together now for three years and there seems to be great communication between the two of them on the field."
Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price is coming off his best showing of the season versus B.C., against whom he completed 39-of-57 throws for 293 yards and three scores. Over the first eight weeks of the season, the Deacons averaged only 31 passes per game, meaning that last week's decision to air it out 57 times was a philosophy change that will no doubt get NC State's attention.
"They've always given us some troubles," Bishop responded when asked about the Wake Forest offense. "They spread it out and they're going to do some things that teams have already done to us this year as far as throwing it on the perimeter and running it to see what they can do on the outside. We're going to have our hands full."
The home team has really owned the upper hand in this series over the years with State recording victories in 12 of its last 13 games against the Deacons at Carter-Finley Stadium. Wake Forest, on the other hand, owns a five-game winning streak against the Wolfpack in Winston-Salem.
"You hear the old coaching adage all the time that people remember November," said Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe. "We've got three really good teams to play and you've got to bring your best football right now. I think our guys are energized right now and really seem to be focused. We can't beat any team on our schedule right now without a great effort."
Wolfpack Sports Network coverage of the 106th NC State-Wake Forest game will begin at 1 p.m. with the Mathews Motors Countdown to Kickoff, which originates from the Fan Zone on the front lawn of PNC Arena.
Fans can submit questions to our game announcers all day via Twitter/packradio. Radio analyst and former Wolfpack All-American Johnny Evans will also be fielding questions on the pregame show during the `Ask the Analyst' segment shortly after 2 p.m. To send a question Johnny's way, use Twitter or go here.
Tony Haynes and former NC State tight end Mark Thomas will have a full preview of Saturday's game on `Inside Wolfpack Sports,' which airs Saturday mornings at 8:30 on MASN and Fox Sports South.
The Last Meeting
September 10, 2011